Elton Dunham's First Autograph Book (Part 1)

These pages are from the first of two autograph books belonging to my great-grandfather, Elton Lee Dunham (1873-1953). Entries date from 1882, when he was nine, to 1896, the year he married.

The earliest autograph is that of Elton's teacher, Ellen P. Kimball, and is dated December 1882. It is likely that the book was a gift from her.


Elton's father, Lemuel Dunham (1830-1915):


Elton's mother, Lydia Ann (Cummings) Dunham (1831-1916):


Signed only "Nom De Plume." Elton's father was acquainted with several local writers who used pen names:


Samuel W. Cummings (1867-1893), Elton's first cousin:


John D. Robbins (1871-1892), a friend of Elton's who lived just up the road:


Undoubtedly Elton's sister, Carrie Estella (Dunham) Swan (1862-1943):


Sibbel B. (Cummings) Swan (1824-1904), Elton's aunt:


Joseph Henry Briggs (1824-1909), the step-uncle of Elton's father:


Bertha Anjannette "Nettie" Swan (1878-1972), Elton's niece:


Bertie Swan, Elton's second cousin:


Gracie H. Bryant (1873-1954), a girl from the neighborhood, also a distant cousin:

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Comment by Franz Martin on September 8, 2009 at 10:05pm
Chris -- This is wonderful! And I'm only through Part 1 of the first book! Thank you very much for bringing it to my attention. I have a comment/question about your grandmother, Lydia Ann Cummings. Her marriage to Lemuel Dunham was a second marriage, no? I have her marrying first a Joseph Clifford in 1854. It must have been a brief marriage, though I have no death date or cause of death for him. As to the birth year of Lydia Cummings -- you have it as 1831, which is the date on her gravestone. But the Greenwood Town Records give her birth as 1833. I favor that date, since when I look at her siblings, I see that sister Elizabeth was born in Nov 1830, making it just exactly nine months between her birth and that of Lydia. Am I mistaken in any of this? You were right to see that I have many relatives here. My own data base is quite broad. I only insist that they have SOME connection to me. I have many records of sibling lines and relatives by marriage. Would love to hear further from you. As time allows, I will work through all your autographs. By the way, a few months ago I met your relative, Eileen Dunham, and she mentioned your work. She is a close friend of my mother.
Comment by Chris Dunham on September 8, 2009 at 11:12pm
Lydia's first husband is said to have died in 1856 of typhoid, and to have been buried with their infant child in the small graveyard at the Head of the Pond in Bryant Pond.

You're right about the discrepancy in her reported birth date. I've always leaned toward accepting the 1831 date. She was aged 18 years in 1850, which would fit the 1831 date. Later censuses all support the 1831 date, including the 1900 census, which gives the year explicitly.

In 1830, her father is reported to have had two young girls living with him: one aged 5-10 years, the other under five. The older girl was "Sibbel" B. (Cummings) Swan, whose autograph is on the page above. If the younger girl was Elizabeth, and the census was taken in the spring or summer, this would suggest that she was born earlier than November 1830, and that her birth date was incorrectly recorded in Greenwood. On the other hand, Elizabeth was aged 19 years in 1850, which does agree with the November 1830 birth date. I don't know if this conflict will ever be resolved to my satisfaction.

Yes, Eileen is my aunt, and mentioned seeing you this summer. I have an extensive database of Greenwood families myself, and would be happy to swap information with you. I think that I've correctly identified nearly all of the people who signed Elton's books, but if you have any comments or corrections, I would welcome them.

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