William H. Dyson


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Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Carroll County
Munsell Publishing Company 1913

Dyson, William H. -
For seventy-five years, three-fourths of a century, William H. Dyson has been a resident of Carroll county, Ill., and has vitally interested himself in its development, agricultural and otherwise, and enjoys the distinction of being the county's oldest native born resident. He was born at Savanna, Carroll county, Ill., February 22, 1838, a son of Hezekiah and Ruth (McEndlow) Dyson. Hezekiah Dyson was born in Virginia and in early manhood made his way to Bartholomew county, Ind., where he married, in 1836 coming with his wife to Carroll county, Ill., where he secured work in a saw-mill, near Savanna. In June, 1838, when his son, William H., was four months old, he moved into York township, having entered land on section 29, in 1837, and there built the first log cabin ever ercted on what is now called the Bluffs. While his was the first white man's home, this section had long afforded subsistence to other than animal life, for Indians still roamed at will over the country and made settlement wherever they pleased.

Although many of the early settlers had reason to fear the Indians, Mr. Dyson never had any trouble with them and even was on friendly terms although his wife felt it advisable to hide the children in the cabin when these visitors appeared. It probably was a happy day for Mr. Dyson when the Indians were removed from this state and he ferried 300 of them across the river.

To Hezekiah Dyson and wife five sons and six daughters were born, eight of whom were born in Carroll county and ten of the family grew to maturity. The family's record as offered is the following. One daughter died in infancy. James Dyson died at the age of thirty-two years, leaving three children. Charles Dyson, who died at the age of fify-two years, married and had nine children, four of whom survive. William H. Dyson was the fourth in order of birth. Serena is the widow of Isaac Boody, who was accidentally killed in a railroad wreck. She resides at Morrison, Ill., and is the mother of seven children. Nellie is the wife of James Jackson, residing at Chicago, Ill., and they have four living chilren and one deceased. Hezekiah married Mrs. Rachel (Mounts) Dyson and they live at Manila, Ia. Margaret who lives in Utah, is the widow of Joseph Little, and was twice married, first to James Little. Edith and Katie both reside at Los Angeles, Calif. Cornelius Dyson is a prominent resident of Topeka, Kans., and four sons were born to his first marriage. Mary is the wife of Asa Rodgers and they live in Michigan. She was first married to Charles Patrick.

The parents of the above family have long since passed away, the death of the mother occurring in 1877 and that of the father, March 17, 1882. They were leading members of the Baptist church and in every relation of life were worthy of emulation. Mr. Dyson, from a capital of fifty cents, with which he landed in York township, built up an ample fortune, reared a large family in comfort and respectability and left an estate including 160 acres of valuable land.

William H. Dyson attended the subscription schools in boyhood, his father paying the sum of fifty cents for the privilege. There was a log schoolhouse built near his home and the teachers boarded around with their patrons, each family having, in turn, a chance to make his intimate acquaintance. Many times his thoughts wander back to the old log schoolhouse with its primitive equipments and Mr. Dyson can even remember the names of his early teachers.

As soon as he was old enough, he was taught farm duties, for in his boyhood youths were expected to earn their own "keep" and usually did much more, and as he grew older he was of still more assistance to his father. Ox teams were used for transporting corn to the mill at Savanna, and as there was no market for this grain it was largely used as home food, wheat at the time bringing only twenty-five or thirty cents a bushel. Mr. Dyson recalls when coffee was an almost unknown luxury in the home, and when the tallow dip was universally used for illuminating purposes.

Mr. Dyson remained on the home farm until he was twenty-one years of age. In 1859, with his brother Charles, he rented land and for several years the attended to their own domestic arrangements. On February 6, 1861, however, Mr. Dyson was married to Miss Amanda Mounts, who was born near Columbus, Ind. The families were additionally united, his brother James having married her sister Rachel. In the meanwhile, Mr. Dyson bought eighty acres of land situated in section 26, York township, and after marriage he and his wife settled there and on this farm two of their five children were born.

He then sold his first purchase and bought 160 acres in section 2?, and on that farm three more children were born, the record being as follows: Nettie, who was born November 14, 1862, married Milus Knight, March 1, 1881, who was born in Tennessee and came to Illinois with his parents in childhood. Mr. and Mrs. Knight had three daughters born to them, namely, Nellie, Maude and Rosa. Nellie Knight died at the age of four years. Maude was married December 18, 1906, to Mark Gaar, and died May 10, 1907. Rosa Knight was born March 14, 1892, graduated at the Thompson [sic] high school with the class of 1908 and in 1909 was appointed teacher of the __ equipped school in York township and has been retained as such ever since. Mr. Knight died June 28, 1894. He was a man of sterling character and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Stella Dyson married Elmer Griswold, who is a farmer in York township. Goerge Dyson, who is an extensive farmer near Lanark, Ill., married Mary Grimm, and they have four children: Glenn, Leah, Neva and Thelma. Charles Dyson, who resides in Iowa and is officially connected with the Burlington & Quincy Railroad, married Minnie Greely and they have two children: Lloyd and Paul. Mary Dyson married Samuel Grimm, who carries on the industries on Mr. Dyson's old farm, and they have three children: Anna, Bert and Claude. The mother of the above family was permitted to see her children all happily settled in life before she passed away on Septmeber 15, 1911. She was an active member of the Christian church and was beloved by all who knew her.

Mr. Dyson remained on his farm until 1892 and then purchased a lot in a pleasant section of Thompson, Ill., on which he erected a comfortable dwelling and for three years afterward conducted a meat market but since then has lived retired from active participation in business. Mr. Dyson still finds much, however, to interest him, has a wide circle of congenial friends and a beloved daughter, Mrs. Knight, to look after his comfort, she since the death of her mother, residing with her father. Mr. Dyson is a member of the Christian church. He has been a member of the Republican party since the days of Abraham Lincoln, who has ever stood to him as a type of pure Americanism.