Stark County and Its Pioneers

Personal Sketches

     Dr. Charles C. Dunn, was a native of England, but emigrated to America in early manhood, and settled in Augusta, Georgia, where he was married to Miss Rebecca Moore, and where their five children—Columbia A., (Mrs. Tillson), Augustus A., Richard C., William E., and Caroline E., (Mrs. O. H. Smith) were born.
     Mrs. Rebecca Dunn was of Puritan descent, though born and reared at the south, and when after a few years of married life, she found herself a widow, with her five small children dependent in a great measure upon her efforts for support, and looking to her for guidance and control, she courageously took up her burden, and from that time, lived a life of self-sacrifice and devotion to her family.
     In the summer of 1831, she removed the family to Cincinnati, to join an only brother, Augustus Moore, Esq., who had preceded them a year or two, and who ever showed himself a true brother in all her difficulties.
     Their aim in coming; north was to remove their families from the influence of slavery, under which they felt it would be impossible to rear them properly.
     In Cincinnati they resided on a farm near the city, belonging to Mr. Moore, which was also the summer residence of his family. Here the children enjoyed some advantages of education and society, and attended the second Presbyterian church, under the pastorate of the late Dr. Lyman Beecher, with which church several of them united. But  the growing boys needed more room. Such an opening the fair prairies seemed to offer, and in the spring of 1836, Augustus, then only eighteen, came into township 12, 5, then a part of Knox, but now West Jersey township, in Stark county Illinois, and entered a hundred acres of land, three miles south of the village, which then consisted of two or three log cabins, and the family used often, laughingly to remark, that they resided three miles from nowhere.
     After arranging for the erection of a log cabin, he returned for the family, which arrived in September of the same year, moving from Cincinnati with all their effects, in two covered wagons.
     The hardships and privations of a pioneer life, at that early period were formidable, even when there was the strong arm of manhood to combat them; what must they have been to this family of women and boys? Mrs. Dunn resolution and courage in this, entitles her to rank as a pioneer woman of Stark county, and shows her a worthy daughter of our patron saint, Mollie Stark of revolutionary memory, Alas! there are no Washingtons now to recognize and reward such merits. Each of the family went to work with a will, at whatever they had strength or ability to perform. One of the daughters taught school, taking her pay of $1.50 per week, in such articles as her patrons could spare and the family could use—stocking yarn and flannel, meat, flour and dried fruit, the latter article brought all the way from their former residences in Ohio or New Jersey, and brought out only on special occasion—any and everything except money; while the younger daughter turned her attention to the outer adornment of the heads of the mothers, bleaching and retrimming their paper bonnets and occasionally swimming her horse across the swollen river, in her millinery excursions.
     The brothers commenced improving their land, but with the inexperience of boys, and the lack of any remunerative market, they succeeded in doing a vast amount of hard work, which never brought them the looked for return. Says one of them: "Our ten years of farm life was a failure!" Not so when the crop produced ripened out, in after years, into men, hardened by toil, and schooled in poverty and self reliance to accomplish such results, in shaping and moulding society in its formative state, laying broad and deep the foundations of intelligence, temperance, liberty and religion. "Those who are to help the perplexed and toiling men of their times, must first go down into the conflict themselves."
     Augustus married young, and on the organization of the county in 1839, was elected the first sheriff, though lacking a few days of his majority at the time of the election. Subsequently he studied medicine, and settled in Cambridge, Henry county, where he took an active part in public and social life, and met with marked successes in his profession.
     At the commencement of the rebellion he enlisted and was elected captain of company D, 112th regiment of Illinois volunteers. He had a portion of his left hand shot off in a skirmish at Kelley's Ford, Tennessee; was afterwards in the battle of Franklin, struck in the forehead by a fragment of a shell, breaking the frontal bone, which wound resulted in his death four years afterwards, on the 2nd day of March, 1869, aged fifty-one.
     He had removed to Chicago at the close of the war, but his remains were interred at Cambridge, which had long been his place of residence. Thus closed the life of one of our brave and loyal soldiers, and a noble generous man.
     Richard Chapman, was about sixteen at the time of their removal to this county. His early educational advantages had been slight and desultory. At first we find him in a little school in Augusta, Georgia, taught by his mother, to eke out their scanty support.
     He early developed that love for work which marked all his future course, and which was the secret of his success.
After acquiring some of the rudiments of learning, we find him imparting them to their house servants; often, for the sake of secrecy, as it was a penal offence, going under the house, which was, southern fashion, set on stilts; and this he looked back upon as one of the proudest acts of his life, even when he had taken a prominent part in educational matters, both in the county and state. In Cincinnati he attended a few terms in log school houses, but with little promise of his future scholarship; but he enjoyed the pleasures of boy life, roaming the woods, hunting, trapping and swimming, while his zeal for work developed into a passion for gardening, which remained with him through life. Indeed his love for the beautiful, both in nature and art, was always a source of exquisite pleasure, while disorder and lack of harmony were sources of torture.
     After the removal to Illinois, his days were full of hard work, but the evening spelling schools and debating societies which he assiduously attended, gave him the elementary drill in language and its use, in which he became a critical scholar, and with the few books to which he had access, were all his advantages, until 1840, when he spent a year at the academy at Galesburg, working for his board and tuition.
     This was followed by a year or two of farm work, during which every leisure moment was devoted to study, and when a new frame house was to take the place of the log cabin, rising before light in the long days of summer, to dig the cellar, and after light proceeding to the harvest field, and doing his day's work.
     In the summer of 1843, he entered college, working his way through, with but little assistance from friends, and often walking across the bleak prairies to visit his home.
     In 1847, he was one of the three which formed the second class graduated by Knox College, and in 1850 received the degree of master of arts.
     It was on the 10th of May, 1847, that Mrs. Rebecca Dunn, having removed to Galesburg that she might make a home for those of her children who were studying there, passed to her rest, leaving a memory ever cherished by her family with the most sacred reverence and affection.
     For several years, after closing his college course, Mr. Dunn traveled and taught, and in the routine of the school room acquired that practical knowledge of educational matters of which Stark county subsequently reaped the advantage. Oct. 31, 1850, after an acquaintance of a year in the school room, he was united in marriage with Miss Sarah A. Marvin, who shared his fortunes and his cares through the remainder of his life.
     Mr. Dunn had decided on the profession of law, and had made considerable progress in his preparation, when his attention was called to his duty to engage in the ministry, and laying aside his ambitions and aspirations in that direction, he gave himself to his Master's service in a whole souled consecration.
     Untempted by dazzling openings which were presented, even after he had commenced his studies in the Union Theological Seminary of New York, which he entered three weeks after his marriage, and relinquishing all his anticipations of a home for three years, he lived over again the self-denials and struggles of his college life.
     His ministerial life opened with a pleasant year of labor in western New York, but with several urgent openings for labor at the east, his heart longed for the west. It had been the center of all his hopes and plans, and thither he resolutely turned his face.
     After filling the pulpit of the Congregational church of Peoria for three months, there followed a period too painful to be recalled, only as it gave a coloring to all his future life, and furnishes a key to explain what has been misunderstood by many. A period of candidature, in which for months every door of labor, however humble was closed against him, his way wholly hedged up, and his beloved west rejecting him. This produced serious doubts as to his call to the ministry, a morbid sensitiveness as to the acceptability of his labors, and an unwavering determination never to be placed in such straits again; and while there was no drawing back on his part from the service of the church, it led to a more full consecration of all his talents in the service of his Master, in whatever way he might be used; looking directly to the leadings of Providence for work and wages, and doing with his might, what his hands found to do.
     It was at this juncture, that the Rev. S. G. Wright, of Toulon, who had been his pastor in the earlier times, and ever after a warm friend, decided to leave his charge for a year, and take an agency from the Illinois Home Missionary Society, and transferred his field of labor to Mr. Dunn, and in January, 1855, he again became a citizen of Stark county.
     While his position as pastor of a church made large drafts upon his time and strength, both in pulpit preparations and pastoral visiting, being most of the time the only minister of that denomination in the county, his field extended over its whole area, and he generally had at least one out post, at which he had regular appointments.
     The inhabitants, either in settlement or immigration, were but very few of Congregational preferences, and the church has always taken radical grounds in all matters of reform, yet steady progress marked its growth, and at the close of the twelve years
labors, he felt that he could congratulate them on their prosperity. But he never forgot that he was a man, a citizen and a neighbor. In his own words: "I felt that I was not only a member of the Congregational church, and its pastor, but a member of the community, and interested in all its interests, in schools, in trees, in public works, in literary matters, in moral enterprises, in rail roads, in all things." "My heart, and time, and purse have been drawn out for every object of charity or of public enterprise;" he could truly record—"I have spoken to the public in various forms and addresses several thousands of times. I have canvassed the county for schools, for temperance, and for the country. I have gone to all parts, attending funerals and weddings, picnics, conventions and meetings of every sort."
     Mr. Wright was commissioner of schools when he passed his work over to Mr. Dunn, and after acting as deputy for him until the close of the term, he was elected his successor, which office he held for three terms, six years, doing a vast amount of labor, visiting schools by day and lecturing in the evenings, examining teachers, giving counsel to teachers and school officers, making out reports, &c., con amore, the compensation never exceeding $200, per annum, and often less.
     He was also trustee of the town corporation, and president of the board two years. His wide acquaintance in the county led to his nomination and election to the assembly for the 36th district, comprising the counties of Peoria and Stark for the session of 1865. There he was chairman of the committee on education, and on the special committee to visit Champaign, with a view to the location of the Industrial University.
     In October, 1866, Governor Oglesby tendered him a commission as trustee of the hospital for the insane, the duties of which he faithfully performed until his death. The same year the republican party in the county were a unit in striving for his nomination to the state senate, and about the same time Senator Yates, in behalf of the collector of the port of New Orleans, tendered him the position of deputy collector of the same port, with a salary of $3,000 and perquisites, which he declined.
     After a pastorate of twelve years, Mr. Dunn, feeling that a change would benefit the church, he resigned the charge, not without a severe struggle, so firmly had his heart entwined itself with his life's work, for this was his only regular pastorate.
     After a few months of secular work, receiving a pressing call from the Congregational church of Oneida, Knox county, he spent a year of delightful and successful labor with them, receiving all the encouragement and affection which a minister could ask, and there, in the prime of his usefulness and success, "with his harness on," as he had ardently desired, he was called to receive his crown.
" Let all the ends thou aims at
Be thy Country's, God's and Truth's."
     A short but severe attack of spinal menengitis, lasting but a few days, terminated in his death, May 24th, 1868, and in the forty-seventh year of his age.
     His health began to fail towards the close of his college course, but during the second year in the seminary, entirely gave way, and from that time he never saw a well day. or passed a night of quiet restful sleep. This will seem impossible to those who have witnessed the amount of work he performed, or listened to the pleasantries in which he so often indulged.
     Another drawback was his meager and unreliable income, which always kept him straightened and in debt, with heavy interest, and yet so averse was he to alluding to his needs, so promptly were his obligations met, and so liberally did he respond to all calls upon his purse, that most supposed that his means were ample, and few dreamed of the Spartan self-denial and rigid economy he was obliged to practice in his expenses.
     His especial gift was in attracting the young, in whom he took the warmest interest, laboring in every way for their improvement. The sabbath school was his especial delight.
     The following spring, his family, wishing that their dear departed ones might sleep side by side, removed his remains to the cemetery in Toulon, and this his third and last coming to Stark county was not to work, but to rest, in hope of a glorious resurrection.

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