Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DUNN, Williamson, pioneer, born near Danville, Kentucky, 25 December 1781; died in Hanover, Indiana, 11 November 1854. He removed to Indiana territory in 1809, settled in Jefferson County, and was appointed justice of the peace, and judge of the court of common pleas of Jefferson County, in 1811, by General Harrison, then governor of the territory. During the war of 1812 he was commissioned by President Madison captain of a company of rangers, an organization provided by congress for the protection of the frontier settlements, which he had in charge for two years.
In 1814 Governor Posey commissioned him an associate judge of the circuit court of Jefferson County. He held this office until 1816, when he entered the first legislature under the state constitution. He was one of the original members and first ruling elders of the Presbyterian Church, organized in 1820 at Hanover, a village laid out on his farm. He was a representative in the first three legislatures of the state of Indiana, and was twice speaker. While in the state legislature he was virtually offered a seat in the U. S. Senate, but declined. In 1823, having been appointed by President Monroe as register of the land office, he removed to the wilderness, and, in connection with Major Whitlock, the receiver, laid out the town of Crawfordsville. He was reappointed register in 1827, retaining the office till 1829. He returned to Hanover in 1829, was one of the founders of Hanover College, to which he donated fifty acres of land, and served as one of its trustees for many years. He also gave to Wabash College the tract of land on which it was erected, and was a member of its first board of trustees. These Colleges are indebted to him for their establishment.
After his return to Jefferson County he was elected to the state senate, to fill an unexpired term, and in 1843 was a defeated candidate for the senate. He also served another term on the bench, to which he was reelected, and held the office till the court was abolished. Judge Dunn began the movement that culminated in the election of Zachary Taylor to the presidency by the Whigs in 1848. Judge Dunn's unyielding devotion to conviction twice cost him a seat in the state senate. He was prominent in the councils of the Presbyterian Church, and widely known as connected with the early history of Indiana.
His son, William McKee Dunn, lawyer, born in Hanover, Jefferson County, Indiana, 12 December, 1814; died in Maplewood, Fairfax County, Virginia, 24 July 1887. He was graduated at the Indiana state University in Bloomington in 1832, and became professor of mathematics at Hanover College, Indiana. After a graduate course at Yale, where he received the degree of A. M. in 1835, he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced for many years in Madison, Ind. He was a member of the legislature in 1848, a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1850, and was then chosen to congress as a Republican, serving from 1859 till 1863. When the war broke out he was offered a colonelcy by Governor Morton, and a brigadier ship by President Lincoln, but declined both. During his second term he was chairman of the committee on patents. He was defeated in the election for the following congress, and on 13 March 1863, was appointed major and judge advocate, U. S. volunteers, in the department of Missouri.
On 22 June 1864, he became colonel and assistant judge advocate general, U. S. army, and was brevetted brigadier general, U. S. army, in March 1865, for faithful, meritorious, and distinguished services in his department. On the retirement of Judge Advocate General Holt, he was appointed to the place. He was a delegate to the Philadelphia loyalists' convention of 1866. General Dunn became judge advocate general, with the rank of brigadier general, on 1 December 1875, and on 22 January 1881, was retired from active service.
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