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The Dunn Saga – Part Three

Part 3 – Struggle

The 1880 US Census reveals that Thomas H. Dunn had married Sarah A. Davis (b. 1860 in Wales); they lived with her family in Shaler Township, Allegheny County, Pa., and all the men were worked in the “Iron Works”. By 1900 Thomas H. and Sarah Dunn lived in a ‘crackerbox’ on Cherry St., Etna. They had three sons; Arthur (b. 1882), Allen (b. 1883) and Thomas John (b. 1888). Thomas H. and his two older sons worked in the steel mills. In July 1902, Arthur died of typhoid fever (Pittsburgh had no sewer system, and dumped it in the rivers, which is also where drinking water was drawn from). Arthur’s untimely death added to previous triple family tragedies of William’s deceased wives; and he indeed outlived his eldest grandson. The Dunns and Davises purchased adjoining family plots at Mt. Royal Cemetery; most of them would eventually be buried there.
In 1903 the Harmonite Society community of Old Economy, twenty miles north on the Ohio River, dissolved, and their vast farm lands were sold to US Steel, which began to build the world’s largest structural steel fabricator, American Bridge Company, there. The Dunns decided to move to Ambridge (named after the Bridge Works) in 1906. Thomas H. bought a house on Melrose Avenue; widowed Mary Davis joined them by 1910. Thomas H. and his two surviving sons worked at the new mills, and began to finally enjoy a taste of prosperity. Mary died at home in 1916.
Thomas J. met Bertha Flueckiger, whose family had been long-term business associates of the Harmonite Society. Her father Gottlieb and mother Rosina had immigrated from Switzerland (possibly from the French Cantons). He became one of the society’s orchardists, tending their Bottom Orchard. The Flueckiger’s lived in Old Economy Village, and had 9 children, four of whom survived childhood. Thomas J. and Bertha had four children; Lillian (b. 1914), Arthur Allen (b. 1917), Betty (b. 1923), and Thomas Jay (b.1930). They were raised at their home on 14th Street. Thomas J. became a steel inspector, and then a shipping clerk, before retiring.
Allen Dunn moved away from the mills, and became the Athletic Director of the YMCA in Canonsburg, Pa. He met and married Clara Crocker there. In 1917, when the US entered the Great War, Allen volunteered to be a YMCA staffer aiding the front line troops in France. He was wounded and suffered shell shock. After returning home to recover, he again volunteered to help with post-war reconstruction in France. Then in 1919, both he and Clara went over to work in war-ravaged Italy and Greece. In between tours, they lived in Passaic, New Jersey, and worked for the “Y”. At the end of their service, they moved back to Berry Street, in Baden, Pa.
Allen then worked as the Pa. Dept of Agriculture Safe Food Inspector, and was active in local political and service organizations. His father and mother moved in with them, after Thomas H. retired. Tragedy struck again, though, in 1930. Sarah had been visiting relatives in California, when she suffered a stroke. She returned to Allen’s home, but suffered a fatal stroke soon after arriving. Allen and Clara soon moved to the Nelson Apartments on Park Drive, Ambridge, and Thomas H. lived with them. Allen became the secretery of a Savings and Loan, and they lived in peace and prosperity.
Thomas J. and Bertha Dunn raised their family. Lillian married Donald Creese from a farm family in Hopewell Township. Art graduated from Ambridge High School in 1935. He attended Westminster College in New Wilmington, graduating with a math degree in 1939. His younger sister Betty soon married William Hineman, of Rochester. In spite of several deaths, this tight knit family weathered the Great Depression, and began to look forward the rest of their lives. Unfortunately this was a much shorter span than many of them expected.

To be continued….

Thomas Joseph (Dunn) Marti

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