JAMES DINWIDDIE, the son of a pioneer of Morgan County, is a prosperous member of its farming community, and is one of the leading citizens and public officials of his township. Since the old homestead that belonged to his father came into his possession he has augmented its size by a further purchase of seventy acres of land, and now owns a farm of 250 acres that is in all respects one of the best ordered and most desirable in this locality.
Mr. Dinwiddie's paternal grandfather, William Dinwiddie, was a native of Ireland, and, after coming to this country, he located in Kentucky, was twice married, and spent his last days in that State, of which he was a pioneer, having been an early settler of Bourbon County. His first wife was Martha McConnell, and they had seven children: William, Thomas, James, Samuel, Joseph, Julia, and Martha A. His second marriage was to Miss Reynolds, by whom he had two sons, John and David. His son, Thomas C., came to Illinois from the old Kentucky home about the year 1826, and was engaged in blacksmithing in Galena the ensuing nine months. At the expiration of that time he came to this county, and located on the farm where our subject is living. He established himself in the tannery business, and conducted it several years. In the spring of 1830 he took unto himself a wife in the person of Miss Vizilla Sims, and she was of great help to him in the founding of a pleasant home, and aided him in making his life a success during the years that they walked its paths together. Her parents, the Rev. James and Dolly (Spillars) Sims, brought her from Kentucky, where she was born in 1811, to Illinois, then a territory, in 1815. They located first in Madison County; two years later removed to Sangamon County, and six years after that, in 1823, came to this county, and were among its earliest settlers. Jacksonville, now the county seat, was then only a small hamlet, with a few small log houses and one little store. Mr. Sims, who was an earnest Methodist and a fervent expounder of the Gospel, became the first preacher in this part of the county. He also engaged in farming, and had a farm north of the centre of township 16, range 10 west, on section 18, and there his wife died. He later sold that place and lived some years with his children, and died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Black, in Sangamon County.
The farm belonging to the father of our subject joined his father-in-law's on the west, and he and his young wife began housekeeping in a log cabin, 16 x 16 feet, with a clapboard roof, a clapboard door on the south side, and a window of six panes of glass, 8 x 10, on the north side. They lived there several years, and in that humble bode our subject was born. Later his father bought an interest in a tan-yard owned by his brother-in-law, Wesley Sims, and then removed to a farm house which he had built near the yard. He and his family lived in that many years, but in 1857 he erected and took possession of the house where our subject now lives. He was not spared to enjoy his new home many months, for in 1858 he was gathered to his fathers, having rounded out a good life that was useful to himself and beneficial to others. He was a man of influence in this community, and was greatly beloved by his neighbors. He had been Justice of the Peace of this township many years, and in that capacity always sought to promote amity among those about him. To him and his wife came nine children, as follows: William, deceased; James; Andrew, deceased; Samuel; Helen married W. K. Richardson, and died in this county; Martha A. married Mr. Thomas Richards; Thomas; Isabelle and David, deceased. The mother is a cherished member of the household of our subject, and, although she has reached the advanced age of seventy-eight years, she is still hale and active. She is a firm Christian, and an esteemed member of the Protestant Methodist Church. Her daughter, Mrs. Richards, accompanied her husband to California soon after their marriage, and on their return they staid at Salt Lake City more than a year, and their first child was born in that Mormon stronghold.
The subject of this biography was reared on the farm, and gleaned his education in the primitive log schoolhouse, with slabs for seats, and other rude furnishings. He early adopted the calling to which he had been bred, and for which he has a natural aptitude, and now owns his father's homestead and the seventy acres besides before referred to, his farm being pleasantly located in township 16, on sections 18 and 7, range 10, and on section 16, of range 11. He has his farm well tilled and well stocked with cattle of good grades, and has a fine, large frame house, a commodious barn and other suitable farm buildings, all in good order.
To the lady who presides over his pleasant home, and graciously aids him in dispensing its bounteous hospitalities, Mr. Dinwiddie was united in marriage, in January, 1865. Mrs. Dinwiddie's maiden name was Anna H. Richardson, and she was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, her parents, Josiah and Beulah (Kelsey) Richardson, natives of Pennsylvania, having located there soon after their marriage. They came to this county in February, 1866, and spent their last days here. The first of the Richardson family to come West was William K., who married our subject's sister Helen. Next came Anna Richardson on a visit to her brother William, and she never returned to her old home, as she was wooed and won by our subject. Then came Hattie Richardson, and she met with the same fate that befell her sister, our subject's brother Thomas winning her for his wife. Father Richardson was of an intensely patriotic nature, and, notwithstanding he was past fifty years old when the war broke out, he offered his services to the Government as a soldier, and, on being rejected in that capacity, he joined the 1st Artillery of Ohio as a mechanic, and did good service in that calling three years and one month, and was then discharged on account of ill-health.
Mr. Dinwiddie possesses in an eminent degree the best traits of his ancestry, and to these, perhaps, he owes his good fortune. His fellow-citizens, recognizing his ability, and respecting him for his unblemished character, saw fit to elect him to the responsible office of Township Treasurer seventeen years ago, and so satisfactory has his administration of the affairs of that position been that they have kept him there ever since. He is prominently connected with the A.O.U.W. as a member of Freeman Lodge No. 60 of Arcadia. Mrs. Dinwiddie belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and leads an exemplary Christian life. They are the parents of three children, viz: Owen Guy, Horace Wayne, and James Garfield.