Cicely Savery Gunner was the daughter of William Savery, a former slave and master carpenter whose desire to educate his children after the civil war led to the building of the first school for African Americans in Talladega County, Alabama. This school later became Talladega College. Today, visitors to the campus will find Swayne Hall, the original building that was constructed by William Savery, still standing. A library was constructed in 1939 and dedicated as the Savery Library.
Cicely was educated at Talladega where she met and married Rev. Byron Gunner who had also attended the school. The Gunners became a force for change through their work in the fields of education and civil rights.
The Gunners moved to Hillburn around 1907. Rev. Gunner became the pastor of the Brook Presbyterian Church and Mrs. Gunner taught kindergarten for many years at the Brook School.