Peter L Dunn, Son of Michael Dunn...

And Also Grand Uncle of My Generation's Father, William Edward (Bill) Dunn

As noted previously, I posted an inquiry on a genealogy message board which led to my becoming acquainted with a very helpful gal by the name of Kate. I was looking for information about Michael and Bridget Grace Dunn, and Kate knew of someone else who was also looking for them. That person was Carla Myers Busby, and Kate linked us up.

It turned out that Carla is my generation's long-lost second cousin, 1 x removed ("1 x removed" refers to the fact that there's an extra generation between our connections to Michael Dunn). Carla has been working on her family history for many years and she
provided most of the information on this page.

Peter L Dunn was the eldest son of Michael and Bridget Dunn, brother of William Edward Dunn, and Carla’s great grandfather. He was also the brother of Stephen G Dunn, who owned a thriving, well-known general store in Chetopa, Kansas, where Peter lived out his final years.

I believe Peter came to the U.S. with his parents when they emigrated in 1858; however, there's no record of him being on board their ship, although there's another infant named Peter whose name is recorded. A speculation about these facts is that perhaps his biological parents died during the months-long voyage on one of what were labeled "coffin ships", and that Michael and Bridget adopted him. However, we have no documentation to support that notion. See below for more details about this possibility.


First, Peter's obituary:

Chetopa Advance

January 8, 1920

"Peter L. Dunn, aged 64 years and for the past years a resident of
Chetopa, died Sunday afternoon at his home after an illness extending over several years. Brief funeral services were held at the home Monday afternoon, conducted by the Masonic and Woodmen orders, in both of which he held membership. The remains were taken to Garfield, Wash. for burial. Mr. Dunn was born at Glossup, (sic) England, and came to this country when a child, locating at Alton, Ill. There he grew to manhood and from there he went to the State of Washington, where he lived for 20 years. He came to Chetopa about eight years ago."


At this time we have no record of Peter's occupation, although a couple of photos Carla provided of him and his wife look like he could have been a farmer in Chetopa. Having said that, his obituary's reference to his long illness suggests the possibility that in his final years he may have been too sick to work - and became dependent upon his brother Stephen (more undocumented speculation).

Carla reported the following about this family. She said:

"I descend from Peter L. Dunn

Born: September 7, 1857 Lancashire, England
Died: January 4, 1920 Chetopa, Labette County, Kansas
Buried: Garfield, Washington
Married: December 23, 1886 Sangamon County, Illinois

Ellen Morris [Peter's wife]
Born - January 1855 Ireland?
Died: ?
Buried: Garfield, Washington

Earl S. Dunn
Born: October 26, 1887
Died: July 15, 1895 Garfield, WA.

Stewart T. Dunn
Born: January 19, 1890
Died: August 28, 1891 Garfield, WA.

Leo Peter Dunn (This is my Grandfather)
Born: October 23, 1893
Died: December 4, 1942 Los Angeles, CA

Grace Dunn
Born: October 23, 1896
Died: October 23, 1896 Garfield, WA"


Leo Peter Dunn was the father of Franklin L Dunn, who later took his stepfather’s name and became Franklin L Myers. Frank Myers is Carla’s father, a genuine World War II war hero, including being awarded a Purple Heart and helping liberate a concentration camp. His story will appear on another page of this blog.

Here's Carla's description of her ancestral family's situation. It's a response to a message I sent her, part of which described my generation's grandfather, Eugene Michael Dunn, having abandoned his wife and two young children some time after 1928 when the youngest was born.

"Hey Pat!

We must be related!

My grandfather, Leo Peter Dunn, also abandoned his wife and 2 small sons in 1924. My father had no use for the man, and Dad always said, "I wouldn’t recognize him if I saw him and I sure wouldn't walk across the street to shake his hand."

My grandmother Ruth Irene Dunn remarried and my father took his stepfather's last name. I never met the Dunn side of the family, I heard bits and pieces growing up and I should mention that what information I did hear was not flattering.

During a visit with a Great-Aunt, she showed me a picture of my grandfather, a wedding certificate and an excerpt from my grandmother's diary. That started my search, from just those few items.

I was told my grandfather died in a car wreck in Colorado during WWII. I spent at least 10 years looking for that man! Surfing the Web one evening, I came across his name in the California Death Index. Thru an "Act of Genealogical Kindness" I received a copy of his Death Certificate. He died of TB in Los Angeles, in 1942. He claimed no family, and no family claimed him. Instead of a simple burial, his body was used for medical research.

Over the past 5 years, information about him has trickled in. I've discovered he was a "Con Man." He married one woman, told her he had never been married, never had children and his parents were dead. Then he stole her car, sold it and disappeared. The general family consensus is - being used for medical research, he may possibly have contributed something positive - finally....

Pat, do you have Ancestry.com? If not, I will be more than happy to search it for you. I did search last night on the LAUER family. Josephine's father, Caspar Lauer came from Germany. I found 3 Census records for them. Lizzie, who was listed as a witness to WED and Josephine's marriage, was probably Elizabeth Lauer, a younger sister. I also looked at several web sites for Bridget Grace, no luck.

I am sending off for my great-grandparents marriage record tomorrow. Peter L. Dunn and Ellen Morris. They were married in Sangamon County, Illinois. Hopefully that will provide info on Michael and Bridget Dunn.

I need to head to bed, my brain is officially fried!

Happy Hunting!



Does This Explain the Missing Peter Dunn in the Ship’s Records?

Kate said:

From: Kate Miller
Patrick Dunn
Carla Busby; Colleen Becker
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008
Subject: Responses from Rootsweb inquiry 6/20

As another tidbit. A very long shot.

Onboard 21 May 1858 [the date of Michael & Bridget Dunn's arrival] is a Peter O'Dwyer, 6 months old, with his parents Wm (30) and Margaret (28). What if --- a huge if --- your Mike & Bridget adopted this child? Is Mgt, Bridget's sibilng? OMG -- I NEVER speculate! lol This goes against everything I believe in. But if that is your Mike/Bridget arriving, a 6-8 mo old child should have been with them.


My response to Kate:
I understand, for the fact that Peter was reportedly born in Glossop/Lancashire causes me to think he should have been recorded as being with them on the ship. To support your thesis, consider the following description of the conditions involved on the ships delivering immigrants to the new world:

"Nine vessels had left Sligo carrying tenants emigrated by Lord Palmerston from his estates, and additional passages were hooked from Liverpool, about 2,000 persons leaving in all. The first vessel to arrive, the Elira Liddell, at St. John, New Brunswick, in July, 1847, raised a storm of protest; it was alleged that she brought only widows with young children, and aged, destitute, decrepit persons, useless to the colony.

Another vessel, the Lord Ashburton , arrived at Quebec on October 30, dangerously late in the season, carrying 477 passengers, 174 of whom, Lord Palmerston's tenants, were almost naked: 87 of them had to be clothed by charity before they could, with decency, leave the ship. On the Lord Asburton 107 persons had died on the voyage of fever and dysentery; 60 were ill, and so deplorable was the condition of the crew that five passengers had to work the ship up to Grosse Isle."

In another place in this essay it reports that the trip took three months and discusses the lack of food, the limited amount of water and lack of medical care aboard these ships. So, while your thoughts above are speculative, they aren't outside the realm of possibility if the baby's parents died [as a result of] the trip and M & B adopted the baby. I don't suppose there's any way to nail this down, but it's an interesting idea to contemplate, both names being Peter and the grim conditions faced by the travelers.

Another, far less interesting, possibility is that this is not the ship that our M & B traveled on, but is another M & B, for I’ve learned that there were other Irish immigrant couples with these names – five that I found in one search.


Here’s the info from the ship's records about the infant Peter O’Dwyer that led Kate to her speculation:

Name: Peter O'Dwyer
Arrival Date: 21 May 1858
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1857
Age: 6/12 [6 months old]
Gender: Male
Port of Departure:
Liverpool, England
Destination: United States of America
Place of Origin: Ireland
Ethnicity/Race­/Nationality: Irish
Ship Name: Dr Witt Clinton
Port of Arrival: New York
Port Arrival State: New York
Port Arrival Country: United States

The above data comes from the same records that contain Michael and Bridget Drace Dunn's immigration information, and matches theirs exactly.

Last updated 5/22/09

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