Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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HISTORY of CERRO GORDO COUNTY, IOWA
WHEELER, J.H. Vol. II. Pp. 410-12. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1910

BIOGRAPHY ~ JAMES BRIGGS DAKIN, M.D.

Engaged in the active practice of his exacting profession in Cerro Gordo county for more than a quarter of a century, Dr. James B. Dakin gained prestige as one of the leading physicians and surgeons of this section of the state, and his success was tantamount to his fine ability. He continued in the harness until the time of his death, which occurred at his home in Mason City on the 1st of March, 1896, and both by reason of his high standing in his profession and as a citizen of utmost progressiveness and public spirit he is well entitled to a tribute of honor in this publication. He labored with all of zeal and devotion in the alleviation of human suffering and he also found time to manifest especial civic loyalty, having been called upon to serve in various offices of public trust, including that of mayor of his home city. He commanded the utmost confidence and esteem and proved himself worthy in all the relations of life.

Dr. James Briggs Dakin was one of the pioneer physicians of Cerro Gordo county, where he took up his abode in 1869 and where he continued to live and labor to goodly ends until the close of his long and useful life. He was born in Clinton county, Ohio, on the 5th of January, 1836 [1835 on his gravestone], and was a son of Perry and Phoebe (McMannis) Dakin, whose marriage was solemnized in the year 1820. The father was a native of Dutchess county, New York, and the mother of Kentucky, and both families were founded in Ohio in the pioneer epoch of the history of that fine old commonwealth. Perry Dakin was reared to maturity in his native state whence he removed to Ohio when a young man, and he numbered himself among the early settlers of Clinton county, where he reclaimed a productive farm from the forest wilds and where he died, secure in the high regard of all who knew him. Mrs. Dakin died in Princeton, Illinois, at the age of ninety-seven years. They became the parents of five sons and five daughters.

Like many another sterling citizen who has attained distinctive success as one of the world's noble army of workers, Dr. Dakin was reared to the sturdy discipline of the farm, and he early began to assist in the various departments of its work, so that he grew vigorous in mind and body and gained a due appreciation of the value and dignity of honest toil and endeavor. After availing himself of the pioneer schools he was enabled to continue higher studies in a well conducted academic institution in his native state. In 1855 he went to La Porte, Indiana, where he began reading medicine in the office and under the preceptorship of his elder brother, Dr. George M. Dakin. In 1860-61 he attended a course of lectures in the Eclectic Medical College in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, but he soon subordinated all other interests to tender his services in the armed rebellion on the part of the southern states. He enlisted as a private in the Seventy-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which gained reputation as the “Board of Trade Regiment,” owing to the fact that a large percentage of its members had been connected with the Board of Trade in Chicago. Dr. Dakin was with his regiment at the siege of Vicksburg and participated in other engagements. He was finally assigned to detached duty in the hospital at Benton Barracks, in the city of St. Louis, where he remained until the expiration of his term of enlistment, when he received his honorable discharge. After the close of the war he again took up his medical studies, and during the spring of 1866 was again a student in the Cincinnati college previously mentioned. From this institution he duly received his degree of Doctor of Medicine, and he initiated the active work of his profession at La Porte, Indiana, where he remained until 1868, when he went to Bloomington, Illinois, and in 1869, he came to Iowa and established himself in practice at Mason City, where he passed the residue of his life and where he laid aside his humane work only a short time prior to his demise. His sympathy passed beyond sentiment to be an actuating motive for human helpfulness, and his gracious personality as well as his able ministrations in his profession made him one of the most popular citizens of the county in which he so long lived and labored. He was a member of various professional organizations of representative order and he ever continued an enthusiastic student of medicine and surgery, so that he was able to avail himself of the best methods and facilities represented therein.

In politics Dr. Dakin was found aligned as a stalwart in the camp of the Republican party, and he ever took a lively and intelligent interest in the questions and issues of the hour. Whatever tended to advance the general welfare of his home city and ever tended to advance the general welfare of his home city and county was assured of his zealous support, and his elegibility (sic) and civic loyalty marked him for public office. Thus he served with all of acceptability, in the office of the mayor of Mason City and also as a member of the board of county supervisors. He was a prominent figure in various fraternal organizations and had the distinction of being the first man in Mason City to attain the thirty-second degree in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Masonic fraternity. He was the founder of the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias and was called to various official chairs in this and other organizations with which he was identified. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and ever showed a deep interest in his old comrades of the Civil war. His religious faith was indicated by his membership in the Disciple church.

In the year 1867 was solemnized the marriage of Dr. Dakin to Miss Julia May Church, a daughter of the late Rev. Jesse Church who was an elder in the Christian church and who passed the closing years of his life and died in Mason City while on a visit. Mrs. Dakin's brother, Judge Jarvis S. Church, was a pioneer of Mason City and one of the prominent members of the bar of Cerro Gordo county, where he presided for a number of years on the bench of the county court. Mrs. Dakin received excellent educational advantages and was graduated in Antioch College, at Yellow Springs, Ohio, as a member of the class of 1863. She is a woman of gracious presence and fine intellectual attainments, and she was twice elected to the responsible office of superintendent of public schools for Cerro Gordo county, where she gave a most careful and progressive administration during her two terms. She still maintains her home in Mason City, where she is held in affectionate regard by all who know her and where she has long been a popular figure in church and social circles. Dr. and Mrs. Dakin became the parents of six children, of whom only two are living — Dr. Channing E., of whom specific mention is made on other pages of this volume, and Amy Dorothy, who is the wife of Dr. Hardy F. Pool, of Mason City.

NOTE: Julia May (Church) Dakin was born on May 10, 1841, and died on September 16, 1932. They were interred at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery, Mason City IA. Also interred at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery are Dr. James B. and Julia Dakin's children:
Shirley E. Dakin, born July 13, 1868, died February 25, 1881; George E. Dakin, born December 12, 1870, died June 4, 1872; Mary A. Dakin, born March 1, 17=871, died February 13, 1877; and, Elsie C. Dakin, born March 20, 1879, died February 25, 1881.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2014

 

 

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