Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Beeks line: Jacob Dunham 1795-1865

One of my early blog posts referred to Jacob Dunham as being our connection to President Barack Obama.  In that post, I promised that I would write later of Jacob Dunham and Catherine Goodnight, the common ancestors of the Beeks, Aldridge, and Obama families.  This post fulfills half of that promise, to write about Jacob Dunham.  Of course, much of Catherine's story is told by telling Jacob's story.

Jacob Dunham was born on July 1, 1795 in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia) to Samuel Dunham and Hannah Ruble.  Actually, there are some differences in opinion in the genealogy world as to whether Hannah was Hannah Ruble or whether she was Hannah Chenoweth.  From the records and discussions I've seen, I lean toward Hannah Ruble but I am still looking for definitive documentation on this.  Jacob was one of 11 children, so he was probably never lonely, but he may have had a rather hard-scrabble life. His father was a farmer, and as far as we know had no other means of support.  Jacob would have learned to work hard at an early age. 

Jacob married Catherine Goodnight on October 21, 1819 in Berkeley County, Virginia (W. V., now). She was the daughter of Samuel Goodnight and Magdalena Berkheimer, both families of German descent.  The Dunhams were of English descent and came through New England and New Jersey, so this would have been considered a bit of an anomaly. Most persons of German descent during this time period were marrying others of German descent.  I wonder what their parents thought? Was this hard for them?

Jacob and Catherine had six children.  The first was an unknown daughter.  Their surviving children were Jacob Mackey (the President's ancestor), Amos, Samuel (the Beeks/Aldridge ancestor), Mary Ellen, and David.  There were two four year gaps between children, so it is possible there were other infants who died early.

In 1820, Jacob and Catherine are in the census in Middletown, Berkeley County, Virginia (W. V.), and they are still in Berkeley County in 1830.  At that time, the census shows 2 males under the age of 5 (Amos and Samuel), one female aged 5-9, and a female aged 15-19.   The older girl may have been the unknown daughter born in 1822, but I don't know who the younger female was. Perhaps there is another "missing" daughter.

Jacob and Catherine sold their land in Berkeley County in 1835 and moved to Concord Township, Fayette County, Ohio by 1836.  They lived there for about 12 years.  The 1840 census shows 1 make under the age of 5 (David), two males between 10 and 14 (Amos and Samuel), and one female aged 5-9 (Mary Ellen).  Jacob apparently had already left home, and the two daughters from the 1830 census are gone, if indeed they were daughters. It is possible that they were other relatives living with the family temporarily.  The 1840 census indicates that there was one adult in the family who could not read and write, and also indicates that Jacob was employed in agriculture. (In the 1870 census, Catherine could read and write so either Jacob was the one who couldn't read and write, or Catherine educated herself later).

About 1848, the family moved again to Tipton County, Indiana. Jacob by this time would have been 53 years old, and Catherine one year older.  He apparently made two purchases of land from the General Land Office in Indianapolis, one of 80 acres and one of 120 acres, both in 1849.  This land was rather swampy and poorly drained, but by hard work became good farmland.  In the 1850 census, Jacob and Catherine are shown in Prairie Township, Tipton County, Indiana.  This is in the area of Kempton, Indiana.  The five children, from Jacob to David, are all living with them at this point.  10 years later, in 1860, the two elder Dunhams are by themselves for the first time since their marriage. 

Jacob died on July 20, 1865 in Tipton County.  He had written his will 9 years earlier, in 1856, so he may have been in failing health for some time.  I haven't been able to determine a religious denomination for him. His father was apparently Baptist, and most of his children were Methodists, but I've not located church records for Jacob.  I also have not located military records for him, though it is possible that he was involved in the War of 1812 as a young man.

I'd like to clarify the religion and the military issues, and of course I'd love to hear stories of the life of this man. He has my admiration, for making two major moves in his life, the second as he was approaching an age when many would have been content to slow down a little and let the children take over.

The line of descent is:

Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Dunham-Eliza Reese
Mary Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Gretta Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Beeks children, grandchildren, great grand children, etc.