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Dunn and Record, RI, how hard can it be?

2 Jan 2015

So we have Anna DUNN.

It says in [Collins]:

Solomon Collins, (Farmer) (Solomon, Joseph, Hezekiah, John, John, Henry) born Aug. 18, 1796, at Hopkinton, R. I., and died at South Hamilton, N. Y., May 24, 1835, married Jan. _____, 1820, Anna Dunn, daughter of John and Ruth (Record) Dunn, born Aug. 17, 1792, died Oct. 25, 1869

According to the 1850 and 1855 censuses (federal and NY state), she was born in Rhode Island. RI is not a big state, and RECORD is not a common surname. This can’t be hard, right? (Granted, there are variants like RECORDS and RICORD you have to watch out for.)

Let’s just take the bull by the horns and look on for Ruth RECORD with any life event in RI from 1700 to 1850. None. OK, Ruth RECORDS? That turns up a bunch of RICHARDSes and RICHARDSONs but only one Ruth RECORDS, born 1755 in Little Compton, Newport to Jonathan and Mary RECORDS.

Wow, looks like we got her! Only we didn’t. According to [Wilbor], Champlin WILBOR married Ruth RECORDS in February 1785 and had 7 children, 4 of them born between June 1785 [ahem] and 1789. See also [Arnold], Vol. 4, where the marriage of Champlin and Ruth in Little Compton is recorded. In the 1790 census Champlin’s household in Little Compton includes 2 free white males and 4 free white females. Unless Ruth had triplets, lost her husband, and remarried John DUNN (who probably didn’t even live in Little Compton) all by early 1792, she wasn’t Anna’s mother; besides, in that case, [Collins] presumably would have listed her as Ruth WILBOR.

Now, interestingly, there’s an Anna RECORD — Anna DUNN’s namesake? — as head of household in Richmond, Washington, RI in 1800; there are two older women (45 and older) and two young girls (one under 10 and one 10–16) in the household. Judging from names of neighbors, she was in the same place as two heads of household named RECORDS in 1790 — the only RECORDS (or RECORD) heads of household in RI in 1790: John and Comfort RECORDS. John’s household consisted of 1 free white male adult, 2 free white male children, and 3 free white females. Comfort’s consisted of 1, 1, and 2 of the same. Interestingly, the birth records for Little Compton show twins named John and Comfort RECORDS, born in 1714 to Jonathan and Mary RECORDS. That Comfort was a girl, though, so probably not the 1790 head of household of the same name. I’ve found no other records (hah, you’ve been waiting for that one, haven’t you?) of Anna RECORD.

Someone named Comfort RECORD shows up as head of household in Petersburgh, Rensselaer, NY in 1800 with a family of 2 males, 5 females. What looks like the same family is in Smyrna, Chenango, NY in 1810 and 1820. There’s a John RECORDS in Putnam, Washington, NY in 1810, but then again there’s also one in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY in 1790, so who knows. But if Anna RECORD suddenly turns up as an over-45 head of household in 1800, I think we can make a working assumption that someone died, and maybe it was John.

Meanwhile, in RI in 1790, there’s just one John DUNN head of household, and he’s in… Richmond, Washington, RI. Two pages after John and Comfort RECORDS. A search for Ruth DUNN at doesn’t turn up anything promising.

Hypothesis: Anna DUNN (b. 1792) had parents John DUNN and Ruth RECORD; parents of Ruth were John RECORD and Anna _____. John DUNN and Ruth RECORD probably were born ca. 1760 so John RECORD would have been born around 1730. Or 1714? While [Arnold] (Vol. 4) shows a bunch of births and marriages for RECORDSes in Little Compton, the only John is the one born in 1714. There are only a couple of RECORDs (Vol. 5) in Richmond, and neither is John. If Ruth’s father and Anna’s late husband was the John born in 1714 he might have been about 45-ish when Ruth was born and 76 in the 1790 census. Neither’s unreasonable. But it’s probably wrong. See [Record]: “Will of Jonathan Records of Little Compton, Setwork Cooper, ‘being Sick,’ dated 10 May 1742, probated 15 Jun 1742. Wife Mary. Sons Jonathan Records & John Records (‘if he be in the Land of the Living… if he ever Returns home again’).” There’s a theory that a John RECORD who turns up in Orange, North Carolina was this missing person. And it was all hanging together so well!

Another John RECORDS was born in Newport, Newport, RI in 1717, son of John and Virtue RECORDS. No one seems to know what became of him.

This can’t be hard, right?


[Arnold] James N. Arnold, Vital record of Rhode Island : 1636-1850 : first series : births, marriages and deaths : a family register for the people (Narragansett Historical Pub. Co., Providence RI, 1891): Vol. 4, Vol. 5

[Collins] George Knapp Collins, Descendants of John Collins, of Charlestown, R.I. : and Susannah Daggett, his wife (Gazette Print, Baldwinsville NY, 1901)

[Record] Jim Record, “Re: John Record: Rhode Island->Orange Co NC?” ( (Record family genealogy forum, 2000)

[Wilbor] John Reid Wilbor, The Wildbores in America, a family tree (St Paul, MN, 1907)


From → treetops

  1. I said Comfort was in Smyrna in 1810, but I just looked at it again and I don’t see him there. I probably just got myself confused. He is there in 1830. Also Joseph J. RECORD, born Rhode Island about 1796, is in Smyrna in 1855.

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