Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I haven't forgotten my new discovered Dunham cousins buried here in
Abington's Mt. Vernon Cemetary. I've been reseaching them on the
internet with success in some cases and not so much in others.

I discovered a few things about General Henry Dunham. Apparently
he was a successful merchant here in Abington and worked his way up
as an officer in the Massachusetts Militia until he achieved the
rank of Brigadier General of the Second Brigade of the First Division of
the Third Regiment of the Light Infantry in the late 1840's. He retired
from that position in 1850.

One interesting note was the discovery of another connection with the
Gurney family. Henry's wife Mary Cushing was the daughter of Sarah

I had more luck researching their son Henry Jr. (He's listed erroneously
as "Hervey Dunham" in The History of the Town of Abington). In a
continuation of the ties between the Dunham family with Charleston,
S.C., he married a girl from there named Ella Bristol and a history of her
ancestry contained the following:

"Ella Bristol, born May 18, 1845. She married,  March 31, 1869, 
Henry Dunham of Abington, Mass., an inventor of leather machinery. 
He died Sept. 22, 1884.

From the Abington Herald:—" In the death of Henry
Dunham, which occurred Monday morning at his home on
Center Avenue, of inflammation of the bowels, the town
of Abington loses one of its most prominent, widely
known, and esteemed citizens. Mr. Dunham was one of
twelve children. His father was Gen. Henry Dunham,
son of Ezra, whose grand-father was Cornelius Dunham,
born in Plymouth in 1724. The name is among the
oldest and most distinguished of the Old Colony names.
The mother of the deceased, still living at the age of eighty-
one, was Mary Cushing, daughter of Col. Brackley Cush-
ing — another old and honored Old Colony family name.
Mr. Dunham began business life as a shoe manufacturer
in the large factory on Lake Street that bears his name.
He retired in 1873, and turned his attention to shoe
machinery, and has given to the world some very important
inventions and improvements in this direction. The
three most important are the Dunham riveting machine,
the toe nail machine, and the Dunham quilting, machine;
a detailed description of all these appeared in the Herald
of Sept. 5. Mr. Dunham made the first quilting nail
ever produced, and is believed to be the originator of
the idea of inserting nails into the sole while off the boot.
The funeral took place at his late residence Thursday
afternoon, Rev. Messrs. Pettee and Warren officiating, with
music by the new church choir. The esteem in which the
deceased was held was attested not only by a profusion
of flowers, but also by the presence of many prominent
citizens of this and other towns. Mr. Dunham leaves a
wife and three children, two boys and a girl."

John E Morris The Bontecou genealogy: A record of the descendants 
of Pierre Bontecou, a Huguenot refugee from France, in the lines 
of his sons (Hartford, Conn. Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard
Company, 1885)  pp179-180

After Henry Dunham Jr's death his widow became involved in several
lawsuits involving infringements on his patents by other shoe

In the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910, the cause of his death
is listed as peritonitis and his occupation as "Inventor".

To be continued....


Nancy said...

The obituary is a great find and has so much information, especially about his patents, etc. I'm looking forward to the continuation.

Family Curator said...

I love these old obituaries where folks could show a little emotion and opinion. And especially, occupation as "Inventor." My youngest son used that as his favorite answer when asked, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"