DEMPSEY N. SOLOMON was born in Muhlenburgh county, Kentucky, January 11, 1821, and is the eighth son and thirteenth child of a family of fourteen children of the late Judge Lewis Solomon and Sarah Bowden, his wife. Mr. Solomon and wife were both natives of Franklin county, North Carolina. Lewis Solomon was descended from a long line of English and French ancestry. Mrs. Solomon's father's name was John Bowden. He was of English parentage, and his ancestors were among the earliest pioneer settlers of the sunny land of the Carolinas. Lewis Solomon, the father of Lewis, and the grandfather of Dempsey, was a soldier in the war of the Revolution, and was one of the brave and patriotic men who went forth to do battle in the cause of universal freedom, and shed his blood, if need be, in order to wrest the liberties of the colonies from the iron grasp of British despotism. When the war was over and peace declared, he returned to the peaceful pursuits of a planter's life, which he continued engaged in until his death.
Lewis Solomon, the father of Dempsey, was born in the year 1778, and grew to manhood in North Carolina, where he married, and subsequently moved to Kentucky, and afterwards came to Illinois with his family in 1825, and lived for a time in Morgan county, and in March, 1827, removed to and settled at Eagles' Point, at the head of Solomon's Creek, in what is now known as North Palmyra township. Here, assisted by his sons, he reared his humble cabin and began improving a farm. He soon after was elected to the office of justice of the peace, and on the organization of the county of Macoupin, he was appointed one of the county commissioners, and about the first legal documents of the county are countersigned and attested by his hand.
He was a man of rare good judgment and common sense, and at that early period in the history of the county, few men possessed more business ability than he; his integrity and honesty of purpose was never questioned. A short time after he became a citizen of Macoupin, he joined the Baptist church under the ministration of that noble man ane eminent pioneer and divine, Elder Peck. Mr. Solomon occasionally preached the gospel to his neighbors. In February, 1849, he was called upon to part with his wife, the companion of his early joys, trials and sorrows. The stroke bore heavily upon him, and he survived her death only a few months, when, on the 28th of July, 1849, he passed from life to the realms of eternal rest, full of years and honor, leaving behind the affectionate love of his family and friends.
Having written at some length of the ancestors of Dempsey N. Solomon, we now turn to a contemplation of that which relates more particularly to his own life. His opportunities for acquiring and education were very limited; his attendance at school is all embrace within a period of four months. However, the love of study was an innate principle with him, and during the long winter nights of his boyhood days, he would sit in the light of the fire burning on the hearth, or beside the tallow-dip, with book in hand, reading or solving difficult mathematical problems. He is a man possessed of good judgment and much information upon the more important subjects of the day; he has stored hi mine with the requisite knowledge to fit him for the business transactions of life, and this, too, without the aid of schools or teachers. The early years of his life were spent largely in assisting his father in farming.
On the 4th of June, 1846, Mr. Solomon was married to Miss Elizabeth C. Newell, the daughter of James and Ann Newell. They were then resident of this county, though natives of Kentucky. Mrs. Solomon was born in Simpson county, Ky., September 10, 1823. Mr. Solomon and wife have had born to them twelve children, eight daughters and four sons; five daughters and two sons are now living, as follows: Mary J., wife of Z. C. Ridgway, residents of Palmyra; Sarah A., wife of W. C. Martin, residents of the same place, (Mr. Martin is a partner with Mr. Solomon in merchandising); Salome F., the wife of Dr. R. M. Wilson, now residents of Lincoln, Illinois, where the doctor enjoys an extensive and lucrative practice. The unmarried ones are as follows: George W., now a commercial salesman; Charles D., engaged in farming; Minnie F. and Carrie J., who reside at home. Of those deceased may be mentioned, Jemima D., died March 21, 1851; Harriet E., August 26, 1852; William Franklin, October 7, 1854; James L., December 13, 1854, and an infant daughter unnamed, December 3, 1855.
After his marriage Mr. Solomon continued farming for some time, and on account of ill health engaged in merchandising, in Old Cummington, in 1854. In June, 1855, he laid out the town of Palmyra and erected a storeroom, and began merchandising in that place, and in addition carrying on quite large farming operations. At present he has about 800 acres of land in cultivation.
Mr. Solomon, wife and daughter, Mrs. Ridgway, are members of the Christian church; he is one of its generous patrons, giving liberally for the aid of the gospel; besides, he has warmly espoused the cause of education, and has given his children the benefits of good instruction; all except the two younger have had the advantages of academic and collegiate instruction.In politics Mr. S. is and always has been a democrat. During the late civil war he was a staunch supporter and advocate of the Union cause. He assisted Capt. Hulse, of his town, in raising his company, and in his neighborhood made patriotic and eloquent speeches advocating prompt and vigorous measures for the suppression of the rebellion. In 1843 he was appointed county assessor by the county court, and filled the office for one year. In 1845 he assessed the county as deputy, under James McLarning, county treasurer. In 1846 he was a candidate for sheriff - defeated by Major Burke. He has been school director several times, and township school treasurer since October, 1870. In the spring of 1871 he was elected supervisor of South Palmyra township, and by re-election held the office until 1878. (For a specific reason he resigned in 1874.) In 1877 he was elected chairman of the board. When his term of office expired he declined being a candidate again. In 1873, while a member of the board of supervisors, eh voted against levying any tax which was ordered to be made by the United States district court, and was among the supervisors summoned to Springfield, and fined a thousand dollars each and costs for disobeying the order of the court. In reference to the court-house question, he was opposed to the erection of so costly an edifice, and opposed to paying anything until the courts decided the paper legal, after which he was in favor of the best compromise that could be obtained.
And thus we lay before our thousands of readers the record of one of the industrious and honorable pioneers of Macoupin county - a man with more than ordinary endowments and energies, and the possessor of an honorable ambition to excel in all commendable efforts. His local success is the result of a genial nature; the prosperity that has attended him is the result of integrity and industry rather than a love of worldly gain. What he has is the result of his own labor, the cumulative interest upon the earnings of a lifetime. He is in the largest sense of the word a self-made man, and as such we present him to the youth of the county. He has ever been an efficient worker in every enterprise that was calculated to benefit his town and county, and every needed improvement has enlisted his earliest and most active interest. He shared, in common with many of his fellow citizens, the privations incident to life in a new country, and with them has lived to bask in the sunshine of our enlightened civilization, and enjoy comparative prosperity and its attendant blessings, nearly upon the very spot where, more than half a century ago, he appeared upon the arena an unknown and obscure youth.