Biography of Jefferson Dunham

Jefferson Dunham. Twice under democratic administrations the postoffice at Little River had been administered by members of the Dunham family, father and son, and the present incumbent is Jefferson Dunham, whose first name indicates a warm admiration and long allegiance with democracy.

The Dunhams were pioneers of Rice County and have been identified with Little River almost from the beginning of things there. The family is of Irish ancestry, having emigrated to New Jersey in colonial times. The grandfather of Jefferson Dunham was Hiram Dunham, who was born in New Jersey in 1775 and married Hannah Blake, a native of the same state. Early in life they went to Knox County, Ohio, where Hiram was a pioneer farmer and where he died in 1872. His wife died in the same county at the advanced age of ninety-six.

Jefferson Dunham was born in Knox County, Ohio, February 17, 1862. His father, William E. Dunham, was born in the same county of Ohio in 1830, grew up and married there, and identified himself with the agricultural industry. He was a captain in the Home Guards but was not called into active service during the Civil war. For two years he served as county treasurer of Knox County. In the winter of 1886 William E. Dunham came to Little River, Kansas, and was one of the pioneer business men, conducting a meat market and coal yard. Then for one term he filled the office of postmaster under President Cleveland. He was also treasurer of Union Township a number of years. He died at Little River in the spring of 1909. William E. Dunham married Martha King, who was born in Knox County, Ohio, in 1831 and is now living with her son Jefferson at the advanced age of eighty-six. She was the mother of five children: Clarence Upton, who died in infancy; Clara, who died at the age of sixteen; Jefferson; Lenna Dell, wife of Henry W. Spearman, a farmer four miles north of Emporia; and Alma O., who died at the age of thirteen.

Jefferson Dunham received his early advantages in the rural schools of Knox County, Ohio. In October, 1885, at the age of twenty-four and soon after his marriage, he came to Kansas and had been continuously a resident of the Little River community. He was a successful farmer here for many years and was called from his farm to the office of postmaster by appointment of President Wilson on May 10, 1913. Mr. Dunham lives in town and had his home on the west end of Kansas Avenue. He had always been an active worker in the democratic organization and was formerly clerk of the Board of Trustees of Union Township and for the past six years had been a member of the school board of Little River. He and his family are members of the Congregational Church. Mr. Dunham is a past consul of Cofield Camp No. 1689, Modern Woodmen of America.

On May 14, 1885, in Knox County, Ohio, he married Miss Ida M. Spearman, daughter of John and Mary E. (Gearhart) Spearman. Her father died on his farm in Knox County, Ohio, where her mother still lives. Mr. and Mrs. Dunham have a family of five children: Alma died at the age of two years; Alneita is the wife of George E. Durham, an engineer in the salt plant at Little River; Louella May married Rolla B. Persinger, a stock buyer at Little River; L. Marie is a graduate of the Little River High School, lives at home with her parents and is employed as clerk in the postoffice under her father; Wayne Elbert is in the senior class of the Little River High School.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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