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The Dunns – Part 2 – Hope

I do not really know where the Dunn family came from. I have seen US Census Reports stating that my great-great-grandfather William Dunn was born in either Ireland in 1817 or in Pennsylvania in 1818. After that I have seen is the 1840 US Census for Hollidaysburg, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. These pre-1850 enumerations provide very little information except for name and age of Head of Household, and ages of family members. This report does seem to agree with some research Dean Chance posted on I will attempt to tell the story of William’s early years, until more records clarify his story.
3/25/2009 – I just returned from a three day research trip to the Roller Hojath Library in Hollidaysburg, Pa. The Blair County Genealogical Society has a fantastic collection based upon Mr. Hohenstein’s collection. I was able to fill in a lot of the blanks in the Dunn story, and am updating this essay.
William Dunn was born in Bedford, Pa. in 1817 . By 1836 William had moved to Huntingdon County and reached Hollidaysburg, which was bustling with the newly-dug Mail Line Canal, and the building of the Allegheny Portage Railroad. William was in his late teens and ready to marry. He met young Mary McCloskey, and they were married in St. Patrick’s church, in Newry in 1836. The 1840 Census lists William Dunn, as over 20 years, as was his wife, with a daughter under 5 years, possibly Margaret. They had up to six more children, but Mary Dunn died in July of 1949, bearing their youngest child, Michael, who died soon after her, The 1850 Census lists William as a carpenter.
William married Magdalena Senninger on January 10, 1850, at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. Over the next 11 years they had 6 children. Roman had been born in 1842 in Germany and perhaps was her son from her previous marriage to Joseph Senninger.; her maiden name might have been Fogel, which was Anglicized to Bird. The Senningers immigrated to America aboard the Utica in 1846. Roman, and Robert (who was born after Magdalena reached the US) were raised by her and William, along with elder children from his first marriage, and the their own brood. Their son,Thomas H. Dunn, b. 1855, was my great-grandfather. His mother Magdelena died in 1861.
William married young Louisa Allwine in 1863, and they had perhaps six more children in the next decade. The 1870 US Census lists Wm. as a “patternmaker”. This vocation required carpentry skill in making wooden templates from which metal pieces were cut. Some of his sons, and grandsons, followed in his footsteps in the Altoona Railroad Shops.
Louisa soon also died because the 1880 & 1900 US Census lists William as living with his son John and family in Duncansville. I have a report that William and Louisa’s daughters were raised by Louisa’s mother after her death.
In July of 1903 William’s obituary was printed in the Altoona Times,”William Dunn died at the residence of his son, at Duncansville, at 6 last evening. Deceased was aged 86 years, 5 months, and 4 days and was one of the oldest and most highly respected residents of the village……”
His son, Thomas H. Dunn, is listed as living in Hollidaysburg. The Tax Rolls as working as a laborer in 1871 when he was only 14. He left Hollidaysburg sometime prior to 1880, heading west along the route of the old Pa. Canal, to its terminus on the Allegheny River, to seek his own life.

Updated with a new introduction on 23 Nov 2012;  So many of my earlier guesses have been updated by newly found information, that I will try to write an essay each week about that old gentleman, William Dunn Sr., his three wives, and his sixteen children by them, and his two step-sons from the second wife’s first two marriages.  What a puzzle!  But I’ve found a lot of cousins who are helping to solve this compound-complex family’s history.

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