Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vivus Wright Dorwin (1832-1904), Vivus Wood Smith (1804-1881)

Vivus W. Dorwin, from the History of Buffalo and Pepin Counties, Vol. 2, 1919.

     Four-term Wisconsin state assemblyman Vivus Wright Dorwin was a transplant to Durand, Wisconsin from Jefferson County, New York, coincidentally enough the same county that Delatus Miles Aspinwall (profiled a few days ago) resided in before removing to "America's Dairyland". While both of these oddly named Wisconsin transplants made a name for themselves in their respective counties, Mr. Dorwin's has proven to be a bit more prominent than the man who preceded him here, as he erected the first grist mill in Durand and was a Civil War veteran, cheese factory operator and banker.
   Born in Champion, New York on January 15, 1832, Vivus W. Dorwin was one of three sons born to William and Elizabeth Wright Dorwin. He would attend schools local to Jefferson County area and prior to his removal to Pepin County, Wisconsin had been a farmer in his native town. Dorwin married to Helen Marriett Van Hosen (died 1911) in March of 1854 and would have a total of ten children: William V. (?--?), Helen I. (?--?), Harriett M. (?--?), Marcellus (1862-1924), John (?--?), Lillian (?--?), Edward (?--?), Laura (?--?), Mary (died 1906) and Roscoe (died 1897). 
   Soon after their wedding Dorwin and his wife removed from Jefferson County to Wisconsin, first settling in Adams County. They resided here for a short time and around 1855 settled in Durand township in Pepin County. A short while after his arrival he undertook the first steps in erecting a grist-mill, purchasing mill machinery from Milwaukee and had it shipped via ox-cart to Pepin County. Completion of the mill occurred in mid 1857 and several years later Dorwin added a wool carding mill to the already existing grist-mill.
   In 1862 Dorwin began a year-long stint in the Union Army, serving as a captain in Co. G of Wisconsin's 25th Volunteer Infantry. The regiment would be deployed to combat hostile Indians in frontier Minnesota and would resign his commission in 1863 due to being afflicted with fever. Following his military service, Dorwin returned to Pepin County and recommenced with his business activities, purchasing a dairy farm in 1869 and three years later built a cheese factory near the previously mentioned mill(s). 
   Vivus W.Dorwin first entered into political life in Pepin County in the late 1860s when he began service as chairman of the board of Durand Township, continuing in this role for nearly two decades. In November 1876 he was elected to his first term in the Wisconsin General Assembly, defeating Republican nominee Harvey Brown, 985 votes to 744. In the 1877 session, Dorwin held a seat on the house committee on Printing. In November 1877 he was re-elected to the assembly, defeating Independent Republican candidate George W. Gilkey by a vote of 696 to 452.  
  Dorwin's service in the 1878 session saw him sit on the committee on Federal Relations, and in the 1884 election year was returned to the legislature for a third term, being named to the committees on the Militia and Public Improvements for the 1885 session. The year 1888 saw Dorwin win election to a fourth term in the assembly, defeating his Republican opponent P.J. Bryan by a vote of 759 to 611. In the session of 1889 Dorwin was a member of the committees on State Affairs and at the close of the term returned to Pepin County. 
   In March 1904 Vivus Dorwin and his wife celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and just a few months following that milestone Dorwin died at age 72 on September 27, 1904. His wife Helen would survive him by several years, dying in 1911. Both were interred at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Durand, Wisconsin. Public service would continue in the Dorwin family when Marcellus Dorwin (Vivus' son) was elected to represent Buffalo and Pepin County in the Wisconsin Assembly in 1924.

From the "History of Onondaga County, New York", 1878.

   Distinguished Syracuse, New York resident Vivus Wood Smith was a prominent figure in the early years of the Republican Party in New York state, and could count among his friends William H. Seward ( U.S. Senator, Governor and Secretary of State), Horace Greeley and political boss Thurlow Weed. A past county clerk for Onondaga County, Smith attained further distinction as a newspaper publisher and editor, and in 1860 was selected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention held in Baltimore.
  A native of Massachusetts, Vivus Smith was born Berkshire County in that state on January 27, 1804, a son of Silas (1779-1825) and Eunice Bagg Smith (1782-1856). His formative years were spent in Lanesborough (the town of his birth), farming and studying law there. He relocated to Onondaga County, New York in 1827 and soon after his arrival purchased the Onondaga Journal. He was affiliated with this paper until 1829 when he removed to Syracuse, and here would start up another paper, the Onondaga Standard.
  In 1837 Smith underwent a change in his political leanings, switching allegiance to the Whig party (having previously been a Democrat.) In the year following his switch, Smith established the Whig-leaning Western State Journal, a paper that would later undergo a name change to the Syracuse Journal. In 1841 Smith left Syracuse for Ohio, and after resettling in Columbus recommenced with his publishing activities, founding another Whig-based paper called the Ohio State Journal.
  Smith's time in Ohio proved to be short-lived, as he returned to Syracuse in the mid-1840s. In 1846 he was elected as Onondaga County clerk and after serving three years in that post entered upon duties as Superintendent of the Onondaga Salt Springs, being appointed to that post in 1855 by then Governor Myron Holley Clark. Smith served ten years as superintendent and in 1860 was part of the New York delegation to the Republican National Convention in Baltimore, where Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency.
   In his later years, Vivus Smith continued to be an active public official, serving for a time as a state canal appraiser.  He died on February 7, 1881 and was survived by his second wife Theodora Morey (whom he had married in 1839), as well as four children: Carroll Earl (1832-1904), Fillmore Morey (1843-1919), Seward Valentine (1846-1905) and Florence (1848-1922). Smith and his entire family are interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.

                                                   From the DeRuyter New Era, February 7, 1881.


  1. Vivus Wright Dorwin and his wife apparently had 11 children.

  2. Also, it perhaps should be spelled Van Hoesen and the link for Marcellus is no longer valid.