Sunday, March 18, 2012


As I mentioned in the previous post, Isaac Dunham was the first keeper of the
Minot Ledge Lighthouse near the site of the St. John. I knew that he was originally
from Plymouth from some online accounts of his life, which made it more than
liely that he, like myself, was a descendant of John Dunham. The only question
was, how were exactly were Isaac and I related?
 I Googled "Isaac Dunham"+ Plymouth and eventually found the following

"(VII) Isaac Dunham, son of Capt. Cornelius, was born Oct. 11, 1787, in Plymouth,
Mass., and in early life followed the sea, serving on coasters and schooners,
during which time he visited many of the foreign ports. During the war of 1812 he
served on a privateer. Soon after his marriage he settled in Hartford, Maine, where
he was engaged in farming, later removing to Belfast, Maine, where he also followed 

farming. In 1827, when the Pemaquid lighthouse at Bristol, Maine, was built, he
became the first keeper of that light, in which capacity he acted for about nine
years. In 1836 he came to North Bridgewater, where he took up farming for about
three years, when he became the first keeper of the Nausett lighthouse at Eastham,
Mass., in 1839, remaining as keeper of that light for a period of about four years,
when he resigned, and for the next four or five years was engaged at the Lowell
railroad depot in Boston; during this time he resided at East Cambridge, Mass.
Returning to North Bridgewater he again took up farming, at which vocation he was
occupied until the Minot's Ledge Light, at Cohasset, Mass., was completed, when he
became the first keeper of this lighthouse, which he lighted first Jan. 1, 1850. This
lighthouse was off shore some distance and was constructed of iron piping, and from
the first Mr. Dunham did not consider it safe, so he resigned his position in the fall
of that year, and the following April 16, 1851, during a storm, the lighthouse was
completely demolished, the two keepers being lost and their bodies never recovered.
Mr. Dunham then returned to North Bridgewater, where he spent the remainder of
his days, and where he passed away March 25, 1856. Mr. Dunham was musically

inclined, and during the time he lived at Eastham, Mass., was a singer in and leader 
of the choir of the church, which he attended regularly.

On Oct. 7, 1811, Mr. Dunham married Abigail Cary, who was born in North 

Bridgewater, the daughter of Jonathan and Abigail (Perkins) Cary, and a direct 
descendant of John Cary, who was the first of the name in this country, coming 
from England and settling in Duxbury, Mass., in 1639, later becoming one of the
first settlers of Bridgewater, of which he was the first town clerk. Mrs. Dunham 
died in her native town Dec. 25, 1873, aged eighty-three years, the mother of 
eight children, two of whom died young, the others being as follows: Henry 
Cornelius, born May 25, 1814, in Hartford, Maine, came in 1839 to North 
Bridgewater, where he married Lucia Brett; he was a shoe manufacturer in 
North Bridgewater, where he died. Abigail, born Aug. 31, 1819,  married 
Sidney Eaton, of Chelsea, Mass., and died in North Bridgewater Isabella, 
born April 13, 1822, is the widow of Barnabas Snow, formerly of Eastham, 
Mass., and later of North Bridgewater, where he was extensively engaged 
as a builder and where she now resides. Mary Aurelia, born July 11, 1824, 
married Isaac Brett, of  North Bridgewater, where she died. Isaac Atwood, 
born March 6, 1827, married Augusta L. Packard, of North Bridgewater, 
where he was a shoe toolmaker and inventor, being the first maker of a 
shoe edge plane; he died in Brockton Oct. 22,  1896. Benjamin Franklin 
is mentioned below."

J.H. Beers Representative men and old families of southeastern 
Massachusetts ...,  Volume 3 J.H. Beers & Co  Chicago, Illinois 1912 (p1692-1693)

(My Maine cousin Norman Mitchell had also found the line of descent for Isaac.)

And once again, after I'd read all this, gobsmackery ensued.

The key here is Isaac's father, Cornelius Dunham. Regular readers of this blog
might remember my series of posts about the Dunham cousins I found buried here
not far from my parents' grave in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Abington. They were all
descended from Ezra Dunham, who like Isaac was also the son of Capain Cornelius
Dunham,  and Polly Cary, cousin of Isaac Dunham's wife, Abigail Cary!

So there you have it. Isaac Dunham, lighthouse keeper, is my 5th cousin 5x removed.
and the uncle and brother of the Dunhams I'd been researching here in my home

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