Monday, July 19, 2010

Thoughts and Theories on Simeon Adams Dunn b. 1803

Simeon Adams Dunn's Birth, Childhood, and Early years: 1803-1828:
Patriarch Joseph Smith, Senior, referred to my Great Great Grandfather, Simeon Adams Dunn, as an orphan when pronouncing his patriarchal blessing. I have often wondered how much Simeon did or did not know about his parents and family assuming that they passed away when he was still very young. Most histories about Simen Adams dunn report the cirucmstances in this way:

"Simeon Adams Dunn, son of Simeon Dunn and Sally Bath, was born the 7th
of August 1803, in Williamstown (now Groveland), Livingston County (formerly
Ontario), New York. His father left his home and family when Simeon was a
very small child, and when he was seven years old, his mother died, leaving the
children, Mary, Francis G, William, Simeon, and James alone in the world.
The children were taken care of by friends. For a number of years, Simeon
lived with a family by the name of Skinner."


Assuming this is accurate, what about all the unanswered questions this story presents.

Who was Simeon's father...was it... Simeon Dunn believed to be born 24 April 1774 in New Jersey?
We know several times and places where records do NOT exist for a Simeon Dunn b. 1774:
No records for a Simeon b. 1774 have been located in Sussex County, New Jersey; Ontario or Livingston County, New York, or Wilkes-Barre area, Pennsylvania including no birth, marriage, death, probate, cemetery, land, tax, court, military, family bible, or census records. (We are willing to share our research logs with those interested.)

What was meant by "He (Simeon b. 1774) left his family when Simeon was a very small child?" Did he desert the family? Was he working away from home or traveling with business? Was he in the military? Did his wife die, and he took the children somewhere else where he died?

Could Simeon b. 1803 have been misinformed about the name of his father? Or was the general information about his father correct, but there are just no records available? Or are we looking in the wrong place, could the family have moved after Simeon was born?

Who was Simeon's mother...was it...Sally Bath?
Family researchers have looked for many years to discover more about Sarah/Sally Bath...to no avail. Bath is not a common surname in colonial America. Most "things" relating to the name Bath have reference to the city of Bath in England. There is a town named Bath, after this English city, not far from Groveland where Simeon was born. Nevertheless, there are few people with the surname "Bath" during this time period.

Location is critical to genealogical research. It is challenge to know precisely where to search for Sally Bath's ancestors. The Dunn family presumably moved from Sussex County, New Jersey to Livingston (then Ontario) New York just about the time Simeon Dunn b. 1774 and Sally Bath would have been getting married. So, on the one hand, it is logical to assume that Sally Bath and her siblings were born in New Jersey. In fact, Simeon b. 1803 leaves a record that her brother, James, was born in New Jersey. However, Simeon b. 1803, leaves also leaves a record that her presumed sister, Polly, was born in New York. If, in fact, Sally and/or her siblings were born in New York approximately 1775, it is unlikely that they were born in the Groveland area as this was still Indian land and undeveloped. This is unless they were Native American, which I have considered. It is more likely that they were from Sullivan or Ulster County, New York were the Dunns have other ties as early as 1760's and the rafting days of Cocheton and later in Lumberland. Or were the Baths an old Connecticut family living in Pennsylvania and connected to the Wyoming Massacre? In my opinion, it is even more probable that they were from Sussex County, New Jersey.

Another hurdle to consider in researching Sally Bath is alternate spellings of the last name. Alternate surname spelling lists often include Bath with such surnames as: Baty, Beatty. Beattie, Bate, Bates, etc. Searching the alternate spellings creates the challenge of too many possibilities. There are James Beatties (or some variation) in all of the locations above...Sussex, New Jersey; Ulster, New York, etc.

Assuming Simeon's (b. 1803) mother is indeed Sally Bath, and assuming she did live and die in Groveland about 1810 as stated in Simeon's (b. 1803) history, it is likely that she was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Groveland, Livingston, New York where Simeon's uncle Levi is also buried. Unfortunately, the cemetery was not extracted before most headstones had deteriorated, and no earlier sexton records have been located.

What Skinner Family might Simeon have lived with for a number of years? And why them rather than relatives?
As an elderly man, Simeon Adams Dunn took a tree year trip back East. He described it thus:

"On October 19, 1871, I left Brigham City on a mission to look up the genealogy of my dead friends, which proved to be a successful mission. I returned home July 19, 1874 having traveled 10,000 miles by rail. On November 1, 1877, I was privileged with a mission to St. George, Utah, to officiate for my dead in the holy Temple of our God. On January 27, 1878, I returned home, having accomplished the desire of my heart for this time in this direction.


It is interesting that he took a "genealogy" trip to look for dead "friends" rather than dead "family" like most of us. Regardless, based on temple records from his 1877 trip to St. George, we have put together a list of about 170+ names which we assume he collected on this trip. Of those names, about 70 were relatives of his wives, about 60 tie into descendants of William and Esther Dunn in either New york or New Jersey, about 15 are unidentified, and the other 25 or so names tie into the family of Haggai Skinner b. 1750 of Stamford, Welland, Ontario, Candada.

Since Simeon identified such a large number of people connected to this Skinner family, it is logical to conclude that if he was indeed raised by a Skinner family, this must be it. He identified three generations of Skinner connections. However, to date, it has been impossible to decipher exactly which family he may have lived with.

A few even greater puzzles remain. How did simeon get to where the Skinners were living? The Skinners were Loyalists who moved to Canada in 1785, almost 20 years before Simeon was born. If Simeon was indeed born in Goveland, New York, who took him, or how did he travel, the 75 miles or so to Stamford, Canada?

The other puzzle, why the Skinners? Simeon's uncle, Levi Dunn, lived in Groveland. This would seem a simple solution. What connection did Simeon's parents have tot he Skinners? While we know that the Skinners, Dunns, and Gustins were intertwined in a rafting business in Cochecton, New York back in 1767; this seems a bit distant to justify an adoption in 1810. Did one of Simeon's parents have a closer familial tie that has not been identified? Was Simeon's father in some kind of business venture with the Skinners? Did it somehow involve the War of 1812 as the Battle of Lundy's Lane was fought practically in Haggai Skinner's back yard?

There is some additional support to strengthen the idea that at some point Simeon did travel to Canada and live with the Skinners. First, his younger brother, William, marries and lives the remainder of his life in Welland County, Canada very near where the Skinners lived. Biographies about his older sister, Mary, sometimes speak of her being born in Canada or "Black Rock" which was near Buffalo, New York in this same area.

Where was Simeon born...was it Groveland, New York? And did he stay there until he moved to Michigan about 1825?
My personal inclination is that Simeon was born in Groveland probably 7 August 1803. I believe he was orphaned at a young age and that at some point probably lived some of his youth in Welland County, Canada or the Buffalo, New York area with a member of the Haggai Skinner family. I think it is possible that some of his siblings spent time in these areas as well. I find myself disappointed that not a single document for Simeon Dunn b. 1774 or Sally Bath, his parents, has been found to date....

So....please let us know if you find something, we are all waiting for that breakthrough.
Karen Rasmussen
karenrasmus@yahoo.com

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