Esli B. Dawson
Morris Co. Up


Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.

Recognized as a well-to-do merchant of Boonton and a public-spirited citizen, Mr. DAWSON has been prominently identified with various important movements in his home city for several years. He was born in Somerset county, New Jersey, on the 10th of November, 1844, and is a son of David and Julia (NORRIS) DAWSON. The father also was a native of Somerset county, where his birth occurred in 1822, and after obtaining a common-school education he engaged in the undertaking business. He served in the war of the Rebellion as a sergeant of Company G, Twenty-seventh New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. In 1840 he married Miss Julia NORRIS, and they reared five children, namely:

  • Margaret, now Mrs. William H. NICHOLS, of Hempstead, Long Island ;
  • Esli B., our subject ;
  • Luther, of Rushville, Illinois ;
  • Jane, who married Richard GARRABRANT, of Somerville, New Jersey; and
  • Mary, who became the wife of E. P. SMITHYMAN, of Butler, New Jersey.

Esli B. DAWSON came to Boonton with his parents in 1854, and attained his education in the public schools of this place. In 1862, at the age of seventeen years, he offered his services in defense of the Union and enlisted in company G, Twenty-seventh New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, and in 1863 re-enlisted in Company C, Thirty-third Regiment, New Jersey Zouaves. He participated in the battle of Lookout Mountain, marched with Sherman to the sea, was taken prisoner at Goldsboro, North Carolina, and confined in prison, from which he was paroled on the day previous to that on which Grant entered Richmond. He was honorably discharged in 1865 and returned to Boonton, where he learned the cabinet-maker's trade, followed same until 1871 and was then appointed postmaster of Boonton, to fill an unexpired term of one year, being afterward appointed for three consecutive terms, implying a total service of thirteen years. In 1873 he engaged in the hardware business and carried a larger stock of hardware than any other store of its kind in Morris county. He is also president of the Boonton Lumber Company (incorporated), the largest business of its kind in the county. A Republican in his political faith, Mr. DAWSON is considered one of the party leaders in Morris county. In 1888 he was elected a member of the city council and served continuously in that body until 1897, when he declined re-election. He was largely instrumental in securing for Boonton its stone flagging, water-works, fire department and facilities, and electric lights, and he advocated and carried to a successful issue the bonding of the town for ten thousand dollars in order to erect the town hall, which is utilized by the common council, fire department, jail and offices connected with the city administration. In the second year of his service in the council he was elected president of that body and retained the position until his retirement. Mr. DAWSON is one of the organizers of the Boonton Building and Loan Association and is a director and a member of the appraisement committee in the same. He is the worshipful master of Arcana Lodge, F. & A. M., and is also the organizer and leader in the Boonton Athletic Association. He has extensive real-estate interests in his home city.

Mr. DAWSON was united in marriage in 1867 to Miss Mary E. JACOBUS, a daughter of Nicholas JACOBUS, of Boonton, and they have four children, namely:

  • Nicholas J.;
  • Ray, an undergraduate of Columbia University, is the intercollegiate champion for the United States, 1898, and also one of the fastest of the amateur riders of the world, holding many records to his credit, won within the last two years;
  • Bessie J. and
  • Dudley B.

Mr. DAWSON and his family are faithful members of the Presbyterian church.

This biography was scanned and contributed by Catherine Smith DeMayo.


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