DEWEES, CORNELIUS, retired farmer, Jacksonville, Ill., is a pioneer of 1829, and a son of a pioneer of the same year. His father, Nimrod Dewees, was born in North Carolina in 1801, and was a son of Cornelius Dewees, for many years a minister in the Christian Church. A native of North Carolina, he removed to Kentucky when his son Nimrod was a youth, and there preached for many years. His services were in great demand for the performance of the marriage service in the pioneer days of Kentucky, and couples frequently rode forty miles of more that he might unite them. About 1840 he removed to Morgan County, Ill., whither his son Nimrod had preceded him several years. A few years afterward he moved to Monmouth, Warren County, Ill., where his death occurred in 1848.
Nimrod Dewees was reared in Kentucky, in young manhood he was united in marriage with Elizabeth Murphy, and while still residents of that State four children were born to them. In 1829 Mr. Dewees, accompanied by his wife and these four children, came to Illinois, entering a quarter section of Government land located four miles northwest of Jacksonville, being compelled to go to Vandalia to secure the title to his land. He afterward entered additional land, his entire property aggregating 540 acres. Here he engaged in general farming, stock raising and feeding. In the earlier days of his stock operations he was able to purchase cattle for $9 per head, feed them through the winter, and sell them for from $30 to $35 per head. These operations were followed by the feeding of hogs, which also proved very profitable. When it is stated that he sometimes fed as high as 500 head of cattle in a season, the extent of his operations may be better understood. About 1850 he sold his farm to Samuel Williamson, as about 1842 he had removed to a tract a short distance north of Alexander, where he continued his operations. In 1850 or 1851 Mr. Dewees retired from active labor and removed to Jacksonville, where the remainder of his life was spent, his death occurring in 1865. The deceased was a member of the Christian Church of Jacksonville. In politics he was originally a Jackson Democrat, afterward a member of the Know_Nothing party, and finally a Douglas Democrat. His wife died in 1836. They were the parents of eight children, of whom two died in infancy. Those who attained maturity were: William, deceased; Cornelius; Mary, widow of John T. Alexander, of Jacksonville; Elizabeth J., widow of Robert T. Osborne, of Jacksonville; Lafayette, deceased; and James P., who resides near Prentice, Morgan County. By his second marriage, which united him with Eliza Sanders, Mr. Dewees became the father of four children. Of these three died in infancy, and one son, Samuel, died about 1896. Mr. Dewees' third wife was Mary Talbert, whom he married in 1848 in Howard County, Mo. She bore him one daughter, Mrs. Lou Kiser.
Cornelius Dewees was born in Barren County, Ky., November 22, 1824. He accompanied his parents to Morgan County, Ill., in 1829, and resided with his father on the home farm until the outbreak of the Mexican War. In 1847 he enlisted in Col. Easton's regiment, and served as a private until honorably discharged in October, 1848. In 1849 he joined a party of Argonauts, under Captain Heslop, and started overland for California, by way of the Santa Fe Trail. After remaining awhile in Sacramento, in the spring of 1850 he accompanied a party to the placer mines on the Yuba River. In August following he went to Yuba City, on the Feather River, where he engaged in the wood business. In the spring of 1851 he visited the Santa Clara Valley, where for two years he was engaged in farming, though he was unable to purchase land, owing to the inability of early settlers to secure title to their property. Returning to Morgan County, in the spring of 1853, he engaged his services to John T. Alexander, the cattle king, and others, for whom he drove cattle for three years. In 1856 he removed to Missouri, where, in Pettis County, March 28th of that year, he was united in marriage with Mary Goodwin. Soon after his marriage he purchased a farm near Pleasant Hill, Jackson County, Mo., where he engaged in agriculture until he was practically driven from the region by reason of the depredations of Quantrill and other bushwhackers. At one time Quantrill, who was one of the most notorious of all the Kansas_Missouri border guerrillas, visited his home with a band of three hundred of his men, and deprived him of a large portion of his stock. Mr. Dewees suffered greatly through the operations of wandering bands of marauders on both the Union and Confederate sides, though he himself was in no sense a partisan in the struggle. In the spring of 1863 he left his devastated farm in Jackson County, Mo., and, returning to Morgan County, Ill., purchased a tract northwest of Jacksonville, which he operated successfully until the fall of 1896, when he removed to Jacksonville. After the war his life in Illinois was devoted chiefly to general farming. His father, who had been a heavy stockholder in the Jacksonville Gas Company, gave him $9,000 worth of stock in that corporation, half of which he still holds.