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Charles Addison Dillow
(1858-1918)

Charles Addison Dillow was born on May 6, 1858 in either Round Head, Hardin County, OH or in Madison County, OH, the son of William Baker and Evaline (Summers) Dillow. His mother died when Charles was five years old, in 1862, and his father married again, to Elizabeth Houser.

As a young man, sometime prior to 1881, Charles and his parents and siblings migrated westward to Central Illinois. They settled in the town of Weldon near Clinton, DeWitt County.

On the Fourth of July 1885, when Charles was 28 years of age, he married 18-year-old Harriet Dixon (or "Dickson") (1867-1902), the daughter of James and Margaret (Yates) Dixon. The ceremony was performed by justice of the peace John J. McGraw at Clinton. At the time of marriage, Charles was a farmer.

The Dillows had 10 children, six of whom survived into childhood, but only four into adulthood -- Blanche Myrtle Johnson Burns, Margaret E. Willis, Elsie Mae Delamere, William Oscar Dillow, Caroline Jane Houchin and Lawrence E. Dillow. Their four children Rosetta Dillow (1893), Charles Edgar Dillow (1895), Persie Oliver Dillow (1898) and Lucy Belle Dillow (1899) all passed away in infancy. 

In reporting on Lucy Belle's death, in a short article on April 14, 1899 headlined "Death of an Infant," the Clinton Weekly Public said she had been ill for several weeks, and that she was "laid to rest in the family graveyard" in Farmer City.

Circa 1888 and 1889, when two of their daughters were born, the Dillows lived in Piper City, Ford County, IL. By 1891, when another daughter was born, they had moved to Mason City, IA. But the family eventually returned to DeWitt County, and when the federal census of 1900 was taken, the family lived in Clintonia Township, where Charles was listed as a "day laborer." 

Sadly, Harriet died at the age of 35 in Bloomington, McLean County, IL on Aug. 10, 1902. She is buried in Farmer City, DeWitt County. She rests beside four of her infant children, and their grave marker is seen at left.

After two years as a widower, Charles married Dora Belle O'Neal (1882-1962) on Dec. 10, 1904, in Bloomington, IL. They were a quarter of a century apart in age. 

Charles and Dora went on to have five children of their own -- Evelyn Pearl Dillow, Mearle Addison Dillow, James DeLoss Dillow, Charles Kenneth Dillow and Paul Deland Dillow. 

Sadly, daughter Evelyn died at the age of 14 in 1920, and son Charles died in infancy in 1915. In all, Charles tragically lost six children before they reached adulthood.

Charles died in Clinton on Feb. 18, 1918, of causes unknown, after 14 years of marriage to Dora Belle. He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Clinton. 

Dora Belle supported herself as a widow through employment at the Catholic Church in Clinton. A newspaper said she unfortunately was "not in the best of circumstances."

In 1920, a heinous crime struck the family when Dora Belle's daughter, 14-year-old Evelyn, was murdered by an uncle, Raymond O'Neil, who then took his own life. His rambling farewell note, written on the back of blank checks in his checkbook, was published verbatim on the front page of the May 18, 1920 edition of the Clinton Daily Public. The newspaper said that O'Neil "had never been considered 'just right' mentally but was considered 'harmless' as is so often the case in affairs of this kind... [She] met her death from a 'harmless' brute that the laws of Illinois did not put away."

Dora Belle outlived her husband by more than four decades. At some point, she and Arthur Rhodaback produced a son, Roy Arthur Dillow.

She later married Abraham Thomas "Abe" Henson ( ? - ? ). Abe adopted Dora Belle's son Roy, and the boy's new name became Roy Kenneth Henson.

Dora Belle passed away in Shelbyville, Shelby County, IN, on May 21, 1962. She rests for eternity in Miller Cemetery near Shelbyville. 

Part of the south and east sides of Clinton's public square, from an early postcard

~ Fates of the First Family of Dillow Children ~

Daughter Blanche Myrtle Dillow (1886-1932) -- seen at left -- was married twice. The Clinton Journal & Public said she was a "prominent resident of Texas township." Her first husband was David A. Johnson ( ? - ? ), the son of Andrew D. and Minnie (Mills) Johnson. They were wed on the Fourth of July 1902. The Johnsons had six children -- Fred A. Johnson, Oscar Johnson, Duane Johnson, Edward Johnson, Mary Margaret Johnson and a baby who died in infancy. After David's death, Blanche married Lafayette Burns ( ? -1930). Tragically, he was killed in a highway accident in Clinton on Sept. 17, 1930, when the horse and buggy in which he was riding was struck by an automobile. Twice widowed, Blanche suffered from "a complication of diseases." Just two years after Lafayette's death, Blanche passed away in Clinton on Aug. 11, 1932, at the age of 45. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

  • Son Fred A. Johnson (1902-1925?) was married and had at least one son, Darrell Johnson. They are thought to have made their home in rural DeWitt County. According to a family story, Fred was adding kerosene to a lamp when it spilled or exploded, setting Fred and his young boy on fire. Tragically, both father and son died as a result. (The book, Descendants of Thomas and Elizabeth Dillow, 1786-1996, states a different identity for the child, as stepson "Manual Hall.") The Illinois Statewide Death Index provides a date of death of Oct. 2, 1922 for "Fred S. Johnson." This needs to be investigated and confirmed. 
  • Son Oscar Johnson apparently died in infancy, and is named in the Descendants book.
  • Son Duane Johnson (1911-1992) died on Sept. 10, 1992. 
  • Daughter Mary Margaret Johnson (1920-2001) passed away on Jan. 12, 2001.

Daughter Margaret E. "Maggie" Dillow (1888-1969), seen at left,  was born in Piper City, Ford County, IL. At the age of 17, she married 25-year-old William L. Willis (1880-1929),  just three days before Christmas, on Dec. 23, 1905. He was the son of Evan E. and Matilda E. Willis. Maggie and William were farmers in or around Clinton. They had five children -- Edward Willis, Lucille Andrews, Harold Willis, Orville Willis and Evan Odair Willis. When the census was enumerated in 1920, the Willises lived in Texas Township, DeWitt County, next door to William's father. They all are listed as farmers. William died on Sept. 8, 1929, at the age of 49 in Pana, Christian County, IL, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. Maggie outlived him by four decades, and was a member of the First Christian Church of Clinton. The federal census of 1930 shows the 41-year-old widowed Margaret and her four sons living on West South Street in Clinton. She had no occupation that year, but apparently was supported by her sons living under her roof -- Edward, who worked as a floor man in a garage, and Harold, who was a laborer at odd jobs. As she aged, Maggie went to live in the Crest View Nursing Home. She passed away on Jan. 10, 1969, at the age of 81, at John Warner Hospital. At her death, she had 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. She and William rest for eternity in Woodlawn Cemetery. 

   

Elsie Mae Dillow, left, at about age 16, and right, with Daniel Levi Delamere on their 40th wedding anniversary

Daughter Elsie Mae Dillow (1889-1985) married Daniel Levi Delamere (1879-1956), the son of John and Euphemia Delamere. The wedding took place on Feb. 1, 1908, in Clinton, with Daniel a full decade older than his bride. (Elsie's aunt, Sylvia Dillow, was married to Daniel's brother, Charles Edward Delamere.) They had two daughters -- Louise Rogers and Helen Linton Curl. Daniel was a longtime farmer. The Delameres resided at 109 South Elizabeth Street and were members of the Clinton United Methodist Church. Daniel died at age 77 in Clinton, on Aug. 2, 1956, and is buried in the memorial park section of Woodlawn Cemetery in Clinton. At the time of his passing, they had six grandchildren. Elsie Mae survived him by nearly three decades. She died at the age of 95 on April 14, 1985, and is buried beside her husband. She was survived, said the Clinton Daily Journal, by six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Clinton Daily Journal, Monday, April 15, 1985

Daughter Caroline Jane "Carrie" Dillow (1895-1921) married Charles W. Houchins (1892-1922), the son of John and Milia (Crum) Houchins, on Feb. 3, 1914. They had one son. Tragedy visited this family twice, leaving their young son as an orphan to be raised by a step-mother. The Grim Reaper first visited the Houchins' on Oct. 1, 1921, when Carrie was killed when her Ford automobile was struck by an interurban trolley. The accident occurred near the Clinton Country Club. Her remains were laid to eternal rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in Clinton. Charles married again, to Bertha Justice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Justice of Clinton, and did not produce any children. Charles only lived a short time afterward. He obtained employment in Bloomington, McLean County, IL, laboring in the Chicago & Alton Railroad shops. Death claimed him a year later, in October 1922, of a fractured skull, "when a crane chain broke and fell, striking him squarely on top of the head, while he was at work with a companion in the coal chutes," reported the Clinton Daily Public. "A part of the hat which he was wearing at the time ... was driven into his head. Mr. Houchins was conscious all of the time, the terrible blow not even rendering him unconscious." He died at the Brokaw Hospital a day and a half after the accident, on Oct. 21, 1922. Burial was in Woodlawn Cemetery. Charles is one of far too many cousins to lose their lives in accidents related to the coal, coke and steel industries and railroad industries.

Son William "Oscar" Dillow (1891-1914) married Emily E. Long (1891-1918), the daughter of Jefferson and Mary (Dillavou) Long, on Feb. 16, 1913 in Clinton. Oscar is said to have been very religious and to read the Bible before having a meal. They both died young, without having produced children. Oscar passed away first, at the age of 23, less than a year after marriage, on March 24, 1914. He is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery memorial park. Emily followed him to the grave just four years later, at the age of 27, on Oct. 27, 1918.

William Oscar Dillow and friends, 1912

Son Lawrence Edward Dillow (1899-1981) is seen at left. When he was age 24, he married 22-year-old Clara "Loraine" Derby-Gunter (1901-1966), who was the daughter of Orvil Gilbert and Olive Irma (Derby) Gunter. The wedding took place on Jan. 15, 1924 in Clinton. They resided at 818 East Julia Street in Clinton, where Lawrence was a longtime masonry contractor. Clara died at the age of 65 in Clinton on Sept. 1, 1966, said the Clinton Journal and Public, "following an extended illness." At the time of her passing, Clara and Lawrence had 30 grandchildren. Lawrence survived her by 15 years, and made his home at 617 South Quincy Street. At the age of 82, he passed away on Oct. 22, 1981, in Clinton, with burial at Woodlawn Cemetery memorial park. By the time of his death, he and Clara had 31 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

~ Fates of the Second Family of Dillow Children ~

Daughter Evelyn Pearl Dillow (1906-1920) died in Clinton at the age of 14 on May 17, 1920. She was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Son Mearle Addison Dillow (1907-1982) married Zella Bell Fox (1906-1971), the daughter of Jesse Edward and Lulu (Black) Fox, on Sept. 25, 1925 in Carrollton, IL. Zella passed away at the age of 65, on Oct. 11, 1971, and is buried in South Park Cemetery, Greensburg, IN. Mearle died at age 75 on May 27, 1982. Their son Robert Dillow, of Independence, VA, published a book, Descendants of Thomas and Elizabeth Dillow 1786-1996.

Son James DeLoss Dillow (1909-1968) married twice, first to Katherine Berk in August 1931. Following their divorce, James married again to Frances Fanta (1914- ? ), the daughter of James V. and Teresa (Kopecky) Fanta, in Chicago on Jan. 21, 1939. James died at age 59 on Dec. 5, 1968, probably in Indiana. The fate of Frances is not known. 

Son Paul Deland Dillow (1916-1991) married his first wife, Hazel Bennett, in Shelbyville, IN, but they divorced. He then married Karen (?). Circa 1981, he lived in South Carolina. Paul died in Indianapolis, IN on Jan. 12, 1991. 

Son Charles Kenneth Dillow (-1915-) died in infancy in August 1915.

Son Roy Kenneth Henson was married twice, first to Vera Hinkle of Shelbyville, IN, and second to Mickey (?). Roy is believed to have died in California.

The photograph of Charles and newspaper obituaries are courtesy of the DeWitt County Genealogical Society in the Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton, DeWitt County. 

Copyright 2007-2008 Mark A. Miner