Many of the pioneers in Southern Lake County arrived during the years of 1835 and 1836. Among these hardy settlers was Thomas Dinwiddie, with his son John Wilson Dinwiddie and his daughter Susannah. Thomas' wife, Mary Ann Wilson Dinwiddie, followed later from Ohio.
Their claim was at the eastern edge of Lake County, near Indian Town in the Hebron area. In 1836, while their cabin was being built they stayed near the Simeon Bryant family cabin, where there is now a memorial stone to mark the spot.
Susannah, who was born in 1811, married John West in 1835. John West died in 1840 and Susannah later married Isaac Miller. She died in 1861 and is buried near Hebron.
John Wilson Dinwiddie started to farm at the age of 23, but finding it not to be profitable, he went to work on the canal near Joliet. In 1847 he moved back to the area to go into business in Crown Point.
In 1852 he returned and started farming on a large scale in Eagle Creek. While serving as township trustee, he built the schools at Plum Grove, Eagle Creek, and Bryant's on the Prairie.
At that time they were rated the best schools in the county. He was also County Commissoner and was recognized as one of the most energetic and thorough businessmen and farmers in the area.
John married Mary Janette Perkins in 1844. They had eight children: Oscar, born in 1845 near Joliet, Illinois; Jerome, born 1848 at Crown Point; Augusta, born 1850 in Crown Point and died in 1855; Frances, born in 1852 in Crown Point; Henry and Mary twins born in December 1854 and died the same month; Edwin, born 1856 in Plum Grove; and Mary, born in 1859 at Plum Grove.
John was an excellent manager, highly successful, and was rapidly accumulating property when he died in 1861 at the age of 47. His death was deeply felt in the community.
His wife Mary Janette, with fine executive ability, took over management of the large estate containing about 3,500 acres of land, in the 1870's. She also raised her five small children, ran a Sabbath School, and in 1870 built a new family residence at a cost of $2,500.00.
John Wilson Dinwiddie left three sons to bear his name, to share the results of his efforts, and to imitate his virtues.
Oscar, the eldest son, who was born in Will County in Illinois, moved with his father in 1852 to the large farm in Eagle Creek which was unbroken prairie and swampland. At the age of 9, after an injury to his ankle, it was determined he had a disease of the bone and at the age of 15 the leg bone was removed. Late in life the limb was amputated above the knee.
At the death of their father, Oscar and his brother Jerome assumed a greater responsibility aiding their mother in managing the large property. Oscar attended local schools, the Crown Point Institute and Chicago University, which was then very small.
In February 1874, he married Mary Joanna Robertson (born in 1852). They had five children, all born at Plum Grove: Marion Elmer, born in 1874, married to Edna Irene Groman in 1898; Joseph P., born in 1876, married to Alice Shurte in 1897; Belle Irene, born in 1879, married Forrest M. Gormley in 1900; Edwin Lorraine, born in 1882, married Elma Salisbury; and Edith Janette, born 1884, was wed to S. Neil Baird.
Oscar was very progressive on his ideas and, in many ways was years ahead of his time. He once had an idea of using concave steel rails to carry wagon wheels, so the crops could be taken to the mill easier.
He helped to organize the Grange, and at one time was an officer of the National Grange. At the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago, Oscar was awarded a bronze medal for his exhibit of corn.
His hobby was tracing the records of the Dinwiddie family, and he collected much material in this connection. He was one the organizers of the Old Settlers Association of Lake County and its' first president in 1875, serving again in that office from 1900 to 1908, and again from 1916 to 1920. The name of the organization was changed in 1903 to "Old Settlers and Historical Association of Lake County".
Though often the victim of accidents and with continual suffering, Oscar lived to the age of 85 years, when death came to relieve him of all the years of physical suffering which would have ended life for most men long before. He spent his last years at the home of Keith and Phebe Dinwiddie in Lowell.
Keith was the son of Joseph P. Dinwiddie, and the grandson of Oscar. Many will remember Keith running the filling station at Commercial and Mill St. in Lowell, from about 1933 to 1939.
Oscar's brother, Jerome, was married to Mary Chapman in 1871. Their three children were Dr. John Abbott Dinwiddie, Grace (Hochhalter), and Daisy. Dr. Dinwiddie practiced dentistry in Lowell for many years. Later, his son Dr. George Abbott Dinwiddie was associated with his father and continued the business after the elder doctor died.
Oscar's sister, Frances Rosalia, married Frank E. Brownell, and their children were Jay Carlton, Alice, John, Claude, Catharine, Guy Carlton, Edwin and Ruth.
His brother Edwin Willis Dinwiddie was married in 1884 to Candace Belshaw of West Creek. Children of Edwin and Candace were Cora, Henry, Herbert, Mabel, Mary, Edwin W. and Willeta.
Oscar's sister, Mary E., married Walter S. Nichols in 1880. Their children were John Bernard Nichols, born in 1881, and Harry Burton Nichols, born in 1883.
In the 1870's all parts of Eagle Creek Township had other energetic farmers and moneymakers, some of whom were early settlers and were making steady improvements. In those years, the range for stock was abundant, with thousands of acres of excellent pasture lands available for cattle.
Parts of the above history were taken from a biography written by M. Elmer Dinwiddie, the son of Oscar. Other parts came for the book of Oscar's own records printed in 1902 and entitled "Dinwiddie Clan Records." We are pleased to have all three of the Dinwiddie Clan books loaned to us for reference.
Oscar's book of 1902 and edited by T.H. Ball was loaned by Mrs. Clark (Zelma) Brownell and family. The 1952 Edition "The Dinwiddie Clan Record" compiled by Keith Dinwiddie was loaned to us by Bernard J. Nichols. "The Geneological Records of the Dinwiddie Clan of Northwestern Indiana 1972" complied by Ruby Dinwiddie Lawson as a memorial to her father, Keith, was loaned to us by Mrs. Clark Brownell of Lowell. We also received an informative phone call from Phebe Dinwiddie of Mesa, Arizona, who is visiting relatives in this area.
We note in looking through the records of the Dinwiddie Clan that there are many, many other familiar names listed and very many relatives still in this area, but not one with the name Dinwiddie is now living in the area.