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16 December 2016

Caroline Dunham (1834-1887), case study or do NOT assume relationships

LaSalle County, Illinois

Who is Caroline Dunham? Who belongs in her family and what are their relationships? Are there more than one Caroline's? Every search offers more research questions. This article happens to involve my elusive Dunham family in LaSalle County, Illinois. A quick look down my list of Caroline's reveals Caroline born 1822, Caroline born 1834, Caroline born 1890 and Caroline R. This can be confusing enough, but add in the 1850-70 U.S. census without relationships.

My example draws on the 1850-1870 U.S. census for LaSalle County, Illinois. The point to remember is that these early census records do NOT provide a relationship between listed household members. The following census information is from

The 1850 census for Brown County, Ohio lists the following Dunham names for family number 1184: Elizabeth age 60, Sophia age 32, John age 21, George age 19 and Caroline age 16. [Year: 1850; Census Place: Byrd, Brown, Ohio; Roll: M432_662; Page: 78A; Image: 597]

The 1860 census for Eagle, LaSalle County, Illinois list the following Dunham names for dwelling number 4379 and family number 4387 and 4388: Asa age 41, Elizabeth age 69, Sophia age 43, Caroline age 25 and Newton age 22. [Year: 1860; Census Place: Eagle, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: M653_197; Page: 1217; Image: 562; Family History Library Film: 803197]

The 1870 census for Richland, LaSalle County, Illinois list the following Dunham names for dwelling 32 and family 29: Asa age 51, Sophia age 52, Caroline age 35 and John R age 24. [Year: 1870; Census Place: Richland, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: M593_244; Page: 673A; Image: 136824; Family History Library Film: 545743] The previous household and family are also Dunham.

Remember, no relationship, finally the 1880 census so we can connect these people! Richland, LaSalle County, Illinois dwelling 92 family105 lists the following Dunham names: Asa age 61, Sophia age 63, Caroline age 45. Wait! Where is the important relationship information? It is missing for this family. The Dunham neighbor is complete. So again, the relationship is not known. [Year: 1880; Census Place: Richland, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 224; Family History Film: 1254224; Page: 664A; Enumeration District: 087; Image: 0049]

Thanks to the LaSalle County Genealogical Guild, the following obituary solved the mystery. "Miss Caroline Dunham died at the home of her brother Asa Dunham, in Rutland, on Tuesday, the 21st...." "Tonica News." 1887 June 25. Vol. XIV. Number 17. Page 4. microfilm. Caroline's parents are Samuel and Elizabeth, her siblings are Asa, John Lee and Sophia. Many gaps remain between children, more research. The only known relationship from this brief search is Asa and Caroline. Article goal, DO NOT assume relationships from census records!!!

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