7 Family Connections

by admin on October 14, 2011

Like many new immigrants of that era the Binghams relied on family connections in the U.S. to sponsor them for citizenship.  In this case Ida Dunwell Bingham, Harold’s wife, discovered a cousin in Rockford, Illinois, named Robert Keye and a half-brother to her father, a half-uncle, if you will, named Edward Dunwell.  Edward lived in Oakland, California.

When Samuel Dunwell fled England he left behind a very pregnant Elizabeth Binney Cooper.  When the boy was born she named him Samuel Dunwell, Jr., somehow hoping that Samuel would come back to England and claim the child he left behind.  That, of course, never happened and Samuel ended up marrying a Denver socialite.  She bore him not one, but two sons, Edward and Charles.  The American Dunwells lived a good life in the growing town of Lake Neccudah, Colorado.

Ida Dunwell grew up with stories about her grandfather in America.  By their very nature these stories were of a scoundrel who bedded her grandmother while promising marriage only to dash away when the “bun was in the oven.”  Still she dreamed that someday she, too, would live in America.  Over the years stories circulated back to England about Samuel; He had died in a mining accident, he had struck it rich in gold, he had been shot to death by a jealous husband.  All seemed highly plausible.  One thing was for sure there were no shortages of Samuel Dunwell stories.

After 18 months of trying, the United States finally granted entrance visas to Harold Bingham and his family.  But times were hard in the U.S. also.  And resentment was strong for anyone who came here and took away a scarce American job.  That is precisely why the entrance visa specifically called for Ida’s relatives to be financially responsible for them until Harold was gainfully employed.  Ida had tracked down her second cousin Robert Keye in Rockford, Illinois, and through great determined research had found Edward Dunwell, her half-uncle, living in Oakland, California.  Edward Dunwell and Robert Keye had agreed to sponsor the Binghams for entry visas.

Upon  arrival in New York, through Ellis Island, Ida Bingham made contact with her uncle Edward in California to arrange transportation to their new home.  The cross-country journey seemed endless and included a stop in Rockford to visit cousin Robert Keye.  Following a short stay it was time to continue on to California, where Edward had promised to find them lodging and a job for Harold.  With not much more than the clothes on their backs and a dream in their hearts the Binghams trudged Westward.  But life still had misfortune in store for the new immigrant arrivals.

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