The grave of James DUNN, in every sensethe first citizen of the town of Portland in its earliest years, is marked by a headstone and a government marker. He was born in Lycoming Co PA March 17, 1762 and died in Portland, Chautauqua Co NY October 23, 1838.His service in the patriot cause during the Revolution was rendered as a private in the PA militia.He enlisted when he was 15 years old.The title of Captain by which he was addressed may have stemmed from militia service in PA after the war and before coming to Portland.He may have held the rank in the NY militia, or it may have been accorded him in recognition of his leadership in military affairs in Chautauqua Co, before and during the War of 1812.At the age of 30 years James DUNN married to Elizabeth ALEXANDER of Mifflin Co PA, born in South Carolina in 1771 and she died in Portland December 23, 1850, her grave is in thefamily plot in Portland Evergreen Cemetery .
James located first in 1803 on 500 acres in Meadville PA , not happy with this land, he looked northward and entered Chautauqua Co history when on May 31, 1804 he signed his first contract for land, 1,150 acres at $2.50 per acre this tract embracing lots #’s 30-31 and 34, and parts of 25 and 35 all in Twp5, range 13 which turned out to be, when later surveyed, the choicest land in Portland. By 1806 he owned 2, 002 acres.
After his purchase in 1804 he returned to Mead Twp in PA and by April 1805 he and his family were settled in their vast wilderness estate.In 1806 he built a substantial log house, on lot # 30, and in 1808 opened it as a tavern, as well as his family dwelling.His log cabin office, separate from his house, became the center of activities in the settlement, He sold off his landto incoming settlers, keeping only 100 acres for himself. The first deed made and executed was by Nathaniel FAY in 1807 for 46 acres.The first schoolin Portland was in a log structure on his land, the first teacher, Miss Anna EATON, He DONATED the land for the Evergreen Cemetery, in 1807.The first religious meeting was in his house, conducted by Rev. John SPENCER in 1810. The first general muster of the county militia took place in a field east of his house, in 1811 with 400-500 men present, Officers of the county militia met in his house in June.1812
The town’s historian Horace C. Taylor in his “Historical Sketches of the Town of Portland, “ had this to say;
“He was a Revolutionary Soldier, and excellent citizen , and Mrs. DUNN was an excellent specimen of a pioneer’s wife”
James and Elizabeth were the parents of 10 children the first 7 born in PA
1. William DUNN born Feb 8, 1792 married to Ann SMITH and went west
2, Eliza Born July 3, 1793 married Dr. M. SIMONS and died in Buffalo, buried in Forestville NY
3, James JR b 2/23/1796 died from the effects of a fall, Jan 6, 1814
4, Davis Dunn, b 4/14/1798 died young;
5, Rebecca, b Jan 30, 1800 married Richard GATORdied in Portland, 1828
6, David b October 16, 1801 married Harriet PORTER lived on the homestead later in 1873 was in Missouri
7, John born October 16, 1803 married Mary PAGE
8, George Washington Dunn, born Jan 15, 1807 was the first white child born in the town of Portland, he died Jan 23, 1841 never married;
9. Polly born 1/29/1809 married to ------- PAGE lived in Hanover then moved to Wisconsin;
10. Jane born June 3, 1811 married Lucius JONES lived in Hanover
“Patriot Soldiers 1775-1783 Frederick Ward Kates “
Sadly this pioneer family was not included for the records for the Portland Evergreen cemetery, an amazing oversight; it is on HIS land.
Records at the Fenton Museum;
We would like to know the Parentage of James DUNN and Elizabeth ALEXANDER and who were the Grandchildren?;