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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Seven generations of blacksmiths

  • HAWLEY- The Dunn family were sixth and seventh generation blacksmiths working in Hawley, Pa., up to the time reliance on the faithful horse was giving way to motorized transport in no need of horseshoes.
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  •   HAWLEY- The Dunn family were sixth and seventh generation blacksmiths working in Hawley, Pa., up to the time reliance on the faithful horse was giving way to motorized transport in no need of horseshoes.
        Lawrence Dunn, who left his native Ireland in 1847 for the promises of America, passed on his blacksmithing skills to his son Francis, known as Frank, who was reared in Hawley.
        The elder Mr. Dunn was born November 4, 1827 to John and Margaret (Dunn) Dunn. Both died in Kings County, Ireland, the father in 1853, age 49, and the mother in 1847, in middle life. John Dunn followed the trade of the blacksmith, as did five generations before him.
       Their son Lawrence was the eldest of seven children. Brother Thomas also was a blacksmith and came to America, where he died in New York. Sister Margaret came to Honesdale, Pa., the wife of Michael Carr. Siblings Joseph, Eliza and Bridget stayed in Ireland.
         Lawrence's mother's family were farmers, and were not related to the paternal side, although the same last name.
    ••• Emigration
         While in his homeland, Lawrence became an expert blacksmith. He worked in various places, including Dublin, before emigrating in 1848 with hopes of improving his financial condition.
        The Potato Famine was also raging in Ireland, sending a wave of immigrants to America. Their arrival happened to coincide with the job opportunities created at Hawley at that time due to the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC) gravity railroad beginning operations here.
        After three months in New York City, he worked as a blacksmith at Mongaup, NY for 10 months. He was then employed for a year and a half at Lackawaxen, Pa. On May 11, 1850, Lawrence Dunn settled in Hawley.
        With him was his wife, Mary (Flanigan), who he had wed in 1847 in Kings County, Parish of Kill. They had two children, Joseph, who worked as a blacksmith in New York, and James, also a blacksmith, settling in Obert, NY.
        Lawrence Dunn was remarried in Hawley on August 4, 1857 to Doranda (Feely), a native of County Sligo, Ireland. Six children were born to them: Lawrence, Thomas and Elizabeth, who were deceased before 1900; William, who married Anna Kearney; Theresa and Francis B. Dunn.
        For many years he conducted a successful blacksmith shop on 1st Street (Hudson Street). The location of his shop is clearly shown and labeled on the 1860 and 1872 Hawley street maps. A series of later maps, through 1903, indicate the blacksmith shop still operating at this location. It is not clear if the building is still standing (2014).
         "His untiring labors were rewarded by a comfortable competence," says the Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania, published in 1900, "which now enables him to retire from the arduous duties of business life and enjoy a well-earned rest."
    Page 2 of 3 -     His location was directly across the street from the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal Basin, in what a previous story in this series has referred to as Hawley's "Waterfront District." This area was part Hawley's first commercial section, set up long before Main Avenue and other streets in the current downtown were laid out in the mid-19th Century.
    ••• Canal customers
        The Dunns must have had an excellent trade with the regular needs of the D&H canal boat people, who might have needed to have their horses or mules re-shod during the 108-mile trek pulling the boat on the canal.
        This business district prospered from the canal as well as the general needs of the growing community. Two raging infernos occurred in this section, in 1864 and in 1897, both times burning down most of the structures. Dunn's blacksmith shop was neighbor to a variety of merchants, including grocers, hotel and inn keepers, a bakery, dry goods and livery operations. Residences were also included, in many cases above the shops, as was likely the case for the Dunn family.
         We learn from the 1870 Census that their sons James, 18 and Joseph, 10, were both at home and working as blacksmiths. William was 8, Theresa, 4 and Frank, 2.
         Curiously, the 1880 Census for Hawley lists Lawrence Dunn as  "Larens Duna." His wife Doranda was listed as "Dora." At home were William, age 18; Theresa, 13 and Frank, 11. Note: name spellings and ages were frequently recorded a little differently from census to census.
         The 1900 Census lists Lawrence as age 71 and recently widowed. He had been retired for a year. With him at home was his son Frank, age 28, whose occupation was blacksmith- horseshoes. There was also a household servant, Lottie Martin, age 25.
         The Dunns were members of St. Philomena's Catholic Church. Lawrence Dunn was a Democrat. His biographer in 1900 noted he had "many warm friends in his adopted county."
         Lawrence Dunn may have been deceased by 1906, when a Hawley street directory did not list him.    Frank Dunn was boarding on River Street but was still a blacksmith, and the shop on Hudson Street was still indicated on a 1903 street map.
    ••• Dunn & Runyon
        Frank B. Dunn had partnered with a fellow blacksmith, William Henry Runyon; they called the shop, "Dunn & Runyon." His business partner had a wife, Ann, and were living on Prospect Street. Runyon was about three years younger than Frank.
       An item in the Honesdale Citizen in November 1909 mentions that Dunn & Runyon had vacated the stand recently. William Sheeley and his family of Lakeville were moving there, and Mr. Sheeley planned to do blacksmithing.
    Page 3 of 3 -     That didn't last long. Another news brief in January 1910 states that Herbert Plum, who conducted a livery business in Honesdale, was returning to Hawley. Plum was going to conduct his business in the stand that had been vacated by Dunn & Runyon.
       What became of Dunn & Runyon? Further search found them in 1910 at work in their trade in Scranton. Frank Dunn was boarding at the home of William Runyon and his family. Frank, who was still shoeing horses, was single.
        William and his wife Annie had four children at home in 1910, Harry, Kenith, William and Mildred.
        They lived at 614 Moosic Street. They were still in business in 1918.
         By the 1920 Census, we find Frank Dunn, age 48, was married; he and his wife Mary (35) had a son Frank, age 4, and a daughter Dorothy, age 2. They lived on Moosic Street and Frank Sr. worked as a blacksmith. In about 1923, they had another daughter, Mary.
        Runyon was widowed by 1920, and still working the blacksmith trade. He died on Feb. 1, 1923.
        He was still working as a blacksmith at age 62, at the time of the 1940 Census. He worked for the federal Work Projects Administration (W.P.A.). The family was all at home on Moosic Street.
       We can only speculate why Dunn & Runyon relocated to Scranton. Perhaps there was a lack of blacksmith work in Hawley with the closure of the canal in 1898 and gradual introduction of the automobile replacing the family horse. In this way, Frank Dunn may have followed his father's footsteps in seeking to improve their financial condition.
    The city of Scranton, with its abundance of coal mines, may have promised ample business for the worker of hot tongs, hammer and anvil.
      

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