History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(biographicals transcribed by Linda Kestner: firstname.lastname@example.org)
While a large percentage of Taylor county's business men have been attracted to this locality by reason of its broad opportunities and business conditions, becoming factors in its active life in recent years, there are also found among the prominent representatives of the financial, commercial, manufacturing and agricultural interests those who have been identified with the county through long years and have not only been witnesses of its growth but have aided largely it its yearly development and progress. To this class belongs Frank Dunning, the president of the Citizens Bank of Bedford. He was born near Edwardsburg, in Cass county, Michigan, March 15, 1845.
The Dunning family came originally from England and the branch to which our subject belongs was established in Connecticut at an early day. The first of his ancestors of whom we have any record is Benjamin Dunning, who was born in Warren, Litchfield county, Connecticut, and from there removed to central New York. He was twice married and by the first union had four children: Sally, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His second wife was Mercy Shove, and to them were born eight children, namely: Betsey, Lois, Jemima, Clarinda, Mercy, Lorainy, Arilla and Benjamin Alva. Dr. Isaac Dunning, a son by the first marriage, was the grandfather of our subject. He was born in Connecticut, October 21, 1772, and became a physician, practicing his profession for many years both in the east and the middle west. In 1832 he removed to Edwardsburg, Michigan, where he died in 1850. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Hulda Rood, was born July 3, 1783, and died December 2, 1861. Their children were: Horace B., who married Sarah A. Camp; Philander B., who married Fidelia Treat; Emily M., the wife of Uriel Enos; Barton B., who married Laura Stiles; Benjamin B., who married Harriet Letson; Isaac M., who died in infancy; Harriet M., wife of Nathan Aldrich; and Oscar M., who is the only one of the family now living, his sketch appearing on another page of this volume.
Barton B. Dunning, a member of this family and the father of our subject, was born in Cayuga county, New York, April 3, 1809, and accompanied his parents on their removal to Michigan. In 1852 he made an overland trip to California, where he engaged in digging gold but later returned to Michigan, and (page 244) in 1855 came to Iowa, having been favorably impressed with its advantages and opportunities when crossing the state on his way to the Pacific coast. He located at Mount Ayr before the town was laid out, although its location had been chosen, and he became a pioneer merchant of that place, carrying a general stock of goods. He bought a tract of government land on coming to this state and was also extensively engaged in feeding cattle and mules. In 1868 he removed to Chicago, where he engaged in the real-estate business for a time, but a few years later returned to Mount Ayr and lived with his son Day, and died at the old homestead, October 13, 1877. In early manhood he wedded Laura L. Stiles, a native of Granville, Massachusetts, and a daughter of John Roger and Lucina (Spellman) Stiles, who were also natives of the Old Bay State. John Roger Stiles was a son of John and Ruth (Roberts) Stiles, in whose family were the following children: Electa, born September 1, 1777, and died December 16, 1857; Anna and Jerusha, twins, born August 5, 1778; John Roger, born August 5, 1783, and died August 8, 1849; and John Loren, born November 3, 1795, who died January 14, 1798. The father of Mrs. Lucina (Spellman) Stiles lived on a farm in Massachusetts until his marriage, when he became a tanner and made his home in Granville. He died when more than sixty years of age, while his wife reached the age of seventy-eight years. Mr. Dunning remembers her as one of the sweetest of characters and most beautiful of women. John Roger and Lucina (Spellman) Stiles were the parents of fourteen children, namely: Almire, died May 14, 1803. Anna, born August 10, 1805, died March 14, 1813. Jeremiah, born June 5, 1807, died November 1, 1831. John Alsop, born May 3, 1809, was a prominent physician who went to Mishawaka, Indiana, in the '30s and there died in 1851 or 1852. Mary, born May 6, 1811, became the wife of James Blair and died July 22, 1833. Jerusha, born February 14, 1813, died September 5, 1842. Laura, born May 20, 1815, was married between Christmas and New Years, 1839, to Barton B. Dunning, the father of our subject. Jeanette, born April 16, 1817, was married December 11, 1838, to William Loomis, and became the mother of W. S. Loomis, the heard of the electric system at Holyoke, Massachusetts, and was also the projector and builder of the electric road up Mount Tom. Emeline, born May 2, 1819, married a Mr. Emmons of Buffalo, New York, and they moved to Missouri, locating near St. Louis, where she was a teacher all her life. Ruth Serepta, born March 22, 1821, died March 7, 1846. Charles Spellman, born March 22, 1823, was overseer of cotton mills at Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, until he retired to a small farm when nearly seventy years of age. Maria H., born June 17, 1826, died July 17, 1831. Fidelia, born November 17, 1827, became the wife of John Herrick and died March 8, 1882. Harriet, born May 12, 1829, died July 12, 1831. The mother of Frank Dunning passed away March 18, 1906, when nearly ninety-one years of age. She held membership in the Methodist church while her husband's family were Baptists. At the time of the Civil war Barton B. Dunning did active duty in the border campaigns. His family numbered four children: Walter, a resident of Denver, Colorado, who served three years in the Civil war as a member of the Twenty-ninth Iowa Regiment; Frank, of this review; Day, living in Labette, Kansas; and Charles B., who was the first white child born at Mount Ayr and whose demise there occurred on the 11th of December, 1881.
(Page 245) Frank Dunning was ten years of age when he accompanied his parents to Ringgold county, an open prairie country, with but few inhabitants, and he assisted in surveying and laying out the town when the nearest house to the site of the village was two and a half miles. On his father's arrival there in April, 1855, he entered a thousand acres of land and built a cabin of poles without nails but notched together and chunked and daubed with mud. He covered the cabin with clapboards and then returned to Decatur City for his family, bringing them to his newly constructed pioneer home in June, 1855. They made the trip with a team of horses and covered wagon. A tribe of Pottawattamie Indians were in that neighborhood at the time and frequently visited the cabin.
The events and experiences of pioneer life made a deep impression upon the mind of Frank Dunning He received his education in the public schools of Mount Ayr. When thirteen years of age he began to buy cattle and mules and has continued in that line of business ever since, finding it a source of substantial and gratifying profit. He is an excellent judge of farm animals and now owns eighty-six head of fine mules. For a considerable period he also carried on general farming and cattle feeding but in February, 1872, removed to Bedford and purchased the interest of F. E. Walker in the banking business conducted under the name of Dale, Smith & Company. In August, 1873, however, Mr. Dunning withdrew from that firm and in November, 1874, purchased the bank of G. S. Plants & Company, in Hopkins, Missouri. In connection with J. C. Waterman & Goodsell Brothers he organized the Bank of Hopkins and conducted that institution until July 1, 1877, when he returned to Bedford and organized the Citizens Bank, his partners being A. P. Evans, J. E. Anderson, Alexander Goodsell and Napoleon Goodsell. The bank was capitalized for twenty thousand dollars. At the same time Mr. Dunning still held his interest in the Bank of Hopkins. The capital stock of the Citizens Bank was afterward increased to thirty thousand dollars and the capital stock and surplus now amount to one hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Dunning is the president of the bank and the entire responsibility of its management, organization and conduct has rested upon him from the beginning. More than twenty years ago he purchased the interest of the Goodsell brothers and later Mr. Anderson's interest, while A. P. Evans still retains his stock and has been vice-president of the institution from the beginning. The position of cashier has been occupied by H. P. Long since 1886, and the present assistant cashier is Clyde Dunning, a son of Day Dunning. In 1909, under Mr. Dunning's supervision, there was erected on the corner of Main street and Central avenue a bank building, which without doubt is the most substantial and beautiful structure in the city. It is two stories in height, with a basement, and is built of granite and vitrified brick with stone trimmings, the foundation being concrete. The vault is also made of concrete, reinforced with twisted steel bars, and it has a time lock, a Bessemer and chrome steel door and every modern equipment. The upper floor of the building is divided into four office suites and on the main floor there are two office suites besides the bank proper. The front part of the basement will be occupied by offices of the Bedford Creamery, and adjoining these will be a rest room for the families of patrons of the bank and creamery, being supplied with toilets and lavatories and many other conveniences, and will be furnished by James N. Pierce, editor of the the Homestead. The bank has a (page 246) beautiful mosaic floor and a mahogany counter with brass trimmings, and thoroughly up to date. In fact, this bank is one of the finest and best in this section of the country.
Mr. Dunning is also identified with other important business interests at Bedford, the principal one of which is the Bedford Creamery, with which he became connected in the '90s. The plant, which had been considerably enlarged, was burned to the ground December 10, 1906, incurring not only a complete loss of the building and machinery but also twenty-five hundred dollars worth of butter. As soon as the smoke had cleared away Mr. Dunning, with his characteristic energy, began laying plans to continue the business and by night his plans were completed, so that the teams went out next day on their regular routes, only one day being lost in the conduct of the business. As soon as the frost was sufficiently out of the ground to lay a foundation, he began the erection of a creamery on a new site, on a switch from the main railroad track, and in sixty days was able to meet the demands of the season's business, which was greatly increased owing to the stimulus given the enterprise by prompt rebuilding and by showing a determination to carry on the business. The new creamery, which is the largest in the state under private ownership, is forty-two by eighty-two feet in dimensions, with a twenty-five by forty foot wing and cold-storage plant and facilities for loading direct in cars. The building is of brick with tile lining and cement floor, and there is a good system of draining, making it clean and sanitary. The Babcock system of testing is used, so that each patron is paid according to the amount of butter fat found in his cream, and a uniform price is paid to all. When Mr. Dunning assumed charge of the business it was badly involved, but being a man of marked initiative spirit and excellent constructive powers, he built up the business until now over twelve hundred thousand pounds of butter are manufactured annually. He placed with the patrons of the creamery over two thousand hand cream separators, which number has been greatly increased, and he gathers the cream with his own teams, utilizing large number of mules in this way. This is the largest industry in the county and during the milking season pays out one thousand dollars daily for cream in addition to a large amount expended for help.
In 1884 James N. Pierce purchased the Iowa Homestead, of Des Moines, which was then a small agricultural paper on the east side, Mr. Dunning furnishing the capital. From that time to the present he has been associated with the enterprise and today the paper is the largest agricultural publication in the world. It has two auxiliaries: The Wisconsin Farmer, of Madison, Wisconsin; and The Farmer and Stockman, of Kansas City, Missouri. Through his connection with this enterprise, Mr. Dunning is a member of the Press Club of Des Moines.
On the 10th of January, 1878, Mr. Dunning was married to Miss Rebecca M. Weaver, and unto them have been born two children: Alice J., who is now the wife of Bruce J. Flick, of Bedford, and has one daughter, Margaret Elizabeth; and Frances M., who like her sister is a graduate of the Woman's College, Baltimore, Maryland.
Mrs. Dunning was born in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, and prior to the Civil war accompanied her parents, Philip and Martha (Walker) Weaver, on their removal to Keithsburg, Illinois, where at the age of sixteen years she began (page 247) teaching school, following that profession until coming to Bedford, Iowa, in 1877. Here her brother had gone into business the year before, and here she met and married Mr. Dunning. Her parents were also natives of Pennsylvania and were of Scotch descent. Mr. Weaver died in Keithsburg, Illinois, but his wife passed away in Bedford. He was one of a family of six children, the others being John, David, Vandall, Catherine and Elizabeth, all now deceased, while in the Walker family, to which Mrs. Weaver belonged, there were five children: Martha, John, Mary, Susan and Elizabeth. All have passed away with the exception of Susan, who is living in Pennsylvania unmarried and is now over ninety-five years of age. The children born to Philip and Martha (Walker) Weaver were: M. A., who for twenty-five years was a prominent merchant of Bedford and died in 1901; Harry, who died in 1887; Frances M., who died in 1889; and Rebecca M., now Mrs. Dunning.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunning are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and in its work and activities are deeply and helpfully interested. Mr. Dunning is serving as one of the church trustees and has been a class leader almost continuously since becoming identified with the denomination and through the entire period has been either a Sunday-school teacher or superintendent of the Sunday-school. He does not regard his connection with the church as a secondary feature in his life but gives to it the important place which it should occupy and his example and his influence have been potent forces for good in the community. In the thirty years or more of her residence in Bedford, Mrs. Dunning has been just as active in the moral upbuilding of the community. After the saloons were voted out of Iowa in 1884 and the drug store became the purchasing place of drink and the business men were not willing to go beyond certain lines of action to arrest the sale of liquors by the drug stores, then Mrs. Dunning and Mrs. E. R. Hall took the matter up and with the aid of detectives and such other help as they could secure, they succeeded not only in having druggists who were selling illegally fined but followed them so closely with fines at each term of court that they were actually put out of business. Those two women did the real active work of handling the proposition, and, while it was strenuous and caused them many sleepless nights and months of anxiety, yet they were successful and the community is today receiving the benefit. Mr. Dunning has always been a strong temperance man, having signed the first pledge and all others that have been presented to him, and he also joined the first temperance society he had a chance to join and has become a member of all others with which he could affiliate.
Fraternally he is also connected with Taylor Lodge, No. 156, A. F. & A. M.; Triangle Chapter No. 68 R. A. M., Creston Commandery K. T. and Moila Temple of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine at St. Joseph, Missouri. He is connected with Bedford Lodge, K. P., while his political allegiance is given to the republican party. He does not seek nor desire office but keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day and is thus able to support his position by intelligent argument. He is numbered among the county's successful constructive builders -- acquainted with the story of its progress and an active factor in its growth. He possesses a strong nature and kindly spirit and his life has been actuated by high and manly principles. Altogether it has been a useful and honorable career and one that has been of marked value in this part of the state.