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the George Hugh and Jane "Jean" Smith Gunn


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The following information is from "the GUNNs of Kinlochlaggan...A Scottish Diaspora" compiled and printed in 1979 by Kathleen Gunn Turpin (now Sullivan).

At the time Kathleen compiled our family's history and family tree information, it was determined that Hugh and Margaret were the ancestors of over 750 people, including 41 grandchildren and 91 great-grandchildren.  That was twenty years ago.  Since then there has been a whole new generation (possibly two) added to the trees.  Gary Rhyason, a cousin in Canada, is diligently working on up-dating the whole tree with the help of "Family Tree Maker".

As is mentioned elsewhere in the Homepage, if you have any information that can be added to the family tree or history, please let us know by email so that we can add it to these pages.

GEORGE HUGH GUNN (1814-1883) m. JANE "JEAN" SMITH (1826-1886)......

George Hugh Gunn married Jean Smith of Hamilton, Scotland.  Her family originally came from Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.  Their marriage certificate records his occupation as a dyer where he lived in Barony Parish in Glasgow at the time of their marriage in St. Columba Church.

The wife of George Gunn was listed as "Jean" on the marriage certificate.  However, on subsequent census reports she was listed as "Jane", so apparently she went by either name.

Although it has been told that the oldest daughter, Christine, was born before the Gunns left Scotland, all census reports list her as having been born in Rhode Island in 1846.

The 1850 Rhode Island census listed them as living in North Providence with "Christianna" (3) and "Merrilissi" (1) -- both having been born in Rhode Island.

No one in our branches of the Gunn family has heard of there being a "Merrilissa,"  so apparently she died as a small child.  Attempts to obtain birth certificates for their daughters born in Rhode Island have been unsuccessful.

Merrilissa is not listed on the charts of the family since nothing is known about her with the exception of the one census listing.

George Gunn worked as a dyer in the textile mills in Rhode Island as he had in Glasgow.

Betsy was born to the family in Rhode Island in 1851 and their son, Hugh, was born June 22, 1855 in Bruce County, Ontario -- so the family moved there some time between those two dates.  All their other children were born in Bruce County, where they lived until 1873.

In that year they, with their family of seven children, and their daughter Christina's husband, Dr. Malcolm Munn, and the Munn children who had been living with the Gunns -- moved to the Dakota Territory to join the Joseph Gunn family, the John Gunns, and Katie (Catherine [Mrs. Hugh Murray Gunn]) and her boys (who had arrived there in 1870).

The railroad was completed as far as Yankton by the time they arrived.  They settled on a claim about one mile south of the homesteads of the other Gunn families on the "south half of the northwest quarter and the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 23 in Township 96 north of Range 58...containing 160 acres."

In 1979, this piece of land which was their homestead was  owned by Merit Schortzman,  the former Hugh Murray Gunn homestead was lived on  by the owner, Helmeth F. Fischer, and  Harland and LeRoy Sayler owned the old Joseph Gunn home, which became known as the Goecken place.

The absence of trees in eastern Dakota Territory must have been quite a shock to the group after living in heavily wooded Bruce County, Ontario.

Due to the scarcity of wood for building fences, they dug a ditch or moat about four feet deep around their homestead buildings -- instead of a fence -- to keep the livestock away from the house.

Katie (Catherine) Gunn and her sons lived with the George Gunns from the time of their arrival in Dakota until her husband, Hugh, returned from his prospecting venture in British Columbia.

Quoting from a letter which George Schneider wrote to Marguerite Gunn Beecher in 1953 when she was collecting  pioneer information:

"About this time (1873) the Scotsmen from Canada began to move in:  the McMillans, McKays, McIntoshes, Munns, Bruces, Wallaces, McIntyres, etc.

"Well, now we get along to about 1880.  The Gunn boys have all grown up.  George and Joseph both had large families and Hugh had three boys, almost a score of them all told.  About four names sufficed for all of them.  There was Big Hugh (your father), Little Hugh, and Hugh J., Big Bob and Little Bob, John Alex and Alex George,  Big George and Little George, etc.  When they all came to town on horseback, there was something doing.  When people heard a commotion down the street, they would remark that the Gunns must be in town."

Concerning the Gunn families' early Presbyterian Church activities in Dakota Territory, cousin Hazel Beecher Vesely found the following information in records presently in the church:

    Minutes Oct. 17, 1879: The minutes speak of organization of the church.  George Gunn was one of the congregation elected as a Trustee.
    Minutes July 31, 1880: "Mrs. George Gunn and Mrs. John Gunn appeared before the Session and were examined on their religious experience.  When having made a satisfactory profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they were admitted to the sealing ordinance of the Lord's Supper and their names enrolled as communicants in this church."
    Aug. 18, 1880: "Hugh Gunn, Sr. and Joseph M. Gunn (and two others) with the Session of the Church were constituted the building committee.  Mr. Joseph Gunn, one of the first settlers in this vicinity, and one of the many of them who are sons and daughters of the land known as the home of Presbyterianism, hauled the first load of stone for a Presbyterian Church in Scotland (SD).  Others soon joined in: George Gunn, John Gunn, Hugh Gunn Sr., Hugh G. Gunn (who also hauled the brick; most of them from Yankton).
    "George Gunn dug the trench for the foundation.  The following hauled sand:  Hugh G. Gunn, Hugh Gunn, Sr., John Gunn."

Ground was broken for the church building on Sept. 6, 1980.  After construction stopped for the winter, the building was completed July 1881 and dedicated.  The building, still in use, has been enlarged and remodeled numerous times.

Among the early Gunn family member baptismals at the Presbyterian Church were:


Betsy Gunn
Flora Gunn
John Gunn
Mrs. Catherine Gunn
Marion Gunn (married Ed Brandstedt)
July 31, 1880
July 31, 1880
Oct. 23, 1892
Feb. 28, 1894
Mar. 1, 1896

In the museum in Scotland, SD the following purchases were recorded in an old account ledger of Foskett and Reeves:

           On April 14, 1888 Alex G. Gunn purchased:
    razor                                                $1.50
    1 peck timothy                                   .75
        On May 10, 1888 Robert Gunn purchased $17.55 worth
    of hog wire.
        On May 16, 1888 Finlay Gunn purchased:
    2 1/2#wire                                          .40
    axe handle                                          .25
        On July 3, 1888 Robert Gunn purchased a tin bucket for .25.
        On July 6th he purchased a knife for .30 and four pounds of shingle nails for .24 and on July    19 two oil cans for .40 and two single trees for one dollar for the two.  Also two fork handles; .20 each.
        On July 6, 1888 Finlay Gunn purchased:
    1/2 pound clout nails                         .15
    1 box rivets                                          .25
    1/2 pound nails                                  .05
    21 inches rubber belting                   .15
    Total                                                   .60
        On Aug. 13, Hugh H. Gunn purchased a pitch fork for .65 and Joseph M. Gunn purchased a steer rod for $14.00.

The various Gunns seemed to be the most frequent customers of the firm.

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