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Ida and Clara – The Youngest Dunn Sisters

Ida Flora Dunn

Ida Flora Dunn was born in Hollidaysburg on 18Jan 1873.  She was baptised at the family church on 15 Feb 1873, with Jacob and Anna Culley as her sponsors.  Their mother Louisa died soon after Ida’s sister Clara was born.  Ida’s life left few records.  She followed the same career as did her older sisters Bertha and Sarah, working as a domestic servant.  Altoona Directories from 1893 to 1900 list Ida as working with her Sarah at the Franklin Hoouse and at the Adeline Hotel, plus at households on Chestnut Avenue.  Ida is enumerated in the {1900US-Altoona}, possibly double- counted.  On 4 June she is listed as a domestic at the Adeline with Sarah, and on 7 June she is listed as a chamber maid in Precinct 2.

I have found no further records of Ida in either official records or mentioned in any of her siblings obituaries.  I guess that either 1) she married and I have not found her wedded name, or 2) that she died before the {1910US}.   The latter is very possible; many young people died early in the polluted air of these industrial towns.

Clara Frances Dunn

Clara is listed in Catholic records as having been  born on 31 Aug 1874, and baptized on 31 Aug 1874, with John and Barbara Singer as her sponsors.  I believe John was a son of the Senneger family of Altoona;  Magdalena (William Dunn’s second wife; he was possibly her third husband) Senneger  had  immigrated to America with that family.  The  Sennegers belonged to St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Altoona,  while William and Louisa attended St. Mary’s of Hollidaysburg.

Louisa died at some time after Clara’s birth.  In the {1880 US- Antis Twp.}, five year old Clara is listed as living with her grandmother Martha Allwine.  Martha married Levi Hammond after her first husband died.  Clara’s oldest sister Martha Dunn also lives with them.  I believe that Clara’s  sister Martha stayed with the Hammonds to help care for Clara, who had special needs.

Clara’s life was not easy.  In the {1900US- Allegheny Twp} Clara is listed as living at the Blair County Alms House; described as “insane”. Her half-brother Andrew Dunn is also listed in that document.  On 10 Jul 1906 Clara died.  Her Pa. Death Certificate list her cause of death as Epilepsy, and that she had suffered from it for “many years”.  Clara’s last record was her 12 July 1906 obituary in the Altoona Mirror .  Her funeral was at her family’s church, and she is buried at St. Mary’s  Catholic Cemetery.

I believe that the Dunn family was shaken by this storm of early deaths that afflicted them between 1895 and 1915.  Lucretia Dunn Irwin died in 1895;  Andrew Dunn in 1902; William Dunn Sr.  in 1903, William  Dunn Jr.  in 1905, Joseph Dunn in 1906, Martha Dunn Wills in 1907, and Susan McLaughlin Dunn (Joseph’s wife) in 1908, and  Susanna Dunn Saly  in 1915.  When William Sr.’s 3 wives who all died young, as well as several of their grandchildren who died young,  are added to this death toll, it must have been hit the family hard.  I have first hand experience in similar “Dunn Death Storms”.  A second death storm struck my side of the family in 1942-3 in the steel town of Ambridge, Pa.  This grim lightning hit a third time when I lost my father, my  newborn brother, and other family members there in 1954.

Next week (since I have five weeks of winter to go on my Winter Writing Project), I’ll start writing what I know about the grandchildren of William Dunn and his 3 wives, Mary, Magdalena, and Louisa.

Thom Dunn Marti – 17 Feb 2013

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