Monday, January 31, 2011


Alright, there's been some developments regarding a possible connection
with relatives descended from my maternal great great grandparents
Anne Byrne and Patrick Kelley who were Irish but living in Edinburgh

First, there's what little I already knew. In the 1979 phone conversation
with my cousin Nancy she gave me some information from the marriage
certificate of their daughter Anne Kelley and John McFarland. It lists her
father as Patrick Kelley who lived at 51 Blackfriar Rd. in Edinburgh.
The marriage took place on 16May 1879 at St Patrick's Church.

From another cousin, John(who was named after his grandfather John
McFarland) I had a reference to someplace called the Iron Cathedral,
and that Ann had been born in Roscommon, Ireland.

Now, after my last post, Dee Blakeley sent me the information she'd found  
from the hints on the World membership site from the
1871 and 1881 Scotland Census. First, the 1871 entry:

Name: Ann Kelly
Age: 12
Estimated birth year: abt 1859
Relationship: Daughter
Father's name: Patrick Kelly
Mother's name: Ann Kelly
Gender: Female
Where born: Ireland
Registration Number: 685/3
Registration district: Canongate
Civil Parish: Edinburgh Iron Church
County: Midlothian
Address: 18 Blackfriars St
ED: 12
Household schedule number: 33
Line: 7
Roll: CSSCT1871_161
Household Members: Name Age
Patrick Kelly 42 b 1829 in IRE
Ann Kelly 40 b 1831 in IRE
Mary Kelly 14 b 1857 in IRE
Ann Kelly 12
John Kelly 10 b 1861 in IRE
Sarah Kelly 3 b 1868 in Edinburgh
Robert Kelly 6 M b 1870 in Edinburgh

There's Blackfriars St. although the wrong street number. I found the
names of the siblings interesting because many of Ann Kelly McFarland's
children now appear to me to have been named after her brothers and sisters.

Next, the entry for 1881, two years after Ann had married John McFarland
and left for America.

1881 Scotland Census
Name: Patrick Kelley
Age: 52
Estimated birth year: abt 1829
Relationship: Head
Spouse's name : Ann Kelley
Gender: Male
Where born: Co Rosscommon, Ireland
Registration Number: 685/3
Registration district: Canongate
Civil Parish: Edinburgh Iron Church
County: Midlothian
Address: 54 Blackfriars Street
Occupation: General Labourer
ED: 8
Household schedule number: 42
Line: 8
Roll: cssct1881_287
Household Members: Name Age
Patrick Kelley 52
Ann Kelley 49 b 1832 in Co Rosscommon, Ireland
Sarah Kelley 13 b 1868 in Torn Church, Edinburgh

Thanks again Dee for sending these along to me!

As I mentioned in the previous post, there were two family trees on Ancestry
that also had this information. I messaged them both, and heard back from the
owner of one who is a very nice lady who is living not in Scotland but in New
Zealand. She and I are inclined to believe we are indeed cousins, her descent 
being from another child of Patrick Kelly and Anne Byrne. I haven't heard yet
from the other person but I have also left a message for them on their Facebook

Finally, last night I sent off to the NARA for the naturalization record of John
McFarland. I'm hoping there'll be more information on it to further confirm my
belief that these are indeed my mom's grandparents.

So what do my readers think?

Am I right in believing this?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


or so Tom Petty tells us.

It all started this afternoon with an a Tree Notification from
You know the one:

Dear William,

Great news. We’ve found historical records that could help you discover more about your ancestors and grow your family tree, West Family of New England.

Be sure to view the following Hints:

Anne Byrne
We’ve found potential matches in these collections:
1891 Scotland Census
1881 Scotland Census


There may be even more hints for you to explore.
See all the people in your tree with hints.

Now, Anne Byrne is my maternal great great grandmother and one of my brickwalls.
I wasn't sure if I could examine those records because I don't have the World Deluxe
Ancestry membership. I was right, I couldn't.

But there was also a Public Member Family Tree link, and I clicked on it.  From what
I saw there, I may have discovered cousins,  two descendants of Anne Byrne and
Patrick Kelley who live in the U.K. I wanted to double-check so I searched my
apartment for the manila file folder that holds some of the oldest research I've done.
Specifically I was looking for my notes from a phone interview I'd done back on 3Mar
1979 with my cousin Nancy. She and I are descended from Anne Kelley, daughter of
Patrick Kelley and Anne Byrne, and she had in her possession at that time the
marriage certificate of Anne Kelley and John McFarland. The information in the notes
I made 31 years ago doesn't match up exactly with what I found on those two trees,
but the differences in dates are only off by one day.


I've sent messages to both tree owners on Ancestry and discovered one of them has
a Facebook account so I messaged that person there as well.

Now I'm waiting and hoping for a reply. There's been none so far, but there is the
time difference.  So I'm still waiting.

I'll let you know what happens.


Lynn Palermo over at The Armchair Genealogist blog has issued the
Family History Writing Challenge and I've decided to accept. Here's
the details:

The Family History Writing Challenge
Feb 1st-28th
          A 28-Day Commitment to Writing Your Family History

The What, When, Where and How of it All

Why should I sign up?
To actively participate in an opportunity to write your family history, without having to worry about quality. The key to writing is to write.  Stop procrastinating; finally commit pen to paper or fingers to key board. Those family facts, finally assemble them into a format someone will read.

Whom Do I Write About?
A single ancestor, a surname, a branch of your tree, you pick.
You select the ancestor or ancestors, the timeframe, just keep in mind who you feel most prepared to write about in terms of research and interest.

How Much Do I Need to Write?
You pick the amount 250, 500, 1000 words a day whatever you can work into your schedule.
Do the math.
250 words x 28 days = 7000 words, you would be well on your way!
500 words x 28 days = 14,000 words, this would be an incredible start!
1000 words x 28 days = 28,000 words, you would be a hero!

Where Do I Write?
Write on your computer, ipad, typewriter, longhand (tough to do word count). Write in your office, at the kitchen table, the local coffee shop, the lawn chair (if your someplace sunny- lucky you), or beside a roaring fire (that would be me).

What If It’s Not Good Enough?
This exercise is not about quality. Very few of us can sit down and shoot out a masterpiece on the first draft. Newsbreak..... most of us take a half dozen passes at it before it is worthy of anyone else’s eyes.  This is about making a start.  There will be plenty of time to edit your masterpiece later, committing to the word count is a huge step to making it happen.

When Does it Begin?
The Family History Writing Challenge begins Feb 1st to February 28th. I am asking you to commit 28 days of writing your family history, in the hopes that you will get a running start and you will never look back.

Where Do I Sign Up?
Right here, leave your pledge in comments or link to your own blog post, no goal is official until you have written it down and shared it. Once you verbalize, you become more committed.  If you prefer to keep it to yourself that's ok too.  However, keep checking back or sign up through email, throughout the month, I will offer numerous posts to help keep you focused, offer you some tips for your writing and help you stay on track and reach your goals.  At the end of the month, you can share how you did again here, or on your own blog.

What is stopping you from starting your writing? Let me know, and I will try to help you overcome those obstacles. Meanwhile, you have the next 12 days to get yourself organized to start writing. 

Write your family history in 28 days, are you ready to take the challenge?

So, I'm going to commit to the 250 word level, because even though many of my
posts run longer than that, 250 is easy enough to do and doesn't put too much
pressure on me. My only problem is I haven't come up with what I want to  
write about yet, so I need to think on it.

How about you? Take the challenge! It might be the impetus you need to
get some of that family history written that you've wanted to start!

You can read more about it here.

Monday, January 24, 2011


For the past few months I've been trying to get a really good picture of
a male cardinal and other birds that perch on the bush outside my bedroom
window each morning, especially the cardinal. It's become almost a quest,
to get the perfect shot of that beautiful scarlet bird before Spring arrives
and the leaves bloom and hide it from view. This morning I think it was
just too cold for it to try to evade me so I got the best picture yet.

But it's not just the birds. Sometimes the squirrels get in to the act as well:

But what prompted this post was another bird out in the bush this morning:
This is a tufted titmouse. The first time I ever saw one was shortly after our
family moved into our house on Bicknell Hill Rd here in Abington. We had a big
picture window, and one day a small grey bird flew headfirst into it and landed
in the bushes below. After our Mom got over the initial shock, she felt bad for
the poor bird and sent Dad outside to look for it. Dad after all was born and
raised in Maine, a country boy, and usually handled anything of this sort. He was
also a man of few words, like many other Mainers.

Mom looked out the front door and asked what sort of bird it was.

And Dad gave a typical laconic Mainer answer:

"A dead one."

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Today is the fourth anniversary of West in New England! Somedays
it's hard to believe it's only been four years, and other days it feels like
I've been doing this for longer than that.

As I wrote last year, I got off to a bit of a flying stop in my blogging:

"Yes, now it can be told. My first geneablog was a failure. I was new
to this whole idea and started out enthusiastically and wrote
five posts within a few days for my blog which I'd named
West of New England. But when I went to add a new post a day
or so later, I discovered I couldn't recall the password for the blog.
After about a half an hour I gave up and just recreated the blog.
I'd saved what I'd written so I created a new blogger account
and started a new geneablog, West in New England. And that's why
the first five posts are all dated Jan 23,2007."

Luckily I kept at it thanks to the comments and encouragement I
received from a whole bunch of folks over the years. I want to
thank all of you who have taken the time to comment and
especially those who voted for West in New England in the
FamilyTree Top 40 Genealogy Blog poll these past two years.

I'm still having fun writing about what I find researching my family
history, and I hope you all enjoy reading about it as much as I
the writing!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I recently ordered the complete Civil War Pension file of my 2x great
grandfather Asa Freeman Ellingwood.and it arrived last week-all 106
pages of it. Needless to say, I was psyched. That's the good news.

And the bad news?

Much of it looks like this.There's about a half dozen interviws of Asa, his
wife Florilla Dunham Ellingwodd, their son Walter and various other people
all written in handwriting that is difficult to read. I plan to scan each page and
share them with my siblings, my Aunt and cousins and my Ellingwood relatives.
Part of that process includes transcribing the interviews but as you can see that
might take longer than I'd like.

And the good news again is that I love working on this stuff!

                                             Asa F Ellingwood & Florilla Dunham Ellingwood


I was talking with my brother the other day and was telling him how I'd
recently found out that the apartment building we'd lived in on Evans St.
in Dorchester was no longer there. Then he reminded me he'd never
lived there. He'd been born a few years after we'd moved out of Boston
down here to Abington. I'm seventeen years older than him and there's a
a lot of things that happened before his birth. He never knew our
grandmother Agnes, for example.

I'd been thinking about this lately, about how some of the generations
in the family are so close to touching but separated by death or other
reasons. My great grandfather PJ West died when I was six years old
but I have no memories of him, because he lived in Maine and I can't
recall visiting him up there. We probably did but I was too young for
it to make an impression, much in the same way my sister has very
little memory of Aggie. And of course there's my mom's dad who
I'm pretty sure was alive until 1981 but who had completely cut off
any contact with his children and their families.

I think about how my parents would have liked to have seen their
grandchildren grow up and about how they'd have gotten a kick out
of their first great grandchild.

I suppose it's because I'm a genealogist and family historian that I think
about some of these things. I realized one day that although I don't
have any memories of PJ West that I most certainly had met him as a child.
And that makes me the link between my grandnephew and his 3x great
grandfather. I've known people who were born in the 19th century.

I've already written down some of what I know and remember about
the family.  I've been fortunate that my Aunt Dorothy wrote about
growing up with my Dad in Maine and that my granduncle Clarence
was interviewed twice about his life up there. But I'm adding to my
New Year's genealogy resolutions to write more about my memories
while I still can to pass along to my niece and nephews so they'll
know more about their grandparents.

I wonder what they'll remember about me?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I've mentioned Captain Cornelius Dunham several times in the course of
this series. He was the father of Cornelius T Dunham and Brigadier
General Henry Dunham but he didn't end his days in Abington.  I've kept
off posting about him until now because he wasn't buried in Mt. Vernon
Cemetery with his children and I wanted to concentrate on those members
of the family who were first. Winter weather has halted my exploration
of Mt. Vernon until the snows melt, so I'll end the series (for now) with
Captain Cornelius' story.

I found this on page 163 of  The Dunham Genealogy:
"Captain Cornelius Dunham was born in that part of Plymouth (now Carver),
September 17, 1748 ; was a sea captain many years ; held a commission in a
privateer in the War of the Revolution ; was captured and taken to Halifax,
N. S., where, soon after the evacuation of Boston by the British, he purchased
of a British soldier the identical sword with which General Warren fell,
previously, on Bunker Hill. The sword is now in possession of the Bunker Hill
Association, of which Capt. Dunham was honorary member. Capt. Dunham
removed to Abington about the year 1794, and lived subsequently in Carver,
Hartford, Belfast, Me., and Bristol, in the same State. He died in Bristol, July
15, 1835, aged 87 years. Mrs. Lydia, his wife, died in Abington, June 5, 1841,
aged 88 years. Capt. Cornelius and Lydia had six children— five sons and one
daughter, viz., Cornelius, Henry, Ezra, Isaac and Thomas (twins), and Lydia
Atwood, all of whom were born in Plymouth."                                       

Now some of my direct ancestors were at Bunker Hill so that mention of Gen.
Warren's sword caught my attention. I wondered what else I could find out about
how the sword came into Captain Cornelius' possession, so I did a Google
search and found the following from Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical

"                    THE SWORD OF WARREN.

In one of our recent numbers we stated having received documents in
relation to the sword with which the lamented Gen. "Warren fell at the
battle of Bunker Hill. At the request of Captain Cornelius Dunham of this
town, the proprietor of the sword, we this day publish a copy of the
declaration establishing its identity. The original declaration, and the sword,
are now in the possession of the Hon. William Davis of Plymouth,
Massachusetts. With those who have long known Capt. Dunham, no doubt
can exist of the correctness of his statement, according to his best recollections;
nor of his sincere and firm belief that the sword he possesses is unequivocally
the identical sword used by Warren, at the memorable battle in which he fell.

I, Cornelius Dunham, gentleman, of the age seventy-four years, born in that
part of the town of Plympton, now called Carver, in the county of Plymouth,
and Commonwealth of Massachusetts; now an inhabitant of the town of Belfast,
in the county of Hancock, State of Maine; being, by the mercy of God, of sound
mind and memory, do declare, testify and say — that in the year 1775 I was in
the capacity of seaman on board the schr. Priscilla of Plymouth, John Foster
Williams, master, returning from the West Indies, via Philadelphia, being off
Nantucket shoals about six or eight weeks after the memorable battle of Bunker
Hill, we were captured by the British squadron which was then proceeding to
take the neat stock from Gardener's Island, near New London.

A prize-master and crew were put on board said schooner, and ordered to
Boston. Myself, my brother James, and Samuel Rider of Plymouth, being sick,
were permitted to remain on board the schooner, which soon after arrived
in Boston. We remained on board some weeks, and were then all taken to
Halifax, in a schooner belonging to Samuel Jackson of Plymouth, which had
been commanded by Capt. Cornelius White; but was then under the command
of Lemuel Goddard.

After we recovered from our sickness we found some friends at Halifax; and
I was there employed in the store of Mr. William Lambert, who may be now
living in the city of Boston. While employed in Mr. Lambert's store, the
servant of a British officer wished me to purchase of him a sword; and
ascertaining by a certificate that he was authorized to sell it, I accordingly
did purchase it. — After the purchase, he informed me it was the sword
taken from " Doctor Warren immediately after he fell at the battle of Bunker
Hill." I had no suspicion of this fact till after I had paid him for it. I asked him
if his master would vouch for the truth of what he had alleged. He answered
me " he would." I then went with him to his master, whom I found to be an
officer and a gentleman; who, according to my best recollection was a colonel,
and about thirty years of age. The officer told me that he had taken the same
sword from Gen. Warren, when lying dead on the battle ground; and that he
gave it to his servant. The officer also informed me that " General Warren fell
not far from the Redoubt" — these being the words he used, as I particularly
remember ; and that after the British entered the redoubt he saw Warren
before he fell. The officer remarked that he endeavored to prevent his men
from firing, but could not; and that Warren, remaining too long on the ground
he had defended, was shot dead in his view. The officer likewise informed me
that "Warren was buried in common with the rest of the dead. I had not been
in possession of the sword an hour when I was offered a great price for it by a
Mr. Robinson, of Philadelphia, who was very desirous to possess it; but I was
not willing to part with it for any price. Mr. Lambert, seeing me so much
attached to the sword, gave me a gun, and a French gentleman gave me, at
the same time, a cartouch box. — On my return to Plymouth in 1777 I gave
general information that I had purchased at Halifax the sword which the late
Gen. Warren wore at the battle of Bunker Hill; and hundreds had knowledge
of it as such, and frequently saw it. I never took the sword to sea with me,
but left it at home as a precious relic. I once equipped myself with it and my
gun, on the alarm of a descent of the British at Fairhaven ; but before I
reached that place, they had reimbarked. The time of my purchasing the
sword was after the British evacuated Boston, and before the fleet sailed
from Halifax for New York.

From the information given by the British officer, I then had not, nor have I
since had, the least doubt of this being the sword of the late Gen. Joseph
Warren; and which is the same sword which I delivered to the Hon. William
Davis and William Jackson, Esq. at Plymouth on the 15th August last, at the
moment of my departure for this place. — During the period of forty-seven
years that this sword has been in my possession, and proclaimed as being
the sword of the late Gen. Joseph Warren, it has never been denied as such,
and no claims have been made to any other sword as appertaining to him. —
When I purchased the sword it was in good order; but during my long absence
at sea, it has lost many of its ornaments.

Done at Belfast, in the State of Maine this fourteenth of September, Anno
Domini one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two.

(Signed) Cornelius Dunham.

State of Maine, Hancock, ss. Belfast, Sept. 14, 1822. Then the above named
Cornelius Dunham made solemn oath that the facts related by him in the
foregoing declaration, by him subscribed, are true according to his best
knowledge and belief.

Before me, (Signed) William White, Justice of Peace.

-Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 9 (pp348-350)

As I said earlier this concludes the series on my distant Dunham family
cousins who are buried in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Abington, Ma., the same
cemetery where my parents are buried. I plan to hunt for more relatives
when the snows have melted and the gravestones are more readily accessible
for me. Who knows? I may find other relatives there.

But for now, I'm laying my hunt to rest.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I have  three personal days I have to use up at work by the end of
this month so I took for a mini-vacation. I intend to catch up on
some reading, writing and research, but the first thing on my agenda
today was to get a haircut. Unfortunately, I forgot my barber is closed
on Mondays.  

It's become a habit of mine lately on my days off to take my camera
with me when I leave the apartment, so since it was a sunny(but cold)
day and I was already out of the house I took a little ride around the
area to take some pictures. Mt. Vernon Cemetery is not far from the
barbershop so I decided to drive through it again but this time from
the back entrance to the front so that the gravestones that had been on
the passenger side on my last drive through were now on the driver
side and easier to shoot. And as luck would have it, one of the
headstones close to the road was this one:

The plot is for the Sprague-Denham family and the first name on the right
hand side of the stone was Henry Denham 1822-1903. I knew right
away who he was because I'd run across the name Denham while
researching the post for the Susan and Edward Dunham gravestone.
One of their uncles had been born George Dunham but changed his
name to Denham and went on to become a prominent businessman
in Boston and New York City. Another brother was Henry, and his
date of birth is given in The Dunham Genealogy as 13Feb 1822
and his wife as Hannah M. Sprague (p183) which matches up with
everything on the stone, except that it lists him as Henry Dunham.

I checked the records on and found Henry listed as
Denham on the Federal Census as well as on the State Census at
FamilySearch Record Search.

So we have two brothers born under the name Dunham who had
changed their name to Denham while their siblings retained the
Dunham name. Considering that the name was originally Donham
I'm not too surprised it was changed again.

But I sure wish I knew the reason why they did it!


So far everything I had found about Sarah M(Sadie)Dunham , her husband
Clinton R(ufus) Dorr and their son Richard Dorr had been from the Federal
Census images at Now I started checking some of the other
historical documents there and began to fill in more pieces of the puzzle.
First, I found Clinton Dorr in the 1884 South Abington Directory(p143) listed
as the stitching room foreman for the C S & L Company. After South Abington
became Whitman, Clinton is in the 1889 and 1892 directory as the foreman
at the Stetson Shoes  stitching room.

Next I turned to Richard Dorr and reasoned he was of the right age to have
served in  World War 1. Sure enough I found his draft registration card and
got a surprise. Richard was no longer living in Massachusetts in 1918, nor
was he an electrical engineer! Instead, he was a teacher at the Hill School
in Pottstown, Pa. (The school was a private boy's high school and is still
around in the present day as a coed private school). Richard is described as
tall and of medium weight with  blue eyes and brown hair along with a limp.
He lists Sara Dorr as his next of kin, but she was living at 15 Centre St back in
Brockton, Ma. I wondered what subject Richard taught? Science, perhaps?
But I soon found other records that pointed to another change in jobs,
and that helped answer another question besides.

I found passenger list and passport application images that showed Richard
had become an employee of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. A
letter from the vicepresident of the company dated  October 9th, 1919
is attached to the first passport and confirms Richard had been recently hired.
There's also an affidavit from Sarah identifying Richard as her son. From this I
learned Sara was now a saleswoman living in New York City at 43 West 48 St .
Best of all is the photograph of the now thirty eight year old Richard. Apparently
Richard made three trips back and forth to Brazil to purchase coffee beans for the
company. His first stay lasted three years and on the second passport application
for his return home I learned of the fate of his father Clinton Dorr.

Richard states that his father had died in 1908 in Taunton, Ma. A search of the 1900
Federal census told me Clinton had been an inmate at the Taunton State Mental
Hospital.  Perhaps he was still there at the time of his death. Now I knew what
had gone wrong in the Dorr family sometime after 1884 when Clinton Dorr worked
at Stetson Shoes.

My search ended on a happier note though. On the passenger list for the ship
Pan American'a arrival in New York City from Brazil is not only the name of Richard
door but Sarah Dorr as well. Richard had taken his mother with him to spend the
winter in Brazil.  I have their passport photographs as well:

Richard Dorr passed away in 1931 and Sarah followed a year later in 1932. I don't
know yet about their lives between that trip together to Brazil and their deaths.
I hope they had happier times. If not, I hope there was at least pleasant memories
of Brazil to see them through dark times.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The history of my distant Dunham relations buried here in Abington in
Mt Vernon Cemetery would make, I think, a good historical epic. Their
family fortunes were tied to the rise and fall of the shoe industry in this
area, and with a Brigadier General, an inventor, and a Civil War veteran
in the family there's no shortage of interesting characters to consider
(and I have still to post about their ancestor, Captain Cornelius Dunham!).
But the last grave in the Henry Dunham family plot led me to a story that
has some particularly dramatic elements.

I mentioned in my post on Andrew Jackson Dunham that even though
he was still listed as married on the 1880 Federal Census he was living
alone in Rockland Ma. except for his housekeeper and that subsequently
he and his wife Mercie Whitcomb Dunham were divorced. I found her
and their two daughters Sarah and Emma living on Beulah St. in South
Abington (now Whitman)Ma. on the same census. Mercie is listed as a
dressmaker and her two daughters are employed in a shoefactory. Quite
possibly Sarah Dunham had already met her future husband Clinton R
Dorr who lived  nearby on Washington St and who likewise worked at
a shoe factory. She's listed as Sadie Dunham instead of Sarah.

I knew from the gravestone that Sarah's son Richard Clinton Dorr was
born in 1881. There's no way of telling but I hope Sarah had a few years
of happy family life because by 1900 things had taken a drastic turn.
(It's not unusual for me to mentally curse the loss of the 1890 censuses
while researching. This case is no exception.) I found Sadie Dorr and her
son Richard as boarders halfway across the state in Worcester. Sadie
was working as a dressmaker while nineteen year old Richard was at
school. There was no mention of her husband Clinton. It's possible that
Richard was attending a technical school because he turns up in Boston
on the 1910 census as an electrical engineer living in the same boarding
house as his grandmother Mercie Whitcomb Dunham. I haven't found
any trace of Sadie on the 1910 Census as yet.

I had lived for nearly ten years near the Abington-Whitman town line
not far from where Sarah Dunham and Clifford Dorr had lived in the
previous century. Our house was on Bicknell Hill Rd off of Washington
St. and I used to play wiffleball and basketball on Beulah St. I still drive
down either Washington or Beulah Streets on the way to visit my sister.
and there's an old shoe factory that takes up most of a block between the
two streets that has been renovated into an apartment building. Perhaps
it's where Sarah worked and met Clinton Dorr.

Maybe knowing the area so well is the reason why this kept niggling away
at my mind and I kept digging away at it.

What I found will be in my next post.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We're supposed to be getting a blizzard here tonight. I thought an
excerpt from cousin John Greenleaf Whittier's poem Snowbound
would be an apropos blogpost before I head off to bed:

"Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores."

Monday, January 10, 2011


The grave site of Henry Dunham and his family sits at the base of a hill
that overlooks a small pond within Mt.Vernon Cemetery. On the crest
of another hill on the opposite side of the pond is a gravestone with the
following names:
Susan M Dunham
Edward E Dunham
Melissa H Dunham

It took me awhile to get around to looking up these Dunham family members.
Cornelius and Henry Dunham were descendants of Ezra Dunham. Susan and
Edward Dunham were descended from George Dunham, Ezra's uncle. Their
father was Jesse Dunham. Melissa was Edward's wife but I haven't as yet
found her maiden name.

Another of Jesse Dunham's sons, George Augustus Dunham, was a Chicago
lawyer and Jesse must have gone west to live with his son because that is
where he died and was buried. I'll have to wait for the snow to melt off
before I start hunting for any more of the family at Mt.Vernon Cemetery.

I thought this would be the last post on the subject for a bit but there's
Captain Cornelius Dunham to discuss and perhapos one other post after

And once the Spring comes, there's the rest of the cemetery to explore!

Saturday, January 08, 2011


I've had some honors given to me lately that I'd like to

I've been awarded the Approved Award once more! Twice!
My thanks to Polly and Jenn, for the honor, and if you haven't
visited their blogs, you can do so at the following links:   

Polly at Pollyblog 

Jenn at Roots and Stones

You can see my list of ten discoveries and who I previously gave the
Award to here.

And I won a contest to come up with a caption for a cartoon that
will appear inside the back cover of American Ancestors, a publication
of the NEHGS.

Finally, I'd to thank those folks who take the time to leave your comments
on my posts. They are greatly appreciated!


While researching distant cousin Andrew J Dunham, I found
this rather interesting court record. Andrew seems to have been
a slippery fellow on the witness stand. I can picture this in my
mind's eye as "Law & Order:Abington" episode.

Ok, everyone, say it with me now:


"Commonwealth Vs. Thomas F. Donahoe.

Plymouth. Oct. 17. —23, 1882. Endicott, Lord & C. Allen, JJ., absent.

Under the St. of 1869, c. 425, a party producing a witness may contradict
his testimony upon any matter material to the issue, by showing that he
has made at other times statements inconsistent with his present testimony,
having first mentioned to the witness the circumstances of the statement
sufficient to designate the occasion on which it was made.

Indictment under the Gen. Sts. c. 87, §§ 6, 7, for keeping and maintaining a
common nuisance, to wit, a certain tenement in Abington, used for the
illegal sale and illegal keeping of intoxicating liquors, on May 1, 1881,
and on divers other days and times between that day and October 26, 1881.
Trial in the Superior Court, at October term 1881, before Brigham, C. J.,
who allowed a bill of exceptions, in substance as follows:

The government called one Andrew J. Dunham as a witness, who testified
that he did not think he had bought any intoxicating liquor at the defendant's
place between May 1 and October 1, 1881.

The government then asked him if he did not tell one Nash, (an officer, who
had previously testified in behalf of the government,) "a week ago last Monday,"
that he had bought rum or whiskey there since May 1; to which the witness
replied that he told him something to that effect, but that he could not tell
whether it was before or since that date. Upon the question being repeated,
the witness denied that he had made such statement to Nash.

The government then recalled Nash, and asked him, "if, a week ago last Monday
in the cars, Andrew J. Dunham said anything about purchasing whiskey or rum
since May 1, and prior to October 21, 1881." To this question the defendant
objected. The objection was overruled, and the witness replied that Dunham
stated in the cars that he had bought rum or whiskey of the defendant, that he
could not tell what date it was, but it was since May 1, and the last purchase was
less than a month ago.

Dunham was then asked by the government, " if a week ago last Monday he did
not tell Nash in the cars that the defendant had offered him money, if he would
not testify against him in this case." To which he replied, that he did not tell 

Nash, a week ago last Monday in the cars, that the defendant had offered him 
money; "I told him that he would rather give me back some money which I 
claimed belonged to me, than havr me testify against him." On cross-
examination, he testified, -I did not tell Nash that the defendant had paid me
a cent. He had not offered to pay me a cent."

The government then recalled Nash, and asked him, "if, a week ago last Monday
 in the cars, Andrew J. Dunham said anything to him about the defendant 

having offered to pay Dunham money, if he would not testify against the 
defendant in this case." To this question the defendant objected. The 
objection was overruled, and the witness replied that "Dunham said the 
defendant had offered to give back money he had got of his, if he would 
not testify against him."

The jury returned a verdict of guilty; and the defendant alleged exceptions.

W. H. Osborne, for the defendant.

C. H. Barrows, Assistant Attorney General, for the Commonwealth.

Morton, C. J. Under our practice, a party producing a witness has the right to
contradict his testimony upon any matter material to the issue, by showing
that he has made at other times statements inconsistent with his present
testimony, having first mentioned to the witness the circumstances of the
statement sufficient to designate the occasion on which it was made.
St. 1869, c. 425. Pub. Sts. c. 169, § 22. Ryerson v. Abington. 102 Mass. 526.
Force v. Martin, 122 Mass. 5.

In the case at bar, one Dunham, called by the government, testified that he
did not think he had bought any liquor at the defendant's place between May
1 and October 1, 1881. This was material testimony, and the government had
the right to contradict it, by showing that he had told Nash that he had
bought liquor there between May and October, the prosecuting officer having
first laid the foundation for the evidence by mentioning to the witness the
occasion on which the statement was made.

So the testimony of Dunham, that the defendant had not offered to pay him
money, if he would not testify against the defendant, was material; and it was
competent for the government, upon the same conditions, to prove that
Dunham had made contradictory statements.

Both questions put by the government to Nash were therefore competent.
Exceptions overruled."

As to whether Andrew faced any penalties, I've yet to find any record.


Back in December I let my readers know that there was a chance that
the PBS series History Detectives might do a segment on a mystery
I'd posted about here concerning Revolutionary War figure James
Otis. Somehow or another the show had learned of my post and
contacted me about looking into it. I spoke and corresponded with
a very nice lady named Robin Hutchins and she told me I'd hear
back from her after the holidays.

I received an email from Robin today:

"Hi Bill,
I hope you had a good holiday. Unfortunately, we won’t be
able to use your investigation for the show. But I wanted to 
let you know what we learned. There is no entry in the Court’s
Docket of this case, which means that this case never went to
trial. This can mean many things, but none of them were recorded 
at this time. I don’t know if we can ever learn why as there will 
not be a paper trail.

But good luck with your investigation. You are free to post this on 
your blog now.

Best, Robin Hutchins"

So even though we didn't make the show, I'm still over the moon 
that they even considered the idea. And of course I plan to keep
digging away at this for my brother in law Peter, because that's 
what we genealogists and family historians do when we come
across a family mystery.

And as I told Robin, The History Detectives remains my favorite
television show!

Thursday, January 06, 2011


Brigadier General Henry Dunham's family seems to have suffered a
reversal of fortune in the latter half of the 19th century. The General had
commanded forty companies and five regiments at the celebrations
marking the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument (Dunham
Genealogy p167) and his son Henry had been a successful shoe
manufacturer and inventor. The rest of the General's were not quite so
prominent in Abington society.
After the younger Henry's death, his widow Ella became embroiled in
lawsuits against shoe manufacturers who'd copied her husband's inventions.
She and daughter Ida appear on the 1910 Federal Census for Holden
in Worcester County, Massachusetts as renting their home but neither
was employed. Perhaps son Harry B. Dunham paid their rent. According
to the Dunham Genealogy he was a doctor in nearby Rutland, Ma.
Younger son Arthur moved to New York and pursued a career as an
electrical engineer. He married and had two sons.

Brackley Cushing Dunham married  Elizabeth Hunt. There was a Hunt
family that were leading shoe manufacturers in Abington but as of yet I
don't know if she was from that line. I do know that Brackley stayed in
the shoe business but it wasn't in management from what I've been able
to find in the Federal Censuses up to 1910. The couple was childless.
Brackley and Emma are not buried in the Henry Dunham family plot.

Emma Annett Dunham  married Richard L Hunt. I've yet to establish any
ties to either the Hunts of Abington or Brackley's wife Elizabeth Hunt.
Emma and her husband lived in Weymouth, Ma. and they too died
without children.

This brings us to Andrew Jackson Dunham. Andrew followed his father
in serving in the military and the inscription on his gravestone tells us he
served "Civil War Three Years 1st Mass Cav, Also Minute Men T
hree Mos."  In other words, Andrew was in the Massachusetts State
Militia , then enlisted in the regular Union Army. I found his record
over at in U.S. Civil War Soldiers and Profiles, and
with it, this picture:

Andrew J Dunham enlisted on 15April 1862. He'd been married for
seven years  to Mercie Florence Holcomb and their second daughter
was born the week after he enlisted. Upon his return from the war he
went back to work in the shoe business but then something changed.
Although he was listed as still married on the 1880 Federal Census,
Andrew was living alone except for his housekeeper  Amelia Peterson.
He and his wife may have been in the process of getting a divorce
already because his marital status was given as divorced in the
subsequent Censuses up to 1910. In his final years, Andrew turned to
poultry farming and was an officer in a local association of poultry

Andrew's gravestone intrigues me. It gives his year of death as 1917
but The Dunham Genealogy says it was 1910. And although he and
Mercie were divorced they are buried together. Was this the triumph
of a determined woman or the decision of their daughters?

But I found something even more interesting about Andrew Jackson
Dunham and I'll discuss that next!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


My recent trips to local cemeteries has inspired me to start
a new blog The Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit . You can read
about why I started it and my plans for it there.


Once again Jasia has done a great job of rounding up posts from
the geneablogging community. This time over forty of us wrote on
"Our genealogy research/writing plans for 2011! "

There's plenty of good reading and helpful information that
you might use to plan your own genealogy research here. So
go on over to Jasia's Creative Gene blog and read, then vote
in her poll on the topic for the 102nd edition of the Carnival
of Genealogy!

Monday, January 03, 2011


My sister Cheryl and brother-in-law Peter gave me a new camera 
for Christmas and I decided to go out and take some pictures with
it last Thursday. We'd had been hit pretty hard in this area by the
blizzard earlier in the week, but eternal optimist that I am I thought
the towns had had sufficient time to clear roads and sidewalks after
three days. And people are being buried everyday, so the cemeteries
would be plowed out, right?


Well, that theory would vanish in the face of cold hard, and snowy
reality. Mt Vernon Cemetery here in Abington was largely unplowed
except for the road that runs about its perimeter. So I drove through
and took some pictures along the way.

This last headstone is right next to the Cornelius Dunham family plot.
Given the ties between the Gurneys and Dunhams, I thought that Amelia
F. D. Gurney might be a Dunham but it turns she was a Dyer, one of the
most prominent families of Abington.

I tried a few more favorite spots but none of them were were cleared
so eventually I drove home.  But there's always another day and I'll
try it again this coming Thursday.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I'm a day late for Randy Seaver's "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" 
challenge. Here's the topic for this week:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Decide which of your (many?) genealogy research adventures
was your "very best" (your definition). 

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to 
this blog post, or in a Status report or comment on Facebook. 

I've had a pretty good year this year researching my family but I think
the best bit was what I found on my mother's maternal grandparents
Charles Offinger and Johanna Luick. I owe James Tanner of
Genealogy's Star a debt of gratitude because it was one of his
posts that prompted me to go to FamilySearch Record Search and
what I found there led to more discovery over at
You can read what I found at this blogpost. 

Despite the successes I've had this past year, I'm well aware that
there are more records and resources out there besides what I've
found online.I'm determined to start making  use of them in 2011
to further my research.


Barbara Poole over at Life from the Roots has challenged geneabloggers
to list our top 5 or 10 blogposts of 2010.This was a toughie for me. I
didn't really get on a roll with my research and blogging until May due to
illness and moving. In fact, it was the first year I blogged less than 200
entries for the year(only 196 compared with 254 from 2009).

But on the whole I had a very good year in my research and had some
posts that I hope were as interesting to read as they were fun for me to
write. However,  not all my choices came from research. So here they
are in no particular order: