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John James Oberlin, who for many years was a business man at Hamilton and is still living in a comfortable home in that village, while looking after his property interests, is a member of a family of early settlers in DeKalb County, where the name is represented by several distinct branches.

John James Oberlin was born in Franklin Township of that county June 4, i860, a son of Frederick D. and Sarah (Dirrim) Oberlin, and a grandson of the pioneer John Oberlin, who in 1845 came to DeKalb County and settled on the northwest quarter of section 28 in Franklin Township. He conducted a tannery in that locality for a number of years.

Frederick D. Oberlin was born in Stark County, Ohio, February 5, 1830, and was fifteen years old when his father came to DeKalb County. He had many pioneer experiences and from an early age chose to be dependent largely upon his own efforts for self-support. In 1850 he bought forty acres of land for the sum of $300, and at the same time began work at the carpenter's trade, his employer paying him $10 a month for five years. In the course of time he had a large and well-appointed farm of 160 acres, and improved it with good house and buildings. He also lived in the Village of Hamilton for some years, and died there in 1912, at the age of eighty-two years, six months and sixteen days. In politics he was a republican, and he served as township trustee two years and three years as county commissioner. During the Civil war he was a member of Company G of the Fifty-Third Indiana Infantry, and participated in the battle of Kinston, North Carolina. He was affiliated with the Christian Church. February 12, He and his wife were Methodists and later became affiliated with the Christian Church. February 12, 1854, Frederick D. Oberlin married Sarah Dirrim, daughter of James Dirrim, another prominent early family in Northeastern Indiana. She was born in Carroll County, Ohio, January 25, 1836, and died at the home of her son John James, November 11, 1915, aged seventy-nine years, nine months and sixteen days. They were the parents of six children, and three are still living: Cyrus C, John James and Isaac Charles.

John James Oberlin grew up on the homestead farm, had the benefit of the common schools, and through his industry as a farmer acquired a place of eighty acres in Franklin Township a half mile south of the Village of Hamilton. In 1892 he moved into Hamilton and for twenty years was in the livery business. Since then he has been looking after his farm and other interests, and enjoys the comforts of one of the best homes in Hamilton. Mr. Oberlin is a republican in politics and his family attend the Christian Church. In 1885 he married Miss Lenora Margaret Filer. She was born in Steuben County in 1867, a daughter of Lewis and Martha (Harpham) Fifer, early settlers of Steuben County. Mr. and Mrs. Oberlin have three children. Lula, who is the wife of Glen Gnagy, of the well-known Gnagy family of Steuben County. Glen Gnagy was in the war, serving at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Roscoe Conkling Oberlin, the second child, lives at Hamilton and married Pearl Cecil Grear. Basil Jesse, the youngest, is managing his father's farm. He married Mertie Lemon, of Steuben County.

("History of Northeast Indiana: LaGrange, Steuben, Noble and DeKalb Counties," Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, 1920)

This website created October 17, 2011 by Sheryl McClure.
Indiana American History and Genealogy Project