Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1552
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
THOMAS A. DILLEY
Thomas A Dilley is a farmer of Rice county, residing in Sterling, and is very prominent in public affairs, his fitness for leadership being acknowledged in his selection for numerous public trusts and responsibilities. In all the offices which he has been called upon to fill he has discharged his duty with careful consideration of the trust reposed in him and for the work which he should execute, and over the record of his political career there falls no shadow of wrong nor suspicion of evil.
Mr Dilley was born in Roseville, Warren county, Illinois, May 7, 1843. His father, William Dilley, was a native of Mercer county, Pennsylvania, born September 8, 1811, and the grandfather of our subject was Lewis Dilley, whose birth occurred in New Jersey, about 1786, while his death occurred in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, about 1862. He was twice married, first wedding a Miss Cooper, by whom he had five children. After the death of the mother the grandfather married a Miss Elliott and they became the parents of six sons and two daughters, of whom William Dilley was the eldest. Four of the children of the first marriage had families and lived to advanced age. The grandfather of our subject was a farmer by occupation and to that pursuit reared his children, William Dilley also becoming identified with the work of tilling the soil. When he had arrived at years of maturity he married Miss Mary Axtell, of Mercer county, Pennsylvania, the wedding taking place in that county, October 24, 1833. The lady was born August 17, 1814, and was a daughter of Joseph Axtell, who was twice married, his first union being with Miss Eunice Tuttle, by whom he had five children, while by the second marriage he had twelve children. With the exception of one son, who died at the age of two years, all of the members of the first family were married. While enroute to a new home in Illinois the grandfather of our subject died, passing away at Danville, on the 17th of May, 1851. He was making the journey westward by team. William Dilley, the father of our subject, drove across the country to Illinois in 1841 and owned two quarter sections of land in Warren county. After long years of residence there he disposed of his property and in 1883 came to Kansas. His life was devoted to agricultural pursuits and his daily conduct was permeated by his Christian faith. For forty-five years he was a deacon of the Congregational church in Illinois, and after coming to Sterling he occupied a similar position in the church of his denomination until his death, which occurred September 3, 1897, when he was eighty-six years of age. His had been a strong and vigorous manhood, in which he experienced little illness. His wife passed away in Sterling, in February, 1886, at the age of seventy-five years, and was laid to rest in Cottonwood cemetery, where the remains of her husband also repose. They had ten children, namely: Joseph A, who was born July 29, 1834, and died at the age of fifteen years; Lewis, who was born in 1836 and died in 1846; Eunice, who was born in 1839 and became the wife of John Rodenbough, a farmer in Pottawattamie county, Iowa; Margaret, the wife of William Morningstar, of Roseville, Illinois; Thomas A, of this review; Ruth C, the wife of W H Swagger, of Mercer county, Pennsylvania; William M, a farmer and stockman of Wellsford, Kansas; Amanda, who died in childhood; Mrs Mary J Gordon, who died, leaving one son; and Charles Sumner, who died in 1857, when only a year old.
Thomas A Dilley, the present representative of the family in Sterling, received the ordinary common-school education, continuing his studies until the time of his enlistment in the Civil war. On the 4th of August, 1861, he left the farm and joined the volunteer company which was raised at Roseville, Illinois, the company organizing at Prairie City, that state. He was mustered into the Engineer’s Regiment of the West, at Central, Missouri, on the 18th of August, 1861, and in February, 1864, the regiment was consolidated with the Twenty-fifth Regiment of the Missouri Volunteers. He joined the army as a private, but served as corporal during his three years’ term. He was very fortunate in that he escaped wounds and was never sick, being always found at his post of duty, faithful to his country and the old flag. Company C was with the First Battalion of the regiment and rebuilt the bridge across the river east of Sedalia, Missouri, in the fall of 1861. It was then attached to General Fremont’s army to operate against the rebel troops under General Price. His command spent the winter of 1861-2 in getting out timbers, building bridges and fortifying the places against the approach of the Confederates. In February, 1862, the regiment proceeded to St Louis, thence down the Mississippi river to Commerce, Missouri, whence it marched across to New Madrid and there aided in planting the batteries to bombard that place. With his command Mr Dilley aided in cutting the canal around Island No. 10. After its reorganization he went with General Pope’s army to Harrisburg, Tennessee, and took part in the siege of Corinth, Mississippi. In the summer of 1862 he repaired the railroad to Jackson and Memphis, Tennessee, and in the fall and winter of 1862-3 he repaired the Mississippi Central railroad to Oxford, Mississippi, where with his command he was located at the time of Van Doran’s raid on Holly Springs. A detachment of the regiment was at the battle of Corinth, on the 3rd and 4th of October, 1862. Subsequently the Union forces with which Mr Dilley was connected opened the railroad from Jackson, Tennessee, to Columbus, Kentucky, and then went to Memphis, Tennessee, proceeding down the Mississippi river to Young’s Point, opposite Vicksburg. They planted the batteries on the canal opposite the city and then retired up the river to Grand Lake, where they made a levee and then took a steamboat in order to get through a bayou to the Red river. This enterprise, however, proved a failure and they proceeded to Memphis and out upon the line of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, where they spent the summer getting out bridge timbers, building block houses and doing other similar work. In the fall of 1863 they repaired the railroad east from Corinth almost to the Tennessee river in order that Sherman’s army might then go from Memphis to Chattanooga. On the last of December, 1863, they went from Corinth to Memphis and on by boat to Cairo, Illinois, and up the Ohio river to Southland, Kentucky, where they spent the memorable New Year’s day of 1864. Afterward they went up the Cumberland river to Nashville, Tennessee, where the Engineer Regiment of the First and Twenty-fifth Missouri Volunteer Infantry was consolidated, taking the name of the First Missouri Engineer Regiment, Company C of the old organization making Company B. After the reorganization was effected the regiment built the railroad from Nashville to Johnsonville and the Tennessee river, which work occupied the summer and included the building of the block houses in order to protect the railroad. The regiment then returned to Nashville, where on the expiration of the term of his enlistment, the members of the regiment were mustered out. Those who re-enlisted went with Sherman on his march to the sea.
After his military services were ended Mr Dilley returned to his native (state) and was married on the 21st of April, 1868, in Macomb, Illinois, to Miss Margaret Gordon, who died December 20, 1870. Their infant child also passed away. On the 13th of March, 1873, Mr Dilley was again married, his second union being with Caroline M Condit, who was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, a daughter of William and Margaret (Gordon) Condit, both of whom are now deceased. Nine of their eleven children are now living: Rev George G Condit, the eldest, is the pastor of the Fairfield Presbyterian church of Fairfield, Iowa. The Fairfield Presbyterian church of Mercer county, Pennsylvania, held its one hundredth anniversary in September, 1890. The Condits were among the founders++ of that church and the Rev Ira Condit, the great uncle, was one of the pastors, serving from 1814 to 1836. America, the second member of the family, is the widow of Thomas Dickey, of Oil City, Pennsylvania. Samuel J resides in Pratt county, Kansas. Nancy J is the widow of John West, of Millbrook, Pennsylvania, and Mrs Dilley and Sarah E Condit are the younger members of the family. Unto Mr and Mrs Dilley has been born one child, Condit W, whose birth occurred January 27, 1878, in Roseville, Illinois, where Mr Dilley resided from his birth until 1883, being at one time the owner of the old home farm there. In the year mentioned he sold the place and came to Sterling, Kansas, settling on a farm of sixty acres, much of which is now within the corporation limits of the town, and is occupied by the Missouri Pacific railroad depot and the Sterling Salt Works, while many residences have also been built on the place. He has another farm of eighty acres and has given to his son a farm which lies just across the Arkansas river. In his business affairs he has prospered and is now the possessor of a comfortable competence. In his political views he is a stanch Republican and has served as assessor and supervisor of his township in Illinois, while in Sterling he has been township trustee for three terms and has been a member of the city council for four terms and for two terms was mayor of the city. Socially he is connected with Meade Post, No. 14, G A R, of which he has been commander, and also belongs to the Congregational church. In all of life’s relations he is known and honored for his sterling worth and is justly regarded as one of the most influential and prominent men of the community.