History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(transcribed by Linda Kestner: email@example.com)
OSCAR M. DUNNING
The life record of Oscar M. Dunning constitutes an interesting chapter in the history of Taylor county, with the development and progress of which he has been closely associated from pioneer days. Not only has he assisted in its material development but also in its moral progress and in the establishment of principles of citizenship which have borne rich fruit in the life of the community. He was long identified with farming interests but since 1884 has lived retired in Bedford. A native of the Empire state, he was born in Cayuga county August 1, 1823, and is descended from a family which came originally from England. This branch was established in Connecticut at an early period in the colonization of that state, and Benjamin Dunning, the first of the ancestors of whom there is authentic record, was born in Warren, Litchfield county, Connecticut. From his birthplace he removed to central New York where he reared his large family. By his first marriage he had four children, Sallie. Abraham, Jacob and Isaac. 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 of the first marriage and the father of Oscar M. Dunning, was born in Connecticut October 21, 1772, and after becoming a physician practiced his profession in both 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 Loston; Isaac M., who died in infancy; Harriet M., who was the wife of Nathaniel Aldrich; and Oscar M., who is the only one of the family now living.
Oscar M. Dunning was ten years of age when his parents removed to Cass county, Michigan, and his education was acquired in the common schools, while his boyhood days were spent on his father's farm. He, too, became a farmer and cared for his parents in their later years, both father and mother making their home with him. In 1869, he came to Iowa, bringing with him the proceeds of the farm which he had sold in Michigan. Here he made investment in six hundred and forty acres of land five miles northwest of Bedford. It was an unimproved tract, but his previous experience, determined purpose and indefatigable energy enabled him to convert it into productive fields. As one of Taylor county's early settlers he did his full share in reclaiming the land and transforming it from its primitive condition into valuable farms. He not only tilled the soil but was also an extensive buyer, feeder and shipper of stock and (page 662) his business affairs were so managed that he won success in every undertaking. Year by year he cultivated and improved his farm until 1884, when he retired from active life and removed to Bedford, where he still makes his home. He yet owns four hundred and forty acres of his original tract and derives therefrom a substantial annual income.
On the 21st of March, 1845, in Edwardsburg, Michigan, Mr. Dunning was united in marriage to Miss Martha May, who was born in that state in 1829 and died March, 1858. By her marriage she had become the mother of six children, of whom the eldest, Mary Hulda, died in infancy. Milton O., who was born in Edwardsburg, Michigan, December 24, 1848, accompanied his parents to Taylor county and assisted his father in developing the farm during pioneer days. He became a successful agriculturist and made his home in Taylor county until 1902, when he removed to Parsons, Kansas. He was married March 6, 1881, to Miss Alice Bowers, who was born in 1855 and died August 17, 1908. Lehman H., the third of the family, was born in Edwardsburg, Michigan, April 12, 1850, and died in Indianapolis, Indiana, January 6, 1906. His boyhood days were spent in his native state and for two years after completing his literary education he attended medical lectures in Buffalo, New York. He then spent one year in Taylor county where his father had just settled, his time being devoted to teaching in country schools and to clerking in the drug store of Dr. A. M. Golliday, of Bedford. Resuming his medical course in Rush Medical College, of Chicago, he was graduated therefrom with the class of 1872. He began the practice of his profession in that year and as a country physician was forced to take long drives or horseback rides as he made his visits to his patients. His practice grew rapidly, however, and he came to be ranked with the eminent physicians and surgeons of Indiana, while his medical experience and his skill in practice gained him a reputation that was by no means limited by the confines of that state. It was as a man and friend, however, that he was most deeply loved and will be longest remembered. His genial good nature and his rare sympathy and tenderness appealed to all who came in contact with him, and his patients benefited not only by his professional skill but also in large measure by the encouragement and inspiration of his personality. He was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal church and carried the helpful spirit of his religion into his daily life, remaining untainted by the materialism which seems to infect the majority of scientific students. On the contrary his soul was ever in harmony with the most delicate spiritual relationship and he resolutely adhered to that faith which through nineteen centuries has been a predominating influence for good in the world. On the 9th of December, 1875, he married Miss Harriet J. Beauchamp, who with three children, Florence, Lehman M. and Herbert P., survive him. The daughter was married in 1909 to Gilbert Elliot of South Bend, Indiana. The elder son was graduated from the Medical College of Indiana, in which his father was an instructor prior to his death. He has now taken up the practice of medicine and has spent one year as interne in the City Hospital of Indianapolis. Eva, the fourth of the children of Mr. Dunning's first marriage, was born in Edwardsburg, August 4, 1852, and was married January 23, 1875, to James Beauchamp, their home being now in Cass county, Michigan. Hulda R., who was born June 30, 1855 (page 663) became the wife of Ed Marsh in November, 1875, and is living in Berrien county, Michigan. Martha, the youngest, was born December 24, 1857, and on the 3d of July, 1878, became the wife of Hays C. Fordyce, of Creston, Iowa.
On the 25th of December, 1858, Mr. Dunning married again, his second union being with Miss Anna M. Wilkinson, who was born August 30, 1838. There were four children of that marriage. Sidney the eldest, born August 9, 1861, was married August 20, 1884, to Miss Anna Rose, and now resides in St. Joseph, Missouri. Mary, who was born December 11, 1862, makes her home with her father. Milo B., born on the 25th of May, 1874, is a successful physician in Bedford. Following his parents' removal to that city during his boyhood days he acquired his education in the schools there and was graduated from high school with the class of 1892. He then became a medical student in Bedford with Dr. V. R. King as his preceptor, and later spent one term in the Kentucky school of Medicine at Louisville. Subsequently he entered the Indiana Medical College at Indianapolis, from which he was graduated in 1895. He spent one year in the City Dispensary there, after which he located for the practice of his profession in Michigan City, Indiana, where he remained for two years, moving thence to Taylor county. He practiced for six years in Siam but in the fall of 1908 opened an office in Bedford, where he has since pursued his chosen profession with success that is indicative of his skill and thorough understanding of the great scientific principles that underlie his work. On the 1st of January, 1903, he married Miss Olive L. Fowler, who was born October 22, 1875. Her father, Edward R. Fowler, who died in Parsons, Kansas, August 14, 1907, was for many years a resident of Taylor county, during which time he engaged in the grocery business and also served for two terms as auditor of the county. On his removal to Kansas he engaged in the real-estate business, to which he gave his attention until his death. His widow, Mrs. M. F. Fowler, still resides in Parsons. She was the mother of eleven children, and all of the nine girls of this family are married. Dr. and Mrs. Milo B. Dunning have three children: Lois, born November 10, 1904; Ruth, October 8, 1906; and Horace, September 15, 1907. Dr. Dunning is a republican in his political sympathies and for two terms, from 1900 until 1904, served as coroner of this county. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons, belonging to Taylor Lodge. No. 156, A. F. & A. M., at Bedford. He keeps abreast with the advance in the profession through his membership in the County Medical Society and in the Iowa State Medical Society. His practical knowledge of his profession, his care in diagnosis, and his conscientious performance of all duties have brought to him a large and remunerative practice, together with the unqualified esteem and regard of his fellow townsmen. He and his wife hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church, and he is serving on its official board as one of the church trustees.
Mildred D., the youngest of the children of Oscar M. Dunning, was born July 3, 1880, and on the 14th of August, 1906, became the wife of R. B. Edmonson an attorney of Parsons, Kansas. The mother, Mrs. Anna (Wilkinson) Dunning, passed away December 28, 1906. Had she lived two years longer they would have arrived at the half century of married life. She was a devoted mother, not only to her own children but to the five children born of her husband's first (page 664) marriage, their ages ranging between one and ten years when she came to preside over their father's household. These children always regarded her as their own mother, for she was most watchful over their welfare and filled to the fullest extent the place of an own parent. She bore her share of pioneer hardships, making the trip from Michigan overland in a covered wagon, bravely facing all the difficulties and dangers of frontier experience. Her father was a minister of the Baptist church, and, being reared in that faith, Mrs. Dunning held membership in that denomination. Her life, however, was not narrowed by creed or dogma, but was the exemplification of that broader Christian spirit which reaches out in charity and helpfulness to all mankind.
Mr. Dunning, public-spirited in an eminent degree, has given freely of his time and means for the benefit of town and county, and his purse is ever open for good causes which have sought his financial assistance. Politically a whig, he supported that party from the time he cast his first presidential ballot for Henry Clay until the dissolution of the organization, when he became a stalwart republican. He has been a Mason for thirty-five years, his membership being in Taylor Lodge, No. 156, A. F. & A. M. Of a deeply religious nature, manifesting earnest interest in the cause of Christianity during his childhood days, he has been a lifelong member of the Baptist church and through his influence has left a deep impress for good upon the community as well as on his own family, his children being reared in the fear and admonition of the Lord. His life has been a noble, upright one, characterized by unfaltering allegiance to high ideals, and his name will long be remembered and honored after he has passed away, not only because of his worth and the strength of his character, but also because of the fact that his several sons, learning the lessons of life at his knee, have carried his teachings beyond his immediate locality.