Governor John Winchester Dana
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

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JOHN WINCHESTER DANA was born in Fryeburg, June 21, 1808. He was the son of Judah and Elizabeth (Ripley) Dana. His mother was the daughter of Prof. Sylvanus Ripley, of Dartmouth College, and the granddaughter of Eleazer Wheelock, the founder and first President of that institution. Hon. James W. and Gen. Eleazer Wheelock Ripley were her brothers. His father was the Hon. Judah Dana, born in Pomfret, Vt., April 25, 1772, graduating at Dartmouth College in the class of 1795. He was the grandson of Gen. Israel Putnam, and he came to Fryeburg in the year 1798, opening the first law office in Oxford County. Judge Dana held the varied offices of Executive Counsellor, Bank Commissioner, member of the State Convention which formed the Constitution of Maine, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and for a brief period a Senator in Congress.

So it will be seen that Governor Dana came of most excellent stock, both on his fatherís and motherís side. He recieved his education at Fryeburg Academy, a school that has sent out its full quota of brilliant and distinguished men and women. He was an honored Trustee of this school, as his father previously had been both a Trustee and Treasurer of this Academy for many years. It was the wish of the father that his son should turn his thoughts to the law, and thus become a professional man; but business, mercantile life, and speculation early engaged his attention, which later gave way to a deeper interest in politics and affairs of State.

The Governor married Eliza Ann, daughter of Maj. James Osgood, of Fryeburg, and to them were born five children, only three surviving childhood and growing to mature life. Mary Sherburne, eldest daughter, married Henry Hyde Smith, a former Principal of Fryeburg Academy, now a Boston attorney. Annie married Dr. James McMillan Ayer, of Danville, Vt., recently deceased; most of their married life was spent in South America, they having returned but a few years ago from that country. Frank J., in early manhood, went to South America, where he engaged in the business of sheep-raising. He is still a resident of that country.

Of the Governorís several sisters, Maria married the late Judge Howard; Abigail Ripley (still living), the mother of the late James R. and Kate Putnam Osgood, married Edward L. Osgood. Kate Putnam married a brother of the Governorís wife, Henry B. Osgood, and afterwards the late Judge Goodenough of Alfred.

Governor Dana was more than ordinarily successful in the offices and political honors which he sought. He was a member of both branches of the Legislature, being a member of the Senate in the years 1843 and 1844, the latter year holding the office of President of that body. He was a thorough Parliamentarian, presiding with dignity, but rarely taking part in debate. He was chosen Governor for three successive terms, in 1847, 1848, and 1849. He was appointed Minister to Bolivia by President Pierce, where he performed the delicate duties of Ambassador with credit to himself and honor to his country.

After the war broke out, during its progress, and at its close, the Governor took a somewhat sombre view of the situation and the countryís future. He sold his property in Fryeburg, and his wife dying, he went to South America and went into the business of sheep-raising. He had been there but a short time when, acting as nurse in a plague stricken district, he fell a victim to the ravages of the cholera, dying near Buenos Ayres, December 22, 1867.

There were elements of great attractiveness in the character of Governor Dana. His urbanity and kindliness of heart were prominent traits which enabled him to win and to hold a large circle of friends. Blest with a competence of worldly goods, and surrounded by a most interesting family, his home life was a model of comfort and domestic tranquility.

Several years after his death his remains were brought to Fryeburg, where they repose beside those of his ancestors, in the village cemetery, in plain view of his own and his ancestral home.


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