In our column last month we stated Oscar Dinwiddie as the first president of the Old Settlers Assoc. This should be corrected to read "the first secretary." The first officers, elected on the day of organization on Sept. 25, 1875, were as follows: President, W.A Clark; Historical Secretary, Rev. T.H. Ball; Treasurer, J.H. Luther; and Secretary, Oscar Dinwiddie.
In July we wrote about the families of pioneer Thomas Dinwiddie, John's son Oscar, and the brothers and sisters of Oscar. Many families now living in the Eagle Creek area are members of the Dinwiddie Clan.
The Dinwiddie family history includes a story of a cross-country trip from Hebron to Oregon in 1853. This is in a diary written in a book with board covers and leather back found among the effects of the late William Sweney of Hebron. It is thought to have been written by either David or John Dinwiddie.
The diary described the towns and villages they traveled thru, calling some of them "fine looking places" or "a forsaken looking place," especially one town in Illinois. The group followed the Kankakee River to the Illinois River to Peru, turned west, and before coming to the Mississippi River told of the several barren areas between the prairies.
Throughout the diary are stories of ferrying and fording rivers in wagon trains of up to 50 wagons, with about 18 men and thirty-two persons in all. According to the log, the best day's traveling was 35 miles. The wagon train passed many Indian encampments and sometimes camped near their villages.
The diary tells of some good and some bad roads, steep dangerous descents from high hills. At one point the trail was forked, one fork going to California and the other to Oregon. The trip began Mar. 18, 1853, and the group arrived in Oregon sometime during October of 1853.
Mrs. Keith (Phebe) Dinwiddie tells us that in 1967 she attended a reunion in Seattle. The 75 persons present were descendants of the Dinwiddie families who traveled west in that wagon train back in 1853.
The following is taken from T.H. Ball's "Sunday Schools of Lake, 1891," loaned to us by Bernard (Junior) Nichols: "In the fall of 1852, a Sunday School was organized at Plum Grove and Dr. Brownell was one of the early superintendents and teachers until about 1882."
Other leaders included Martin Nichols, Nettie Henderson and Mrs. L.V. Pearce. In the fall of 1875 the Plum Grove pastor, Rev. T.H. Ball, was superintendent and E.W. Dinwiddie was secretary.
Rev. Ball continues, "It was a beautiful sight on one of those memorable Sundays years ago, when the then sixteen members of the Dinwiddie family, the mother, the children, the grandchildren were all present in the school. The grandchildren of the Dinwiddie and Pearce families, now being some thirty-five, form not a small portion of the Plum Grove Union School. The superintendent and treasurer of this year (1891), Mrs. Pearce and Miss Jessie Bryant, are members of the one family, and the last secretary, John A. Dinwiddie, and the new secretary, Elmer Dinwiddie, are members of the other."
He finished the story of the Plum Grove Sunday School by telling of the McCann and Hale families and how he would not cease to cherish the memory of Mrs. M.J. Dinwiddie of Plum Grove. Rev. Ball also reveals in this book that the horse he rode was the dark brown "Zells."
Dinwiddie Station, located in Eagle Creek township on State Highway 2, just west of the now Interstate 65 interchange, was a stop on the Chicago and Wabash Valley Railroad. Started about 1898 by Benjamin J. Gifford, the railroad was given a right-of-way thru the land of Oscar and Jerome Dinwiddie, and their sister Mrs. Frances Brownell. The three agreed to give the right-of-way free of charge if the depot would be called "Dinwiddie Station."
Mr. Gifford came to the area about 1891, and acquired some 36,000 acres of swamplands thru Lake and Jasper Counties. He drained the land and divided it into farms of 80, 160, and 320 acres, with buildings on each. While drilling a deep water well near Gifford, he discovered oil and built a refinery there in 1899.
The Gifford Railroad started at Zadoc, went north thru McCoysburg, then to Dinwiddie, with about 40 miles in all. Two or three trips were made daily, with headquarters at Kersey, Ind. The Fifield Elevator on Range Line Road was another stop for Gifford's railroad.
The railroad served the area for many years, and after Mr. Gifford's death in 1913, it was owned and operated by the Monon Railroad Co., until abandonment in 1935.
Today a part of the old right-of-way can still be seen west of Interstate 65 on the south side of State Road 2 where the railroad crossed at an angle toward the northwest.
Dinwiddie Station included a grain elevator, coal and lumber yard, and the home of Jerome Dinwiddie, Edward Dinwiddie, Edward and Martha Bryant, and Carl Brownell. The Brownell home is still there, and the Bryant house was moved to near the Plum Grove Cemetery.
In the Aug. 13, 1980, edition of the Lowell Tribune, under "By Gone Years," there was a story dated July 1920 telling that the elevator at Dinwiddie Station was for sale by the C.E. Nichols Grain Co. Charles Strickland was listed as the seller. The Nichols Co. was trying to sell to a group of farmers.