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/ 1998 will mark 150 years the descendants of Thomas #1 Dunn and Mary Hig gins have been in America and nothing more fitting can be conceived that to hon or our ancestors and ourselves than by reflecting on our heritage and keeping a live our family story. The Potato Famine of the mid-1800s in Ireland was one of the world's worst huma n disasters and many Irishman saw fit to leave their homeland to survive. One s uch family was the Dunn family of Kilkenny, Ireland. But first, History 101... In the middle of the 17th century Britain invaded Ireland and broke the back of the Irish chieftains and immediately forced upon the Irish their feudal system of government and forbid their Catholic religion. Hugh O'Neil, one of the dis placed Irish leaders attempted to militarily force the British out of Ireland, was defeated and forced to escape to Italy. (becoming a legend revered for his loyalty to Ireland and noted for his fierce strength.) Within a few short years the Irish people had become a wandering, homel ess, poor, disposed people within their own country no less, and committed to a n existence as tenants and servants to their conquerors who at best regarded th em as lazy, drunken fools incapable of self direction. On any given English est ate might be found as many as 10,000 of these tenant farmers owing their depend ence on British Lords whose collection of taxes/levy's was persistent. Important to remember that emigration from Ireland began shortly after the Brit ish conquered Ireland. Boatloads of emigrants were heading for the New World, A merica, even while the Irish population tripled at home, to escape the tyranny of their British conquerors. Equally important to note here, that emigration wa s favored by Britain to the point that often landlords would finance their trav el. One landlord calculated that it cost about 7 pounds to keep a starving, ind igent tenant one year on welfaroe. The cost of a boat ticket to New York about 4 pounds, to Quebec 3 pounds; half price for the children. It was officially se en as one answer to the "Irish problem", an economical way to downsize. Ironically, with the next 50-75 years the British Lords found themselves in a u nique position as well. Out of regular contact with England and with less and less influence in parliament; having purposely estranged themselves from their Irish subjects, they became isolated themselves; finding themselves alone in a country they really couldn't call home. As we shall see this will become a seri ous problem for the Irish poor in later years. In the late 17th century and early 18th century the British trading companies w ere scouring the world for trade and one of the items surfacing first in Britai n and very quickly in Ireland was the Potato, imported initially from the Andes This root vegetable quickly found favor in the Irish climate, was inexpensive t o grow, withstood the damp climate, easy to store and could nourish whole famil ies throughout the year. Understandably it quickly became, along with wheat an d barley, their primary sustenance. For the poor Irish, (3 million in number) i t literally became their breakfast, dinner and supper and was used even to feed their livestock. (It brings to mind even as I write, watching my grandfather, Daniel Dunn, feed ng potatoes to his cattle in Troy, Vermont a hundred years la ter! ) The ritual cycle evolved over the years suggested the soil be prepared starting February 1st, potato's are planted on st Paddy's Day and all the crops harvest

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ed starting on Halloween. Between planting and harvesting, the men were forced to leave home and find work either at the ports or in England itself to supplem ent their meager income. In the fall of 1845 the Irish awoke on a rainy, foggy day to an overpowering st ench that filled the air .. Investigating they suddenly discovered to their sho ck the potato plant so vital for life turning black and dying. One can only ima gine their despair. Ireland was in crises. The British had seen in the recent pasts, many crop failures, and in fact react ed quite quickly to this one, importing corn and barley into the country and in reality they managed to save the lives of millions of Irishman that year. As t he disaster spread across Ireland and its magnitude became known to the crown i t was seized as an opportunity to "reform". By 1846 the second potato crop failed, millions of Irishman had died .. and emigra tion became a reality for millions more, fueled by desperation for their lives ... no sense of adventure here. Meanwhile, in England, Trevellian became the Exchequer for the Crown. A fierce ly dedicated loyalist, workaholic, who became obsessed with the "Irish Question "; an idealist who saw the need but was equally insistent that the Irish be mad e to work for their living and determined not to raise generations dependent on handouts. He established a plan of building roads across Ireland, putting the responsibility for social reform into the hands of the estate lords. "So much pay for so much stone". Blinded by his idealism, shortsighted in his enthusiasm, he failed to grasp the obvious. The Irish were dying ... by the millions. A prolonged period of starvati on had taken its toll. Nutritionally incapable of doing the labor demanded of t hem, barefoot, unclothed, suffering from typhus, dysentery ... The solution became the problem. Millions more died on the rock piles struggling to eke out a meal. As mentioned earlier, the estate lords, many of them incapable, incompetent buf foon's heretofore content to live off the taxes of their tenants became increas ingly indebted themselves and frantically sought relief from Britain. Others, most notably perhaps Lord Sligo of Sligo county, (northwest of Kilkenny) passio nately pleaded on behalf of their subject for relief but to no avail. These me n for the most part had lost their influence in Parliament, had no real politic al constituency either locally or in Britain. Again, the real innocent victims were the Irish people themselves. In November/December Ireland was hit by a blizzard, the worst ever recalled in history. 7 weeks of blowing snow, drifting often to depths of 50 feet! Imagine if you can millions of people homeless, starving, living in caves, one room sto ne lean-to's_The Irish began to believe they were "cursed altogether". Death be came a blessing ... Apathy. Histori Perhaps an even greater disaster affected our Irish ancestors. cally an aggressive, fiercely pugnacious people, they suddenly became sullen, w ithdrawn, passive ... almost indifferent to their realization they were "cursed alt ogether". In the mid 1800's a Famine ship left Sligo for Quebec with 500 people aboard bo und for the New World. Less than 12 could walk off the ship on arrival in Queb ec! More than half died either on the voyage and were thrown over board at sea, or died in the infirmaries in Port.

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They tell the story of a man and his wife with 2 children sailing to New York a nd the baby dying of the "fever". The mother is wailing with grief and not wil ling to part with her daughter. The Captain of the ship pulls the baby from he r arms, throws the body over the side ... the mother jumps over to be with her cher ished daughter. The weeping mother abandons ship, To where her child had gone. The dry-eyed captain Smokes his pipe And the sailing ship Sails on. Author unknown That is the way it was in 1848. In October of 1848, a young 29-year-old Irishman, James C Dunn, left hi s family and sailed to New York City determined to create a home for his family Within weeks of his arrival he had settled in Newport Vermont. Within the ver y next few years 6 of his siblings were to follow and our American heritage beg ins. Note: I wrote the above paragraph in October of 1997 ... pa rt of an introduction to publication of our Family History. Today it sounds tri te... almost surreaL.suggesting a dream-like quality that could not have been furt her from their truth. James Dunn left Ireland in October of 1848 desperate, period. Frantic f or his family, especially his new wife and their very young daughter ... probably g rieving over the possible loss of his parents who more than likely would perish in the famine and be among the millions of unknown bodies strewn about the Iri sh country side in unmarked, hastily dug graves, worried sick about his 6 sibli ngs he left behind and scared to death of what lay before him. James Dunn made it to Newport, Vermont, his wife and daughter followed, his siblings arrived and all of us are here today, beneficiaries of the streng th and determination of this one Irishman. A lonely Irishman Boards a ship His sad eyes looking fro A nothing-ness. But in his heart Hope-a glow! Author unknown (maybe ..) DEMOGRAPHICS It might be fun to link together people to places (environment) and see if we can get a flavor for what their actually life might have been like ... to do this w e'll need to review History 101 (yuk)

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The names and ages of individuals are confirmed in the Vermont census over the decades. The Irasburg, VT census of 1850 shows: James Dunn at age 27, a laborer ; Ellen, age 19; and Mary, age 1, all born in Ireland living in Irasburg. The population for Irasburg is 1034. (Newport is only 748!) The folklore of the family is that James Dunn set This is interesting. is that he settled in Irasburg. {Those Irishman wil tled in Newport. The reality 1 do anything for a joke) If the source for the 1850 Census is accurate and tha t can easily be checked out. Irasburg was chartered in 1781 to Ira Allen and 69 associates comprising some 2 3,000 acres. A shrewd businessman Ira soon acquired conveyances from his associ ates and original alleged proprietors and in 1789 owned the entire town except for public rights. (Ira, the benevolent scoundreL. must have been a Democrat) Wh en Ira married (Jerusha Enos) and in accordance with the custom of the time, th e marriage settlement given to her by Ira was the entire township! (Ira was also a diplomat!) Settlers held their land under leases and it wasn't until 1814 that properties began to be sold and deeds effected. Nearly all of the land in the northeastern part of the town remained under lease; the general area of the settlement of J ames and Ellen in 1849-1850. As an aside there still exist in Vermont today hug h land grants. Dartmouth College, I believe, still "owns" massive amounts of 1 and that is still leased annually and dues paid to the college, by the present "owners". (Up until recently exempt from property taxes because .... Dartmouth is a school_ get it?) I think old Dean Davis, a Republican stuck his finger in that leaking hole ... Important in all of this is the fact that Ira had a widespread reputation as a benevolent and honest landowner. (Still a democrat though ...sort of a Clintonesque White Water ambiance?) Is it a stretch to speculate that a p oor or at best meager of means Irishman could corne to Vermont, arrange a lease from the Allen's of Irasburg and establish a homestead? This may have been a si mple and expedient way to establish a foothold in the New World. (See? Isn't h istory fun?) {While in the mood to abandon caution and sort of wing it.... relenting to the urge to wildly fantasize and speculate beyond reason, lets stretch this ou t to its fullest_l Why did this Irishman arrive in New York in the late Fall of 1848, tra vel directly to northeastern Vermont and matter-of -factly establish his roots. How can this be? This question has interested me for years. (Yeah, who would e ver want to settle in Irasburg for Gods sake?) Pat Logan ... Every year for the past 55 years I recall somebody discussing our History mention Pat Logan. Who was Pat Logan and how did he fit into our history? (Hang on_there's that word again) Pat Logan was assuredly a neighbor of James/Ellen Dunn. He lived just up the hill and across the valley from the Dunn homestead on Road 34, a farmer with 96 acres of land. (Darn, we're good!) My father often told me of the friend ship Jim and Pat had and this was confirmed in conversations with Howard and Te resa. ( And you know what happens when two Irish friends get together!!) Pat ha d children and one of them was also named Pat, born about the time of Tim and D an Dunn. I do recall my grandfather Dunn speaking often of stories relating to

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his friendship

(hic) with the junior Pat Logan.

Folklore also says that Jim worked for Pat at various times during tho se very early years, logging to earn money and that Pat and Jim would often swa p labor over the years. It is also related that Pat had arrived in Newport a f ew years before Jim. Is it possible that they knew each other in Ireland, had some correspondence and Jim's direct route to Newport was in fact intended? Pat born there tigate some know ... (Whew,

Logan is buried in st Mary's Cemetery in Newport, his children were (not in the cemetery, dummy!) so it won't be too difficult to inves of this. Now may be the time to reign in and talk about what we do thought he d never stop) I

Now the Census of 1860 clearly indicates James and Ellen and their 6 ch ildren are living in Newport. Folklore does not ever suggest a move during thes e years. The story is that Dunn Hill was first and lastly their homestead. So w hat happened? (Went to bed one night in Irasburg, woke up the next morning in Ne wport! party or what?!) This bears further investigation but land annexations , transfers between townships by the State legislature was occurring regularly as communities began to sort themselves out (And the benevolent Democrats began benevolating) and it may have been that this eastern corner of Irasburg which b ordered Newport was in fact effected by legislation. In 1816, November 16, ( now get it right Tom) ... On November 16, 1816 a small part of Coventry and of Salem was annexed to this territory and the name of the town changed from Duncansborough to Newport. The portion annexed from Salem inclu ded the land of the present Village of Newport. (Went to bed one night in Dunca nsborough ..... you know what I mean right?) In 1854, there were only 11 buildings in what is now (1884) included in the cor poration limits (which simply means village),--two stores, one hotel, and eight dwellings, while the whole population consisted of the families of Orville and Moses Robinson, George W. Smith, Levi Fielding, Benjamin Moss, Jonathan Randal 1, Phineas Page, and Bauchman. The 1850 Census indicates the population is 748 for the entire town! Moving right along now, in 1880, Newport (Town) had a population of 2,426. Some of those inhabitants were our ancestors. Ellen A Dunn lived on Road 35, was a widow of James Dunn, and occupies 20 acres. Also on Road 35 was Thomas Dunn, ( don't get smart, I'm not that old) a farmer occupying 60 acres, and Michael Dun n, living on Road 35, a farmer with no acres listed for him. (Those Irishmen sur e know how to con a poor census taker!) 1880 area maps show these properties as adjacent. In 1882, Newport was divided into 15 school districts, and contained 15 common schools, employing three male and twenty-seven female teachers, to whom was pai d an aggregate salary of $3,370.58. There were 610 pupils attending these schoo ls. (Note: Averages $112/school year and 20 students per teacher) This gives us a flavor for the wages/earnings of these times ... oh... for the good old days when t eacher salaries were In 1884 Newport contained 5 churches, (Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Roma n Catholic, and Episcopal), two large hotels, a well conducted Bank, several ma nufacturing establishments, 25 stores of various kinds, 3 livery stables, 8 law yers, six physicians, 1 dentist, and from twelve to fifteen inhabitants. (Nothin g new here ... 8 lawyers for 15 people ... seems about right)

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The village was well known as a popular summer resort, and aside from the many natural attractions it presents, few large cities are provided with such good s anitary improvements as it can boast. It has an excellent supply of pure, cold spring water, while its drainage is complete. (Source: Childs Lamoille/Orleans County Directory, 1883-1884). st. Mary's Star of the Sea Roman Catholic church, located on Pleasant street, N ewport Village, was organized by its first pastor, Rev John Michaud, in 1873, The church building was erected in 1875, a wood structure capable of seating 25 o persons, at a cost, including grounds of $6,135.37. The society has about 700 members, with Rev Norbert Proulx, pastor. (1884) Newport Center (1884) a village within Newport Township, is a thriving little p ost village and station on the SouthEastern railway, located in the central par t of the town. It contains two churches (Free Will Baptist and Methodist Episco pal), a hotel, five grocery stores, a steam saw mill, shingle mill, three black smith shops, three carriage shops, three cabinet shops, one harness shop, and a bout 50 dwellings. (and 0 lawyers!!) Mud creek, with its tributaries, waters t his section of the town. Coventry was also a community that figured in our Dunn History as sever al of our ancestors lived there in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Charted i n 1780, the charter defined its boundaries starting with "Beginning at a beech tree, being the northwesterly corner of Irasburg" .... (Like this guy already! !) In 1880, Coventry had a population of 911, and in 1882, was divided int o 9 school districts and contained 10 common schools, employing 2 male and 18 f emale teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of 1208.86. There were 23 2 students attending these schools. (Note: Average salary $60.44 with about 1 2 students per teacher; now this is reasonable ..the salary I mean. We'll adjus t student load next year!) . Located on the falls of the Black river, Coventry commenced in 1821 by Calvin and Daniel Harmon when all was a dense forest. In 1883 it contains 2 ch urches (Methodist Episcopal and Congregational), a hotel, two stores, one tanne ry, a saw-mill, two blacksmith shops, a harness shop, shoe shop, and about 150 inhabitants including Thomas Dunn who lived on Road 18, and was a stone mason a nd a farmer with 6 acres of land. (and 0 lawyers!!!) Derby also figures in our Family history as some of our ancestors lived there, traveled through Derby, or otherwise did business in the village. (Tippe d a few pints etc) Derby was originally chartered in 1779 but increased conside rably with the annexation of significant portions of Salem in 1881. (There's tho se Democrats again ... ) As you will see, Derby was an active, industrious Town off ering a greater variety of resources than its neighbors. The Census report of 1850 is somewhat startling indicating a population of 1750 people, over twice the size of Newport, reasons unknown to me at this time. (All the Irishman were tipping .. .Molson's... dummy!) In 1880 the population was 2549 (Newport has risen sharply to 2426) and one of those inhabitants was John F. Dunn, who lived on Road 83, had a dairy farm of 10 cows, identified himself as a farmer, and maintained leases of 108 acres from Horace Ruiter. John F. Dunn is also listed in Island Pond, Essex County on Road 48, ag ain identifies himself as a farmer owning 125 acres of land. This begs the question

of why would a man who owns 125 acres, lease 108 acres,

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for a 10-cow farm? (Each cow had its own private pasture stupid!) This further fuels the speculation that John was an entrepreneur of sorts_"His hands were a lways so clean and frail looking ... they just weren t the hands of a farmer" (Teres a Decoteau, 1997) (Now c'mon, Teresa, c'mon!) I

In 1882 Derby was divided into 20 school districts and had 19 common sc hools, employing 1 male and 26 female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate s alary of $1,994.64. There were 553 students attending these schools. (Average teacher salary: $73.88 with 20 students per teacher)Where's the lawyers when yo u need one ..a case for equal opportunity if I ever heard of one! In 1880 the Town of Derby included the villages of Derby, Derby Line, West Derb y, Beebe Plain, and North Derby. Derby, a post village located near the center of the town on Clyde river, conta ins three churches (Methodist, Congregational and Baptist) one hotel, academy b uilding, one general store, a drug store, two furniture and undertaking stores, a grist-mill, saw-mill, wagon shop, marble shop, and about 250 inhabitants. Derby Line, a post village located nada, contains one church (Universalist), h gallery, livery stable, millinery shop, is reached by a branch of the Massawippi

on the line between this town and Ca a bank, hotel, four stores, photograp wagon shop, and about 250 people. It railroad.

West Derby, a post village located on the Clyde river about a mile east of Newport, contains one church (Baptist), one store, one grocery, a paper mil I, veneer mill, grist-mill, and about 300 inhabitants. Beebe Plain, a post village located on the Canada line about 2 miles we st from Derby Line, contains one store, a hotel, and about a dozen dwellings. North Derby is a hamlet and station on the Passumpsic railroad, located in the northwestern part of the town. (and it appears nobody lives there, imagi ne that!)

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The Dunn Family .... 150 Years in America  

Family History