Dunton Family History

In May 1863, Owen Francis Kiernan (1836-1901) married Harriett “Hattie” Dunton (1836-1927), the daughter of James Cyrus Dunton (1800-1845) and Mary Comfort Knowles (1801-1845), in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. What is presently known about the ancestry of Harriett (Dunton) Kiernan will be discussed below.

Dunton or Beecraft

Before the ancestry of Harriett (Dunton) Kiernan can be discussed, an issue about the identification of Harriett’s maiden name as Dunton needs to be addressed first. The reason for this is that oral family history and family records regarding Harriett, particularly a family group sheet for the family of Owen and Harriett Kiernan (shown below) detailing information from the Bible of Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979), claims that Harriett’s maiden name was Beecraft.

The Kernan Family Group Sheet for Owen and Harriett Kiernan showing Harriett’s maiden name as “Beecraft.”

However, available historical records that show her maiden name, particularly for two of Owen and Harriett’s children, show otherwise. An 1884 entry on the Missouri Permanent Record of Birth for Owen and Harriett’s son George Edward Kernan (1884-1960) shows his mother’s maiden name as “Dunton.” Additionally, a 1942 entry on the California Death Index (1940-1997) for Owen and Harriett’s daughter Rose Amelia (Kernan) Wise (1873-1942) shows her mother’s maiden name as “Denton.” The spelling change in this instance is likely a typo, as Rose’s middle name is shown as “Amelin” instead of “Amelia,” and her maiden name is shown as “Kernen” instead of “Kernan.” Regardless of this slight spelling difference on Rose’s record, it is clear that Harriett’s maiden name is not recorded as “Beecraft,” but rather “Dunton.”

The Missouri Permanent Record of Birth for George Edward Kernan (1884-1960) showing his mother’s maiden name as “Dunton.”

The exact reason for the discrepancy between family records and historical records, moreover, is presently unclear. However, it is possible that the Beecraft surname was from a previous or subsequent marriage to Harriett’s marriage to Owen Francis Kiernan (1836-1901). However, attempts to locate a marriage record indicating a previous or subsequent marriage for Harriett has proven unsuccessful.

The following chart is a summary of available historical records and family records that reveal Harriett’s maiden name.

Table 1: Harriet’s Maiden Name According to Records
Historical & Family Records Harriett’s Maiden Name
Missouri Permanent Record of Birth (George) Dunton
California Death Index (Rose) Denton
Family Group Sheet (Owen) Beecraft
Family Group Sheet (George) Beecraft

It is clear from the chart above that presently “Beecraft” has only been identified as her maiden name on family records, while “Dunton” (or variant spellings of Dunton) have been identified as her maiden name on historical records.

Dunton Origins & Surname

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According to the Dictionary of American Family Names, the Dunton surname is an English habitational or locational name from places in Bedfordshire, Essex, Leicestershire, Norfolk, and Warwickshire named Dunton. It is also possible that the surname sprang from places in Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Wiltshire named Downton. The Dunton surname is also closely related to the Dutton surname, which is an English habitational or locational name from places in Cheshire and Lancashire named Dutton. The first recorded mention of the surname is an entry for a Gilbert de Dunton of Norfolk dated 1272 in the Testa de Neville sive Liber Feodorum (or Book Fees). Subsequent notable early recorded mentions of the surname include a 1273 entry for an Isabella de Dunton in the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire, and a 1296 entry for a Ralph de Dunton in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. The Dunton surname, moreover, most commonly derives from the Old English words “dun,” meaning “hill,” and “tun,” meaning “enclosure” or “settlement.” Thus, the surname generally means a “settlement by a hill” or a “settlement on a hill.”

Dunton Generations

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Table 2: Known Generations of the Dunton Family
Gen. Dunton Ancestor Spouse
1 Samuel Dunton (ca. 1626-1683) Hannah Felch (ca. 1627-1689)
2 Nathaniel Dunton (1655-1718) Sarah UNKNOWN (ca. 1657-1707)
3 Nathaniel Dunton (ca. 1698-1730) Abigail Richardson (1700-1768)
4 Ebenezer Dunton (ca. 1715-1771) Lydia Bellows (1729-1819)
5 David Dunton (ca. 1758-1829) Polly Stoddard (ca. 1762-1845)
6 James C. Dunton (ca.1800-1845) Mary C. Knowles (ca.1801-1845)
7 Harriett Dunton (1836-1927) Owen Francis Kiernan (1836-1901)

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Dunton Related Branches






Dunton Records

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Dunton Timeline

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