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Oliver Hazard Perry Dawson

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Oliver Hazard Perry Dawson

Posted: 1315443757000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Dawson, Myers, Butler, Souers, Rittenhouse, Nye, Thompson

From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 490-492

Fifty years ago there came to the southern part of Huntington county a young man by the name of Oliver Hazard Perry Dawson, whose selection of this part of the state as his future home was determined somewhat by there then living here another young person for whom he had formed a warm attachment, having become acquainted with her in Clinton county, Ohio, where he had been employed on different lines of work some four years previous. The lady in question was named Lydia Myers, whose father, Jacob Myers, had some years before entered a large tract of land in the vicinity of Warren, and had come for the purpose of making it his home and of converting it into a farm. The reception to the young man was of a most cordial nature by both the lady and her father, and but a few weeks elapsed after his arrival until she had consented to share the trials and successes of life with him as her companion, the ceremony that made them man and wife being celebrated soon after. They began housekeeping on a rented tract, continuing to operate rented land for some six years; in the meantime starting an improvement on a tract of wild land that her father had decided to present to them, having confidence in his ability, which had by this time been fairly well demonstrated. He erected a hewed-log house, to which they removed and where they lived for several years, succeeding in the clearing and improvement of quite a nice little farm. The natural course of nature took her parents from among the living, and they purchased the old homestead, buying out the other interests, and from that time made it their home. During the first quarter of a century that he lived here he made extensive improvements, not only to his original place but to the Myers homestead as well, the results of his activity as a careful farmer enabling him at the end of that time to leave the farm and retire to a smaller tract near the village, turning his attention more specially to the cultivation of a choice plum orchard and attending to the demands of an extensive gravel pit on that part of the farm that he had not sold, and which lay about one mile from the town. Forty years he and his amiable wife traveled the journey of life together, having been a comfort and consolation to each other in times of distress and sharing equally the pleasures of their success. But the touch of the Dark Angel was laid upon the brow of the cherished wife and the spirit that had been his inspiration passed to the shadowy land. No children had come to add to the comfort and satisfaction of their lives, and they lived in closer communion with each other. In looking for a time into the early history of Mr. Dawson we find that he was born in Clermont county, Ohio, December 27, 1826, and was the son of John and Massa (Butler) Dawson. His grandfather was Joseph Dawson, who came from Pennsylvania, though he was a native of the Emerald Isle, having been brought while yet a child to this country. His wife, Nancy, was a representative of the old Dutch stock in Pennsylvania, and, as a young married couple, they came west and secured a tract of land which is now embraced within the great city of Cincinnati, though the greater part of their lives was passed in Clermont county, where both died. John and Massa were married at Vevay, Switzerland county, Indiana, removing soon after to Clermont county, finally passing to the “Unknown Dark” while living in a suburb of Cincinnati, know as Cheviot. The family that resulted from their union retained the reputation of the two races represented, having fifteen children, and, what is quite unusual, two sets of twins were of the number. All grew to maturity, but at the opening of the twentieth century three only were surviving, there being besides Oliver Hazard Perry a sister in Louisville, and one in California. The boyhood of our subject was all passed with his father, going, after attaining his majority, to Clinton county, where he engaged in various occupations previous to his coming to Indiana.

February 7, 1893, he was joined in matrimony with Miss Mary A. Souers, the popular and fashionable dressmaker of the village, who for ten years had industriously attended to the demands of the matrons and maids of the community in the preparation of their most select toilettes. She was born in the township some four miles north of Warren, on the Huntington pike, her parents being S. P. and Mariah (Rittenhouse) Souers, who had come to this region from Ohio. Her father had come early enough to make land entry, selecting a choice tract in the same neighborhood of the Rittenhouse family, with whose charming eighteen-year-old daughter he became smitten, and succeeded in winning her hand, locating thereafter upon his land, his cabin being the first and only habitation on the Huntington road between Warren and the Little Wabash river, a distance of thirteen miles. Further reference is made regarding those early days in connection with the review of the venerable Jacob Souers, of Huntington. Mariah was the daughter of Aaron and Sarah (Nye) Rittenhouse, and was a young girl at the time of coming here, being but eighteen when married. Both of Mrs. Dawson’s parents died at their old home, the father at seventy-five and the mother ten years younger. Of their seven children, five are still living, one brother, Amos L. Souers, of Salamonie township, being the only other remaining in this vicinity, although a sister, Sidona, wife of Marion D. Thompson, resides in the extreme northeast corner of the county. Mary A. left the farm to engage in the art of dressmaking, and for ten years did the principal business in that line in Warren. Within the past three years they have erected a handsome and convenient residence in a very desirable location on the main street and close to the center of the town, where their lives are being passed in the frequent enjoyment of the society of old and true friends, though the lady had been a sufferer for some months, being debarred the comforts of outdoor exercise. She was reared in the Missionary Baptist church, in which she retains active and influential relations, while he affiliates with the Methodist denomination, having served the society as its steward for some time.

Mr. Dawson has ever been an important factor in the making and development of the county, and though holding some of the minor offices of the township has primarily devoted his attention to the improving of his farm, having certainly done his full share in the clearing of the soil and developing a first-class farm. Following closely in the footsteps of his father-in-law, Mr. Myers, who brought the first well-bred stock to the neighborhood, he has continued to keep the best line of cattle and other thoroughbred animals, realizing that his efforts in that direction have resulted in much improvement in all grades of stock in the county. He has ever felt special love for a good horse, and being something of a judge of horseflesh has not allowed others to lead him in the owning or handling of choice animals. Whenever a citizen has a good one that is for sale or trade he knows where to go to be accommodated. Now, as he stands at the threshold of the new century, he may well survey the grand work that has been done during the last half of the nineteenth, feeling a commendable pride in the part that he has played therein, and while he may not have attained what the world calls greatness he has, at least, contributed liberally to the material wealth and improvement, the maker of a farm under the many drawbacks and conditions being entitled to great credit by those who become his successors.

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