Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



History of Franklin and Cerro Gordo Counties, Iowa
Union Publ. Co. Springfield IL. 1883.

"D" Biographies:  Dakin ~ Dyer

Compiled & Contributed by Susan Steveson

J. B. Dakin, M. D.

[Page 647-48, 684] J. B. Dakin, M. D., one of the oldest practicing physicians of the county, was born in Clinton Co., Ohio, Jan. 5, 1836. He is a son of Perry Dakin, of Dutchess Co., N. Y., and came to Ohio when a young man a pioneer of Clinton Co., Ohio. He married Phoebe McMannis, of Kentucky, in 1820. They reared ten children, five sons and five daughters.

The doctor was raised on his father's farm and had an academic education. In 1855 he went Bremer county, where he entered the office of Dr. Geo. M. Dakin. In 1860-61 he attended a course of lectures at the Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati, and at the breaking out of the rebellion he enlisted in 72d Illinois Volunteer, which was known as the board of trade regiment. He was at the siege of Vicksburg, after which he was transferred to Benton Barracks Hospital, St. Louis, where he served until the expiration of his time in the service.

He again attended college at Cincinnati in the spring of 1866 He commenced the practice of medicine at La Porte, Ind. In 1869 he came to Mason City, where he has since followed his profession, and has, by his skill in medicine, worked himself into a large and lucrative practice.

In 1867 he was married to Miss J. M. Church, of Marshall, Mich., a daughter of Elder Jesse Church, and a sister of Judge Church, one of the pioneers of Mason City. By this union there were six children, two of whom are living Chauncy and an infant.

In politics Mr. Dakin is a strong republican. The doctor has held the office of city mayor and is now a member of the board of supervisors. Mrs. Dakin is a graduate of Yellow Spring College, of Ohio, and was twice elected superintendent of public schools of Cerro Gordo County.

George Daney

[Page 820] George Daney, a settler of 1865, was born near the celebrated Honorlaw Heath, Middelrie county, England, Dec. 1, 1831. When three years of age his father removed with his family to no less noted town than that of Richmond, Surry county. When he was ten years of age his father died, and two years later his mother died, and he was then left on his own responsibilities for a livelihood. At the age of thirteen he went to London, and served three years as waiter boy in a hotel, when he returned to Richmond and was engaged by Col. Sir John Burgoyne, of the Queen's Guards, and served with him a short time, and receiving from him papers of influence, he endeavored to enlist in the famous Light Brigade, which was soon after cut to pieces in Balaklava, but being one fourth of an inch too short, he was rejected. After two attempts to enlist he sailed from Liverpool in the year 1848 for the States, landing at New York. He went to Montreal and acted as bar tender for his uncle a brief period, when he returned to New York and engaged in various capacities. His first fixed employment was with a baker with whom he contracted to learn the trade. March 28, 1852, he set out for Panama, where he joined the construction force on the railroad across the Isthmus. He remained six months, and, becoming ill, he went back to New York. His broken health precluded his laboring for nearly a year. On recovery he found a situation at Newark, N. J., to work at his trade. He came west to Leavenworth, Kan., in 1855, and soon after engaged with an Indian trader at Sioux City, with whom he remained two years, trading with the Indians on the plains. His next move was to Omaha, where he spent a season as woodsman, and afterwards served as hand in a saw mill near Council Bluffs. A year later he rented a farm on the Missouri bottoms and left it to operate a bakery at New Carlisle, Ind. At the expiration of a year he went to Buchanan, Mich., where he worked at his trade. He then contracted to clear a lot of timbered land and next rented land and engaged at farming. His crops failed through dry weather and frost and he went to Wisconsin, where he found employment in a saw mill on the Yellow river. In about a year he built a boat and set out with his family for Illinois, intending to make the
route by water. At Bellevue, Iowa, he sold his boat and took passage on a steamboat for Rock Island. Here he worked a year at his trade when he came to Plymouth.

Mr. Daney is a genius, adapting himself to all sorts of labor and ready to grapple with any demand that presents itself. He was married Nov. 3, 1859, to Mary E. Slater, of Michigan. They have had eight children - Sarah E., William, Hattie, Jennie, Florence, Blanche, Pearl (died in infancy) and Ernest.

Mr. Daney has been identified with religious work in Plymouth since his settlement there. He has been deacon of the Congregational Society for ten years and now belongs to the M. E. Church. He has been superintendent of the Union Sunday school eight years.

J. O. Davis

[Page ___] The firm of Davis & Jaynes, general merchants, was founded in 1879. Their business is managed carefully, and on a basis of upright principles, and is deservedly successful. Their stock includes complete lines of general goods.

J. O. Davis, of the firm, came to Clear Lake in 1870, and entered upon the business of a merchant tailor. In 1875 the concern was merged in the firm of Davis & Hubbard, and changed to general stock, which was continued until February, 1879, when the firm style became Davis, Hubbard & Co. In November following the present co-partnership was formed.

Mr. Davis is a native of Wales, born in 1836. His parents left their native land when he was a child and located in Lewis Co., N. Y. Mrs. Davis was formerly Ada M. Phillips, born in New York. They have one daughter - Katie A., and one son, Clinton L.

Owen Davis

[Page 985] Owen Davis opened the first drug store in 1865. He sold to Allen & Alexander, who continued six months and sold to Byron Gamage. Marshall & Kirk were proprietors of this stock in 1883. The second drug store was started by N. J. Betts, who run about a year and sold to Luke & Gamage, who finally sold to George S. Stockwell, who was in trade in 1883. The third drug store was started by Dr. S. Harris, in 1869. He built a fine brick store on Commercial street, opposite the city park. Marshall & Stewart opened the fourth stock of drugs, in Allen's block, where they remained until August, 1883, then removed to the Foster building. The firm at this time was Stewart & Sargent. Warren A. Crosby opened a drug store in 1883, in the Frink & Weir block.

O. T. Denison

[Page 723] In October, 1870, O. T. Denison was elected county recorder and was re-elected in 1872 and 1874. He is now cashier of the City Bank. He was born in Brookfield, Madison Co., N. Y., in 1847. His parents emigrated to Wisconsin in 1857, where he grew to manhood, receiving a liberal education. He came to Mason City in 1867 and was employed as clerk in a store. In 1869-70 he was deputy recorder, then was elected recorder, holding the office three consecutive terms. In 1877 he associated with Mr. Emsley in the banking business, in which he is now engaged.

He was married to Orpha E. Willard, a daughter of Judge Willard, of Mason City, in 1871. They have two children - Mamie and Lyman. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity.

Norman Densmore

[Page 761] Norman Densmore, one of the best farmers in Cerro Gordo county, settled in Bath township in 1877, on section 35, and he has so improved and beautified his home, by all essential buildings and forest and ornamental trees, that one could scarcely believe the wild prairie could so soon be transformed, but by thrift, labor and energy, he has accomplished it. He is the oldest son of Orrin and Elizabeth (Fowle) Densmore, born at Riga, Monroe Co., N. Y., Sept 19, 1829. When seventeen years of age his parents moved to Bradford, Wis., where they were early settlers. He was married there in October, 1854, to Delia Webster, a native of Chautauqua Co., N. Y.

He rented a farm in Rock Co., Wis., until 1877, when he removed to this county. On first coming he built a barn, in which the family lived until completing his house, whence they removed on a thanksgiving day. They are the parents of five children - Ellis, Elsie, Ray, Ora and Webb.

Mark Dexter

[Page 866] Mark Dexter is the name of one of the most prominent and conspicuous figures in the local history of Grant township, and also bears the same relationship to Mason City, in which latter place he settled in February, 1856. He was a wagon maker by trade, and finding his knowledge in that line in requisition, he opened a shop and manufactured the first wagons made in Cerro Gordo county. He devoted part of his time and energies to the calling of carpenter and builder, and also to bridge building. He built the first school house in the county, and hung the first bell, whose tones summoned the school children to duty.

Mr. Dexter was married in 1859 to Amanda, daughter of Alva L. and Miranda (Hartwell) Whiting. In 1863 he settled on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 16, in what is now Grant township. He made his purchase of the claim in 1864, holding possession until 1866, when he sold to J. C. Thompson and removed to his present location on section 8. He is now proprietor of 240 acres of fine land. Mr. Dexter has at intervals, as occasion demanded, given much attention to building and has erected several school houses. Mrs. Dexter died in December, 1880, leaving seven children Olive (Mrs. J. L Hooper), Dwight, Whiting, Amanda, Mary Jane, Selee and Thomas. Mr. Dexter is a native of Canada, and was born July 27, 1834. His parents were John and Margaret (Dudgeon) Dexter, the former a Canadian, the latter a native of Scotland. The family came to the States in 1835, settling in Lee Co., Ill. Mark Dexter was reared on a farm, but at the age of eighteen learned his trade, and followed it as a vocation in Lee county until 1855, when he started for Iowa, driving a team for J. B. Long, who brought the first steam engine to Cerro Gordo county. The same engine supplies the power in a mill at Forest City.

Mr. Dexter is a republican in politics, and has received the support of the voters in the town and county where he resides for official positions nearly all the time of his residence here. He is a fine sample of the material that has placed Iowa in a fair rank among the western States.

Stephen Deyoe

[Page 951] Stephen Deyoe sought a home in Iowa in 1869. After prospecting through northern and central Iowa, he finally purchased land on section 25, Mason township He has 240 acres, which he has so improved and beautified that he has now a most desirable and comfortable home, with all necessary outbuildings. He was born in Columbia Co., N. Y., June 30, 1837. In 1852 his parents removed to Iowa Co., Wis., where they purchased a farm and were among the early settlers. His father died July 8, 1878. His mother still retains the homestead in connection with two of her sons. Stephen remained with his parents until twenty-four years of age, when he bought land and settled in Dodgeville, Iowa Co., Wis., remaining until the spring of 1870, when he removed his family to their new home in Cerro Gordo county.

He married Mary A. Watkins, of Worcestershire, England. They have four children Albert M., William J., George and Clyde.

Harmon Dilts

[Page 932] Harmon Dilts is the oldest living settler of Pleasant Valley township. In 1868, while living in Henry Co., Ill., he purchased eighty acres of his present farm, and in 1869, in company with his wife, came to Iowa, resided the first winter with John Crapser, and the following spring moved into the house with George B. Rockwell, and the following season cultivated seventy acres of land now occupied by the village of Rockwell. During this time he continued to improve his own land, and in 1871 purchased a house, 14x18 feet, of Mrs. Dillingham, at Linn Grove, which he had moved on his own farm the next December. In March, 1872, he moved on his own land which he has increased to 160 acres, now under good cultivation. Since 1875, in addition to farming he has followed herding, taking care of from 400 to 1,000 head of cattle annually.

He was born in Wabash Co., Ind., Oct. 4, 1846, his parents being Thomas R., and Jane (Grant) Dilts, who, in 1854, removed with their family to Henry Co., Ill., remained there till 1871, when they came to Iowa and settled near Rockwell.

In 1868 Harmon Dilts married Mary C. Geer. They have three children Barton, Sophia and Elmer. Mr. Dilts is a republican, has held township and school offices, and is a member of the Christian Church.

Willard & Elvira F. (Gibbs) Dort

[Page 876] Mrs. Elvira F. (Gibbs) Dort and her daughter, Mrs. R. A. Howard,  are the representatives of two prominent pioneer settlers of Clear Lake, who came here together in 1857. Mrs. Dort was born in Sullivan, N. H., in 1813. She married Willard Dort, with whom she lived forty-seven years.

Following is a sketch of Mr. Dort, published at the time of his death:

Mr. Dort was born at Gilsum, N. H., April 5, 1807. He received an ordinary country school education and was engaged in farming and carpentering all his life. He married Elvira F. Gibbs, April 24, 1834, who survives her husband after a pleasant companionship of forty-seven years. They have three children, two sons who reside east, and one daughter, Mrs. Rosa A. Howard who has always resided with them.

Mr. Dort and family came to Clear Lake from Keene, N. H., in 1857. Mr. Dort was one of the few pioneers of Clear Lake who spent the best part of their lives in improving and building up our town. He was a remarkably industrious man, and, though he had attained the age of seventy-four years, seldom passed a day unemployed till his last sickness, or six days previous to his death. He joined the Baptist Church at Sullivan, N. H., in 1838, and lived a consistent Christian life. In 1867 he with others organized the First Baptist Church at Clear Lake, and was elected the first deacon of this Church, a position he held to the day of his death. In 1872 he began the erection of a church for the society. He cut and hewed and hauled all the timber for the frame, and stone for the basement, and during the following summer, with the help of others, built the church, paying nearly one half of its cost, and donating all his labor, and by his zealous labors the denomination have a church that is an ornament to the town and a credit to the society. When the building was nearly finished he, unfortunately, fell from its roof and received injuries from which he never fully recovered. He was an earnest temperance man, and did all in his power to forward whatever tended to elevate the people morally or religiously. Generous and hospitable, his doors were always open, and in pioneer days the tired and hungry were always sure of a generous welcome, and found rest and refreshment without money and without price."

He died at his residence at Clear Lake, April 16, 1881.

Capt. E. D. Doud

[Page 966] Capt. E. D. Doud, a prominent citizen of Mason City, located here in 1869, buying a large tract of land 1,440 acres in Cerro Gordo county. He was born in Washtenaw Co., Mich., Oct. 11, 1837. He is a son of Calvin and Rebecca (Danielson) Doud, and one of a family of three sons and four daughters. His parents died when he was a boy and he was bound to a man named Anthony Overacker, who deserves kindly mention for the manner in which he discharged his obligations. The latter settled in McHenry Co., Ill., where Mr. Doud grew to manhood and obtained a good education.

In September, 1861, he enlisted in the 8th Illinois Cavalry, (Jack Farnsworth's big abolition regiment), company H. His command was sent to the army of the Potomac, then under the leadership of Gen. McClelland, where his regiment was in much active service. It was in the advance at Gettysburg and drew first fire from the rebels. He was commissioned first lieutenant, and promoted to the command of his company in August, 1863. He was on the staff of Gen. Davis three months, and detailed to a command just before the fight at Beverly Ford. Capt. Doud won his laurels by meritorious conduct, and was honorably discharged in October, 1864, at the end of his term of enlistment.

He was married in May, 1875, to Clara E. Cole, of Maine. He has two children Grace E. and Ardine C.

Capt. Doud has always been actively interested in educational matters.

Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Dougan

[Pages 954 & 991] J. M. Dougan, of Mason City, was born and raised on a farm near Johnsburg, Warren Co , N. Y. His birth occurred Nov. 2, 1829. John Dougan, his father, was of Irish extraction. His mother was Elizabeth (McGibberry) Dougan. His father went to Dodge Co., Wis., where he died in 1873, and his wife died two years later. Both were zealous adherents to the Baptist Church.

Mr. Dougan received a good education at the united district schools, and worked on the farm summers until twenty-one years of age, when he learned the different trades of carpenter, millwright and pattern maker, which he pursued variously for eighteen years.

In November, 1869, he came to Mason City and engaged in selling agricultural machinery. In the spring of 1872 he connected himself with E. R. Lloyd, under the style of Lloyd & Dougan, which interest continued until December, 1875, when they commenced operating in real estate.

Mr. Dougan was married in 1854 to Miss E. A. Nickerson. Of their six children three are living Allen D., Frank and Archie. Mrs. Dougan died in June, 1881. She was a member of the Congregational Church, and left an enviable record as a Christian wife, mother and friend.

The present Mrs. Dougan was Etta Vaughan, of Montrose, Penn. Mr. Dougan is a republican and a member of the I. O. O. F. He owns 400 acres of land.

~ ~ ~ ~

Mrs. J. M. Dougan, wife of one of Mason City's most prominent citizens, died of a cancer at Eureka Springs, Ark., in June, 1881. She was a noble lady, noble in good deeds, and rich in those treasures which adorn true womanhood. Tender of heart, she gave to the suffering poor unsparingly of her means. She was public spirited in a high degree, and active in every worthy cause. One of the best mothers and noblest wives. From a busy life of good deeds she has gone to her reward.

Daniel Dougherty

[Page 803] Daniel Dougherty made the first settlement, on section 36, in 1863, upon land he had taken up in 1856. In about a year from the date of his arrival, a fellow countryman, John Humphrey, also came on from Clayton county and bought the west half of the southwest quarter of section 36, where he lived until 1875, at which time he removed to Mason township.

Daniel Dougherty, the pioneer settler of Dougherty township, born in the county of Donegal, Ireland, Feb. 18, 1829, came and entered the southwest quarter of section 36, township 94, range 19, what is now Dougherty township, and made actual settlement on the same in 1863. He was reared on a farm in his native land, and in 1851 came to America, landed at Philadelphia and spent two years there. He then went to Montgomery Co., Penn., and labored in an iron furnace. In 1856 he visited Cerro Gordo Co., Iowa, and after entering his land, returned and continued work in the furnace as foreman until 1858, when, with his family, he started for Iowa, traveling on the cars to Dunleith, on steam boat to McGregor, Iowa, arriving at their destination after four days travel. He there located in Giard township, where he rented a farm and later bought forty acres. In 1860 he was elected a member of the board of supervisors of the county, and was re-elected in 1862. In 1863 he resigned that office and came to Cerro Gordo county and settled on his land, being the first settler in Dougherty township.

He built a log house on his land near the corner of four counties: Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin and Butler. He took an active interest in the settlement of this section, acting as agent for different parties in selling land in his vicinity. The family occupied their log house until 1869, when he built the house in which he now lives, on the northwest quarter of section 36, and, in 1 872 he built a barn 40x60 feet. He owns 720 acres of land and has the finest apple orchard in northern Iowa. It contains over 1,000 trees.

He was married in 1848 to May Gallagher, a native of Donegal, Ireland. They have had fifteen children, twelve of whom are living - Hugh, Charles, Patrick, Daniel, James, Mary, John, Margaret, Bernard, Edward and Catharine T. (twins), William and Annie. Three children, William, William N. and Margaret, died in infancy. The oldest son, Hugh, is married and has three children and lives on the southwest quarter of section 25. Charles is married and has three children and lives on the northeast quarter of section 26. Patrick is a lawyer, is married and resides in Mason City. James is married and resides on the southeast quarter of section 26. The rest of the children make their home with the parents. Mary is a teacher in the public schools.

Mr. Dougherty is a prominent man and is well respected. He started poor but has made himself wealthy. He is a life-long democrat, has served Cerro Gordo county as county supervisor two terms, and in 1880 was a candidate on the democratic ticket for register of the State land office. He represented the State at the Baltimore convention in 1872, and is still quite prominent in politics.

Thomas Drummond

[Page 629] The first lawyer to locate in Cerro Gordo county, was Thomas Drummond. He was a native of Virginia, but came here from Vinton, in 1855, with Capt. A. B. Miller. They formed a partnership and engaged in the law and real estate business; Mr. Drummond being the legal branch of the firm. Drummond was a typical Virginian, hot-blooded, of nervous temperament, and never held anything back in consideration of other's feelings, but always said what he thought should be said and let consequences take care of themselves. He was a fair lawyer, and a good speaker.

He remained here until 1857, when he returned to Vinton and there engaged in practicing law and editing a newspaper. He represented his district in the State Senate, in 1860, and when the war broke out resigned to enlist, and was killed while in the service.

Henry A. Dyer

[Page 993-94] Henry A. Dyer, proprietor of the Dyer House, at Mason City, came here June 14, 1872, when he became mine host of the St. Charles hotel. He operated as landlord there five years, since which time he has been proprietor of the Dyer House, formerly the Allen House. He was born in Somersetshire, England, March 15, 1843 He is son of James Jr., and Ann (Andrews) Dyer, and his parents came to America in 1847, and located in Dubuque Co., Iowa, in 1848. They settled on a farm about a mile from the present site of Dyersville. The father afterward located the towns of Dyersville and Manchester. He died Nov. 3, 1864, at Dyersville. The mother was still living, in 1883, at Dyersville.

Mr. Dyer, of this sketch, was there reared to manhood, and completed his education at Alexander College. He enlisted in 1862 in the 21st Iowa Volunteer Infantry, company C. During his first year of active service he was taken prisoner near Perkins' Landing, and was held at Shreveport, La. There he contracted camp diarrhea and dropsy, and came near losing his life. He was sent home on a furlough to recuperate, and passed several months on a sick bed. While en route to rejoin his regiment he received an appointment as quartermaster sergeant at Camp Distribution, New Orleans, La., remaining there six months, and was then detailed to Maj-Gen. Ed. R. S. Canby's headquarters, where he acted as head clerk in the field until the taking of Spanish Fort, Blakely and Mobile, Ala. Mr. Dyer was in the war during its severest period, and was mustered out at Baton Rouge, La.

He returned to Dryersville and shortly after went to Manchester, Delaware Co., Iowa, where he was in charge of the railroad eating house, and acted as bookkeeper for Cougar Bros. He was afterward engaged four years in the lumber trade.

Mr. Dyer was married in June, 1869, to Hattie Bolden, of Manchester. They have five children, one of whom is now living - Harry E.

The Dyer House was built in 1871 by Dr. Allen, at a cost of $14,000. It has thirty-five rooms, and can accommodate fifty guests. The proprietor is better known to the traveling public as "Doc" Dyer.



  • Return to 1883 Biography Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Biography Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Home Page


    © Copyright 1996-
    Cerro Gordo Co. IAGenWeb Project
    All rights Reserved.