• history

    Dunham Brothers Article

    Thanks to Doug Hamilton who pointed out this recent article on Dunham Brothers. I’ve added it to the Documents section as well.

    Note: This week’s local history is provided by Brattleboro Historical Society board member Carol Farrington. She remembers her days working at Dunham Brothers.
    Dunham Brothers came to Brattleboro in 1885, a branch of a company in Paris, Maine. Numerous advertisements appeared in the local newspapers, announcing the grand opening. The original office building was located at 91 Main Street – the Hooker Block – with the retail store on the first floor where the Shoe Tree is now located.
    My association with this company goes back to my parents who both worked there; my father in the warehouse and my mother in the office. My mother left work to raise a family and my dad to run Hogback Ski Area until it closed. In the 1960s, the Dunham’s office was moved to Cotton Mill Hill in the former cotton mill building.
    The attached photograph shows the impressive main entrance. For a while, in the late 1960s, this was the entrance to my work place. You entered the front door, went up the stairs to the main hall connecting this building to the office and warehouse, punched in at the time clock, and continued into the main office area.
    The large building to the rear served as office and warehouse space, with the loading docks on the first floor. On the south side are large overhead doors, where the trucks backed up to unload the cases of new items. Most boots and shoes were made in the United States, but others were imported from other countries, often, Italy. The cases were then transferred to the warehouse on the second and third floors and stacked on racks of shelves for eventual distribution to individual customers.
    The building had been originally built to house a mill for turning cotton into finished cloth. One of the outcomes of this activity was that the warehouse floors were impregnated with oil. The oil-soaked floors trapped any dirt on the bottom of people’s shoes. Over the years the oil had built up and no amount of cleaning could remove it.
    Office workers, who might have to go from the office to the warehouse, had to have two pairs of shoes. Before entering the warehouse, you changed from your ‘office shoes’ to your ‘warehouse shoes.’ Woe betide you if you forgot to change back as the clear evidence of any return from the warehouse would appear on the office carpet in the form of oily smudges.
    After graduating from Brattleboro Union High School, I was looking for a way to earn funds to attend college. The pickings were slim but Mother had returned to work at Dunham’s and she was able to find me part-time work in the office, doing the exciting (not!) tasks like matching shoe and boot samples, filing, making copies, and putting together mailings. (Nepotism, anyone?) All of these manual tasks were done by the Mail Room staff, and involved a lot of standing. You stood at the copier, stood at the folding machine, and then might stand at the files. The one break from that routine was handling the mailings for stores. The individual pieces — an envelope with the customer’s address printed on it, multi-colored fliers denoting men’s shoes, women’s shoes, children’s shoes, and boots, order forms, and such, were combined into a packet which was then inserted into the envelope by hand (my job). This was the one task that allowed for sitting. Tedious work but necessary before the automation of such tasks.
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    In those days, traveling salesmen actually went on the road with sample cases full of one-half of a pair of shoes or boots. One of the most mind-numbing tasks was matching up the returned samples when the old models became outdated and the new ones were needed, which happened several times a year. The return sample area was on the third floor of the building, consisting of several large rimmed tables on which the old samples were piled when the salesmen emptied their sample cases. The rim was to keep the piles of shoes from falling on the floor. Each shoe had a number printed inside, showing the color, model and size, and my job was to help the sample person match up the two halves of each pair. It was sometimes difficult as not all the salesmen turned in their samples at the same time. I remember looking at the pile on my first day and wondering how we would ever match them up.
    Taking one shoe, you moved around the table looking for one that was its exact match, in model, color, size, and most importantly, number. When you found a pair, it was put aside on another table. The matched pairs, if they were in decent condition, were then transferred to the ‘Bargain Basement’ at the Dunham store on Main Street and sold at a reduced price. ‘Round and ‘round the tables we went until what remained were unmatched shoes. If we were lucky, there were none left but sometimes a salesman would lose a shoe. I don’t believe the tables were ever entirely empty but there was satisfaction in reducing the pile to just a few shoes.
    One of the perks of working in a shoe warehouse was getting to see the new shoe and boot styles before they were released to the public. As the new shoes arrived, samples would be selected and people in the office were invited to try them on. Interestingly enough, women’s average shoe sizes were 5, 6 and 7, and I wore a size 6. Needless to say, I got to try on lots of new shoes. Once, an Italian company produced some very elegant tall zipped boots for the fall line and it was discovered that the average women could not zip them up. The top of the boots went almost straight from ankle to top, and the only women who could wear them had no calves to their legs. Obviously, these did not get into the market that year. Where was the market research?
    The main office was simply a large room with partitions on all four sides, except for the main hallway through which we traveled daily. On the left was the area where all the orders were proofread, mailing addresses checked and the envelope addressing machine lived. No labels were used — each envelope was stamped with the customer’s information.
    Then came the area for the order entry machines and the computer. These were separated by glass windows and contained the tele-type sort of machines at which the operators transferred the information from the order forms onto punch cards. Not a computer as we know them now, but an early IBM that did routine tasks like printing lists, and keeping track of inventory. The punch cards were then sorted (another one of my early jobs), then fed into the computer to create printed orders for the warehouse employees.
    The wall farthest from the entrance – containing all the windows with views of the river – was reserved for the managers’ offices – lucky them, or maybe not — as the offices faced southeast and could get very hot in summer.
    The warehouse was entered through one of two entrances from the office. Both had large mats for wiping your shoes after visiting the warehouse and putting on your office shoes. Each warehouse employee took an order, and using rolling carts, located each box of shoes in the correct size and color, that were meant for a specific customer. These were then packed into large cartons, stamped with the customer’s name and address and shipped, mostly by truck.
    Dunham’s provided my first introduction to computers. After graduating from college and a few months of part-time work, with no teaching jobs on the horizon, I was able to convince the Operations Manager that I would be a great asset. Then I was on my way – in 1973 I learned how to operate a main frame computer.
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  • Uncategorized

    Reunion postponed (again)

    While the pandemic is (hopefully) now endemic, your faithful reunion chairs don’t feel there is enough time to do this right, so will look to 2023. More to come!

  • Uncategorized

    Family Reunion Postponed until 2022

    We’re a bit late in sending this out but hopefully no one is surprised that we’ve postponed the family reunion until next summer. While many of us will in Maine and are looking forward to post vaccine gatherings, we just felt that travel was too complicated to have a large gathering. We hate to let another year go by but will look forward to 2022. More to come next year.

    In the meantime, please send us any photos you have – we’d love to post them here for people to enjoy until we can be together in person.

    • Dan, Anne, Duncan, Bill and Helen
  • photos

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Hope you all had an enjoyable holiday, in what was clearly a different kind of year.

    Until we can all gather again, here are some pictures from Thanksgiving 1968.

  • dunham family,  history,  photos

    Samuel Woodward Dunham

    Found this amongst Nancy Nivison’s records and thought it was interesting enough to share. It is an original photo (on metal) of Samuel Dunham, 1828-1918, with his son Linneus. The inscription on the back reads

    Samuel Dunham with Linneus who died young – Samuel was father of Francis D. Hamilton.

    Linneus was born in 1855 and died at 9 years old, so believe this photo is from between 1855 and 1860. Linneus was Samuel and Rachel Andrew’s 3rd child of 9. His youngest was our own Frances (Fannie, Gramma Hammie) Dunham.

    Also added this to the Documents section.

  • history

    Mayflower Lineage

    Our family descends from multiple Mayflower passengers. That said, Deacon John Dunham was not one of them – he was rumored to have traveled on the Mayflower under the name of John Goodman, but that has since been debunked. He was part of the separatist group that left England for Holland, but didn’t arrive into Plymouth until 1631. It appears to have been a bit of revisionist history by Isaac Watson Dunham in his treatise of the Dunham family (which is unfortunate, as it rendered the book less reliable, even though his treatment of our family branch is largely accurate). An aside – we have an original version of the Dunham Genealogy in the Family Library, if interested.

    That said, we do descend from John Alden, through the descendancy listed below. Hat tip to Duncan who was kind enough to give me the roadmap. Alden was the last surviving signer of the Mayflower Compact, and there is a replica of his home at Plymouth Plantation.

    If anyone else is interested in joining the Society of Mayflower Descendants, or for that matter the Alden Kindred of America, let Danny or Duncan know and we’d be happy to help with your application.

    And it’s a fun year to celebrate (in a year in need of things to celebrate) as it’s the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.

    John Alden m Priscilla Mullins
    Joseph Alden m Mary Simmons
    John Alden m Hannah White
    Thankful Alden m Francis Eaton
    Joseph Eaton m Hannah Crossman
    Abigail Eaton m Abner Shaw
    Lucy Shaw m Nathaniel Pratt
    Abigail Pratt m David Andrews
    Ziba Andrews m Thankful Washburn
    Rachel Andrews m Samuel Dunham
    Fannie Frances Dunham m Harry Hamilton

  • dunham family,  history

    John Dunham

    Deacon John Dunham was an early settler of Plymouth (but *not* on the Mayflower, as had at times been rumored). He was however one of the original separatists who left England for Leiden, Holland. His first wife passed after having 3 children, and we descend from his second wife, Abigail Barlow via their son, Joseph Dunham.

    You can learn more about him from the John Dunham Society, as well as join their membership by demonstrating your connection to him.


  • carter family,  history

    You are a descendant of William the Conqueror!

    We’ve talked in the past about James Carter, our original Blue Hill ancestor who arrived on Blue Hill Neck in February, 1771. His Granddaughter is Sukey Carter, wife of Thomas Hamilton and progenitor of the Tribe of Tom.

    James’ parents were John Carter, of Scarborough, Maine and Hannah Sands of Biddeford (which is right next door). They were married 27 Jan 1738 in Biddeford.

    Hannah comes from a long line of nobility, including William the Conqueror. He is my generation’s 28th Great Grandfather.

    This is sourced from the Carter Family History, which we’ve posted in the Documents section. It’s a fun read about that branch of our family.

    ~ The Royal Ancestral Lineage of Hannah Sands ~

    Hannah, the daughter of James Sands Jr and Emma Jepson
    He, the son of James Sands Sr and Patience Gibbons
    She, the daughter of James Gibbons II and Dorcas Seeley
    He, the son of James Gibbons I and Judith Lewis
    She, the daughter of Thomas Lewis and Elizabeth Marshall
    She, the daughter of Roger Marshall and Katherine Mitton
    She, the daughter of Edward Harpersfield-Mitton and Anne Skrimshire
    He, the son of John Harpersfield, Esquire and Joyce Mitton
    She, the daughter of John Mitton II, Esquire and Constance de Beaumont
    She, the daughter of Sir Henry de Beaumont III and Lady Eleanor Sutton
    He, the son of Sir Henry de Beaumont II and Lady Joan Herronville
    He, the son of Baron Henry de Beaumont I and Lady Elizabeth Willoughby
    He, the son of Baron John de Beaumont and Lady Catherine Everingham
    He, the son of Baron Henry de Beaumont and Lady Margaret De Vere
    He, the son of Baron John De Beaumont and Countess Eleanor De Lancaster
    She, the daughter of Earl Henry De Lancaster and Lady Maud De Chaworth
    He, the son of Edmond the Crouchback and Blanche De Artios
    (Brother of King Edward I of England)
    He, the son of King Henry III of England and Eleanor Beringer
    He, the son of King John of England and Isabella De Taillefer
    (Brother of King Richard the Lionheart)
    He, the son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor De Anquitaine
    He, the son of Geoffrey V and Matilda the Empress
    She, the daughter of King Henry I of England and Edith of Scotland 
    (Brother of King William II. Edith is the Widow of Holy Roman Emperor Henry V)
    He, the son of King William I of England and Matilda of Flanders
    (aka William the Conqueror)
    He, the son of Duke (King) Robert I of Normandy and Gunnora
    He, the son of Duke (King) Richard II of Normandy and Judith of Brittany
    He, the son of Duke (King) William I of Normandy and Luitgarde of Vermandois
    He, the son of Duke (King) Rollo of Normandy and Poppa of Bayeux 
    (The Viking King who conquered Normandy, France) 

  • carter family,  hamilton family,  hamilton shores,  history,  photos

    Thomas and Sukey Hamilton

    Hi all, been a bit quiet here as I have spent the last 6 weeks on Hamilton Shores. While here I raided my Mother’s basement which has all of Nancy Nivison’s (Aunt Nancy to many of you) records. She saved everything and was active researching our genealogy so lots of great stuff that I am slowly scanning into the Documents area of the website.

    But perhaps the most interesting find were these pictures of Thomas Hamilton and Susan (Sukey) Carter, who together started the Tribe of Tom. Neither Duncan nor I have come across photos of them to date4 so we believe this is the first and only set in existence.

    Both look like photos of pictures hanging on a wall. Anyone recognize them and know where they were (or are)?

    Thomas Hamilton, 1810 – 1891
    Susan (Sukey) Carter, 1806 – 1881