Luther Dickinson, a retired farmer is one who through the power of memory may again undergo the experiences of pioneer life. He watched the progress of events which made Kansas the center of the bitter struggle between the north and the south prior to the civil war, and witnessed the later development and continued progress that has placed Atchison county upon a par with any of the counties of the state. Years ago he came to this locality and is still living on the farm, in Shannon township, where he located many decades ago.
Mr. Dickinson was born in Washington county, Ohio, September 12, 1825, and his father, Joseph Dickinson, was a native of Virginia, and was by occupation a farmer. The Dickinsons are of Irish lineage, although the family has always been of the Protestant faith. William Dickinson, the grandfather of our subject, was a resident of Fort Du Quesne, near Pittsburg. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Sallie Daily, and she, too, was a native of the Old Dominion, in which place the days of her girlhood were passed. After her marriage she accompanied her husband to Ohio, where they took up their abode upon a farm.
Luther Dickinson early became familiar with all the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist. He pursued his education in a school in Tippecanoe county, Indiana, to which place his parents had removed. His father died there, and the mother afterward went with her family to Muscatine, Iowa, where her death occurred in 1839. Luther Dickinson there remained with his brothers and sisters until 1844, when he became a resident of Saline county, Missouri, where he followed the carpenter's trade for nine years. In 1854, when the northeastern tracts of Kansas were opened up to civilization, he came to Atchison county and pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land, for which he afterward paid the usual government price of a dollar and a quarter an acre. To that he added until his farm comprises two hundred acres of rich land which he placed under a high state of cultivation. He, however, turned the first furrow in the fields and performed the arduous task of developing the new farm. In addition to the cultivation of grain he engaged in stock-raising, for the unclaimed tracts in Shannon township afforded fine pasturage. He erected upon his place a substantial home, good barns and other necessary outbuildings, and planted an excellent orchard. Gradually he gave more and more attention to fruit growing, his home being in the midst of the fruit belt of Atchison county. He made a specialty of peaches, raising some of the finest specimens ever seen in the state. He kept upon his place a high grade of cattle, horses and hogs, and at all times followed progressive methods. Now he has largely left the care of the farm to others, yet still superintends it to some extent, and has the satisfaction of knowing that his valuable and desirable place is the result of his own well directed efforts and labors.
During the trying times which preceded the civil war, when party strife ran very high, he often with difficulty saved his cattle from being driven off by those who were politically opposed to him. He was, however, a stout, athletic man of great courage and resolution, and he not only defended his property but also freely expressed his political views, being a free-state man. His fellow townsmen, having confidence in his trustworthiness, elected him to the office of county commissioner, and he was serving in that capacity when, in 1858, he was elected to the state legislature. That was a stormy period in the sessions of the general assembly of Kansas, but neither fear nor favor could deter him from supporting any measure which he believed to be right.
In 1845 Mr. Dickinson was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Vizer, of Missouri, a daughter of David and Eliza (Aid) Vizer. She was born in Montgomery county, Kentucky, and when she died she left the following children, namely: Darius R., a resident of Atchison; Joseph B.; Mary; Simons; Aurelia and Arealia, who are twins, the latter now the wife of John Wiggins, of Atchison; Luther; John C., also a resident of this city; and Sally, wife of John Slack, of Atchison. In 1898 Mr. Dickinson was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Amarac Johnson.
Mr. Dickinson is a representative citizen who yet feels marked interest in all the public affairs and withholds his support from no enterprise which he believes would be of public benefit. He actively assisted in preparing plans for the Pike's Peak Railway and for the Central Branch Railway, which is now a part of the Missouri Pacific system. Through the long years of his residence here he has ever commanded the respect and confidence of his fellow men. He has now passed the seventy-fourth milestone on life's journey, yet is well preserved, and it is the wish of his many friends that he may yet be spared for many years to come. His identification with the pioneer settlement of Atchison county as well as his upright life entitles him to representation in this volume, and with pleasure we present to our readers the history of his career.