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Moses Dunbar Revealed

My second great grandmother Olive Riddle (1823-1902) was born a Dunbar. She had eleven siblings.

Some members of this family have proven easy to trace. Others, not so much.

I last worked on this group about twenty years ago. Oddly enough, the three sons in the family were harder to follow than the nine girls. I finally gave up on the men without knowing when or where any of them died.

This year, I resumed the research on the Dunbars. I have many more databases available to use in locating information on the elusive Dunbar brothers.

I focused on the middle brother, Moses Dunbar (1814-?), this week. His birth was registered at Chatham, MA, but I knew nothing of his whereabouts after that.

The family had relocated to Stow, Summit County, Ohio about 1831 when Moses would have been on the verge of manhood. Did he go with them? Or was he already settled and wanting to stay on Cape Cod? “Moses Dunbar” is a surprisingly common name to research without more to go on.

I assumed that our Moses eventually made his way to Ohio, either with his family or later, living at least until the 1840’s. A man his age resided in his mother’s household in 1840.

A few years later, his name appeared with his middle initial, “W”, in Ohio land documents when the family was resolving title issues to the land their father had purchased. This initial became an important clue in a new search for Moses.

Beginning with the U.S. census, I located a sailor named Moses W. Dunbar living in Cuyahoga County, just north of Summit County, after 1850. He married there, twice. I found Cleveland census records for him for both 1870 and 1880.

As I reviewed the Cuyahoga County records, Family Search did some helpful looking on my behalf. Their hints column suggested that I compare my Moses with Moses W. Dunbar of Siskiyou County, California. The same age as my Moses, the California man had registered there to vote in 1884.

Well, I never would have thought of that. Moses, the senior citizen, went to California?

A quick search of Find A Grave provides strong evidence that my Moses and the California Moses are a match. Moses Whitney Dunbar, who died in 1906 at the age of 93, is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in the old goldrush town of Yreka, CA. His cemetery marker is inscribed with the phrase, “Native of Chatham, Mass.”

This seems to be my guy. Thank you, Family Search!

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