Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


For thirty years connected with the operations of the great Sperry Flour Company of San Francisco, more than twenty years of that period having been spent in the service of this company in Salinas, rising there to the position of branch manager, and now occupying a similar position in connection with the company's operations in San Jose, there are few men in the grain trade in this section of California who are more widely known than Elmer A. Dunham, who has long been recognized as an expert in the local grain and flour trade and thoroughly conversant with the manifold details that enter into the successful development of that great industry. He is a native son of California and has been a resident of this state all his life, associated with the grain trade since the days of his boyhood. He was born on a pioneer farm in the San Juan Canon neighborhood, in San Benito county, February 22, 1878, and is a son of James A. and Lena Ashley (Smith) Dunham, both natives of the state of Maine, the latter of whom is still living. James A. Dunham was reared on a Maine farm and upon taking up his residence in California, he followed that pursuit in this state, presently becoming the owner of a good farm in the San Juan Canon neighborhood, in San Benito county, where he spent the remainder of his life, his death occurring there in 1890, his widow and three sons surviving. The sons are: Elmer A., and two elder brothers, James R. and Ralph Waldo. James A. Dunham was a member of the Masonic lodge in San Juan and at his passing left a good memory in the community of which he was a useful pioneer.

Elmer A. Dunham was but twelve years of age when his father died in 1890 and he thus early was compelled to assume rather more mature responsibilities in the way of assuring a livelihood than usually fall upon the shoulders of youth. As a ranch hand and in such other capacities as could be exercised in a gainful way by a boy, he continued working thus desultorily until he was seventeen years of age when, in 1895, he became employed in the operations of the local plant of the Sperry Flour Company, then operating the Victor Mill in Hollister, county seat of his home county. For seven years he remained thus employed and then in 1902 he was transferred to the Sperry plant in Salinas, in the neighboring county of Monterey. For years he rendered service for this company as foreman of the mill in Salinas and then in 1913 was made manager of the company's establishment at that place and continued thus engaged until 1925, when he was transferred to the company's plant in San Jose and made manager of the large operations of the Sperrys there, which responsible position he is now filling, one of the best known and most experienced grain men in this section of California.

Mr. Dunham was united in marriage to Miss Marie Elizabeth Mantes, of Monterey county, and they have three daughters: Eunice, Lois Belle and Lena Elizabeth Dunham, the latter of whom is still in high school. Miss Eunice Dunham and Miss Lois Belle Dunham both were graduated from the Salinas high school and the former (1925) is a student in the Teachers College at San Jose. For some time during his residence in Salinas, Mr. Dunham served as a trustee of the Union high school there, taking much interest in the development of the schools. Mr. Dunham is a Mason and is also a member of the Independence Order of Odd Fellows.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.