Leo Peter Dunn, Grandson of Michael Dunn

Some editorial comments about Leo Peter Dunn's life are included at the bottom of this page. To get started, however, I will simply recount the data I've learned about him.Descendancy Chart: Pierce Dunn to Leo P Dunn
Pierce Dunn:He was farmer in Ireland.
The evidence we have suggests he emigrated to England in the mid 1800s as a result of the potato blight and resulting famine in Ireland, probably with his son Michael.

Michael Dunn and Bridget Grace Dunn:
He went from being a laborer in Ireland to becoming a farmer in Illinois. They emigrated from Ireland to England, and then to the U.S. in 1858. They settled in Illinois.

Peter L Dunn and Ellen Morris Dunn:
He was Michael and Bridget's eldest son, and was born in England. It seems likely he became a farmer, and he moved from Illinois to Washington state to Kansas during his lifetime.

Leo Peter Dunn and Ruth Irene (unknown maiden name):
He is first recorded as being a farm hand. Later records show him as an auto repairman and then an auto salesman. He moved from Washington to Kansas to California during his lifetime.


Here are the facts we have about him from various sources.

From the
1900 federal census:

The family was living in Garfield, Washington. Leo was age 5, Peter was 42 (recorded as born in England) and Ellen was age 45 (born in Illinois). Leo’s year of birth is shown as 1894,
which differs from other records showing it as 1893.

This census shows Peter’s father [Michael] as being born in Scotland and his mother [Bridget] being born in Ireland. However, other records show both parents being born in Ireland. Ellen’s parents are both shown as being born in Ireland.

Peter’s occupation is not shown in this census, but the neighbors are all farmers, which suggests that he was as well. It records Peter as having emigrated in 1859, but his parents emigrated in 1858, and we believe he was with them at that time. Ellen is recorded as being the mother of eight children, with only four still living.


From Leo’s 1917-18
WWI Draft Registration:■ Name: Leo P Dunn, age 23;
■ Address: RR 1, Culver, Kansas;
■ Date of birth: October 24th, 1983;
■ Born in Garfield, Washington;
■ Occupation: Farm hand;
■ Employer: Walter Selleck, RR 1, Culver, Kansas;
■ He claimed an exemption from the draft because he had a wife;
■ Previous military service: 2 years as a private in the Coast Artillery, Massachusetts.
(See the footnote at the bottom of this page for information about the Coast Artillery)

From the 1920 federal census:

The family was living in Richland, Labette County, Kansas.
■ Leo's mother, Ellen, age 64, was the head of the household;
■ Leo was listed as Peter L Dunn, age 26, son. (It appears
this is a reversal of his first and middle names in this record);
■ His occupation was shown as auto repairman at a garage;
■ Ruth, Leo’s wife, age 22, was listed as daughter-in-law;
■ Peter F was listed as grandson.


From the 1925 Kansas
The family was living in Parsons, Labette County, Kansas.
■ Leo P, age 31, was the head of the household;
■ His occupation was listed as auto salesman;
■ Ruth I, wife, was age 27;
■ Children listed were Peter F, age 7, and Frank L, age 3.


From the California Death Index:

■ It shows Leo’s mother’s maiden name as Lyons, which is inconsistent with other information showing her maiden name as Morris;
■ It shows his Social Security number as 530-03-5058;
■ His date of birth: 23 Oct, 1893;
■ His date of death was 4 Dec, 1942, in Los Angeles.


From his granddaughter, Carla Myers Busby:
Leo Peter had two sons.

■ Peter Frederick – born Dec. 10,1917
He had four children. Evelyn, Donald, Ruth Irene, Ronald Eugene.

■ Franklin Leonard Dunn (Myers) – born April 25,1922
He had three children. Larry Franklin, Leonard Blaine, and Carla Gail.

As noted previously in this blog, I was able to connect with this branch of our family after posting 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, and Kate linked us up. It turned out that Carla is my generation's long-lost second cousin, and she has been working on her family history for many years. She provided most of the information we have on this branch of the family tree.

Early in my dialogue with her I related to Carla the story of my search for my generation’s grandfather, Eugene Michael Dunn. I also told her that he seemed to have disappeared after abandoning his wife, Hazel Nolan Dunn, and two small children, William Edward (Bill) and Rita Jane Dunn, sometime after Rita was born in 1928.

In response, I received the following from her:

"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...."

So there you have it. Both Leo Peter and Eugene Michael Dunn - grandsons of Michael and Bridget Grace Dunn - abandoned their wives and small children in the 1920s. We'll bever know why, but it seems very strange to me.

Footnote about the Massachusetts Coast Artillery:
Never having heard of the Coast Artillery, I did a bit of research and found the info below. Bottom line: The Massachusetts Coast Artillery was a volunteer militia dating back to 1784, and was a precursor to what we now know as the National Guard.

From a book titled, "The Old First Massachusetts Coast Artillery in War and Peace" comes this excerpt:

"...Who was then sufficiently far-sighted to foresee that on June 30, 1916, the same company would take the Federal oath as the '1st Company, Coast Artillery Corps, National Guard of Massachusetts' ? A company in those days was commanded by a captain with the rank of Major; and this office was promptly conferred upon John Jones Spooner. Jonathan Warner became the 'Captain-lieutenant,' and Joseph Pierpont and John Swift were elected the other two lieutenants, as at that time authorized. Warrants were issued to four sergeants; four musicians were appointed, twenty-four men were detailed as cannoneers, eight as pioneers, three as drivers and when two brass four-pounder cannon had been issued to them, the Roxbury Artillery were ready for any kind of a fight or frolic. It was not to be until Aug. 30, 1849, that Gen. H. A. S. Dearborn would suggest the famous motto now borne by the Company, 'In time of peace prepare for war.' No one can question however but that the sentiment of the motto has always controlled 1st Company activities."

The portion of the book I read says the Coast Artillery became largely ceremonial at some point - called upon for parades and such - but was reactivated as a military force in 1916, as cited above. The timing was undoubtedly a result of the fact that what became known as World War I was underway in Europe. In 1916 the U.S. was not yet involved in the war, but the looming possibility of U.S. involvement - which occurred in 1917 - must have triggered the reactivation.The book from which the above excerpt comes can be read online by clicking here. To turn the pages forward or back, click on the right or left page of the book as it appears on the monitor. Clicking on the "+" sign at the top of the page enlarges the print and allows for scrolling the pages.

Last updated 5/13/09

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