Lee County Biography

Col. Alexander P. Dysart

Nachusa, IL



Col. Alex. P. Dysart, who resides on the outskirts of the village of Nachusa, is one of the most widely and favorably known men of this part of the state. His public life as a military officer and a legislator has gained him a wide acquaintance among some of the best and most prominent men of our country. We therefore append his sketch and present his portrait knowing they will be received with interest by our readers.

The Colone was born in Huntingdon County Pa., February 3, 1826, and there resided until his removal to Illinois in 1845. His paternal grandfather Joseph Dysart, was born in Londonderry Ireland, of Scotch-Irish parentage, and came of a family that figured prominently in public affiars, members of which are yet associated with the politics of that country. His ancestors belonged to the nobility of France and Scotland. When a young man, Joseph Dysart came to America, lo­cating in Lancastcr County, Pa. were he married. A few years later he went to Mifflin County, and improved a farm at Newton Hamilton where he and his wife spent their last days. They were Presbyterians in religious belief.

Of the four children left to mourn their loss, James, the father of our subject was the eldest. . A native of Lancaster County, he was reared in Mifflin County, Pa. When a. young man he went to Huntingdon County, where he wooed and won Elizabeth Roler, a native of the Keystone state, and a daughter of Philip Roler, who was born in Berks County, of German descent. He married a Scotch lady and they settled in Huntington County in an early day, ere the Indians had left that region. In fact, two of the brothers of Philip Roler were killed by the red men. He and his wife continued to reside in Huntingdon County until called to their final home. They too, were Presbyterian.

During the residence of James Dysart and his wife in that county seven sons and two daughters were born unto them and were there reared to mature years. In 1858 the parents followed their children to Illiuois and spent their last days in Franklin Grove, Lee County, where Mr. Dysart died at the age of eighty-four years and his wife in her seventy-ninth year. She was a Presbyter­ian in religious belief and Mr. Dysart was a stanch Whig in politics. He entertained strong abolition principles, and when the Republican party sprang into existence to prevent the further extension of slavery, joined its ranks. He had an uncle who served as colonel in the War of 1812, and three of his sons were numbered among the boys in blue, namely; our subject; Lieutl B.F. who is now Post­master at Franklin Grove; and Corporal James, who died from disease contracted in the service. Another brother, Joseph, now living in Dysart, Tama County, Iowa, is ex-Lieutenant Governor of that State. Samuel, ex-Commissioner to Paris, is a member of the State Board of Agriculture and resides in China Township.

Col. Dysart was nineteen years of age when he came to Illinois. Farming he has made his life work and has been most successful as an agricul­turist and stock raiser. His first land he pur­chased from the Government on Section 7, Nachusa Township, and thirty acres of this was platted into the village of that name in 1852. He had entered the north half and the southwest quarter of section 6, upon which his home is also located, he having there resided since 1847. Mr. Dysart has also been prominent in official life. He has held all the local offices and for some years prior to the war was Supervisor of China Township, before the town of .Nachusa was set off from it. Since the di­vision he has been Supervisor of the latter for about ten years. He was also Justice of the Pence for some years and for two years has been Assessor of his town.

In 1879, he was nominated. and elected on the Republican ticket as Representative from the Twelfth District to the Thirty-First General As­sembly, and in 1881, was re-elected at which time Lee and Ogle Counties comprised the district. During the former term he was made Chairman of the committee on agriculture, and during the latter was Chairman of the committee on continued ex­penses, also ser'ving on several other important committees. The drainage law was passed during his first term. So well did he demonstrate his ability as a legislator that the people returned him to office where he faithfully served his constituents and labored earnestly for the best interests of the people in general.

Of his war record Col. Dysart may be justly proud. He had watched with interest the progress of events in the South, and when the blow was struck against the Government in 1861, he raised I a company of volunteers, which was mustered into service September 7, 1861, as Company C, of the Thirty-Fourth Illinois Infantry. He was commissioned Captain by the War Governor, Dick Yates, and went at once to the front, joining the com­mand of Gen. Buell, of the Army of the Cumber­land. With his troops he participated in the battle of Pittsburg Landing, April 7, 1862, and when the Major was ki1led early in the day he filled the place of that officer. After the engagement he was commissioned to that rank and as the result of his efficient service and courage displayed at the battle of Stone River in January, 1863, was promoted to the rank of Colonel, serving as such until the ninth of August following. A special order had been issued requiring a reduction of some of the commissioned officers and it fell upon Co1. Dysart to change his place. He was offered a cavalry regiment by Gov. Yates, but not wishing to be stationed where no active interests were looked for, he declined and was honorably discharged. Returning home, he then aided all he could in a local way to further the progress of the war and bring it to a successful termination. He had won for himself much honor and credit as a brave soldier, prompt and fearless in the discharge of duty.
In Huntingdon County, Pa., Col. Dysart married Catherine Grazier, who was born and reared in county, her birth occurring in July, 1826. Her parents were Henry and Margaret (Beck) Grazier, who spent their entire lives in Huntington County as farming people. They were members of the German Baptist Church and her brother was a preacher of that society. In the family were four' sons and six daughters, five of whom are yet living and are married.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Dysart were born seven childlren, one of whom is now deceased - Dr. Joseph W., who died in the prime of life in Omaha, Neb., where he had gained a position in the front ranks of the medical profession. James H., who wedded Emma Bender, is a well-known passenger engineer on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and resides in Chicago; Allison A., mar­ried Amanda Miller and their home is in Belvidere, ILL; he is engineer on the Chicago & North­westem Railroad; Ida M., is the wife of Jesse R. Whitney, a real-estate dealer of Carroll County, Iowa; Carrie J. the wife of Frank Miller, of Chicago, an engineer on the Northwestern Rail­road; Frank E., who wedded Carrie Thorp, is also employed as an engineer on that road, and himself and wife make their home in Chicago; Emma C., the youngest, presides over her father's home.

The Colonel was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife in 1877, her death oecurring at her hom in Nachusa Township. He still resides on section 6, where he located so long ago and where he has one of the finest homes in the county. A commodious and substantial residence, supplied with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life, is situated in the midst of a beautiful evergreen grove, containing more than one thousand trees, all of which were planted by Mr. Dysart. The effect is most beautiful and renders the home one of the most attractive places in this part of the State. In summing up the life of our subject we would say that it has been an honorable one of which he may well be proud. Hispublic and private record are alike above reproach, and in his military career he displayed many of the best qualities of his character. Wherever known he is held in high regard. His intelligence an ability well fit him to be a leader of the people, yet he never assumes that arbitrary power which so often rests upon those who have command of others.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL

A widely known Nachusa farmer, Col. Alexander P. Dysart, raised a company of volunteers for the 34th Infantry.

Born in Huntingdon county, PA, in 1826, Col. Dysart came to IL in 1845. He was made captain by Gov. Dick Yates and went to the front under Gen. Buell of the Army of the Cumberland. When the major of unit was killed at Shiloh, he took his place and was appointed as colonel after the battle of Stone River.

In 1879 he was elected representative for the 12th district on the Republican ticket for Lee and Ogle counties, and was re-elected in 1881.

Two brothers also served during the Civil War, Lt. B.F. later postmaster at Franklin Grove, and Cpl. James who died of disease in service.

Dixon Evening Telegraph May 1, 1951