Saturday, October 20, 2018


One of the most frustrating and sometimes painful things that happens for family historians is finding out that someone you believed to be your ancestor isn' t.The most common reason for this is that there is more than one person in a family or community that have the same name, and for one reason or another you have the wrong one.

And this is what happened to me in the case of John Dunham Jr. and consequently his son Samuel Dunham.

Oops.Let me explain.

I had John Dunham Jr in my tree as my 8th great grandfather and his son Samuel Dunham as my 7th great grandfather. But when I finally got around to transcribing John's will the other day, there was no mention of Samuel anywhere in it. So I started checking the other information I had on the family and discovered that John Dunham Jr's son Samuel died in a house fire in August 1687/88, five years before John's will was written, and had never married. So he wasn't my ancestor.

Eventually I figured it out. The Samuel Dunham I am descended from was John Dunham Jr's nephew, who was married to Mary Harlow. And his father Samuel Dunham Sr was John's btother.

So how did this happen? Well, the Ellingwood and Dunhams were the first of my ancestors I added to my family tree, using my cousin Florence O'Connor's book. And she used the book by Isaac Watson  for her Dunham information. All of her Ellingwood research has checked out but I hadn't worked extensively on the Dunhams until now. And as I've mentioned in a previous post, Isaac Watson's  book has since been proven to have some erroneous information. But fifty or so years ago the book information was widely accepted.

I made a classic newbie error when I didn't double check the information  when I entered it on my family tree.

Luckily for me, I don't have to remove a whole branch from that tree, just one generation from my line of descent. I've already done that on Ancestry and RootsMagic. And I will have to redo Week 37 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks with the correct ancestor this time.

Live and Learn!


((Oddly enough, both my parents occasionally would quote a line or two from Riley's
two most famous poems. This is the one Dad would quote; I'll post the other later this month
I first posted this on 13Oct 2012)) 

We had the first frost of the fall season last night in parts of New England and it put me in mind 
how Dad would  sometimes recite "When the frost is on the pumpkin...". That's the only part of
the poem he'd say. I think he must have had to recite it in school when he was a kid and that's all
he remembered.

Reading it just now I had to grin at the line about the turkey since I've now had experiences with
a loud, "struttin" turkey here in my own backyard!

 "When the Frost is on the Punkin"
                          James Whitcomb Riley

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,   
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,   
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,   
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;   
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,         
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,   
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere   
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—   
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,   
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;   
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze   
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days   
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,   
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;   
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still   
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;   
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;   
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—   
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps   
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;   
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through   
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...   
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be   
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—   
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Monday, October 08, 2018


My 9x great grandfather John Dunham Sr. has been the subject of much discussion by genealogists over the years. There is the question of John Singletary/ John Dunham which I won't go into here. And then there is the confusion caused by Isaac Watson's book which had many errors that were accepted by the genealogical community of the 19th century as fact.

I debated dicussing those errors here but then decided if I did so they might end up on someone's online family tree and spread further. Instead here is a link to the book, Dunham genealogy: English and American branches of the Dunham family. This is an edition published in 1907. What alarms me is that there are editions published as recently as 2017.

Luckily, more thorough research from reputable genealogists has produced these facts:
John Dunham  Sr was born in England around 1588/9. He married Susannah Keno around 1615 and they were part of the English Separatist community in Leiden Holland where they had three children together before Susannah's death. John's second wife was Abigail Barlow (or Ballou) who he married on 22Oct 1629 in Leiden. Their first three (possibly four) children were born in Leiden before the family arrived at Plymouth Plantation in 1632.  John's occupation is listed in the Plymouth records as weaver but he managed to acquire quite a bit of property and he was a prominent member of the community. He also was active in the town government  where he served on committees and worked as a town officer several times, He and his sons also occasionally were involved in some scurrilous incidents over the years. He died in Plymouth on 2Mar 1688/9.

John Dunham Sr.'s children with Susannah Keno, all born in Leiden, were:

John Jr., b. about 1616; died 6Apr 1692
Humility, b. around 1618
Thoma, b. around 1619; died around 1677

His children with Abigail Barlow/Ballou:
Samuel, b. in Leiden about 1623; died in Plymouth 20Jan 1711
Jonathan, b. in Leiden about 1625
Abigail, b. in Leiden around 1627
Joseph, b. 1631 (probably in Leiden)
Hannah, b. in Plymouth 1634; died in Plymouth 1Apr 1708
Persis, b. in Plymouth 1635
Benajah, b. in Plymouth 1637
Daniel, b. in  Plymouth 1639

I am descended from sons John Jr. and Joseph.

Thursday, October 04, 2018


There's been a change of plans in the next series of posts in the 52 Ancestors in 52Weeks series. Due to a question in establishing which John Ellis was the father of my 7x great grandmother Elizabeth (Ellis) Briggs I am going to postpone those posts for now. Instead I will be turning to the family tree of my 2x great grandmother Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood, who is a descendant of immigrant ancestor John Dunham of Plymouth. Here's the relationship chart:

I'll also be posting about the other families in her line.