JOHN HOWELL DAWDY, who is police magistrate of Pana, is one of Illinois' native sons,
his birth having occurred in Hamilton County, March 6, 1820.
His father, Daniel Dawdy, was a native of Tennessee, and in that State married
Nancy Tindall, a native of Georgia.
He brought his family to Illinois in 1818, the year in which the State was admitted
to the Union, and in 1828 removed to Shelby County, locating four miles
north of Shelbyville, where his death occurred in 1855, at the age of sixty-six. His wife died a few months later.
The family numbered ten children, five sons and five daughters,
of whom three are now living: Daniel J., of Shelby County;
Perlina, widow of Joseph Walker, of Shelby County;
and John Howell. Henry, the eldest son, served as Collector of Shelby County for several years in a very early
day. He died when a young man. The father was County Commissioner
for a year, and served under Gen. Coffee at New Orleans
during the War of 1812.
Mr. Dawdy whose name heads this sketch was reared to manhood
under the parental roof, remaining upon the home farm until his marriage, at the age of twenty-four. On the 25th
of January, 1844, he wedded Miss Jane Frazer, of Shelby County,
who was born in Kentucky, and when a maiden of ten summers came to Illinois
with her father, John Frazer, one of the early settlers of Shelby County. The young people began their domestic life upon a farm in that vicinity, and there remained until
1849, when they removed to Shelbyville. Mr. Dawdy was appointed Deputy Sheriff of the county; he also served as
Constable, and engaged in merchandising in that city for some time.
The year 1856 witnessed the arrival of our subject in Pana, which was then a small town of about three hundred inhabitants. He
opened a general store, which he carried on for two years. His fellow-townsmen, appreciating his worth and ability,
elected him County Commissioner
in 1856, and for four years he acceptably filled that office.
Previously large tracts of swamp-land had been given to the county,
but some of it had been taken by the railroads, and measures were now started to recover payment for this. Mr.
Dawdy was instrumental in bringing about the result, which secured $15,000 cash for the county. About this time
he began practicing law, and for a number of years he followed that profession in connection with his duties as
Justice of the Peace. He is now serving his twelfth year as Police Magistrate.
Of the children born to our subject and his wife, William H.,
of Greenville, Ill., is an attorney-at-law,
who served as a member of the State Legislature and was one of the famous one hundred and one who elected Palmer; Charles, who was engaged in the grocery trade, died in Pana of consumption. They have also reared two girls, daughters
of Mrs. Dawdy's youngest sister, Serilda, wife of Daniel Albro. The elder, Amanda Albro, became the wife of Samuel
H. Wright, of Shelby County, and died in Pana in 1873. Jennie died in 1874, at the age of twenty-two. Their parents
died within one year of each other, and from early childhood the daughters were members of the Dawdy family.
For a number of years our subject was a supporter of the Democracy,
but is now a stanch Prohibitionist, and although Pana has been a licensed town he has been repeatedly elected Magistrate,
a fact which indicates his faithful performance of duty and his popularity.
In his social relations he is an Odd Fellow and has been a prominent
Mason. He has attended the Grand Lodge and is a Past Master. For forty-six
years he has been a member of the Christian Church, and an earnest laborer in the cause of Christianity, doing
all in his power for the spread of the Gospel and the promotion of its truths.
In connection with his other business interests he was engaged
in real-estate dealing for a number of years, and has been prominent in the development of the coal interests of
this locality, which have been the making of Pana.
He was one of the first to deposit money in the bank for the first boring with a diamond drill. No enterprise worthy
of the support of the best people need be afraid to seek the aid of our subject, for he has the interests of the
city at heart and does all in his power to promote its welfare.