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The Waukon Standard
09-25-2002
By Jennyanne Grimstad


Genealogical research reveals little known Dundey family cemetery


Situated on a small knoll southeast of Waukon is one of Allamakee County's hidden historic treasures--Dundey Cemetery.


Although less than a mile from a busy highway, the small family plot feels a world away. The humming of passing semi trucks fade away as the serene view takes hold. The knoll sweeps gently into the eastern valley. There is peace in the air. The beauty of the countryside makes this spot a perfect one for a tired soul to rest.


The entry to the small plot is a cast iron gate bearing the name "Dundey." A wooden fence completes the front boundary. Small trees, brush, and wildflowers follow the wire fence that outlines the north, east, and west sides.


Within the fence are several weathered stones. Five small, badly worn stones mark resting places in the rear of the plot. Four legible markers sit closer to the front. One grave, marked with two stones, bears the name of the family patriarch, John Dundey Sr.


Another John in the same family tree, John Dundee, travels from his home in Broadhead, Wis., a few times each summer to mow and care for the plot. He has also begun to compile research on his family history.


Spurred into family research by a desire to know more about his family, Dundee has traced his roots to Allamakee County. His original goal is to find the country of his family's origin. His family knows their ancestors are from somewhere in the British Isles. They believe their roots are in Scotland, but that fact has yet to be proven. Dundee is still seeking to accomplish that ultimate goal.


Dundee found out about the cemetery in 1990 and has been its caretaker ever since. Previously, William Dundee, a relative from the Waukon area, had been tending to the plot. In 1959, he died and the plot was unattended until 1990.


Over the 21 unattended years, the condition of the grave markers had deteriorated. Some of the stones were broke in two. Dundee spent a lot of time working on the area to restore it as much as possible.


Dundee and his family will continue to care for the site for the next few years. In 2008, however, the plot's 150-year lifespan will meet the criteria to become a state archeological site.


Through his research, Dundee has also come in contact with several relatives, many of which are found in Allamakee County. These relatives have been integral in putting together the pieces of the family puzzle.
For instance, Catherine Byrnes and her daughter, Rose Magner, supplied Dundee with pictures of John Dundey Sr.


John Dundey Sr. was born in New Jersey in 1796. At age 15, he served for one year in the the War of 1812 under Captain Isaac Van Horn. He then served in the Ohio militia. He fought in Harrison's Armored Division at the Battle of Thames.


Dundey lived in Ohio and western Pennsylvania before moving further west into Rock County, Wis. (Coincidentally, this is where John Dundee now lives.) While in Trumbull County, Ohio, Dundey married Mary Seth.


As a veteran of the War of 1812, Dundey was eligible to acquire land through the Land Act of 1850. His year of service earned him the Bounty Land Warrant for a farm. Dundey and his family moved west once again and finally settled in Jefferson Township, Allamakee County, in 1851 or 1852.


Dundey, his wife, and five children, Philip, Catherine, John Jr., Christian, and Alpheus, farmed 160 acres southeast of Waukon.


John Jr. went on to farm in Franklin Township, just a few miles south of his father's farm.


Over time, Dundey sold parcels of land. His wife Mary passed away in 1877, at an estimated age of 77 years. Dundey lived until 1887 before dying at an estimated age of 91 years.


Dundey, his wife, his son Philip, and Philip's wife now rest in the Dundey plot. The remains in the other graves are still unidentified.


Many of Dundey's descendants still remain in the area. Other surnames in the Dundey line include Bray, Ewing, Snitker, Powell, Hastings, and Healy, to name only a few. Several families with the last name "Dundee" are also related to John Dundey Sr. (The change came for no apparent reason during the 1930s and '40s, when records indicate several different spellings of the surname.)


Even the headstones in Dundey Cemetery vary in spelling. Mary's and Dundey's original stones read "Dundee" and Philip's marker is etched with "Dundy." The gate, however, bears the spelling of "Dundey."


Other discrepancies are found on the stones. Many of the birth and death dates are incorrect as well.


In 1997, Dundee received a new stone for Dundey Sr. from the U.S. Government, which supplies a stone for all war veterans. This new stone towers over the old stone and bears the correct spelling and birth and death dates, as well as his military rank of private in the War of 1812.


Dundee still continues his search, hoping to find his family's nationality. He has found some other assumed relatives, but is yet to prove a link between those and John Dundey Sr.'s lineage.


He has come across the name of Solomon Dundey in documents. Dundee is fairly certain that Solomon is either the father or an uncle of John Dundey Sr.


Also among those he hopes to add to his family tree are a riverboat ferry captain of 51 years from the Nauvoo, Ill., area, and a well-known Iowa-Nebraska circuit judge appointed by Abraham Lincoln. He also seeks to prove a link to one of Coney Island's founders, Elmer "Skip" Dundy. Dundee also knows that Dundy County, Neb., was named after his bloodline.


Through his research, Dundee explains, "I've gained more knowledge of general history." He also felt it was nice to find links in his family and piece together a family history.


"Growing up, I had a classmate and we were always told that we were related somehow. Now, I can prove that relationship," Dundee said.


As "resident historian" of the family, Dundee is still seeking information from family members and is willing to share his findings as well.



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