D. M. DICKINSON, a retired farmer, now owns and occupies a handsome residence at No. 1417 North Main street, Bloomington. He is a native of the Prairie State, having been born in Pike County, Oct. 29, 1842. His parents were Eliada and Lois B. (Fancher) Dickinson natives of Marlborough, Conn., the father born in 1810, and the mother in 1812. They were married in their native State, where the elder Dickinson was employed in a brass bell foundry, and they remained in New England until 1831. They then emigrated to the West, and the father of our subject purchased 500 acres of Government land in Pike County, this State. He first put up a log house, in which all the children, except the youngest, were born. The family lived on the farm until 1856, and then moved into the town of Perry, where the father engaged in mercantile business until 1861. He then purchased 200 acres of land in Sangamon County, near Springfield, and engaged there in farming three years. In 1865 he purchased 400 acres in this county, which he occupied until 1877, and then removed to Leroy, where he now lives in ease and comfort, retired from active business. The wife and mother departed this life in 1864. Their three children were Sarah A., now Mrs. I. P. Cook, of Le Roy; D. M., our subject, and Mary T., Mrs. J. C. Williams, of Blanchard, Iowa. The father of our subject is Republican in politics, and religiously inclines to Unitarian doctrines.
The subject of this biography was reared on his father's farm in Pike County, and still remembers it as it was before being relieved from its original condition. It was then covered with a thick growth of brush and trees, and he recollects cutting this and driving cattle through to break it down. His primary studies were conducted in a log cabin with puncheon floor, and seats made of slabs, with round pins for legs. He continued to work on the farm and attend school during the winter seasons until 1856. He was studious and interested in his books, and being bright and observant, received a useful and practical education. After graduating from the log cabin he attended the public school in Perry for two years, and officiated as clerk in his father's store during the intervals from study. Two years later he entered the college at Quincy, Ill., where he pursued the study of English and German for one year, then commenced teaching in Pike County, and followed the same until the breaking out of the war.
Mr. Dickinson then enlisted in Co. B, 99th Ill. Vol. Inf., being engaged in the service three years and one month, and participating in the battles of Hartsville, Mo. Magnolia Hill, Port Gibson, Raymond, Miss., Jackson, both before and after the siege, Champion Hills, Black River Bridge, the siege of Vicksburg, lasting from the 19th of May until the 3d of July, the Banks expedition up the Red River, the capture of Ft. Esperanzo, Tex., and of Spanish Fort, Blakesley and Mobile, besides many minor engagements. He received but one wound during the campaign, and that at Magnolia Hill. The ball struck his pocket-knife, breaking both sides of the handle off, and bending the frame into the shape of the letter "E," and glancing off struck him in the groin and lodged in the butt end of his musket. At Jackson, Miss., a canister ball passed through his hat, slightly grazing the top of his head.
After receiving an honorable discharge at the close of the war Mr. Dickinson came to McLean County, and with what money he had saved and a loan from his father he purchased a farm of 240 acres in West Township. To this he afterward added eighty acres. It is all prairie and is now finely improved with a handsome and substantial residence, good barns, and all necessary out-buildings. Mr. D. labored industriously and perseveringly, and was universally conceded to be one of the leading farmers of this section. He still owns the farm property. He formerly was quite extensively engaged in the raising of grain and cattle, but the farm is now principally devoted to grain.
Mr. D. occupied it until 1882, then purchased his present place in Bloomington for the sum of $4,000.
The marriage of Mr. Dickinson and Miss M. I. Williams was celebrated at the home of the bride's parents, Feb. 28, 1867. Mrs. D, is a native of Indiana, being the daughter of John and Amanda (Bush) Williams, natives of Jamestown, the same State. The parental family included ten children, six now living: Mrs. L. Wilcox, Mrs. D. M. Dickinson, James M., Mrs. Joseph Tailor, Mrs. Frank Duncan and Charles W.
Our subject and his wife have three children Clara L., Melvina and Eliada. Mr. D. is a Republican in politics, and an honored member of the G. A. R. He has been Treasurer, Town Clerk, School Director and Commissioner of Highways, and in other respects has assisted in the growth and prosperity of Bloomington Township. He is an active member of the Unitarian Church, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 135-6. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards