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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Joseph Dwight

DWIGHT, Joseph, soldier, born in Dedham, Massachusetts, 16 October 1703 ; died in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 19 June 1765. His father, Captain Henry Dwight, of Hatfield, Massachusetts, was grandson to John Dwight, of Dedham, Massachusetts, from whom all of the names in this country are descended. Joseph was graduated at Harvard in 1722, and was a merchant in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1723'31, but removed to Brookfield, Massachusetts, and was admitted to the bar in 1733. He was eleven times a member of the colonial council between 1731 and 1751, and its speaker in 1748'9. In 1739 he was judge of the court of common pleas of Worcester County. He had become a colonel of militia, and on 20 February 1745, was made brigadier general, and was second in command at the attack on Louisburg in that year, where he led in person the "Ancient and honorable company of artillery of Boston," and was commended for his courage and skill by General Pepperell.

In 1756 he commanded a brigade of Massachusetts militia, at Lake Champlain, in the second French war. He had removed in 1752 to Stockbridge, where he was for several years trustee of Indian schools, and in 1753'61 was chief justice of the Hampshire County court of common pleas. He went to Great Barrington in 1758, and on the formation of the County of Berkshire in 1761 became judge of its court, and also judge of probate, holding these offices till his death. General Dwight was a man of fine personal appearance, dignified in bearing, and much esteemed throughout the colony.

His grandson, Henry Williams Dwight, congressman, born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 26 February 1788; died in New York City, 21 February 1845. His father, of the same name, was a soldier of the Revolution, and treasurer of Berkshire County from 1784 till 1804. Henry was educated at Williams, became a lawyer in Stoekbridge, and in the war of 1812 was aide to General Whiton, with the rank of colonel. He was a member of the legislature in 1818 and 1834, and served five successive terms in congress, 1821 till 1831. Colonel Dwight, fond of fine stock, was one of the first importers of merino sheep and Devonshire cattle.

Henry Williams's brother, Edwin Welles Dwight, clergyman, born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 17 November 1789; died there, 25 February 1841, was graduated at Yale in 1809, was pastor of a Congregational Church at Richmond, Massachusetts, in 1819'37, and published a " History of Berkshire County, Massachusetts" (Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1829).Another brother, Louis, philanthropist, born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 25 March 1793 ; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 12 July 1854, was graduated at Yale in 1813, and at Andover theological seminary in 1819. He was prevented from preaching by weak lungs, caused by inhaling " exhilarating gas" during a College chemical lecture. He was an agent of the American tract society in 1819'21, and of the Education society in 1821'4, and was ordained in Salem, Massachusetts, on 27 November 1822. In 1824 he married Louisa Willis, sister of N. P. Willis, the poet, and in the latter part of that year, during a six-month horseback ride for his health, distributed Bibles among the inmates of prisons in various states of the Union. The abuses that thus became known to him led to the formation in 1825 of the Prison discipline society, of which he was secretary and practical manager till his death, affecting many needed reforms.

In 1846 he visited Europe and inspected the prisons there. The series of twenty-nine annual reports published by Mr. Dwight contained a vast amount of valuable information not to be found elsewhere. Harrison Gray Otis, missionary, great-grandson of General Joseph's elder brother Seth, born in Conway, Massachusetts, 22 November 1803; died in Vermont, 25 January 1862, was graduated at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, in 1825, and at Andover theological seminary in 1828, and on 15 July 1829, was ordained and commissioned a missionary of the American board, whose agent he had been for a short time. He sailed for Malta in January 1830, and in the same year began, with Dr. Eli Smith, a fifteen months' exploration of Asia Minor, Persia, Armenia, and Georgia. In July 1831, he settled in Constantinople, and became one of the founders of the Armenian mission there. He was one of the most noted American missionaries, and, in addition to his daily work, carried on a voluminous correspondence with prominent Christians in all parts of the world, he traveled extensively in connection with his labors, his last long journey being a solitary horseback ride of thousands of miles through Asia Minor, in 1859'60.

He revisited the United States for the sixth time in November 1861, and was killed in a railroad accident in Vermont while on his way to attend a missionary anniversary in Canada. Hamilton gave him the degree of D. D. in 1852. Dr. Dwight wrote books and tracts in the languages of the east, translated portions of the Bible, and published " Researches of Smith and Dwight in Armenia" (Boston, 1833); "Memoir of Mrs. Elizabeth B. Dwight," his wife (New York, 1840); and "Christianity Revived in the East" (1850 ; London, 1854). He also contributed to the journal of the American oriental society a "Complete Catalogue of Literature in Armenia," and left many unpublished manuscripts.

His son, William Buck Dwight, scientist, born in Constantinople, Turkey, 22 May 1833, came to the United States in 1850, and was graduated at Yale in 1854, at Union theological seminary, New York, in 1857, and at the Yale scientific school in 1859. He took part in founding the village of Englewood, New Jersey, in 1859, and established a young ladies' school there, of which he was principal till 1865. He was occupied in mining explorations in Virginia and Missouri in 1865'7, taught at West Point in 1867'70, and in 1870'8 was assistant principal and professor of natural science in the State normal school at New Britain, Connecticut, also editing the Connecticut "School Journal" in 1872'5. He was chosen professor of natural history and curator of the museum at Vassar College in 1878, and in 1882 was also made curator of the museum of the Vassar Brothers' institute, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.

In 1885 he invented a machine for making thin slices and other sections of rocks and fossils. Mr. Dwight has given special attention to the geology and paleontology of the lower Silurian rocks. Since 1.879 he has carried on an extended investigation in the Wappinger valley limestones of Dutchess County, New York, developing a new group of fossils for which he proposes the name " Rochdale group." He has also investigated the Taconic limestones of Canaan, N.Y. Many of his results have been published in the proceedings of the National academy and the American association, and in scientific periodicals, and when complete they are to be issued in book form, illustrated.

Mary Ann, author, granddaughter of General Joseph's brother Josiah Dwight, born in Northampton, Massachusetts, 17 September 1806; died in Morrisania, New York, 4 November 1858. Her taste was formed in her father's excellent library, and she became a teacher of drawing and painting. She published "Grecian and Roman Mythology " (New York, 1849); " Introduction to the Study of Art " (185(;); an elementary astronomy ; " Poetry for the Young;" and an edition, with notes, of Cowper's translation of the "Iliad." She had also prepared for publication an abridgment of Lanzi's "History of Painting.

"Edmund, merchant, grandson of General Joseph's brother Edmund, born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 28 November 1780; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 1 April 1849, was graduated at Yale in 1799, and studied law with Fisher Ames, but never practiced. After traveling in Europe in 1802'4 he became a merchant in Springfield, and in 1815 established the house of William H. & J. W. Dwight, which founded the manufacturing villages of Chicopee Falls in 1822, Chicopee in 1831, and Holyoke in 1847. His firm had for several years the directions of factories in which 3,000 persons were constantly employed. Mr, Dwight took an early and active part in the construction of the Western railroad from Worcester to Albany, and was one of its directors for many years, becoming president in the year of his death. He made a liberal use of his large fortune for objects of public importance, rendering especially great service to the cause of popular education. It was chiefly through his exertions that the Massachusetts state board of education was established, and he was the first to propose the present normal school system.

In 1838 he pledged $10,000 for its establishment, on condition that the legislature should appropriate an equal amount, which was promptly done. Mr. Dwight was for many years a member of the Massachusetts legislature, and one of the founders of the American antiquarian society in 1812.His son, Edmund, merchant, born in Boston, 3 September 1824, was graduated at Harvard in 1844. In 1871 he went abroad to superintend the distribution of the fund raised by subscription in Boston for the relief of the suffering caused in France by the war with Germany, and on his return he published an interesting "Report to the Executive Committee of the French Relief Fund" (Boston, 1872).

The elder Edmund's nephew, Francis Dwight, educator, son of James Scutt Dwight, born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 14 March 1808 ; died in Albany, New York, 15 December 1845, was graduated at Harvard in 1827, and at the Law School in 1830. After a tour in Europe he was admitted to the bar in 1834, and practiced in the states of Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York, but gave up his profession in 1838, and established at Albany, in 1840, the "District School Journal," under state patronage, which he conducted until his death. He was active in devising and establishing the present code of public instruction in the state of New York.

William Dwight, soldier, grandson of Edmund's brother Jonathan, born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 14 July 1831, attended a military school at West Point in 1846'9, and was at the U. S. military academy there in 1849'53, but resigned before he was graduated and became a manufacturer in Boston, and afterward in Philadelphia. He was commissioned captain in the 13th U. S. infantry on 14 May 1861, and in June of that year became lieutenant colonel of the 70th New York volunteers, of which Daniel E. Sickles was colonel. At the battle of Williamsburg half the regiment were killed or wounded, Colonel Dwight being wounded three times and left for dead on the field. For his gallantry on this occasion he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 29 November 1862, and assigned to the 1st brigade of Grover's division, which he led in the attack on Port Hudson. He also served on the commission to settle the terms of surrender of that place.

In May 1864, he was General Banks's chief of staff in the Red River expedition, succeeding Charles P. Stone, and in July of that year was put in command of the 1st division of the 19th army corps, under Sheridan, with which he rendered important service at Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. He remained in the army till 15 January 1866, and subsequently removed to Cincinnati, Ohio.

His brother, Wilder Dwight, soldier, born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 23 April 1833; died in Boonsborough, Maryland, 19 September 1862, was graduated at Harvard in 1853, and at the Law School in 1855. He practiced in Boston from 1857 till 24 May 1861, when he became major of the 2d Massachusetts infantry. He distinguished himself in General Banks's retreat through the Shenandoah Valley, and was taken prisoner at Winchester on 25 May 1862. He was made lieutenant colonel on 13 June 1862, was mortally wounded at Antietam, and died in hospital two days later. His" Life and Letters" were published by his mother, Elizabeth Amelia, daughter of Daniel Appleton White, of Salem, Massachusetts (Boston, 1868).

Two other brothers, Howard Dwight (1837'63) and Charles Dwight (1842). were also in the national milita.ry service during the civil war. Thomas Dwight, physician, another grandson of Jonathan, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 13 October 1843, spent two years at Harvard, and then entered the medica1 school, where he" received his degree in 1867, taking the first Boylston prize by an essay on "Intercrania1 Circulation." After studying abroad for two years, he was instructor in comparative anatomy at Harvard in 1872'3, lecturer and professor of anatomy at Bowdoin in 1872'6, instructor in histology at Harvard in 1874'83, and in the latter year succeeded Oliver Wendell Holmes as professor of anatomy. Dr. Dwight is a Roman Catholic, and the first of that faith to hold a. Harvard professorship.

In 1878 he won the prize of the Massachusetts medical society by an essay on the " Identification of the Human Skeleton." He is a member of various medical societies, and in 1880'1 was president of the Catholic union of Boston. He was an editor of the Boston " Medica1 and Surgica1 Journal " in 1873'8, delivered a course of lectures at the Lowell institute in 1884 on the "Mechanics of Bone and Muscle," and has published "Anatomy of the Head" (Boston, 1876); "Frozen Sections of a Child" (New York, 1881); and various papers.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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