PROFESSOR JOHN DYKEMAN CONLEY, after devoting many years to educational work, in which field he proved particularly successful as an instructor of the sciences, is now living quietly at Carlinville, where he is engaged in the breeding and raising of fine chickens. His life history had its beginning in Brockport, Monroe county, New York, September 14, 1843, his parents being John Ward and Pamelia E. (Johnson) Conley, natives of Springfield, Massachusetts, and of Madison county, New York, respectively. The former was a son of John Conley, who lived in Springfield, Massachusetts. He died in early manhood, leaving a widow and only child, John. Mrs. Conley, who in her maidenhood had been Miss Warner was married again and had children by the second union. The maternal grandfather of Professor Conley was William F. Johnson, a native of Saratoga county, New York, and a son of a soldier of the war of 1812. He married Miss Lucy Hamlin, whose ancestry can be traced back to James Hamlin in the year 1639. James Hamlin came from London, England, and located in Barnstable, Massachusetts, in the spring of that year. William F. Johnson made farming his life work and passed away in Madison county, New York. Unto him and his wife were born five children, Pamelia, Jane, Mariette, Darius H. and William Henry Harrison Johnson. Of these Pamelia E. became the wife of John Ward Conley. In his youthful days John W. Conley became a boatman on the Erie canal and afterward engaged in the grocery business in Canastota, New York. He was also at one time vice president of a boatmen's organization of New York. He died in Canastota in 1903, at the age of eighty-eight years and nine months, having for sixteen years survived his wife, who passed away October 17, 1887, at the age of sixty-six years and six months.
Professor John Dykeman Conley, whose name introduces this review, was reared in Canastota, New York, and was graduated from the State Normal School at Albany in 1863. He afterward devoted many years to the profession of teaching, serving as principal of a school at Roslyn, Long Island, the home of William Cullen Bryant, from 1863 until 1865. Desirous of promoting his own education, he then matriculated in Hamilton College, of New York, and was graduated A. B. in 1869. During his college days he became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon. Later his alma mater conferred upon him the Master of Arts degree and Blackburn University, of Carlinville, the Ph. D. degree. In 1869 he supplied the professorship of natural sciences in Blackburn University, holding that chair until 1887, when he became professor of chemistry and geology and vice president of the State University of Wyoming at Laramie, where he remained until 1896, acting as president during a portion of that time. Since this Professor Conley has been teaching chemistry and geology in Blackburn University. His education work has been of a superior order; the geological charts which he has published are among the best that have appeared on that subject, and he possessed one of the most complete geological cabinets of the country. On the 1st of January, 1909, he donated this geological collection to Hamilton College of New York, of whose board of trustees Elihu Root is now president.
In the raising of fine chickens Professor Conley is meeting with the same success which he won in his professional connection. He is now proprietor of the Evergreen Hill Poultry Farm. From his boyhood he has been an admirer of pure bred chickens and more than thirty years ago won first prize on Brown Leghorns at a Macoupin county fair. During the last five years he has made a specialty of Barred Rocks and Single Comb Rhode Island Reds, but is now devoting his attention largely to the Rhode Island Reds for he believes their laying qualities are better than the other breeds. His scientific knowledge has enabled him to test many theories in practice and he produces results which have made him the winner of many premiums in strong competitions. Upon his place he has various prize-winning birds and his fame as a raiser of high grade poultry has spread far and wide.
On the 20th of March, 1873, Professor Conley was married to Miss Virginia C. Mayo, a native of Carlinville and a daughter of Samuel T. and Elizabeth (Palmer) Mayo. Her paternal grandfather was Lewis Mayo, a native of Virginia, who made farming his life occupation and died March 25, 1866. Her father was born in the Old Dominion and after arriving at years of maturity wedded Elizabeth Palmer, a native of Kentucky and a sister of Governor John M. Palmer. Her father, Louis D. Palmer, was born in Northumberland county, Virginia, June 3, 1781, and married Ann Hansford Tutt, a native of Culpeper county, Virginia, where her parents, Louis and Isabella (Yancey) Tutt, were born about 1750. Their ancestors were early settlers of Virginia, the Tutts coming from England and the Yanceys from Wales. Louis D. Palmer and his first wife, Ann Hansford Tutt Palmer, had seven sons and one daughter, Elihu, John M., Winfield Scott, LeRoy A., Louis Frank, Charles J., George and Elizabeth Ann. After losing his first wife Louis D. Palmer married again and had three children, Julia, Henry and Quincy. Of the first marriage Elizabeth Palmer became the wife of Samuel T. Mayo. They were early settlers of Carlinville, where in 1849 they erected a fine residence which is now one of the well known landmarks of the city. Mr. Mayo became the possessor of large landed interests and was a man of prominence and influence in the community. At the old home which he built in 1849 he passed away, November 20, 1906, at the age of eighty-eight years, while his wife died in June, 1899, at the age of seventy-four years. They were the parents of seven children, one who died in infancy; Virginia C.; Florence E., the deceased wife of James M. Towey; Elizabeth, who has also passed away; Louisa M., the wife of Edward A. Gilbert, a former lieutenant governor of Nebraska; Carrie Palmer, who married Samuel Rinaker, a lawyer of Beatrice, Nebraska; and Walter S., residing in Holtville, California.
The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Conley was blessed with two children, John Mayo and Florence Elizabeth. The former is now a practicing physician of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He married Beatrice Mary Roche and they had two children, Virginia Mayo and Richard Palmer. Florence Elizabeth Conley is now the wife of George Vincent Learned, of Seattle, Washington, and they have one son, John Hamlin Learned.
Professor Conley belongs to the Episcopal church and his wife holds membership in the Methodist Episcopal church. He also affiliates with Mount Nebo Lodge, No. 76, A.F. & A.M., and is in sympathy with the teachings and tenets of the craft. His political views find expression in the support which he gives to the democratic party at the polls and he has been more or less active in local political circles, serving from 1880 until 1886 as alderman of Carlinville, and again from 1906 until 1909, in which connection he has done effective work for the substantial development and improvement of the city. He is usually found where the intelligent men of the community are gathered in the discussion of the vital and important problems that affect the political, economic and sociological interests of the country, and his cooperation can always be counted upon for the support of projects which involve the welfare, stability and progress of the community.