Biography of James C. Dinwiddie
Iowa County, IA Biographies





James C. Dinwiddie was born in Marengo, Iowa, on the 8th of January, 1855, and with the exception of a few years' absence has there resided to the present time, being widely recognized as one of its leading, influential and respected citizens. His parents were John and Catharine A. Dinwiddie, the former of Scotch-Irish parentage and the latter of French-Welsh extraction. John Dinwiddie was born and reared near Millersburg, Kentucky, his parents having first settled in Virginia and later removed to Kentucky. He left the Blue Grass state when a young man, going to Indiana and ultimately locating in Brownstown, where he taught school as principal in the seminary at that place for some time. During his residence in Brownstown he met and married Miss Catharine A. Crenshaw, a young lady of culture and refinement and a member of a prominent family of that locality, the wedding ceremony being performed on the 8th of March, 1849. She was born in Jackson county, Indiana, and acquired her education in the schools at Brownstown. In 1853 Mr. and Mrs. John Dinwiddie removed to Illinois, remaining for a short time at Jacksonville, while in 1854 they came to Marengo, Iowa. Having learned the tinner's trade when a young man, John Dinwiddie, in company with William D. Crenshaw, embarked in the tin and hardware business under the firm name of Crenshaw & Company at Marengo following his arrival in this state. The country was then new and no railroads had yet been built so far west. Iowa City was the state capital and much of the wholesale business, as well as the marketing of grain and live stock, was done at Muscatine. Live stock was driven to market on the hoof, grain and merchandise were transferred by team and stage coaches afforded the common means of travel. The Dinwiddie family consisted of parents and four children, three sons and a daughter, namely: Charles E., John M., James C. and Mattie. Both parents and two of the children, Charles E. and Mattie, are deceased. The surviving members of the family are: John M., a banks of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and James C., of Marengo.

The father having passed away while the children were all young, leaving a family of little ones to be reared and cared for by the mother in a new country, all were practically compelled to become self sustaining in so far as was possible. Educational facilities were decidedly limited, and James C. Dinwiddie therefore acquired his knowledge largely by experience, observation and reading, becoming a well informed man as time went on. He did odd jobs as a boy, scorning no employment that offered an honest dollar and working both in the country and in town. Subsequently he clerked in stores of Marengo and Des Moines, attended school and read law. In 1886 he was admitted to the bar and qualifled to practice law in the state and federal courts. He entered upon professional duties soon afterward and was succeeding in a highly satisfactory manner when his hearing became impaired to such an extent that he was obliged to abandon his practice and take up newspaper work in Marengo. At the end of a year thus spent he made his way to Nebraska, having purchased an interest in the Norfolk Journal in association with the late H. R Crenshaw. Later he sold his interest in the Nebraska paper, and after an absence of about three years returned to Marengo to remain with his mother during the balance of her life. For some time afterward he was engaged in the real estate business in partnership with the Hon. M. W. Stover, and in November, 1895, was elected to the office of county treasure; discharging the duties of this important position in a highly creditable manner for two full terms. Subsequently he again embarked in the land business in association with F. B. Colson. He also served as chairman of the republican central committee of Iowa county for a number of years, was a member of the city council and has held other positions of honor and trust. In 1904 he purchased The Marengo Republican from M. A. Raney, this being the oldest newspaper of the county. Three years later, however, he sold the paper and the printing business to D. C. Mott and assumed the duties of postmaster at Marengo, which position he filled in a most commendable manner for eight years.

On the 26th of March, 1910, his mother, who was then in her eighty second year and to whom the name "mother" applied in its most tender and broadest significance, passed to the great beyond, having lived a long and useful life and having had the satisfaction of seeing her three sons and only daughter grow to useful womanhood and prosperous manhood, Miss Mattie, a graduate of Marengo high school, and Charles E., editor and manager of the Marengo Republican, having preceded their mother in death. So well and so favorably known was this grand old pioneer mother that leading daily newspapers of the state printed her picture in connection with the notice of her demise, and district court, then in session, was adjourned by Hon. R. P. Howel, judge, that the bar and others in attendance at court might attend the funeral services.

On the 10th of February, 1913, Mr. Dinwiddie was united in marriage to Mrs. Mary Welsh, of Marengo. He and his estimable wife have an attractive home in the suburbs of Marengo and dispense a gracious hospitality which is enjoyed and appreciated by their many friends.

From:
History of Iowa County, Iowa
And its People
By: James C. Dinwiddie
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915


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