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Hosea Dunbar, a Collateral Relative

As always, I am working backwards in time to unravel the threads of the life of Benjamin E. Dunbar (1776-1831), my fourth great-grandfather. The time has come to branch out and look at the lives of his family members.

Our family history The Descendants of Robert Dunbar of Hingham, Massachusetts by Ann Theopold Chaplin tells us that Benjamin E. was the son of Benjamin Dunbar and Hannah Hathaway. He had a brother Hosea, born in 1777. Their father died by 1779.

The first and most obvious family member to look at next is Hosea to see if any additional information on their family will turn up.

So far, I have found nothing more about their parents, but I have learned more about Hosea’s life. The information given in Chaplin’s book is incomplete.

Hosea, like Benjamin E., was born in Halifax, MA. He married Rachel White in Vermont in 1806. They had six children:

  1. Joseph (1807-1886)
  2. Hannah (1809-1883)
  3. Hosea jr. (1812-?)
  4. Walter (1816-1895)
  5. Benjamin (1819-1901)
  6. John L. (1824-1892)

The Dunbar book relates that they migrated from Vermont to New York. It says some of the children went on to Lenawee County, Michigan.

The obituary for John L. Dunbar completes the story. He was born at Fort Ann, New York. His family moved on to Niagara County, NY when John was still a child. When he was 15 (about 1839), he and his parents settled in Fairfield, Lenawee County, Michigan. There they remained. Hosea died in 1849 and Rachel in 1855.

Long ago I had located these Dunbars on the U.S. census and wondered whether they were related to my branch of the family. Now I know that they were.

They lived two counties apart, Benjamin E.’s family in St. Joseph County and Hosea’s family in Lenawee County. Did they know each other?

Benjamin E. had died in Ohio in 1831, long before some of his children went to Michigan in 1849 (the same year Hosea died). Hosea had traveled a separate way through the years first to Vermont and New York before landing in Michigan. How likely is it that the families kept in touch, especially after Benjamin E. passed away? Did Benjamin E.’s children and grandchildren in Mendon realize that the Dunbars in Fairfield were their cousins?

I will never know. It has been interesting to learn that many of Benjamin and Hannah’s descendants settled in the same area near the Great Lakes. Was this a coincidence?

Hosea’s family has not told me anything new about the Dunbar family in Halifax. When I finish posting all his information I will need to turn to other family members in the search for more information.

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