Sunday, 4 March 2012

John E Dunham & The Sturgeon Point Hotel

Everyday, I learn something new about the history of our community.  It is what makes this project so exciting.  Recently, I told you all that one of our community members had the original Sturgeon Point Hotel register.  I have been photographing each page and this book alone could result in a couple of years worth of research... however it was the names that surprised me.  Here is the much written inside leaf:

The original writing on the page says:
Sturgeon Point Hotel
JE Dunham
Below that it says:
Sturgeon Point
Geo Crandall

The next page was much clearer in attributing ownership:

In September 1878 when this book was first used, the hotel's owner was J.E. Dunham.  Now I already knew that a E.H. Dunham had bought the hotel from Crandell in 1881, but I had not been aware of the Dunham family's prior ownership.

John E. Dunham was born in Oswego, NW on 15 Aug 1818.  The second son of the Methodist minister Rev William Dunham and his wife Esther Himes.  John married Susan Carpenter Hubbard (1813-1900) on 4 July 1844.  They had four children: Eber Hubbard Dunham (b.11 Jan 1846, Oswego), William Earl Dunham (b. 13 Jun 1853, Montreal /unmarried /d. Montreal), Walter Jerome Dunham (b.8 Nov 1856, Montreal/ unmarried/ d. Buffalo), and Frances Isabella Dunham (b. 1858, died young).

John's obituary from the Oswego Daily Times of Monday December 19, 1892 (p8) clearly laid out the timeline that brought him to Sturgeon Point.

"Death of John E. Dunham
Mr. C.H. Bond received a telegram from Kingston, Ontario, announcing the death of John E. Dunham, proprietor of the British American Hotel in that city, which occurred on Saturday last (17 Dec 1892).  Mr. Dunham was well known in this city.  For several years he was landlord of the hotel at Seneca Hill.  He left there in 1870 and entered into the employ of O.M. Bond & Co of this city, as foreman and for several years continued in that position at Lindsay, Ont.  Subsequently he went into the hotel business at Sturgeon Point, near Lindsay, and later at Lindsay.  From there he went to Cobourg, where he was the proprietor of the Arlington House.  His next venture was as landlord of the British American Hotel in Kingston, as landlord of which he remained for several years, and till the time of his death.  the remains will be brought here for internment, and will arrive this evening.  Mr. Dunham had many friends here and his death will be regretted by them."

O.M. Bond & Co were lumber merchants based out of the Lake Ontario port of Oswego, NY. and John Dunham had been their man in Lindsay.  We have a tendency to forget that this area was opened because of the vast timber reserves and that millions of feet of lumber went out of here to the US and Britain each year. Oswego was a key player in this because the Oswego Canal was a branch of the Erie canal system and was also a hub for the railway.

This picture of the lumber booms going out across the lake comes from the Phipps family album.  The raft with the tents on them are more easily picked out.  In the 1870s the lumber industry went into a serious decline because of the protectionist policies of the US government and men like John Dunham scrambled to find other ways to support their families.

So it looks like Crandell, who built the hotel in 1876 ran it for two seasons before selling it to Dunham at the end of the second season.  However, Dunham does not keep it and in looking through the book, ownership passes to Franklin Crandell, Fremont Crandell, back to John Dunham, on to his son Eber Dunham and back to George Crandell again.  By using the book, I will soon be able to give a better timeline of ownership.

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