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A Standard History of Champaign County, Illinois, J. R. Stewart, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1918.
J. B. Dunn, after many years of activity as an agriculturist in Champaign County, is living retired in the comforts and conveniences of a good town home on Third Street in St. Joseph.
Mr. Dunn is a native of the grand old Blue Grass county of Harrison county, Kentucky. His parents were Benjamin F. and Rachel (Kerns) Dunn, also natives of Kentucky. Mr. Dunn grew up in Kentucky and acquired his education by attending about three months every year a subscription school. When he was ten years of age he lost the guidance and care of his mother and some years later his father moved to Illinois. The family arrived in Champaign County October 18, 1871, when J. B. Dunn was twenty years of age. This was only a few days after the great Chicago fire, and much excitement prevailed and all the talk on the train was of the terrible disaster. The family location as in Somer Township, near Locust Grove.
On coming to this county J.B. Dunn obtained work as a farm laborer, and afterwards, with a view to bettering his condition, farmed on the shares. He continued in this way three years.
August 3, 1878, he established a home of his own by his marriage to Matie L. Hunt. Mrs. Dunn was born in Stanton Township of Champaign County, daughter of Jonathan Hunt. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Dunn rented 200 acres in Stanton Township, and they worked hard, economized and remained on that site for eight years, at the end of which time they had acquired some capital with which to make a real state in life. Mr. Dunn then bought a farm for $40 an acre and when he got on land of his own his enthusiasm was born anew and with bountiful crops rewarding his labors he was soon on the highway to independence and success.
Into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dunn was born five children: Claude O., Lawrence E., Ethel Irene, Lena Ray and Merle. These children were educated in the district schools of Stanton Township. Claud and Lawrence were also students in the St. Joseph High School, and later both of them took a business course in a college at Marion, Indiana. That gave them superior equipment for their respective callings in life. Claud O. Dunn is a successful farmer near Elwell, Michigan. He married Leonet Doll of Elkhart, Indiana, and their three children are Everett, Florence and Hilda. The son Lawrence E., a successful stockman in Indianapolis, where he is a commission merchant, married Nellie Snyder. The daughter Ethel Dunn married Raymond Besore, and they live at Alma, Michigan, where Mr. Besore is a proprietor of a steam laundry. They have a son, Lisle. Lena Ray Dunn married Otis Phenice, a farmer in Stanton Township, and they have a son, Arden. Merle, the youngest child of Mr. Dunn, is associated with his brother in the stock business at Indianapolis, and both of them are doing very well for young men. Mr. Dunn’s children have thus proved their ability to go out and cope with the problems of the world, and they are a credit and satisfaction to their father.
The family has experienced the usual joys and sorrows of existence, and on July 23, 1903, the good wife and mother passed away. On October 24, 1906, Mr. Dunn married Mrs. Laura E. (Swisher) O’Day. They have a bright young daughter, Roxine Lucile, now seven years of age and in the third grade of the public schools.
In 1912 Mr. and Mrs. Dunn decided to leave the farm and remove to the village of St. Joseph, where they purchased a fine brick residence on Third Street. Having spent many years as a practical farmer, Mr. Dunn is now able to enjoy thoroughly the leisure and comforts won by so much expenditure of effort. He and his wife are regular attendants of the Methodist Episcopal Church and their little daughter is a student in the Sunday school. In politics Mr. Dunn is a Democrat. He is affiliated with the Masonic order, being a charter member of St. Joseph Lodge, while Mrs. Dunn is a member of the Eastern Star. Mr. Dunn is a man who with all the cares of his home and business has been willing to assume the burdens of public responsibility. He has filled several offices which indicate the confidence of the community in his judgment, such as road commissioner, township supervisor and school trustee. He is a man among men, interested in questions of vital interest to the public, and willing to get out and work for anything that concerns the welfare of Champaign County.