Broad Valley Orchard

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Chapter One – The Fulfords meet the Davises who meet the Dunns

Hard Times in Early 18th Century London, Hard Times in Wales,
Hard Times on the Pa. Canal, Hard Times in the North Side Mills
{Note- italics indicate historical conjecture based upon incomplete records}

Note: 23Jul 2011 – Update!  The following italicized conjecture is hereby relegated to the dust bin of history. A June 2011 update; “Of Puddlers and Patternmakers” is a much better explanation of my Welsh/English family, including dialogue with a ‘cousin’ still over there.  Seems like working in the steel mills was part of my heritage, and I put in a couple years working in the belly of those hot beasts, too.

My great-great-grandmother Mary A. (nee?) was perhaps born in the parish of St. Sepulcher, London, in 1817. She married William Fulford Sr. (c. 1817-1850), born in England. Their first son, William Fulford Jr., was born in St. Brides, London in 1838. Their first daughter, my great-great-grandmother, Mary A. Fulford, was born in Midd. St. Clements in 1842; she was born lame. Her younger brother George was born at St. Brides in 1848 with “contorted limbs”, and was paralyzed for life. His younger sister, Eliza was born two years later, just before their working father died, at age 32. They lived at 23 Poppins Court., in the slums near Fleetside. Poppe’s was named after the Poppinjay (Parrot) Tavern.
Widowed Mary was forced to take in laundry to keep her four children fed, and to care for the needs of two with disabilities. In spite of these burdens, she ensured that all the children received an education. This advantage was critical for the younger Mary to escape the poverty, the crime, and the dangerous pollution of mid-19th century London. Perhaps she became a governess.

My great-grandmother Mary A. Davis migrated to Wales in the late 1850’s. She met and married John F. Davis, and on June 4, 1860, Sarah A. Davis was born in Britton Ferry; William J., and David D. followed in 1863 and 1866. Mary Davis had nine other children who did not survive to adulthood. Tough times in the worn-out Welsh mines coincided with vast new mineral wealth being discovered in North America.
On October 5, 1871, the Davis clan made their way to Liverpool, where they boarded the M/V China for steerage passage to New York City. They made their way to Shaler Township, in the hills above the iron mills surrounding Old Allegheny City.
Thomas Henry Dunn had left Hollidaysburg. At age 14 he ran away with a visiting circus. He was a professional gymnast and acrobat before he moved to the Pittsburgh area, where he met Sarah and found work in the steel mills as a “heater”.
By 1880 Thomas H. married Sarah, and lived with her family. They soon to settled in Sharpsburg, and then moved to a two-story duplex “cracker box” at 55 Cherry St., Etna, and bore their four sons, William (who died young),Arthur, Allen, and Thomas John. John Davis died near the turn of the twentieth century. Arthur Dunn became a professional baesball player. Arthur died when hit in a head by a baseball in October, 1902.
In 1906 the Dunns moved to Ambridge, to work in the new Bridge Works. Mary Davis’ first husband may have died, and she might have re-married to Thomas Davis ( no relation) and first moved to Sharon, Pa. When her second husband died, in 1908, she joined them in Ambridge. She died in 1916.
Sarah died in 1930, of a stroke that she suffered while on vacation in California with her husband. Thomas John and Allen died in 1942, and Thomas H. died in 1943.
David and Minerva Davis moved to Middle St., in Sharpsburg, where he worked as a machinist, and they raised their family. One son, Allen, married, and his family lived with his parents. William and Laura Davis enjoyed success; he became president of a brass foundry, and they lived on Second Avenue, in graceful Aspinwall. As their business thrived, they were able to move up the hill to Emerson Street, with their two daughters. William died at Veteran’s Hospital in Aspinwall.
Except for John Davis, all the above named members of his family (except Mary and Sarah, who are in the adjoining Dunn plot along with Thomas H., Arthur, Allen, and possibly his wife Clara) are buried in the Davis plot in Mt. Royal Cemetery. Laura’s brother, J. Oscar Noel, and Minerva’s brother Charles Heist are also buried in the Davis plot. The view from Mt. Royal Cemetery is breath-taking, and the marble mausoleum, where early Pittsburgh’s notables (and robber barons) are interred, is truly stunning.

Next week I will present more about the Irish Dunns who were a line of “pattern-makers”. I seem to have inherited a bit of that knack.

Thomas J. Dunn/Marti –
PS: After doing a lot of research in Hollidaysburg, Etna, and Ambridge, I have revised this entry to better reflect reality. I have further updated it with my re-discovered Aunt Betty’s memories of the Dunn Family. 5 Feb 2010

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