Person:Abner Dunn (8)

Abner C. Dunn
  • HAbner C. DunnAbt 1790 - 1851
  • WNancy MillerAbt 1800 - 1864
m. 12 Nov 1824
  1. Lavina Dunn1822 - 1871
  2. Sarah Dunn1825-1835 -
  3. Elizabeth Dunn1826 - 1879
  4. George M. DunnAbt 1830 - 1851
  5. Sophia Dunn1832 - 1896
  6. Jane H. Dunn1836 - 1921
  7. Julia Ann Dunnest 1837 -


Early Life

Abner Dunn was apparently born in Kentucky, sometime around 1790-94, possibly the son of Zephaniah Dunn.[35] He seems to have been in Indiana at an early date, serving in the 4th Indiana Militia from Knox County, under Capt. Joseph Montgomery during the War of 1812.[3] [2] He may have been in Indiana as early as 1810 (when he would have been around 16-20 years of age.) See, for example, the following newspaper notice:

The Western Sun (Knox County, Indiana), 20 Jan 1810, Vol 3, No. 5, p. 4, col 2-3. Notice This is to inform my friends and the public in general, that I wrote to that ignommous muckworm, that I could not suffer his slanderous tongue any longer, and wished he would mention the time and place where he would meet me, and give me satisfaction for the ignommy he tried to brand me with; I think it was kneeling too low, to make a proposal to such a villain, like A. C. Dunn is; but it appeared I could not avoid it, from the treatment I received from that hell-doomed monster but when he received my epistle from my friend, James McNeil, his answer was to him orally; that he did not know of any thing to write on the subject—but he considered on the affair, and then said he knew no harm of me, and that he believed I was a gentleman. E. Fenwick

In the 1820 Census Abner is living alone in Knox County, Indiana, in Widner Township, a township notorious for it's squatters, according to one early local history. The 1820 Census is also the first record that indicates the nearly lifelong association between Abner and Robert Dunn and his family, particularly Robert's brother James, James' son Alvin, and Robert's son Jeremiah. The nature of the relationship between Abner and Robert remains unknown, although DNA tests suggests a biological relationship. Abner was not a brother, however, nor was he a nephew, as he was not included as one of the heirs of the estate of Zephaniah Dunn, another brother of James and Robert who died intestate and without living children. It's possible that Abner was a (second?) cousin of Robert and his extended family.

Hendricks County, Indiana

Both Abner and Robert moved to what would become Hendricks County, Indiana soon after 1820. Abner settled in Washington Township near Abner's Creek, named for him, but never purchased the land on which he settled, and not long after appears to have been living in Eel River Township. Since the land on which he settled was purchased not many years later, it is likely that he lost the land to someone who did not respect the rights of squatters. There is a family story that Abner and his family were dispossessed from their land at some point in time, which would accord with what is currently known from documentary sources.

Squatting was a common practice at the time, as a settler would find the land he wanted, perhaps mark it, or at least make known to others around him what land he wished to claim, and then he would begin to develop the land, saving money until he could afford to purchase it legally. Unfortunately, land that was already cleared with some development was more attractive to people arriving later than undeveloped land, and there were some who came later who were not averse to buying property that had been settled but not purchased by someone else.

Clinton County, Indiana

About 1830 Abner moved to Clinton County, Indiana, a popular destination for many people from Hendricks County who were looking for a better opportunity. Robert Dunn was already there, and Abner and Alvin Dunn (son of James) purchased property together. Joint purchases of property were not unheard of; Robert's first land purchase had also been a joint purchase with Isaac Cook. For whatever reason, however, Abner and Alvin's effort seems to have failed. They sold their property to a neighbor, Isaac Miller, and Alvin returned to Hendricks County, while Abner returned to squatting, in a wilderness area. From there Abner apparently moved to Boone County, and then made another attempt at land ownership, making two more purchases of land from the United States government. Once again Abner's efforts to own land failed. He moved around Clinton County, perhaps renting, and on at least one occasion apparently making another attempt to purchase property, although this time from another individual. It would appear that he was making yet another effort to purchase land, this time from James Snowden and Jeremiah Dunn, when he died. James Snowden, as administrator of his estate, seems to have arranged for the sale of property (part of which he himself owned) by Jeremiah Dunn to Abner's heirs. Many of the transactions seem to have gone unrecorded, dependent perhaps on private notes. That such private notes were used to conduct land sales is indicated by a subsequent attempt to purchase part of the property which had (somehow) reverted to Jeremiah Dunn, which ended up in court.

Why Abner had so much difficulty retaining his land is unknown, but not, perhaps, unusual. Tax records show other individuals paying taxes on land owned by someone else; other probate records also allude, in one way or another, to land used as a source of rental income, or for investment. If Abner had been able to retain the land he settled in Hendricks County, his life might have been lived very differently, but there was, at the time, little protection for people like him, unless it was a community effort on the part of everyone in the area, which sometimes happened. In September 1841 the US Congress passed a Preemption Act which at least recognized the problem, although still not providing protection for people like Abner. In any event, it was too late for Abner.

Fact and Events

Name Abner C. Dunn
Gender Male
Birth[34][35] Abt 1790 Kentucky, United States  Speculative Father?: Zephaniah Dunn (20)  
Military[2][3][26] 11 Aug - 19 Nov 1812 Knox, Indiana, United States
Census[30] 1820 Knox, Indiana, United StatesWidner Township
Alt Marriage ABT 1821 based on birth of first child
to Nancy Miller
Residence[4][5] 1823 Hendricks, Indiana, United StatesWashington Township
Marriage 12 Nov 1824 Indiana, United Statesby Mr. Black, a Justice of the Peace; no county given
to Nancy Miller
Other[6] 18 Jan 1825 Hendricks, Indiana, United Statesregistered stock mark; same date as Joseph, John Dunn
Other[7] Oct 1826 Hendricks, Indiana, United StatesServed on Grand Jury
Other[8] 6 Aug 1827 Hendricks, Indiana, United Statesvoted in Eel River Township
Property[9] 4 Dec 1830 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesrecd US land patent, tenant in common w/ Alvin Dunn
Residence[10] Aug 1831 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesvoted in General Election in Frankfurt
Residence[12] 1832 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesmoved to Sugar Creek Township
Property[11] 12 May 1832 Clinton, Indiana, United StatesAbner and Alvin sell 40 acres to Isaac Miller
Property[13] 21 Jan 1833 Clinton, Indiana, United StatesAlvin and Abner sold remaining 40 acres to Isaac Miller
Property[14] 5 Jun 1837 Clinton, Indiana, United Statessold 40 acres in Sugar Creek Township to Daniel Boyer
Property[15][33] 20 Aug 1838 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesrec'd two US land patents in Sugar Creek Township
Census[27] 1840 Clinton, Indiana, United States
Property[16] 18 May 1841 Clinton, Indiana, United Statessold 160 acres in Sugar Creek Township to James Fowler of Jennings County, Indiana
Other[17] 1842 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesassessed for taxes in Kirklin Township
Other[18] 1843-44 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesassessed for taxes in Sugar Creek Township
Other[19] 1846 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesassessed for taxes in Sugar Creek Township
Other[20] 1848 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesassessed for taxes in Johnson Township
Census[21] 1850 Clinton, Indiana, United StatesJohnson Township
Other[26] 24 Dec 1850 Hamilton, Indiana, United Statesapplied for Bounty Land Warrant
Death[1][26] 1 Sep 1851 Clinton, Indiana, United States
Burial[1][29] Sep 1851 Clinton, Indiana, United StatesPrairie Chapel Cemetery
Education? illiterate
Probate[22][32] 16 Sep 1851 Clinton, Indiana, United States
Property[23] 21 Mar 1853 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesheirs purchase property
Probate[24] 18 Apr 1853 Clinton, Indiana, United Statesadministrator redeems land sold for back taxes

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Prairie Chapel-Fearow-Gossard Cemetery, in Bohm, Joan Cox. Cemeteries of Johnson and Owen Townships, p. 25, Secondary quality.

    Dunn, Abner, d. 1 Sep 1851, ae 67y
    Wife Nancy, son George also listed

  2. 2.0 2.1 Indiana, United States. Muster, pay and receipt rolls of Indiana territory volunteers: or militia of the period of the War of 1812, deposited in the Office of the U. S. Adjutant General, Primary quality.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Franklin, Charles M. Indiana, War of 1812 soldiers : militia. (Indianapolis [Indiana]: Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe, 1984), Secondary quality.

    4th Indiana Militia, Pvt. under Capt. Joseph Montgomery. These men were from Knox County.

  4. History of Hendricks County, Indiana: her people, industries and institutions. (Indianapolis, Ind.: B.F. Bowen & Co., 1914), p. 100, Secondary quality.

    "The first settlement in Washington Township was near Shiloh Church in the northeast corner of the township. Robert Wilson, Gideon Wilson and Elish Kisi built log cabins and began to clear newly purchased land in 1822. The next year Daniel Tryer, Aaron Homan, the Grigges and Joseph Fousett settled in the same neighborhood. In the same year, 1823, the western part of the township was settled by James Dunn, John Givens and Abner Dunn, for whom Abner's Creek was named."

    James Dunn was an older brother of Robert Dunn. He eventually applied for a US land patent, but Abner never did.

  5. Atlas of Hendricks Co., Indiana: to which are added various general maps, history, statistics.. (s.n.], 1969 (Originally published 1878)), p. 9, Secondary quality.
  6. Hendricks County (Indiana). County Recorder. Stock marks, 1824-1848. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1967), Primary quality.

    Dunn Abner January 18, 1825 A crop and a slit in the left ear

  7. Indiana. Circuit Court (Hendricks County). Civil Order books, Circuit Court, Hendricks County, p. 20, Film #2419756, Primary quality.
  8. Pritchard, Ruth Mitchell. Hendricks County voting records, 1826-1832. (Clayton, Indiana: R.H. Pritchard, 1971), Secondary quality.
  9. United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records, Patent #13484, Secondary quality.

    Patentees: Abner Dunn, Alvin Dunn, of Clinton County, Indiana, tenants in common, 80 acres, E1/2 NE1/4 S8, T20N, R1E, Clinton County

  10. Poll Book of the General Election, in Bohm, Joan Cox. Clinton County, Indiana "Roots". (1982?), p. 485, Secondary quality.

    voters include Abner Dunn, Robert Dunn

  11. Book 1, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Deeds, 1828 - . (Frankfort, Indiana, United States: Clinton County Recorder), p. 297, July 1830-1833, Primary quality.

    Indenture 12 May 1832 between Abner Dunn and Nancy his wife and Alvin Dunn and Sarah his wife of Clinton County, Indiana
    And Isaac Miller of same place who paid $70 for
    The N1/2 of the E1/2 of the NE1/4 of Sec 8, T20N, R1E, containing 40 acres more or less
    Signed Abner Dunn, Nancy Dunn, Alvin Dunn, Sarah Dunn
    Witnesses Hiram Harrison, William M. Winekoop, John Harland, JP

    Hiram Harrison was Alvin Dunn's brother-in-law

  12. Claybaugh, Joseph. History of Clinton County, Indiana: with historical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. (Indianapolis, Ind: A.W. Bowen, 1913), pp 353, Secondary quality.

    Sugar Creek Township was primitive wilderness that did not invite settlement, only one hunter settled there in 1828. First settler was Abner Dunn in 1832.

  13. Deed Book 2, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Deeds, 1828 - . (Frankfort, Indiana, United States: Clinton County Recorder), p. 49, Sep 1833-Apr 1835, Primary quality.

    Indenture between Abner Dunn and Nancy his wife and Alvin Dunn and Sarah his wife of Clinton County, IN
    And Isaac Miller of same place who paid $60 for
    S1/2 of the E1/2 of the NE1/4, S8, T20 [8 not crossed out but “twenty of” written above], R1E, containing 40 acres more or less
    Signed Alvin Dunn, Abner Dunn, Sarah Dunn, Nancy Dunn
    Witnesses David Vestal, Rebeca [sic] Vestal, John Harland
    On 21 Jan 1833 Alvin, Sarah & Abner appeared before David Vestal, JP of Hendricks County

  14. Deed Book 4, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Deeds, 1828 - . (Frankfort, Indiana, United States: Clinton County Recorder), 544, Nov 1836-Feb 1838, Primary quality.

    Indenture between Abner Dunn and Nancy his wife of Clinton County, Indian
    And Daniel Boyer of same place who paid $200 for
    The SW1/4 of the SW1/4, S27, T21, R2E, containing 40 acres more or less (Fort Wayne Land Office)
    Signed Abner x his mark Dunn, Nancy x her mark Dunn
    Witness Joseph McKinney JP, James King

    This is land for which Abner would receive a US land patent in 1838

  15. United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records, Patent #18402 and #13484, Secondary quality.

    Patentee: ABNER DUNN of Boone County, Indiana
    Issue Date: 8/20/1838, Fort Wayne, Indiana
    40 Acres: SW1/4 SW1/4, Sec 27, Township 21-N, Range 2-E, Clinton County, Indiana

    Patentee: ABNER DUNN of Clinton County, Indiana
    Issue Date: 8/20/1838, Fort Wayne, Indiana
    160 Acres: SW1/4, Sec 24, Township 21-N, Range 2-E, Clinton County, Indiana

  16. Deed Book 10, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Deeds, 1828 - . (Frankfort, Indiana, United States: Clinton County Recorder), 433, May 1845-Oct 1847, Primary quality.

    Indenture between Abner Dunn and Nancy Dunn his wife of Clinton County, Indiana
    And James Fowler of Jennings County, Indiana who paid $800 for
    The SW1/4, S24, T21N, R2E (Fort Wayne Land Office, containing 160 acres more or less
    Signed Abner x his mark Dunn, Nancy x her mark Dunn
    Witness Daniel Heaton, William Benson JP

  17. Clinton, Indiana, United States. Tract Book, Primary quality.

    Abner Dunn, no land, Personal Property = $128, paid 26¢ state tax, 19¢ county tax, 13¢ road tax

  18. Clinton, Indiana, United States. Duplicate Tax Record, 1843-44, Primary quality.

    Abner Dunn, E1/2 NE1/4 S36, T21, R2E, 80 acres worth $120, plus $100 improvements; Personal property = $43; paid 53¢ state, 34¢ county, 33¢ road taxes

    Although Abner was assessed for land, there is no record of his purchasing the land. It is likely that he was either renting, or was attempting (unsuccessfully) to purchase the land on time payments.

  19. Clinton, Indiana, United States. Duplicate Tax Record, 1846, Primary quality.

    Abner Dunn – no property description, Person Property = $137, paid 35¢ state, 46¢ county, 35¢ road tax plus $1.79 delinquent taxes

  20. Assessors Book - 1848 Johnson Township, in Bohm, Joan Cox. Clinton County, Indiana "Roots". (1982?), 178, Secondary quality.

    Dunn, Abner, W SE Sec 2, T21, R2E 80 acres; W NE Sec 11, T21, R2E, 80 acres

  21. Clinton County, Indiana, in United States. 1850 U.S. Census Population Schedule, HH 70, Fam 70, Primary quality.

    Dunn, Abner, age 60, m, farmer, RE=$300, b. KY, cannot read or write
    , Nancy, 50, f, b. KY, cannot read or write
    , George, 20, m, farmer, IN
    , Sophie, 17, f, IN
    , Julia, 17, f, IN, attends school
    , Jane, 15, f, IN

  22. Film ##2229992, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Probate Order Book, Vol. 2, p. 474; Vol 3, p. 16 , Primary quality.

    On this 16th day of September AD 1851 in vacation of the Clinton Probate Court a letter of administration was granted by the Clerk to James Snowden on the estate of Abner Dunn deceased

    January 1852 Term Court of Common Pleas (Probate) 2nd Day, The Estate of Abner Dunn deceased
    The Judge of this court being retained as counsel for the administrator the Clerk is ordered to file the papers and certify the same to the Clinton Circuit Court

  23. Deed Book 15, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Deeds, 1828 - . (Frankfort, Indiana, United States: Clinton County Recorder), 76, Mar 1853-Jan 1854, Primary quality.

    Jeremiah Dunn and Hannah Dunn his wife of Clinton County, Indiana
    Who were paid $600
    By Sarah Dunn Lavina Dunn [sic] Clark Elizabeth Reece Sophia Bennett Juliet Dunn and Jane H. Dunn heirs of Abner Dunn deceased
    For the S1/2 of the West 1/2 of the SE1/4, S2, T21, R2E, 40 acres more or less
    Also the N1/2 of the 1/2 of the NE1/4 of Sec 11, T21, R2E, 40 acres more or less
    And grantors Warrant against all claims except 1/3 of the above “wich is reserved to Nancy Dunn deceased [sic] wife of said Abner Dunn deceased with is her dower
    Signed 21 March 1853, Jeremiah Dunn, Hannah x her mark Dunn, witnesses William Burget JP, James Snowden

    Three of the heirs (Lavinia Clark, Sophia Bennet, and Elizabeth Reece) sold their shares before and after this sale; part of the land reverted to Jeremiah Dunn on defaulted loans, and the balance was sold by Abner’s son-in-law Joseph Dick after Nancy Dunn died.

  24. Probate Case Files, Abner Dunn, in Clinton, Indiana, United States. Probate Files, Box 96A, File 3; Box 100A, File 4, 11 October 1851;27 Sep 1851 , Primary quality.

    1851-9-27, Inventory of the goods chattles and effects of Abner Dunn - Total value $$284.23 and 3/4, [Box 100]
    1851-10-11, “Twelve months after date we or either of us promis to pay James Snowden administrator of Abner dunn deseased the Sum of Eight dollars and ninty two cents owning valuation and appraisment law value received this 11 day of October 1851” Signed Nancy x her mark Dunn William Reece, [Box 100]
    1851-10-11, Sale Bill of the personal goods chattles and effects of Abner Dunn - Total $174.80 [or $189.29, depending on which account sheet is read], [Box 100] [Among the purchasers were Levi Clark, William Reece, and Jackson Bennett, Abner’s sons-in-law]
    1851-10-11, To Nancy Dunn: one iron gray mare, beds and bedding, three acres of corn at $5/acre, 5 acres corn at $5/acre, one lot of hogs, and various articles "to tedious to mention", total value $150, [Box 96] [This may have been a riding horse, as a side saddle was included in the estate inventory]
    1853-1-3, Payment of 86¢ for 1852 taxes on SWNE1/4, S2, T21, R2E, 96
    1853-4-18, James Snowden paid $7.80 "the amount of Redemtion money in full" for the SW1/4 of the SE1/4 of S11, T2, R2E "sold for the taxes of 1850 & 1851 which is hereby redeemed.", [Box 96]
    1853-7-, Report of James Snowden; includes $1.25 for recording Deed and Transfer; $80.33 for accounts owning and notes due; also, apparently Abner Dunn had loaned a total of $6.69 to his three sons-in-law, [Box 96]
    1854-2-8, Report of James Snowden Administrator of the Estate of Abner Dunn deceased on final Settlement¶ Total Value from Estate = $339.29; Amt left after payment of debts, costs, etc. = $74.40, plus costs of administration = $20, cost of final settlement = $1.50; leaving a balance of $52.90, [Box 100]
    1854-4-19, “Received of John Burner Clerk of the Common Pleas Court of Clinton County eleven dollars and sixty eight cents my thirds of my deceased husbands estate (Abner C Dunn) and two dollars & ninty four cents the one half of the portion of George Dunn deceased making in all $14.62. April 19 1854” Signed Nancy x her mark Dunn, [Box 100]
    1860-7-25, 25 Aug 1860 – Levi Clark signed for Lavina Clark acknowledging receipt of $4.15, her undivided share of the estate of Abner Dunn. [“James G. Dunn” written on back of note – did he take money to Missouri?], [Box 100]

  25.   Widner Township, in History of Knox and Davis Counties, Indiana, from the earliest time to the present: with biographical sketches, reminiscences, notes, etc., together with an extended history of the colonial days of Vincennes, and its progress down to the formation of the state government. (Chicago [Illinois]: Goodspeed Pub. Co., 1886), p. 71 - 72 , Secondary quality.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Abner and Nancy Dunn Bounty Land Warrant Application, in Dunn Family Documents, Primary quality.
  27. Clinton, Indiana, United States. 1840 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration Publication M704), p. 768, line 2; FHL #0007722, Primary quality.

    Abnor Dunn, 1 male 10-15 [George], 1 male 40-50; 2 females 5-10 [Jane and Julia], 3 females 10-15 [Elizabeth, Sarah, Sophia], 1 female 15-20 [Lavina], 1 female 40-50 [Nancy]; 1 in agriculture

  28.   Notes for Abner's father.
  29. Abner Dunn, Memorial# 161762475, 28 April 2016, in Find A Grave, Secondary quality.

    Birth: unknown
    Death: Sep. 1, 1851
    Burial: Prairie Chapel Cemetery , Kempton, Clinton County, Indiana, USA
    [has photo -- gravestone looks like it was original, partially buried for a while]
    Inscription: Age 67y

  30. see also Robert Dunn, living near-by. Neither owned property.
  31.   Part of this land was owned by James Snowden, not by Abner.
  32. James Snowden was a neighbor of Abner's and was paid by Abner's widow Nancy and son-in-law William Reece to act as administrator.
  33. Note that Abner applied for one of the land patents from a residence in Boone County.
  34. In the 1820 Census, Abner was between 16 and 26 years of age, giving him a birth date of 1794 or later. In 1840 he was between 40 and 50, for a birth date between 1790 and 1800. In the 1850 census he was 60, for an approximate birth date of 1790. In December of that year, in his Bounty Land Warrant application, he claimed to be 62 (for a birth date of 1788). Less than a year later, following his death, his cemetery record list his age as 67, giving him a birth date of 1784. The earliest record is most likely the closest to accuracy.
  35. 35.0 35.1 A gg-granddaughter of Abner Dunn has an atDNA match [FTDNA Kit No. 297766] with a gggg-granddaughter of Benajah Dunn. The two share a total of 52.66 cM DNA, with the longest segment being 32.06cM. No other possible match names appear in either pedigree chart.
    Benajah Dunn and his descendants are well documented, but very little is known about his brother Zephaniah, other than that he was in Harrison County, Kentucky in 1798, when Abner would have been between 4-8 years of age. The father of Benajah and Zephaniah was closely associated with Jeremiah Dunn, the father of James and Robert Dunn with whom Abner had lifelong associations.