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)
The list of the leading men of Taylor county contains the name of Hon. Dennis Hamblin, one of the representative and honored citizens of this section of the state. His record as a soldier, as a legislator and as a business man has been so honorable that he has gained the confidence and good will of all with whom he has been brought in contact.
Born in Summer Hill, Cayuga county, New York, March 28, 1836, he was there reared to farm life and attended the district schools to some extent, although he is largely a self-educated man. In 1857, when a young man of twenty-one years, he came west to Taylor county and he and a brother ran a breaking plow one summer, using five yoke of oxen for this purpose. He then returned to the Empire State and assisted his father on the home farm and also worked for others at farm labor, at ten dollars per month. After a time however, he once more came to Taylor county and engaged in breaking prairie. In the fall of 1861 he sold his team and went to Chicago to offer his services to the government, for it was about this time that the Civil war was inaugurated.
His name was enrolled on the 7th of December, 1861, as a member of Company G, Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the company being organized at Camp Douglas. After being well trained, the company was sent south in February, 1862, and went as far as Fort Donelson, being first under fire in that memorable battle. He was next sent with General Prentiss' division to Shiloh, where the major portion of the regiment was captured. Later Mr. Hamblin participated in the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, and many of the Union soldiers were here taken prisoners. On being exchanged they were sent back to Springfield, where the command was recruited and reorganized. Mr. Hamblin with the other members of his company was sent from the latter place to Cairo and thence to Paducah, Kentucky, where he spent the summer of 1863.
In the winter of 1863-4 he went south with Sherman as far as Vicksburg, where he participated in the Meridian campaign in February, 1864, while still later he was with Banks on the Red River expedition. Besides taking part in many important battles he was in many skirmishes. At Pleasant Hill while holding the rank of orderly sergeant but acting as captain, his command covered the rear of Banks' expedition to the mouth of the Red River, where a big battle ensued between his company and Loring's Confederate cavalry. Mr. Hamblin had the misfortune to receive a gunshot wound in the left elbow and was sent north to a hospital at Cairo, Illinois. After two or three months he rejoined his regiment at Memphis and was there promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Going up the river to St. Louis from that place, he assisted in chasing Price's army all over Missouri, and later on their return to St. Louis, the regiment proceeded down (page 487) the Mississippi and up the Cumberland rivers to Nashville, where they joined General Thomas and drove Hood out of that city. The Civil war discharge of Mr. Hamblin bears the following endorsement: "This soldier was in the following engagements: Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Fort DeRussey, Pleasant Hill, Yellow Bayou and Nashville." He was always found at his post of duty and returned home with a most enviable military record.
During the progress of the war Mr. Hamblin had been home on a furlough and was then married, March 5, 1863, to Miss Eliza McWilliams, of St. Charles, Kane county, Illinois. She was born, however in the north of Ireland, but was reared in Kane county, Illinois. After returning home from the war Mr. Hamblin procured a team and covered wagon and journeyed from that county to Taylor county, Iowa, reaching his destination on the 3d of May, 1865. He first rented land, which he cultivated for several years, and later became the owner of forty acres which was partly improved. On this tract he built a log house fourteen by sixteen feet, in which he made his home several years. As the time passed and he prospered, he added to his possessions until he eventually became the owner of one hundred and twenty acres in Marshall township, Taylor county. On this farm he erected a good country residence, a substantial barn and other outbuildings and engaged in general farming until 1900. In that year he disposed of his farm and took up his abode in Sharpsburg, erecting a nice home in the village, in which he has since lived. In January, 1901, he was appointed inspector of the rural free delivery mail service and in this connection was given free transportation over all railroad and steamship lines in the United States. He had to report at Chicago each week and from that point his service demanded him to touch St. Paul, St. Louis, Omaha and Denver. He capably served in this position until 1906, ever discharging his duties with credit to himself as well as to the satisfaction of those under whom he served.
Mr. Hamblin is a republican in his political views and on that ticket has been elected to important offices. In 1883 he served in the legislature as a member of the twentieth general assembly. He did duty on various important committees and his course received the approval of all concerned. He has also served his township as trustee and assessor and in every official capacity has been faithful to the trusts reposed in him.
The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Hamblin has been blessed with four children. William Winslow, the eldest, died October 15, 1888, at the age of twenty-one years. A. Laura is the wife of Charles H. Smith, station agent at Norwich, Iowa. Maggie E. is the wife of E. L. West, of Sharpsburg. Clarissa Eliza is the wife of W. T. Brown, a resident farmer of Marshall township.
The parents are members of the Presbyterian church, and Mr. Hamblin is a Mason, belonging to the blue lodge at Conway and to the chapter at Bedford. He is also a member of Sedgwick Post, G. A. R., at Bedford. For fifty-two years Mr. Hamblin has been an interested witness of the growth and development of Taylor county, and he has not only been a witness but has been an active participant in much of the work that has brought this district to its present prosperous and well-developed state. The county has been and is signally favored in the class of men who have controlled its affairs in official capacity, and in this connection Mr. Hamblin demands representation as one who has served the county (page 488) faithfully and well in every position of trust and responsibility to which he has been called. His military record, too, was most honorable, and a social, genial nature has endeared him to a wide circle of friends.