Sunday, December 31, 2023


 ((First posted in 2011 on my West in New England blog))

 I haven't found much online about Worthy C Dunham and his family.  Like
the rest of the Dunhams in Abington he made his money in the shoe trade,
more specifically in manufacturing heels. When Benjamin Hobart published his
History of Abington in 1866 he included a list of manufacturers in the town taken
from the 1860 Us Census which showed Worthy Dunham had made $700 dollars
in sales. That doesn't seem like a lot of money by today's standards but that was
pretty respectable for those times , and Worthy probably did much better during
the Civil War when the area around Abington was the shoe manufacturing capital
of America.

Worthy's son Jotham Ellsworth Dunham apparently preferred to go by the name
J.Ellsworth Dunham and followed his father into the heel business.  He did so
well that in 1880  he built a fine house on Adams St in Abington where so many
of the wealthy families lived that the stretch of the street was known as Palace
Row. The house still stands and is on the National Register of historic homes.

I mentioned in the previous post in this series that there were Dunham children
listed in Hobart's book that weren't buried  with Worthy, including  J. Ellsworth.
Ellsorth is in fact buried nearby with his wife Lydia and their infant twin children :

The gravestone reads:

J. Ellsworth Dunham
His Wife
Lydia Frances Gardner
Twin Babes 1876

There is another Dunham buried nearby and I'll discuss that in the next
post in this series.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023



Benjamin Hobart's  History of the town of Abington, Plymouth County,
Massachusetts, from its first settlement  has become my first place to
look for information about my Abington cousins. On page 369 I found the

IV. Worthy C Dunham, born in Abington June 17, 1815; was married to
Irene Shaw of Weymouth, December 24, 1837. Their children were—
V. Rensellaer, born September 16, 1838; died September 17, 1839.
V. Jotham Ellsworth, born May 3, 1842.
V. Sumner Ellis, born September 3,1847; died September 25, 1848.
V. Irene Shaw, born October 23, 1851.
V. Sarah Williams, born July 22, 1855.
V. Abbie Weston, born August 30, 1858; died August 15, 1859.
Irene Shaw, wife of Worthy C. Dunham, died January 4,
1860, aged 42 years, 11 months, 9 days; he next married Marilla Pratt, 
October 4, 1860.

Now I knew there were more children who were not listed on the monument.
Could they have been buried there and the names not inscribed on the blank
western side of the marker? It was far more likely they had survived to
adulthood and were buried elsewhere. But what about the inscription
for Frank, Grace and  Robert on the south side? Grandchildren perhaps?

First though, I wanted to check on Worthy's parents, I looked on the previous
page, 368:

"III. Mr. Ezra Duuham was born in Plymouth, May 10, 1785; married, first, 
Susanna Ford, of Abington, January 30, 1806. They had one son, Henry,
born October 13, 1806; second, married Polly Cary, daughter of Howard 
Cary, Esq., of North Bridgewater. They had seven sons and three daughters,
viz., Susan, Howard Cary, Worthy Columbus, Charles Atwood, Cornelius 
Thomas, Ezra Rider, Angeline Huldah, Elbridge Cary, Francis William, 
and Lydia Howard." 

So, Worthy's middle name was Columbus and he was the half brother of 
General Henry Dunham and full brother to Cornelius T, Dunham, both of
whose graves I had previously discovered in Mt. Vernon Cemetery.

Now what else could I find out about him and his family?

Tuesday, November 7, 2023


 ((first posted on West in New England in Aug. 2011))


Ever since discovering the Cornelius T.Dunham family plot only
a few yards away from my parents' grave in Mt Vernon Cemetery
here in Abington, I've looked for more Dunham cousins buried
there. I thought I'd found all of them but apparently, I was
wrong. A few days before I discovered David Ellinwood's grave,
I discovered another Dunham family plot.

I found it as I was photographing the graves on the hillside
above the family of Henry Dunham. This is the east side of the

The inscription reads:
"Worthy C Dunham
       His Wife
     Irene Shaw
       His Wife
    Marilla Pratt

On the south side:

The inscription here lists three children:

   Sumner Ellis
   Abbie Weston
    Children of
W.C.& I.S. Dunham"

On the north side:
This side reads:
"Frank E. Dunham
      Grace E.
     Robert E. 

So, not only do I have Dunham cousins buried here in Abington, some of them
were living here while my Dad was still alive, and there may still be some here
living in town.

I'll discuss how I'm related to these latest discoveries in the next post in this series.

Monday, November 6, 2023


 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.

Sunday, November 5, 2023


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.

Thursday, November 2, 2023


 ((First posted on West in New England in January 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!

Monday, October 30, 2023


 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!