Eliza Wilson Bertrand Cunningham was the First Lady of Little Rock. She literally was the first lady and the founding mother.
She became the first permanent female resident when she joined her husband Matthew Cunningham in Little Rock. She gave birth to Chester Ashley Cunningham, the first baby born in Little Rock, as well as several other children with Cunningham. When he became the first Mayor of Little Rock, she was the first First Lady of Little Rock. They hosted the first Little Rock Council meeting at their house on what is now the block downtown bounded by Third, Main, Fourth and Louisiana Streets. Her son Charles P. Bertrand, from her first husband, later served as Mayor of Little Rock, making her the only woman to be married to a Mayor and be mother of a Mayor.
Born in Scotland in December 1788, she emigrated with her parents to the United States as a young girl. In 1804 or 1805, she married a French businessman, Pierre Bertrand in New York City. She lived in New York City, while he traveled to his various business ventures. He never returned from a trip to his coffee plantation in Santo Domingo and was presumed to have died in 1808 or 1809. She and Bertrand had three children, Charles Pierre, Arabella and Jane. (Jane may have died in childhood, because records and lore only indicated Charles and Arabella coming to Little Rock with their mother.)
Eliza married Dr. Matthew Cunningham in New York City. He later moved to Saint Louis and settled in Little Rock in early 1820. Eliza and her two children came to Little Rock in September 1820. In 1822, she gave birth to Chester Ashley Cunningham, the first documented baby born in Little Rock. (There are unsubstantiated reports that at least one slave child may have been born prior to Chester.) She and Matthew also had Robert, Henrietta, Sarah and Matilda. The latter married Peter Hanger, after whom the Hanger Hill neighborhood is named.
Dr. Cunningham died in June 1851. Eliza died in September 1856. They and Chester (who died in December 1856) are buried in the Hanger family plot at Mount Holly Cemetery.