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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Henry M. Dunlap

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


HENRY M. DUNLAP is the proprietor of Rual Home Farm which is beautifully located on section 36, Champaign Township. He comes from an excellent family, and was trained by careful parents to habits of industry and principles of honor. He was born in Leyden Township, Cook Co., Ill., Nov. 14, 1853, and is the son of Hon. M. L. Dunlap, now deceased. The latter, a native of Cherry Valley, N. Y., was born Sept. 14, 1814, and in early youth indicated the quiet and studious habits which directed his course later in life. His choice was the study of medicine, but he was never, however, permitted to carry out his wishes. He removed West with his father's family in 1836, and after remaining one winter with his parents went to Chicago, which was then a town of about 2,000 inhabitants. He engaged as clerk for a time, and afterward went to Lamont, where he became book-keeper for a firm of contractors on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which whom he remained two years. In the meantime he saved a few hundred dollars, and concluding to engage in agriculture, entered a tract of Government land in Cook County, about twelve miles west of the city limits of Chicago. This he at once proceeded to improve and cultivate, and also engaged in surveying. In about 1845, Mr. Dunlap turned his attention to horticulture, which he followed for several years. In 1855 he visited Champaign County, and purchased the north half of section 36, in what is now Champaign Township. Two years later he removed his family here, and in due time had one of the largest nurseries in the West. As a man of thrift and intelligence, making the interests of his adopted county his own, he contributed of his time and means to the carrying out of every enterprise which would benefit its people and increase its standing. He was a man of unusual energy, and if unsuccessful in one direction or enterprise, lost no time in bemoaning the loss, but at once set about some other project, and was usually successful. During the struggle for the location of the Industrial University, Mr. Dunlap aided materially in its establishment at Urbana, by his wide acquaintance and influence among the public men of the State. He also possessed the pen of a ready writer, and was for many years a frequent and intelligent contributor to the leading journals of the West. When the Democratic Press, a Republican and leading free-soil paper of the West, was established, in 1853, Mr. Dunlap was engaged as its chief agricultural writer, and his weekly letters came to be looked for and read with warm interest. His intelligent arguments on farm and garden attained a wide popularity, and the impetus which his thoughts gave to agriculture will be recognised many years hence. His nom de plume, "Rural," was well known throughout the West. After the consolidation of the Press with the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Dunlap was retained as the agricultural correspondent, which engagement covered a period of twenty-two years. He took a warm interest in State and National affairs. In earlier years he was an adherent of the Democratic party, with which he cast his last vote in 1852. After that time he was one of the most ardent adherents of Republican principles. He was strongly opposed to slavery and his home became one of the depots of the Underground Railroad, where the fleeing slave always found the latch-string out. A man of his generous sympathies and rare intelligence could not fail of recognition, and he was appointed to various offices of trust. In 1854 he was one of the four members who represented Cook County in the State Legislature, in which body his influence was uniformly felt, as elsewhere. Hon. M. L. Dunlap was married, in Chicago, to Miss Emeline Pierce, who was born March 18, 1818, at Sandy Creek, Oswego Co., N. Y., and was the daughter of John and Hannah (Ballou) Pierce, natives of Rhode Island. Mr. Pierce served as a soldier in the War of 1812, was Sheriff of Oswego County, and in other respects a prominent man in the public affairs of that section. The children of the Pierce household were Theodore, now deceased; Hiram J., a resident of Champaign; Oscar, of Grand View, Dak.; Merton, of Paxton, Ill.; Albert, deceased; Ernest L. and Ella, twins; the former a resident of Savoy, and the latter the wife of C. H. Riser, and now living in Kankakee; Eva J., the wife of R. G. Riser, of Kankakee, and Louie J., deceased. Mr. Dunlap of our sketch was but four years old when he came to this county with his parents. He pursued his primary studies in the district schools, and afterward entered the Illinois State University at Urbana, from which he graduated in 1875. Soon afterward he went into Ford County, and became the assistant of his brother Merton, who was then and is still County Clerk there. After a few months of office work he returned to the old homestead, which he took charge of until 1883, and then became its possessor by purchase. He is extensively engaged in raising grain and stock, the latter of which includes horses, sheep, cattle and hogs. He also has a fine fruit orchard, in the cultivation of which he takes great pride, and produces annually some of the finest specimens to be found at the agricultural fairs. The main orchard includes 150 acres, among the trees of which are 150 varieties of applies. This orchard is one of the largest in the United States, and the largest in Central Illinois. In connection with this he has a steam cider mill from which he turns out 1,000 barrels of cider annually, and which finds a ready market. The farm and buildings are kept in first-class condition, and form one of the most attractive spots in this locality. Mr. Dunlap was married in Urbana, July 5, 1877, to Miss Nora C. Burt, who is a native of Coshocton County, Ohio, born Feb. 4, 1856, and the daughter of Thomas and Mary L. Burt. Of this union there have been born two children Mabel and Clarence. Mrs. Dunlap is connected with the Universalist Church. Politically our subject casts his vote with the Republican party.

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