My friend Wendy has a mystery in her family that I’d love to help her solve. It involves her great grandfather, Frank Dunn, and what happened to him in his later years.
Here is what I do know, beyond a reasonable doubt anyway: Frank was born in February 1868 in Alabama, parents unknown. In a possible census record match for 1880 in Alabama, he is called “Jack.” Somehow he ended up in Kendall County, Illinois, where he married Grace May Kellett (my friend Wendy’s great-grandmother) on August 17, 1899; he was 21 and she was just 14. On their marriage record his first name is given as “Frank” and his father is listed as “Frank Dunn Sr.” with no mother listed.
Sixteen months later they had a daughter named Ethel (my friend Wendy’s grandmother). On the birth record, Frank is listed as “Jack Dunn.” Two more daughters were subsequently born to Frank and Grace, one in 1893 and one in 1894, neither of whom survived very long.
On March 27, 1895 Grace’s short life came to an end at age nineteen. An obituary in the Kendall County Record (April 3, 1895) gives her husband’s name as “John Dunn” and incorrectly states that two children were left without a mother’s care.
The vagueness and errors in Grace’s obituary made me take a second look at the Kendall County Record obituary (October 17, 1894) for the second of their two babies who died. The wording is odd… It appears that by 1894 Grace might have been living apart from her husband.
At any rate, Grace died in March of 1895 and was buried at Pavilion Cemetery in Kendall County, and Frank was married to Elnora Bissell on November 9, 1896. On this second marriage record the groom’s first name is given as “Frank” and his parents are listed as Joseph and Mary Dunn.
In the 1900 census for Lee & Shabbona Villages in DeKalb County, Illinois, Frank and Nora live Frank’s 9-year-old daughter Ethel and work for the Woodbury family. They have been married three years and Nora has had no children. Franks says he (and his parents) were born in Alabama.
What happened after that is less certain. Frank (or Jack, or John) apparently separated from Elnora Bissell some time between 1900 and 1910, quite likely without children. A possible Aurora, Illinois census match for 1910 shows a Frank Dunn boarding with August and Ida Boner at 236 South Lake Street. He says he is divorced, and he is a laborer at a livery stable. A possible Aurora, Illinois census match for 1920 shows a Frank Dunn who is a roomer at the large Hotel Grand on Galena Boulevard. He is listed as single and is employed as a watchman at a laundry.
After that, the trail goes cold. What ever happened to Frank Dunn?