Lee County Biography

Col. John Dement

Colonel John Dement was one of the famous men in early Illinois history. He was born on April 26, 1804, in Tennessee, the son of David and Dorcus Dement. At thirteen John moved with his parents to Franklin County, Illinois. He made his home on a farm there until he was twenty-two years of age. He was elected sheriff of Franklin County and then, in 1828. he was elected to represent the county in the Illinois state legislature. In 1830 he was re-elected. Then he was elected to the office of Treasurer of the state of Illinois. He served from 1831 to 1836.

Colonel Dement, in 1831, witnessed the signing of the treaty by which Black Hawk gave up all claim to land east of the Mississippi River. In 1832 he served his state in the army fighting the Black Hawk War. He answered the call of Governor Reynolds as did Abraham Lincoln, to report to the fort at Dixon's Ferry. There he was made commander of a spy batallion which accomplished much in determining the Indians' plan of attack. The most famous engagement of his battalion was the battle at Kellogg's Grove. He and his men held out there until reinforcements arrived. Even Black Hawk remarked that Colonel Dement was a brave and daring officer in the Black Hawk War.

In 1836 John Dement married Maria Dodge, the daughter of the governor of Wisconsin. In 1837, he was appointed receiver of the land office in Galena. When this office was moved to Dixon, in 1840. Colonel Dement moved to Dixon where he made his home from that time on.

He was a member of three Illinois state constitutidnal conventions, 1847-1848, 1862, and 1870. The colonel was elected mayor of Dixon four times. He was very active in the development of industries in Dixon and in improvements of all kinds in the town. One out-lying industrial and business section of Dixon is still known as "Dementtown." Also, - one of the streets bears his name.

After a long life devoted to public service, Colonel Demerit died in Dixon in January, 1883.

Written by Janet Newcomer daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S.D. Newcomer, 604 E. Fellows St. Dixon IL. She was in the 8th grade class of North Central School. Janet's prize was a byline - "By Janet Newcomer - in the March edition of the Illinois Junior HIstorian, an Illinois State Historical society publication. Janet competed with 30 -35 seventh and eighth grade students with an article entiled "Fearless John Dement". Her home room teacher is Mrs. Marie Peterson. Published in the Dixon Evening Telegraph March 14, 1951


John Dement, one of Dixon's most distinguished citizens, in company with Brooks and Daley, opened a corn-grinding mill here on december 18, 1852 at the cost of $15,000.

The mill was only one of dement's inducstrial projects and history credits him with later erecting other buildings to be used for manufacturing. Among them were two large buildings erected in 1854 which later became the Dixon Plow Works.

In politics, as well as industry, Col. John Dement's record is equally as impressive. Born at Gallatine, Tenn., April 26, 1804, he later moved with his parents to Franklin County IL in 1817. In 1826 - only 24 years of age - he was elected as sheriff of the county and also was collector and treasurer of public funds. He was elected to the state legislature in 1828 and re-elected in 1830. He also served as state treasurer for three terms.

In 1837 he was appointed received for the land office in Galena IL. This government office was moved to Dixon in 1840 and Dement came here as receiver.

He wa chosen presidential elector for James K. Polk in 1844, and was a member of the state constitutional conventions for several years (1847-48, 1862 and 1870).

He served as mayor of Dixon for four terms, the first beginning in 1869.


Results of the city election held on March 7, 1870 saw Col. John Dement re-elected mayor for the year. He served also for the years 1871-72 and 1878-79. Elected alderman for the first ward was W.A. Judd. Second ward alderman was H.P. Becker, for the third ward, H.H. Perry and fourth ward, W.C. Andrus.


Lee Co Bios

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