The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan



Portrait and Biographical Album of Oakland County, Michigan, Chapman Bros. (1891), pp. 388-389

DANIEL C. DUNHAM is one of the old settlers of Oakland County, who came here when a child and has seen this country grow up from an uncultivated wilderness to its present splendid condition.  His father was Daniel Dunham, a native of New York.   He was a farmer and served his country in the War of 1812.  His wife, Harriet (Sturtevant) Dunham, was a native of Saratoga.  They were married in New York and resided there until they came to Michigan in September, 1832, making their home in Highland Township.  His land was oak openings and upon it he built a log house which is still standing.  He had only money enough to establish his home and no more.  Indians and wild animals abounded.  In 1858 he sold this land which he had taken from the Government and removed to Kent county where he died.   He had cleared off one hundred acres and had put it in good shape and died in 1870 at the age of seventy-six years.  His widow, who still survives, has reached the extreme age of ninety-six years.  She enjoys good health and her faculties are bright and active.  She now makes her home with her daughter in Muskegon County.  Seven of her eleven children are now living. Her husband was a Deacon in the Baptist Church and a very benevolent man.  He was a Whig in his political views, and was a Justice of the Peace in Highland Township.

The subject of this sketch was born October 17, 1828, in Parma Township, Monroe County, N. Y., and was four years old when brought to Michigan, which was then a Territory.  The log schoolhouse which he attended was the first one built in the township.  His father was a hard worker, very robust and able to endure.  The young man assisted his father on the farm until after he was twenty-four years of age.

About that time our subject was married to Phylena Ellis, a daughter of James and Tryphosa (Hayward) Ellis, who were natives of New York, and came to Michigan in 1850, settling upon a partially improved farm in Highland Township, which they made their home for many years.  Mrs. Ellis died in 1876, and her husband still survives and lives in Novi Township, having reached the advanced age of eighty-four years.  Three of their six children are now living: Mrs. Dunham first saw the light in Delaware County, N. Y., in the Township of Meredith, June 25, 1829.   She was united in marriage with our subject February 14, 1852.

After residing in Highland Township for five years Mr. and Mrs. Dunham removed to Kent County, and made their home upon a new farm.  There they remained until March, 1866, and then sold that property and came to their present location where they have resided from that day to this.  Mr. Dunham has two hundred acres of fine land, one hundred and forty of which is under cultivation.  His more arduous labors are now laid aside and he allows his sons to manage the work of the farm.  Four of his eight children are now living, namely: Georgiana, wife of John G. Palmer, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and has one daughter, Clara; James F., married Minnie Dennis, and lives on this farm; Jason C., married Zada Putnam and lives on this farm with his wife and two children; Kate M. also resides at home.  To all this family a good common-school education has been given and they belong to the Baptist Church where they are active in Sunday-school [Begin Page 389]

Mr. Dunham belongs to the Milford Post, G.A.R., and is identified with the Masonic order, Royal Arch, at Northville.  In Blue Lodge he was Senior Deacon and also Senior Warden. He has always taken an interest in politics and affiliates with the Republican party.   He is Justice of the Peace and has been Treasurer of Novi Township.

During the Civil War Mr. Dunham enlisted as a private, September 11, 1862, in Company H, Sixth Michigan Cavalry.  He passed through the different grades of promotion to Orderly Sergeant.  The regiment was first sent to Washington, D. C., where the boys did camp duty and were drilled.  In the spring of 1863 it was brigaded as one of the Michigan Brigade under Gen. Custer and entered upon the Gettysburg campaign.  They had some skirmishing with Mosby's men and took part in the battle of Gettysburg.  They then followed Lee's army in its retreat and had a severe battle at Falling Waters.  They continued to follow across the Potomac River and took part in all the fighting and hardships through which this celebrated brigade passed.

Our brave soldier did his full share in all this period of severe conflict.  In 1864 he was ill for quite a while but remained with his regiment most of the time.  He took part in the raid of Gen. Kilpatrick.  After this the regiment was transferred to the Middle Department and served under Gen. Sheridan all through the Shenandoah Valley, taking part in all the engagements of that campaign.  In the spring of 1865 they joined the main army under Gen. U. S. Grant until after Gen.Lee's surrender at Appomattax Court House.  They then started after Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and were present at the surrender in North Carolina, but returned to Washington, D. C., in time to take part in the Grand Review.  They were ordered West to Ft. Leavenworth, whence they traveled on horseback to Ft. Kearney, then to Ft. Laramie, then on into Wyoming, where they built a fort on Powder River.  They returned again to Ft. Leavenworth and received their discharge November 24, 1865, after a service of thirty-eight and one-half months.

This brave soldier now returned to his home where a hearty welcome awaited him, for during his term of service his brave wife had endured her share of hardships and privations and had suffered for her country as surely as he had.  During the first year she and her five little ones made their home at her father's house.   In one day two of her children were snatched from her arms by that dread scourge, diphtheria.  She removed to her farm in Kent County and remained there over two years, managing the whole business and working out of doors with her young boys until the return of her soldier husband.  He received no serious wounds but had several slight wounds and scratches and on one occasion his horse was shot from under him. They have a nice farm and a comfortable home and seem to enjoy the comforts of life all the better for the hardships through which they have passed. 


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