Almost concealed by the overhanging boughs of the surrounding park, picturesquely situated on a semi-circular curve of the Republican river, in the midst of a bower of foliage, where all nature seems hushed to a solemn stillness, except the sighings of the Kansas zephyrs or the music of the birds, that supply an orchestra each hour of the summer days, is the primitive dwelling, which the author will affectionately christen "The Cabin," of that distinguished citizen and pioneer, Chester Dutton.
There is no palatial residence, but the old-fashioned hewed log house awakens a train of emotions beyond the power of some stately edifice to Impart. Mr. Dutton chose this location because the high, perpendicular banks, cut by the current of the river, formed an insurmountable barrier to a sudden attack of the murderous Indian bands that roamed along the frontier. The interior of the quaintly rustic home is wholly in harmony with its environments and eloquent in its simplicity. Potted plants adorn the broad window sills, and the profusion of books, periodicals and papers reveal the assertion that its inmates are conversant with good literature.
The rustic cottage of Mr. and Mrs. Chester Dutton.
Tradition reveals the original Dutton was a Norman. A countryman from that kingdom once said, the name Dutton was not Norwegian, but this is accounted for by the descriptive title having been given after cognomens were acquired. In 1630 John Dutton wandered from the inclosure of the fold and became a Puritan. The greater part of the family are descended from him. Another branch came from John Dutton, of England, who settled in Chester county, Pennsylvania, and purchased six hundred acres of land from William Penn. The subject of this sketch originates from the Puritan division, seven generations remote in America. An individual, who was gathering names of Duttons, had found over two thousand, but among the Christian names of the representatives he had secured there were no Chesters.
Joseph Dutton, of the second generation of Duttons, settled on the Connecticut river, in the state of Connecticut, where our subject's father, grandfather and great-grandfather, with their wives and children, all lived, and were buried from this same homestead. The two former were born there. Four generations resided there at one time. The estate is still in the hands of relatives, but not a Dutton. Mr. Dutton's great-great-grandfather, whose name was Thomas (as the two following were), when a very aged man came to live with his son on the farm. The venerable father longed to visit a son in Vermont, but in those days of horseback travel over mountainous roads, the journey proved too arduous for his failing strength and he did not live to return. Thomas is a family name; the Quaker of that title lived a century and two years. As the Duttons emigrated westward the two families became associated together. The Dutton ancestors were valiant patriots and served in the Revolution. Mr. Dutton's three great-grandfathers commanded companies - Thomas Dutton, John Woodworth and Stephen Mathews. The mothers of Mr. and Mrs. Dutton were cousins, hence John Woodworth, their grandfather, was the great-grandparent of each. The former led a company in the defense of New York city; his son, our subject's grandfather, shouldered a musket and went to war at the age of sixteen years, and was also in the resisting forces of the present great metropolis. The father of our subject was Daniel Punderson Dutton, a New England farmer, and a brother of the Honorable Henry Dutton, who was governor of Connecticut and judge of the supreme bench. Ex-Governor Dutton's son was killed while leading a charge on a battery in the battle of Cedar Mountain in 1862.
Mr. Dutton's mother was Nancy Mathews. Thomas Mathews, her great-grandfather was born in 1700. The inscription on the headstone that marks his grave in the ancient cemetery of Watertown, Connecticut, reads: "He was a magistrate for over fifty years," which would take his service partly under the crown. He died in 1798.
Chester Dutton was born March 24, 1814. He is the eldest child and only surviving member of eleven children. They all lived to maturity and all but two reared families. William Dutton, the fifth child, was a West Point graduate, but resigned and followed farming until 1861, when he valiantly led a regiment, commanding a brigade of five thousand New York raw recruits. The brigadier general was ill and the entire command was thrown on Colonel Dutton, the senior officer. The vigorous action involved consumed his strength and he died of fever brought on by overexertion. He died in New York city, where he had been brought by his wife, on a boat that was sent up the Chickahominy river. One of Colonel Dutton's closest friends at West Point was "Stonewall" Jackson, who was one degree below him in scholarship. But when war was declared, the two gallant soldiers, who had been comrades and classmates, took up arms against each other and the ranks of the New England officer were cut to pieces by General Jackson's regiment. Chester Dutton is the oldest of four surviving members who graduated from Yale College in 1838. His fellow collegiates are Reverend William Thomas Doubleday, a brother of General Doubleday, of Binghamton, New York, Theodore Sedgwick Gold, who was secretary of the Connecticut board of agriculture from the time of its organization until 1902, and the fourth member Henry Parsons Hedges, of Bridgehampton, Long Island, who is an attorney, a judge, dispenser of the gospel and a farmer. These venerable collegians have all passed the milestone of four score years and all except Mr. Dutton attended the bi-centennial of Yale.
The principal ambition of Mr. Dutton's early life was to acquire a knowledge of the law. With this ardent desire interwoven and uppermost in his heart, and at the earnest solicitation of an uncle, who thought his kinsman particularly adapted to the profession, our subject entered Yale. But just as he had laid the foundation for the development of his career, the conditions were hopelessly changed, the result of a physical ailment that caused an incurable affection of the throat, rendered him unable to make use of the fine oratorical powers he possessed - one of the first requisites of the advocate in the practice of law. That Mr. Dutton was compelled to resign his chosen pursuit was a painful disappointment is apparent by the shadow that overspreads his kindly face when referring to his blighted hopes. Mr. Dutton was reared on a farm. He taught school both before and after his graduation from college. He was principal of the classical department of a proprietary school in Alexandria, District of Columbia.
Mr. Dutton was married in 1842 to Miss Mary Ann Mellen, who was born and reared at Wolcott, Wayne county, New York, where she was married and resided until coming to Kansas - the only removal they have made during their wedded life. Mrs. Dutton comes from Puritan stock. Richard Mellen was the emigrant; he came over about ten years after the Mayflower, and settled in Vermont, where Mrs. Dutton's father was born. Her mother was of Connecticut birth. To Mr. and Mrs. Dutton ten children have been born, six of whom are living. Their eldest son is unmarried, and after an absence of twenty years in the far western country he returned to the old home and is living with his parents. Chester and Judson Mellen are twins, born July 4, 1852. The latter married Mary Elizabeth, the only daughter of James Taggart. Their farm is his old home - the original Van Natta homestead. They are the parents of four children, May, Effie, James Lee and an infant daughter. There are thirteen years between the ages of the third and fourth child. John, with his family, lives on an adjoining farm and has the management of the homestead. Henry Lambert Dutton lives just over the line in Republic county. His wife, before her marriage, was Lucy Dickerhoff, of Maryland. Their family consists of three sons and three daughters, among them a pair of twins, which is remarkable for having been born on July 4, 1882, on the anniversary of the birth of the twins in his father's family, just thirty years prior. Minnie, their eldest daughter, is the wife of William E. Brewer, and they are the parents of a little daughter, Mary Henrietta, aged four. Lucy is the wife of Frank Crosson, a descendant of one of the old Dutch families that settled near Philadelphia two hundred years ago. Mrs. Crosson has been given a musical education and is an accomplished young woman. Charles William, the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Dutton, is the present treasurer of Dewey county, Oklahoma, and also served two years as county clerk of Cloud county. They have been unfortunate in the death of their daughters. Mary Arnot, whose husband was a son of James Taggart, married and removed to near Knoxville, Tennessee, where she was deceased in 1896. Mrs. Taggart taught the first school in the Dutton district. Death had previously claimed another daughter, Julia, the wife of Stiles Platte. She died in Sibley township in 1887. Thomas, a son, died at the age of six years. In 1900 George Dutton was deceased, leaving a wife and four children. The Dutton family is among the most highly esteemed households in the county. The name carries with it a guarantee of sterling qualities. The sons are all men of honor, industry and public spirit, always arrayed on the side of right and justice.
During the troublesome Indian uprisings Mr. Dutton's keen intuition rendered him a valuable citizen. When they came to Kansas in 1867 their home became a camping ground for the emigrant and the location had previously been headquarters for the Indian. The families were supplied with various kinds and calibers of guns and were prepared to fire two hundred rounds. Had the savages not been aware of their defense they would have been wiped out of existence. Mr. Dutton improvised a dugout to tide them over until they could prepare the logs for a home, but the Indian troubles came upon the settlers and retarded operations, hence they lived there until 1870, when they erected their present quarters. One would suppose the grove of trees, which almost conceals their home, was a natural forest, but Mr. and Mrs. Dutton planted them and under their personal supervision the tiny sprouts have grown to towering heights. Personally Mr. Dutton is a man of acute perceptive faculties and strong convictions; his opinions command respect from his friends and acquaintances and are sought in matters of public and private import. He takes a keen interest in all the topics of the past and present and is a brilliant conversationalist. His countenance glows with kindness, amiability and benevolence. He continues to be a close student. He is rather diminutive in stature, and as sprightly in his movements as a youth. He is a vigorous, polished, comely gentleman of the old school; his long beard and well crowned head of hair are snowy white, and he enjoys life at the venerable age of eighty-nine years. His personality impresses one with the thought that he might have swung into the present from another era.
Mrs. Dutton is a gentle, refined woman, whose eighty-six summers have set lightly on her brow, although she is practically blind. They are an interesting couple, and happy is the guest who whiles away a few hours beneath their hospitable roof. Although they have passed the milestone of four score years - almost four score and ten - they are not aged, for old age is associated with decrepitness. The relentless hand of time has not borne them down with a weary load of years, for they are as active as the average person at sixty. They will evidently continue in their cottage of the early days until "gathered to their Fathers," in the little cabin so charmingly situated, where the river, as it wanders on, seems murmuring of its peaceful quietude and good will toward men.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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