Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beeks line: Samuel Dunham 1742-1824

I thought I'd break my self imposed rule of writing only about immigrants and proven war veterans in this blog.  Since I'm running out of Beeks names, I'm looking now for people who left enough of a record that we can at least catch a glimpse of them, through the family forest and the mists of time.  Samuel Dunham is such a man.

We don't know as much about Samuel as we'd like to know, of course.  He seems to have been a moderately successful, salt of the earth kind of man, the kind who pays his taxes and raises his family.  There are hints of parts of his life in records, so we'll have to be happy with that until more information is known.

Samuel was born in Woodbridge, N.J. on May 11, 1742.  His parents were Jonathan and Mary Smith Dunham.  He had five siblings, all born between 1738 and 1742, so he wouldn't have lacked for chores to do nor for playmates, if there was time for such a thing.  He don't know whether he could read or write, but it's reasonable to believe he had at least a rudimentary education, and perhaps more than that.  His family was well known in the Woodbridge community.

We have difficulty following Samuel's move to the west, but we know it happened.  He is believed to have married Hannah Ruble, daughter of David and Sarah Malin Ruble, about 1772.  This family lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania and it is likely that Samuel was living or at least working in the vicinity then.  He would have been about 30 years old, give or take, since we don't have an exact marriage date yet.

The Revolutionary War was about to break out, and we don't know how this impacted Samuel.  He is not found on the Tax List for Berkeley County, now West Virginia, in 1777.  He may have been there at least to scout out a future home, but this was a hot area for battles with the native Americans, who were armed and encouraged by the British.  Perhaps they patiently waited in Pennsylvania, or even Maryland, for a chance to move on.  If Samuel did live in the area during this time period, we can wonder what his role was in the War.  I've not been able to find him listed as a soldier either on Fold 3 or the DAR, but that doesn't mean he didn't serve.  He may well have been in a state militia unit, protecting his family and others in a guardhouse or "fort", for there were many such structures and someone his age on the frontier would have been expected to serve.

Between 1778 and 1783 Samuel and his family moved to Back Creek Valley, in what was then Virginia.  Looking at images found on Google, it was and still is a beautiful area, although home and land prices there are higher than in Indiana.  Most of what I've read of this area says that the Scots-Irish and the Germans settled this area, so it would be interesting to find out how and why this part of the country beckoned to Samuel.

I'm showing a total of 11 children for Samuel and Hannah, although other sources list "only" nine.  At any rate, even the oldest children were young when they moved, and several were born in what was then Virginia.  David Dunham has done research, showing that the couple had at least 80 grandchildren, and some of their descendants are still living in the immediate area, to the ninth generation.

Samuel Dunham was a Baptist, and presumably Sarah was, too, or at least that's what she became after her marriage.  I've not found the particular congregation he attended, but there are some churches in the Back Creek area that might have been active during Samuel's life.  Samuel died February 18, 1824 on his 611 acre farm, and Hannah died about two years later, possibly in Butler County, Ohio.

If Samuel left a will, I haven't found it yet.  It isn't known where he was buried.  Many records from this time period were burned during the Civil War, or otherwise destroyed, so we may never be able to answer some of these questions.  Or, the answers may pop up tomorrow, because we never know...

The line of descent is:

Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Goodnight Dunham-Eliza Matilda Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants