More on Henry Dunning

Martha Merchant Maybury standing on the left.

Martha Merchant Maybury standing on the left.

A few weeks ago, after a stroll through the Forks Cemetery, I pondered a question here, after photographing a large monument that sits near the Calawah Way side of the Forks Cemetery…who was Henry Dunning? So I started to do some research to find out.

It was a few days later when Gary Peterson stopped in my office to ask if I had found out anything, I said yes thanks to the internet I had discovered a few things, and Gary shared that we have a cemetery … because Henry Dunning died!

Dunning’s death inspired Martha Merchant Maybury to donate the land that is now the Forks Cemetery, Dunning was the first occupant of what is now the cemetery. Later Maybury ‘moved’ her first husband to the Forks Cemetery; he had died in 1891 and may have initially been buried on the family’s property on Division Street.

Dunning died in Forks on July 30, 1894. Prior to the establishment of the Forks cemetery, most people were buried somewhere near their home; maybe Martha felt it was time for a change?

I found Henry Dunning’s Will online. He was born in Vermont around 1827. In Dunning’s Will, which was overseen by Martha’s brother Samuel Irwin, his estate was divided up between many Forks residents as well as the few businesses that were in operation at that time and one surviving relative.

It seems almost every resident in town had “attended” to him in his last days of sickness and received payment for doing so. Several residents received money for appraising Dunning’s belongings. John Sutherland, as in Lake Sutherland, was Dunning’s neighbor and friend. They lived near the south end of the Forks Prairie, near where Forks Outfitters is today.

Sutherland was paid $5 for one day of appraising services and witnessing the will.

Dunning’s assets that were appraised included a box stove worth $1, a cook stove worth $10, a bed worth $2, chairs and dishes $2, a cow worth $12, two plows worth $2.50, and a harness worth $1.50.

But wait … Dunning owned property, in Port Angeles, Kitsap County, and Seattle. He owned several lots on Byron St. near Lake Washington, okay in 1894 there wasn’t much there but still!

Despite his simple assets owned at his residence in Forks, where the land he lived on was valued at $30, Dunning set aside a good bit of cash to cover his final expenses.

The large monument that marks his final resting spot cost $100, the money was set aside in his will, and his estate administrator Sam Irwin was to make the purchase when he died. I can’t imagine how much it would have cost to ship it to Forks. According to the internet, $100 in 1894 money is almost $3,000 in 2019 money. He also set aside $3 to have someone build a picket fence around his gravemarker.

In Dunning’s Will, he stated, “I do not want my religious services held over my remains after death.”

In the listing of disbursement of funds, after his death, for his funeral service, the preacher got $20, I hope it was NOT over his remains!

According to the Will, Dunning only had one surviving relative, a nephew in New York.

Someday Forks should have a “Martha Merchant Maybury Day.” She is responsible for so many firsts in our community.

and … Finally … Happy Father’s Day!

Christi Baron

Editor