Individuals of Waller County
Norris Wright Cuney
(May 12, 1846 - March 3, 1898) Born in the slave quarters of Sunnyside Plantation (3.2 mi.SE), Cuney displayed such intelligence as a boy that in 1859 he was sent to Wiley Street School for Negroes in Pittsburgh, PA. On returning to Texas after the Civil War, he studied law and began operating a wharf contracting company in Galveston. Cuney soon became an active member of the Texas Union League, which urged black political activity and Republican Party loyalty. In 1870 he organized the Negro Longshoremen's Association. In later years he served Galveston as a city alderman, school board member, and U.S. Customs collector, and ran twice without success for the state legislature. On July 5, 1871, he married Adelina Dowdie; they had two children. After 1872 he emerged as leader of the Republican Party in Texas, attending national party conventions as chairman of the Texas delegation. He served on the Republican National Executive Committee in 1891-92. The party broke his power in Texas in 1896 by refusing to seat his delegation--an action which deprived blacks of a voice in Texas politics until the 1960s. Cuney, one of the most prominent blacks in Texas history, died in San Antonio, where he had moved for his health. He was buried in Galveston.