Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    The record of a busy and useful life is an inspiration to the young, a salutary lesson to those who are engaged in the stern duties of life, and is a source of pride to the children and grandchildren of those who have made the world better by their living. Such a life we record in this brief sketch of Levi Farwell Dillaway. Other men have become more famous, but few have done more real hard work where business and duty have called them.

    L. F. Dillaway was born in Granville, Washington county, New York, March 24, 1824. He is the son of Samuel C. and Elizabeth H. (Allen) Dillaway, both natives of Boston, Massachusetts, the father born June 5, 1795, the mother, January 25, 1797. They were married in their native city, February 27, 1821. They made their first home in Charlestown, Massachusetts; thence they removed to Randolph and afterwards to Granville, New York. Samuel C. DiIlaway was a Baptist preacher, and devoted his life to his ministerial work. He spent the best and most fruitful years of his life in the church at Granville. Under his ministration many were converted who in after years became successful workers in the church, among the number being A. D. Gillette, who became a pastor of a prominent church in Philadelphia; Rev. Vaughn; and Rev. Orville Maon, who went with his wife to Arkansas, which was then a territory, as a home missionary to the Indians.

    Mr. Dillaway was an active promoter of home and foreign missions and of the Sunday-school Union, being a life member of the American Baptist Missionary Union. He died in Granville, November 24, 1850. After his death his wife lived with her son, L. F. Dillaway, and removed with him to Ohio, dying at his home in Higginsport, Brown county, Ohio, February 7, 1857.

    Their family consisted of four children: Charlotte, who was born June 24, 1822, and, died October 4, 1825; Charlotte Amelia, who was born January 22, 1826, and died July 27, 1827; Levi F.; and Pharcellus C., who was born February 24, 1828, and died when nineteen years old. The subject of this sketch was left the comfort and hope of his parents until they crossed the river of death.

    L .F. Dillaway, our subject, was educated in the Granville Academy, and was first employed as a clerk in Poultney, Vermont, where his father had pastoral charge of a church for several years. He was the successor of Rev. Clark Kendrick, whose son, Professor A. Kendrick, was teacher of Greek in Rochester University. This the writer mentions as an evidence that Mr. Dillaway's father was a worker in the vineyard of the Lord, worthy of his calling. Mr. Dillaway was employed as clerk for about four years in Poultney, Vermont, and then returned to Granville Academy, where he completed his education. While in the academy he taught a class, in part payment of his tuition. He then went to Boston and spent a winter as clerk in a drug store.

    In 1845 he moved to Higginsport, Brown county, Ohio, and was employed as a clerk in a dry-goods store three years. In that time he saved from his salary three hundred dollars, and this amount, together with some borrowed capital, enabled him to engage in business for himself. He carried on merchandising in Higginsport until 1859. His business was prosperous and he did not confine himself alone to dry goods. The last year he was there he purchased over five hundred thousand pounds of tobacco and sent much of it to Philadelphia and Baltimore, over the mountains in the old Conestoga wagons. The merchants of to-day can scarcely realize the difficulties of such a venture.

    In 1859 he came to Troy in order to educate his children. The Troy schools, then as now, bore an enviable reputation throughout the state. He purchased a farm close to the city and resided thereon for three years. He moved into Troy in 1862 and engaged in mercantile business as a salesman in a dry goods store. He next went into the army as an employee in the quartermaster's department at Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas D. Fitch being quartermaster. There he remained about one year, after which he returned to Troy and engaged in merchandising in partnership with Elias and Freeman Skinner. He also engaged in the grain business during the last two years of the war. In 1865 he and judge Davis purchased a stock of dry goods and remained in partnership for five years, when the judge retired, and Mr. Dillaway continued in business alone for five years. Afterwards he associated with different partners until 1888, when he retired from active business and devoted himself to the care of his property interests--the harvest of a long, industrious and economical life.

    Mr. Dillaway was married, November 26, 1849, to Miss Elizabeth Holden, at Higginsport, Ohio. She was a native of Thetford, Vermont, born February 17, 1813, the daughter of Nehemiah Holden, who enlisted at the age of fourteen years in the Revolutionary war and served under General Washington, whose notice he attracted. The General asked him if he did not want to go home to his mother. His reply was, "She sent me to fight for independence and told me never to come home if I was shot in the back." The Holdens came of liberty-loving ancestry, and Mrs. Dillaway's genealogy can be traced to Oliver Cromwell. Her uncle, Oliver Holden, was probably the first music publisher in the United States. He is yet famous as a composer and was the author of that grand old hymn "Coronation," which is sung in every clime, and has warmed the enthusiasm and religious devotions of millions of the sons and daughters of Prince Emmanuel. Mr. Dillaway has in his home, as one of the precious heirlooms, the desk upon which "Coronation" was written. Oliver Holden imported the first organ into the United States. Mrs. Dillaway's cousin, Josiah Tyler, was a missionary in South Africa for forty years, and the author of several valuable publications of a historic nature. Mrs. Dillaway died at her home in Troy, June 15, 1899, aged eighty-six years and three months. Three daughters blessed the home of Mr. DiIlaway: Mary A., who married Rev. C. C. Herriott and resides in Oakland, California; Harriett J., who died in Troy, May 14, 1846, at the age of twenty-three years; and Anna D., the wife of Colonel Thomas D. Fitch, who resides in Troy, and with whom her father makes his home.

    Mr. Dillaway has been identified with the Presbyterian church all his mature years. He served as a member of the official board for more than twenty years. He was a member of the city council for two terms, also a member of the board of education for six years and part of that time was its president. He was also a member of the original board of trustees of the Riverside Cemetery, near Troy. In politics he was a Republican until 1884. He then cast his lot with the Prohibition party until the party divided at the Pittsburgh national convention in 1896, since which time he has acted with the Union Reform party. A man of positive convictions and tremendous energy, he has been active in whatever engaged his attention, whether it was business, politics or religion. He never was a cipher anywhere or at any time. Successful in business, earnest in political convictions and devoted in his religion, he is now nearing the sunset of life with a record of which his children and grandchildren may well be proud. Commencing a poor boy, ending with a competence, his life is an example of what every poor boy in this republic can accomplish, by energy, perseverance and pluck that never surrenders to adverse circumstances.

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