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Dunham, Richard
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Dunham, Richard
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 498-500


Richard Dunham, whose useful and active life has won for him the respect of his fellowmen and also gained for him a most gratifying competence, was born September 9, 1839, in Deersville, Ohio, his parents being Lewis and Sarah Ann (Nelson) Dunham. His paternal grandfather was William Dunham, a native of Maryland and his father was a native of England, becoming the founder of the family in America. William Dunham was reared to manhood upon a farm and was married to Miss Mary Chaney, also a native of Maryland, her parents, like the Dunhams, having come to this country about the time of the Revolutionary war. On leaving Maryland, William Dunham and his wife became residents of Ohio, where they remained until the year 1845 and in their old age they came to Illinois, purchasing a small farm in Griggsville township, where the death of Mr. Dunham occurred when he had reached the age of three score years and ten. His wife survived him several years and then she too passed away at the old homestead farm on section 17, Griggsville township, when more than eighty years of age. Both were active members of the United Brethren church and were people of strong religious faith, taking an active part in the work of the church and doing all in their power to advance the cause of Christianity. They reared a large family of nineteen children.

The birth of Lewis Dunham occurred in Maryland, September 12, 1802, and he died at his home in New Salem township, Pike county, Illinois, September 14, 1866. He had spent his entire life in his native state, acquiring a good education there. He was probably married in Ohio, however, and he was connected with business interests there as a farmer and cooper. In 1844 he removed from Ohio to Illinois, arriving in Pike county in the month of April. Three years later he settled on land of his own in New Salem township and there successfully engaged in farming. During the years which followed he worked his way upward from a humble financial position to one of affluence and improved a valuable farm of two hundred and sixty acres. He was a useful citizen of his township and an active and conscientious worker in the United Brethren church, doing all in his power to promote public progress and improvement along lines of material, social, intellectual and moral development. He was widely known for his integrity and other commendable traits of character, which won for him the esteem of the entire community. In politics he was a stalwart democrat and he held some local offices, discharging his duties with promptness and fidelity. In fact every trust that was reposed in him whether of a public or private nature was faithfully performed and his life was at all times honorable and upright. In early manhood he wedded Sarah Ann Nelson, also a native of Maryland and a daughter of Elisha and Mary (Stringer) Nelson, who were natives of Maryland and are supposed to have been of Scotch lineage. They were farming people and after their marriage resided in Maryland for a time, while later they became residents of Harrison county, Ohio, there remaining until 1842, when they came to Illinois. They took up their abode on a farm in New Salem township, where they spent their remaining days and their lives were in harmony with their professions as members of the United Brethren church, with which they were connected for many years. Their daughter Sarah was born in April, 1807, was reared in Maryland and came to Illinois with her husband, whom she survived for several years, finally passing away on the 5th of September, 1887, when more than eighty years of age. She, too, was a consistent and helpful member of the United Brethren church and she was the mother of nineteen children, of whom nine are still living.

Richard Dunham was educated in the common schools of Pike county and spent his youth in the usual manner of farm lads, no event of special importance occurring to vary the routine of farm work for him in his minority. He aided in clearing his father's place and as there was a coal bank upon the farm he and his brother dug coal, which they sold in Griggsville, Maysville and other towns. This farm is now the property of Mary Ann Dunham. Richard Dunham first became the owner of land in 1864, at which time he purchased forty acres near his father's place east of New Salem. He sold that later and bought more land and he now owns one hundred and ninety-six acres on sections 13 and 14, New Salem township. He has a well improved farm, having built thereon a good residence, and added all modern equipments and accessories such as are found upon a model farm property of the twentieth century. He has always kept his place well stocked and a glance at fields and meadows would indicate to the passerby the careful supervision of a painstaking and progressive owner. He continued to reside upon his farm until April, 1904, when he removed to New Salem, while his sons leased the land. For twenty-five years he and his brother Joshua operated a threshing machine. They owned several machines and made considerable money in that way.

In 1861 occurred the marriage of Mr. Dunham and Miss Julia Esther Hubbard, who was born July 20, 1838, in Greene county, Illinois, and came to Pike county, locating near Pittsfield in an early day. Ten children were born of this marriage, of whom seven are yet living. Ruth America became the wife of Charles A. Carnes and by that marriage has three living children: Fred N., the eldest, married Minnie Bridgeman, resides in Salem township and has one child, Veda L.; Mina May is the wife of William H. Rheinhart and has one child; Orville Fay, their home being in New Salem township; and Fay Roy is living in this county. Mr. Carnes, the father, died in 1893 and Mrs. Carnes was married in 1895 to M. F. Shaffner, their home being now in New Salem. George Nelson, the second child of Richard Dunham, married Myrtle Shuey, by whom he had a son, Percy H. He died in September, 1903, and his widow now resides in Argenta, Illinois. He was educated at Westfield, Illinois, and taught school for five years, after which he engaged in the insurance business for a time. Subsequently he resumed school-teaching and later became editor of the Argenta Hustler. James Abel, the third member of the Dunham family, lives upon the home farm. He married Alice Wheeler and they have four children: Floyd, Carl, Ralph and George. William Fred, the fourth member of the family and a resident of Pike county, married Anna Wilson, who died leaving three children: Earl, Andy and Richard. Ida May is the wife of Charles Hooper, of New Salem township and has three children: Neal and Winifred and Helen, twins. Arthur L. married Eura B. Starkey, resides near Baylis and has three children: Fern, Clesson and Ruth Marie. Bert N. married Cora Manker and resides at Stonington, Illinois, where he is a telegraph operator. Harry Herman, living upon the home farm, married Ida Rheinhart and has one child, Lloyd. In 1904 Mr. Dunham was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died on the 9th of September of that year. They had long traveled life's journey together, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, its adversity and prosperity and the many good traits of character which Mrs. Dunham displayed won her the kindly regard and good will of many friends as well as of her immediate family.

In his political views Mr. Dunham is a stalwart democrat and has served for two terms as township commissioner. He belongs to the United Brethren church and the qualities of good citizenship, of reliability in business and faithfulness in friendship have long been manifest in him. Moreover he has displayed in his business career marked integrity as well as energy and through his well directed efforts has won a competence, being today the owner of a fine home in New Salem as well as a farm. He is now living in retirement in the enjoyment of well earned ease, his capital being sufficient to supply him with all of the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.

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Submitted: 05/22/09

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