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My office is undergoing renovation in stages.

There's a window of opportunity for me to try and fill in some pieces in the Bob, Mary, and Martha Dunn mystery.

It's time for the rubber to meet the road. Next Thursday and Friday, I'm taking leave from the office and going to Hot Spring and Clark counties to try and get some answers. My Callaway cousin, Joe, is going to shepherd me through the Special Collections section of Ouachita Baptist University.

I'm also going to be cold-calling a cousin who lives in Arkadelphia who has never heard of me. I understand he may have some answers - and maybe even some documents and pictures.

I can hardly wait...

You too can create a puzzle out of one of your own family photos by going here.
dee_burris: (Default)
I think my third cousin, Jason, found Mary Dunn's younger brother.

He worked off the only clues I had about this photo:


I've been told the man with Mary in the undated (and truly weird looking) photo was Bob Dunn, who came to visit her from Texas.

As another blogger commented in the original entry, they look as if they posed in front of a bedsheet.

And then, there's that nail sticking out.

And the look on Mary's face.

She doesn't look terribly pleased to be there.

So Jason started looking for a Bob, or Robert, Dunn.

And he found one in the 1880 census, living three farms away from Mary and her second husband, David Andrew Williams.


So he tracked Robert J Dunn.

And found him living next in Hunt County, TX.
Robert James Dunn was born 3 Dec 1853 in Georgia. Like Mary.

He died 15 Dec 1926 in Hunt County, TX.

Jason and I cannot find his death certificate, although we have found death certificates for the same period of reported time, 1890-1976, for several of his at least 25 children by two different wives. (More about that later.)

We also cannot find his parents, or find him as a little kid in census records.

Like Mary.

Unless you count the church record, which Jason found at the Arkansas History Commission.

And which we believe shows Mary (Dunn) Callaway, her brother James Dunn, and sister, Martha Dunn, joining Bethel Union Baptist Church by experience in August 1867. (That would have been right after Mary's marriage to Mace Callaway, whose mother was already a member of Bethel Union, back in 1863, and before Martha Dunn married David Andrew Williams on 27 Jun 1869 in Clark County.)

Robert James Dunn married Sarah A "Sally" Hickman on 10 Jul 1873 in Clark County, AR.

According to census records, draft registrations and death certificates, their first 10 children were born in Clark County, including Ella in December 1892. Mollie and Charlie Benford Dunn were born in Hunt County, TX.

However, the 1900 census in Hunt County said that Sally was the mother of 15 children, 14 of whom were living at the time of the census, so I've not yet found three little kiddos.

When Robert James Dunn turned up in the 1910 census without Sally, I thought I found another daughter, Bettie, and that Sally had died.

Then I remembered Jason's email. Robert had remarried on 18 May 1901 to Bettie Dorella Wofford. There was a congratulatory article in the Commerce Journal:

 photo BobDunnmarriagerecord.jpg

"Parental inteference (sic)?" I looked more closely at the census.

47 year-old Robert Dunn married the 15 1/2 year-old daughter of one of his neighbors. "Prosperous farmer" or not, that couldn't have made them happy.

Especially since the 1910 census reported that Bettie was the mother of 5 children, 4 of whom were living at the time of the census.

And then I found Sally Dunn. Living with her son, William Oliver Dunn, and his wife Annie Anderson, in Mitchell County, TX.

Bob Dunn's third son was older than his new wife.

If Robert James Dunn is the Bob Dunn in the photo above, I have to wonder...

Did his marital hijinks have anything to do with the look on his sister's face?

Circumstantially speaking, I think we got our man.

And as Jason said, maybe together, we'll figure it out one day.

I'm going down to Clark County to nose around - real soon.
dee_burris: (Default)
I imagine the surname McBrayer to have Scottish or Irish origins. I have only traced my McBrayers back to Cumberland Co., PA in 1764. William McBrayer, born in Cumberland County, married in 1788 in Rutherford Co., NC to Elizabeth Martin.

For the next three generations, McBrayers farmed the land of several North Carolina counties until around 1868, when Eli Wellington McBrayer and his younger brother Tilman (sons of Tilman W McBrayer and Elizabeth Amelia Bridges), removed to the fertile farmland of Clark County, AR and began farming there. In 1877, Tilman moved on to neighboring Pike County, AR.

Eli stayed put. On 8 Nov 1870, he married Harriet "Hattie" K Thornton, and the couple had three children with another on the way when brother Tilman moved on.

The first of those three children was a son - Robert Bruce McBrayer, born 10 Oct 1871, in Clark County. Robert was the first husband of my great grandmother, Julia Ann Callaway.

And although Robert is not related to me by blood, he was still family. As far as I know, McBrayer kids were just as much the kids of Jasper Monroe Herrington as Jasper's kids were Julia Ann Callaway's when they blended their families in 1907. And then went on to have six more.

Robert's parents were well-respected in their little Clark County community called DeGray.

Eli Wellington McBrayer and Hattie K Thornton had 11 children that I have been able to document. Eli was a leader in their church, DeGray Baptist (formerly Bethel Union Baptist). At least four of those children died before they reached the age of 20. DeGray Baptist Church Cemetery is the resting place of Eli, Hattie, and many of their descendants.

Among the photos I got on my recent successful visit to see my aunt was this one of Mary C (Dunn) Callaway Williams, and Hattie K (Thornton) McBrayer. According to the writing on the back, it was taken in the late 1800s.


This would have been a photo cherished by my great-grandmother Julia Ann Callaway McBrayer Herrington.

Her mother and her first mother-in-law, who surely had known each other for years. They were contemporaries and only born two years apart, Hattie being the younger. If the photo is from the late 1800s, then Robert McBrayer was still alive at the time it was taken. (He died in 1905.)

I think there may be a possibility that the names of the women on the photo were reversed. My aunt wrote that Hattie was on the left, and Mary on the right.

My cousin and I zoomed the photo on my laptop and compared it to the 3 known photos of Mary Dunn in my possession. (Took those suckers right off the wall, we did.) We believe Mary is the woman on the left.

And we have no reason to doubt that the women in the photo, regardless of their position, are Mary and Hattie.

I. Love. This.


Verna McBrayer Feimster

Verna was the daughter of Robert McBrayer and Julia Ann Callaway. Born on 5 Sep 1900, she was sixth of the eight children. She married William A "Bill" Feminster on 21 Jun 1928.

So I figure this was Verna's single gal, flapper look - before she married.

Most of Eli and Harriet's children stayed in and around Clark County all their lives.

So did most of their grandchildren, although two of Robert and Julia's sons moved to Texas (Larkin and Charlie).

That's still a long way from Scotland or Ireland...


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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