2006 – The Thomas Dunn Family

Thomas Dunn was born February 28, 1826, in Ireland and came to Springfield Township between 1850 and 1860 with his wife, Ellen. Their first child, Thomas, was born in 1854 in Ohio, so it is possible that they were living in the township by that time.
Ellen Dunn was born in New York on December 12, 1835. Their seven children were named Thomas M., Ellen E., Mary C., James Frank, Anna T., Margaret C., and Patrick J.
On May 22, 1852, the first train ran though what is now Holland and shortly after a railroad station was created. Thomas was either the first or one of the first station agents and is listed in the 1860 and 1870 census for the township as such. He was the station agent for 19 years and also served as postmaster for the township during the Civil War. He died before 1880, and Ellen continued to raise the children. Their first son, Thomas, lived in the township throughout his life working as a railroad section hand and foreman. He never married.
Of their other children, Ellen became a school teacher in the township; James also worked on the railroad as a section hand; and Anna married James Urban and they moved to Plymouth County, Iowa, for a short time around 1910, where James worked as a railroad freight agent. They later moved back to Springfield Township where their daughter worked as a railroad clerk.
Another son, Patrick J., was born in April 1873 in Springfield Township and married Philomena Champion around 1902. Patrick was a railroad foreman and later a sales manager for Ohio Bell Telephone Company. The family operated the telephone exchange for the community in the early 1900s. Patrick’s wife was Philomena (Minnie), the daughter of Joseph and Ursula Champion who were early settlers of the township, arriving in the 1850s from Switzerland and Germany respectively.
Patrick and Minnie had three daughters, Irene M., Helen E. and Evelyn B.
Irene was born in 1903 and married Kent Meader. She lived in Toledo and cared for both her mother and Helen before they died. She was always available for her family.
Helen was born in 1909 and graduated from Holland High School in 1926 with the highest scholastic average in the school’s history at the time. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 1930 with the bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude. From 1930 until 1937 she was the editor and publisher of the Holland Citizen and also wrote a syndicated column for weekly newspapers, was women’s editor of the Maumee Valley News, and was a local reporter for the Toledo Blade. In 1937, she began chairing a committee that later developed the first Holland Strawberry Festival, held in 1938. She worked with this committee for many years after and was a member when they purchased and developed Strawberry Acres Park in 1953. She returned to teach journalism at the University of Toledo from 1955 to 1957. During World War II, she was the public relations director for Civil Defense of Northwest Ohio. She also was public relations director for both the Toledo Deanery of Catholic Women and the American Red Cross. She held many offices and memberships in public relations, advertising and journalism societies. Her creativeness and ingenuity carried through her private life as she designed woodcuts for Christmas and making cards for her many friends across the country. Helen died May 12, 1971, at the home of her sister, Irene Maeder, in Toledo.
Evelyn was born in 1912 and married first to Richard Holtz and, after his death, to Karl Keefer. She attended Holland schools and graduated from Holland High School in 1930. She attended the University of Toledo and was a member of the Alpha Phi Gamma honorary journalistic society. She was the Society Editor for the Blade and with her sister started the Holland Citizen in the 1930s. After she married Richard Holtz, they had a son who was also named Richard. Richard, Sr., owned a prosperous women’s shoe store in downtown Toledo, a veteran of World War I, a deputy under sheriff David Krieger, and a member of St. Joseph’s Church in Maumee. He died in January, 1950. Evelyn was the first Public Relations Director for St. Vincent’s Hospital and also was an account executive with a public relations and advertising firm before joining the staff of the Red Cross in 1955, where she retired in 1977. She was cited by the National Red Cross in 1975 for her service in its program of assistance to Indochinese refugees. As Director of Youth Services for the Red Cross, she worked with elementary, junior high and high school students in the northern Ohio area in programs for citizenship development, literacy and volunteering. She was active in many civic organizations and was president of the Women’s Advertising Club of Toledo, when she was honored as “President of the Year” by the American Advertising Federation which also named the local organization as one of its “Clubs of the Year”. In 1988, she received the AAF’s silver medal for Meritorious service. St. Vincent’s Hospital and medical Center named her “Woman of Toledo” for her community leadership in 1980. Evelyn died September 20, 1993 in St. Vincent Hospital.
The house at 208 Maumee Street in Holland has been known as the Dunn House for many years. Patrick and Philomena (Champion) Dunn probably acquired this house in the early 1900s. Philomena’s mother. Ursula, owned property next door and across the street from the house in 1905, where Ursula moved from the family farm on Holland-Sylvania Road.