The fact that I didn’t find birth records for any of our Catherine/Catharine Dunns is likely related to one/both/mix of two things: 1. They weren’t born in MA, and 2. Their births weren’t recorded in MA.
In most cases, I suspect the former is the big issue — four of the five forward-facing matches confirm Ireland as birthplace of the woman in question. But Catherine Dunn #4, Catharine Hayes, is listed in the 1870 Census as having been born in Massachusetts, though her husband was Irish-born. If this datapoint is right, it probably disqualifies her. While it’s possible that any individual census entry has mistakes, including the 1855 Massachusetts Census entry this is all based on, I’m inclined to assume they’re both correct and this isn’t our girl.
That still leaves us with Catherines #1-3 and 5-10, as well as any Catherines who didn’t marry. The latter is a hard group to get sorted. My experience tracking the 10 married Catherines and the whole mess of Mary O’Briens show how transient immigrants could be. One good reason to miss the 1860 or 1870 census-taker would be, of course, if you and your family were on a wagon trekking west.
Before I went to immigration records, I needed to do one more thing — I needed to go through other single Catherine Dunns in Massachusetts in 1855 and 1860. This turned out to be a lot more productive than I’d expected.
I found Catherine Dunn #4 in the 1855 Census, listed as born in New York. Either way, she’s not our girl. But I also found nine more Catherine/Catharine Dunns.
- Catherine Dunn, EBY 1839, daughter of Patrick & Margaret; Southborough, MA
- Catherine Dunn, EBY 1841, daughter of Matthew & Ann; Worcester, MA
- Catherine Dunn, EBY 1838, in a rooming house; Boston Ward 7, MA
- Catherine Dunn, EBY 1835, in a rooming house; Great Barrington, MA
- Catherine Dunn, EBY 1833, in service with the Cliffords; Lawrence, MA
- Catharine Dunn, EBY 1835, in service with the Millses; Springfield, MA
- Catherine Dunn, EBY 1833, in service with the Coles; Scituate, MA
- Catharine Dunn, EBY 1837, in service with the Starkweathers; Williamstown, MA
- Catharine Dunn, EBY 1836, in service with the Moodys; Worcester, MA
These Catherines cannot be our Catherine — but can we match any of them to our original Catherine Dunns #1-3 and #5-10?
The clearest match is the woman with EBY 1841 above — this is Catharine Dunn #3, whose 1864 marriage would be recorded in Worcester her parents’ names listed as Matthew and Ann, and it proves that she is not our Catherine.
The remaining candidates were born in 1836, 1828, 1831, 1834, 1834, 1836, 1839, and 1844. No one here is close enough to exclude as Catharine Dunn #2, born in 1828, so she remains a candidate. Likewise, with the 1841 entry accounted for above, no one is close enough to be Catherine Dunn #10, born in 1844, so she remains a candidate. The rest fit within the demonstrated vagaries of census-taking, so we look at places.
Catherine Dunn #1 was recorded as 20 years old when she married Oan Daley in Worcester, MA in 1856. An EBY 1836 could match with almost any of the above, but the girl in service with the Moodys is in the same city as Catherine #1 less than a year before her wedding there. I will cross her off our list of contenders.
Catharine Dunn #5 was recorded as 26 when she married John Barry in Great Barrington, MA in 1857. With an EBY 1831, she’s a full four years off the woman living in the Great Barrington rooming house in 1855. But to be either of the women with EBY 1833 above, she’d have to have gotten clear across the state and married in two years. Not impossible, but inconclusive, so she stays on the list of contenders.
Catharine Dunn #6 was the daughter of Martin and Nancy Dunn, and she was married in Randolph, MA, in 1857 and died in Scituate, MA in 1872. This is almost certainly the girl in service with the Coles in 1855, with the one-year discrepancy owing to birth-month, which I don’t have. So we’ll cross her off our list of contenders.
Catherine Dunn #7 has an EBY 1834 and was married in 1858 in Boston, so she just doesn’t match any of the women above and will stay on our list of contenders.
Catherines #8 and #9 are of interest relevant to the woman listed above in Southborough, MA, with an EBY 1839. Southborough is about halfway between Boston and Worcester, and in 1869 Catherine #8, a woman recorded as being the 33-year-old daughter of Patrick and Mary Dunn, married Patrick Hassett in Worcester. That’s an EBY that’s three years off and a mother with similar but not matching names. But Catherine #9, whose EBY actually is 1839 and whose parents’ names we don’t have married John Gorman in Springfield, MA, which is considerably further west. Both women will stay on the list for now, and we’ll investigate further in the 1860 Census.
At this point, I’m left with Catharine Dunn #2 (EBY 1828), Catharine Dunn #5 (EBY 1831), Catharine Dunn #7 (EBY 1834), Catherine Dunn #8 (EBY 1836), Catherine Dunn #9 (EBY 1839), and Catherine Dunn #10 (EBY 1844). I’ll also use the women in the bulleted list above from 1855 to eliminate single women in the 1860 Census if I can. Then, finally, I should have a clearer picture to dive into immigration records with.