Sunday, November 28, 2010


If you click on this photo to enlarge it, you'll see how close Cornelius 
and his family are buried to my Dad and Mom. Their graves are in 
the Veteran's Plot just beyond my car.

So just what sort of man was my distant cousin Cornelius Thomas
Dunham and what was his life like?

When I started researching him online I had the information from the
Dunham monument and the headstones in the plot:

Edward F Dunham
Annie S.B. Dunham

Marion Dunham Seaborn
John E. P Seaborn
Nov 30, 1835-Dec 23, 1900
Louise Seaborn Humphries

Abiel Silver
April 3, 1797
March 27, 1881
"He is risen"

His wife
Ednah Hastings
May 30th, 1797
Jan 12, 1892

Their daughter,
Ednah Charlotte
April 27, 1888

I had recently downloaded a history of Abington from Google Books
and started off my  search with that. I found Cornelius and his family,
as well as his ancestors, listed on page 370 of Benjamin Hobart's
"History of the town of Abington, Plymouth County, Massachusetts,
from its first settlement".

"IV. Cornelius T. Dunham, born in Abington, April 27, 1820; was 
married on the 7th of July, 1847, to Mrs. Ann B. Jenkins, (formerly 
Poyas,) of  Charleston, S. C. Their children were—

V. Henry Lucius, born September.8, 1848.
V. Edward Francis, born July 24, 1851.
V. Marion Porcher, born April 29, 1853.
V. Mary Emma, born August 7, 1857.
V. Elizabeth Ann, born February 18, 1859.
V. Cornelia Thomas, born April 24, 1862.
Of these, all were born in Charleston, S. C., excepting Mary Emma,
 who first saw the light in Abington; and Cornelia, in Winthrop, Mass."

So now the question was, how did somebody born and raised in the
town of Abington, Ma, end up living in Charleston, S.C.?  The answer
is simple: shoes. Abington is situated in the middle of an area that once
was the shoe manufacturing capital of America, and Cornelius, like
many of his Dunham relatives, made a career out the shoe industry.
I don't know when or how he moved to Charleston but he shows up
in the Charlotte Street directories listed as "CT Dunham, Boots &
Shoes" at about the time of his marriage. His wife Ann Ball Poyas
was a member of a prominent South Carolinian family whose
ancestor had immigrated to America from France in the late 18th
century but I've found no information as to how the marriage was
viewed by her relatives.

The Dunhams were living in Charleston as late as the 1860 Federal
Census but since their youngest child was born back in Massachusetts
in 1862 it is possible they moved north after the outbreak of the Civil
War. By the 1870 Census the family, along with two domestic servants,
was living here in Abington and Cornelius' occupation was listed as
"Boot and Shoe dealer". Business must have been good for Cornelius
because ten years later the Dunhams were lving on Pembroke St in
Boston where Cornelius was a prominent member of the newly
established Swedenborgian Church. He died of apoplexy on 15Aug

My research into cousin Cornelius T Dunham turned up two major
surprises. The first is that Cornelius was involved in a courtcase
that made it up to the Supreme court of the  United States.

The second surprise involves Abiel Silver, his wife Ednah Hastings
and their daughter.

These will be the subjects of the  posts to follow.

To be continued.....


Judy said...

Looking forward to hearing about the court case

Jennie Richardson said...

i'm wondering if you have any information about C. Thomas Dunham, son of Annie S.B. Dunham and brother of Lawrence B. Dunham? He was in the Atlanta area around 1917 and owned a company called "Dunham oil" Thanks for any help you can give me. JEnnie Richardson e-mail is