And Also Grand Uncle of My Generation's Father, William Edward (Bill) Dunn
Cousin Carla Busby sent me copies of the newspaper articles about Stephen G. Dunn, known as S. G. Dunn, transcribed below. The paper is the Chetopa Advance, a weekly that began publication in 1879. Current circulation: 950 copies.
Stephen was another son of Michael and Bridget Dunn, and from the articles below it's evident that he was both popular and respected in his adopted town of Chetopa, Kansas, where he owned a thriving general store.
October 1, 1925
"Death Suddenly Claims S. G. Dunn at His Store
S. G. Dunn, a leading merchant of Chetopa and well known over this part of the state for the big business he has built up within 15 years died suddenly of heart trouble Tuesday afternoon while supervising the cleaning up of his car at the rear of the store.
Mr. Dunn had returned home Sunday evening from Parsons, where he had spent a week in the hospital taking treatments following a heart attack the previous Saturday. Tuesday afternoon he had requested Paul Withrow, a clerk in the store, to get out his car and dust it so that he might take a ride. After Withrow had gotten the car out of the garage Mr. Dunn went out and was watching the work. A traveling man came into the store and Clair Faris, Mr. Dunn’s chief clerk, went to the rear of the store to call his employer.
Mr. Dunn answered and turned to come to the store. As he did so he exclaimed: 'Oh, I am so dizzy.' He staggered slightly and Withrow hurried to him, but Mr. Dunn had begun to fall and the boy was unable to support him. He sank to the ground. Mr. Faris and others in the vicinity rushed to his side and Dr. R. L. VonTreba was hastily summoned. The doctor administered a hypodermic but the patient failed to rally, dying almost instantly.
The funeral will be held Friday morning from the Catholic Church at 10 o’clock, burial being in Oak Hill Cemetery. The body is now at the home of Clair Faris waiting the time of the funeral. Mayor Sig Lehman has issued a request that every business house in town close its doors from 9:15 to 11 o’clock a.m. tomorrow, during the funeral services as a mark of respect to Mr. Dunn.
Mr. Dunn, who was about 59 years old, came to Chetopa 14 years ago and established a store, known as Dunn’s General Store. His genial ways, unique business policies and fine public spiritedness soon won for him a most substantial place in Chetopa business. Little is known of his life before he came to Chetopa, except that in his earlier years he was a train dispatcher for a railroad in Missouri and that he had traveled extensively in the west.
His life in Chetopa has been exemplary in every way. He was a man who talked little of himself and while of a most generous disposition and very charitable cared little or nothing for publicity in such matters. He was a great lover of children and delighted in their happiness. It appeared that to him the greatest delight came when he would quietly fill a sack with candy and slip it into a basket of groceries, to be found only upon the child’s arrival at home.
One of the most unique feature of his business methods was his giving away of lunches to farmers who visited the store. This practice attracted great attention on the part of merchants all over this section of the state. As many as 500 and 600 of these lunches have been given away by Mr. Dunn on a single Saturday. A farmer and his family coming to town on Saturday had but to go into the Dunn’s store and each member of the family would be given a lunch.
Mr. Dunn is survived only by nephews and nieces, his parents and brothers and sisters all having preceded him in death. His last brother, P. L. Dunn, died here a couple years ago."
October 8, 1925
"S. G. Dunn at rest in Oak Hill Cemetery
The funeral of S. G. Dunn, news of whose sudden death Tuesday [was in the] last issue of The Advance, was held Friday morning at 10 o’clock, the service being at the Catholic Church and Rev. Father Donnelly officiating. Burial was in Oak Hill Cemetery.
The service was one of the most largely attended in Chetopa for many years. A large number of school children marched from the school building to the church and there paid respect to their friend. These children ranged from first graders to high school seniors. Prof. Widner announced in the morning that any student who wished to attend the funeral might do so and the large number that took advantage of this opportunity was striking comment upon the high esteem in which Mr. Dunn was held by the young as well as older folks of Chetopa and vicinity.
S. G. Dunn was born December 26, 1866, near Raymond, Ill. As a boy he obtained employment with a railroad company and while thus employed learned telegraphy. He took a deep interest in his work and gradually rose to the position of train dispatcher. He was employed at various times on railroads in Illinois, Mis-souri and several western states. His mother made her home with him until her death when he was yet a young man. His father died several years ago. Both of his parents are buried at St. Louis.
Mr. Dunn was never married and is survived only by nieces and nephews, all of his brothers and sisters having preceded him in death.
Mr. Dunn came to Chetopa in 1911 with his brother P. L. Dunn and family. Upon his arrival here he embarked in the general merchandise business, using the name Dunn’s General Store. He built up an exceptionally large trade and by reason of the rapid growth of his business and his unique methods he became quite widely known over a large section of this part of Kansas and Oklahoma.
Mr. Dunn left a will disposing of his property and it was filed in Probate Court Saturday. The will provides numerous requests, several of them being to faithful employees at the store.
By the will, Roy O’Brien was made executor of the estate. The Probate Court has appointed Sig Lehman, R. A. Bell and Frank Cunningham to appraise the stock of goods in the store and as soon as this is completed and necessary details are finished the store will be reopened for business. It is probable that this will be done by the end of this week."
Carla also provided me with a copy of Stephen’s probate record. His estate was distributed, in part, to family members and the rest went to “strangers”, who were employees of his business.
The bulk of his estate went to a gentleman by the name of Clair Faris, listed as a “stranger”, which raised the question of why. Carla reported as follows: “I remember bits & pieces about Clair Faris. I understood that he was the "right-hand" man of Stephen Dunn. He did inherit most of Stephen Dunn's estate and bought the General Store.”
From his probate record we learn that Stephen’s estate totaled $21,781. Here, from a document titled, "Statement of Valuation and Taxes Determined by the Inheritance Tax Commission", issued by the state of Kansas and dated 11 May, 1928, is the breakdown:
Name, Relationship, Value, Tax
Josie Dunn, Sis-in-law, $1,000, $50
John Dunn, Nephew, 1,000, 50
Eugene Dunn, Nephew, 1,000, 50
Stephen C Dunn, Nephew, 1,000, 50
Francis Dunn, Nephew, 1,000, 50
Helen Dunn, Niece, 1,000, 50
Ella Dawson, Niece, 1,000, 50
Clair W. Faris, Stranger, $8,781, $439
Mabel E. Veach, Stranger, 1,000, 50
Florence Nickel, Stranger, 1,000, 50
L. R. Lennington, Stranger,, 1,000 50
J. D. Adams, Stranger, 1,000, 50
James H. Lancaster, Stranger, 1,000, 50
Elizabeth R. DeLury, Stranger, 1,000, 50
Josie was Josephine Dunn, William E. Dunn's widow - my generation’s paternal great grandmother.
John, Eugene, Stephen, Francis and Helen Dunn were their children, Eugene being my generation’s grandfather.
Ella [Dunn] Dawson was William’s daughter from his first marriage, and who by this date was obviously using her married name.
To put the figures above in context, here are some 1928 prices:
■ A loaf of bread in 1928 was 9¢;
■ A gallon of milk was 56¢;
■ A gallon of gas was 21¢;
■ Average rent for a house was $12 a month;
■ Postage stamps were 1¢;
■ Breakfast at a restaurant was about 25¢;
■ A Chevrolet two door base model sold for $585 while a four door model sold for $750.
Last updated 4/28/09