Major John Dement

Note from page 31: 8. Editor's note -- Governor Reynolds's aids were James D. Henry and M. K. Alexander. Upon Henry's resignation, for active service John Dement was appointed. Enoch C. March was made Quartermaster General, and William Thomas Brigade Quartermaster.

Note from page 65: 48. Editor's note -- Major John Dement. Few men, indeed, have been allowed the privilege of participating actively and influentially in the councils of their party and in the affairs of their state for a period of more than fifty years , yet such is the record of the commander of the Spy Battalion who met Black Hawk in person at Kellogg's Grove, and for the first time convinced the wily Sac that the whites could fight well. It is the fact, that from the time Major Dement stopped Black Hawk at Kellogg's Grove, that Indian was kept upon a constant retreat until his band was driven into the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Bad Axe. And for the commander's bravery, Black Hawk paid him the handsomest compliment to be found in the biography which the latter subsequently published.

John Dement was born at Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee, in April, 1804, where he lived until the family moved to Town Mound in Franklin County, Illinois, in 1817. In 1826 he was elected sheriff of Franklin County. In 1827 he served in the expedition sent from Illinois to assist in the Winnebago War. The same year he represented Franklin County in the General Assembly, as he did in the succeeding session of 1830.

In the first campaign against Black Hawk, in 1831, he was made aid to Governor Reynolds. During the same year, in the face of keen opposition, he was elected state treasurer, which office he continued to hold until 1836, when he resigned it at the solicitation of the friends of Vandalia, to enter the General Assembly and lead the fight against moving the capital to Springfield.

It is worthy of note that when his son, Hon. Henry D. Dement, became Secretary of State many years after, he found some of the reports of his father as state treasurer. They were written upon foolscap paper, and showed that $40,000 was collected for each of two years , but as the money then in circulation was worth but 25 cents on the dollar, the income of the State in reality was but $10,000 per annum.

Appointed Receiver of the Galena Land Office in 1837, he removed to Galena and remained there until the land office was moved to Dixon, in 1840, to which place he moved and remained till his death. In 1841, for political reasons, he was removed by President Harrison, but upon coming into office, President Polk reappointed him in 1845. He held the office again for four years, or until 1849, when a change of administration retired him for another four years. Again, in 1853, President Pierce reappointed him, and he held the office until it was abolished.

In 1834, while state treasurer, he was married to Miss Louise Dodge, daughter of the then General Henry Dodge, afterward Governor, Representative, and United States Senator in Congress from Wisconsin.

In 1844 he was made Presidential Elector for James K. Polk.

Major Dement was made a member of every Constitutional Convention held in Illinois up to the date of his death, with the exception of the first one, held in 1818, which of course met before he had reached his majority, and this too in the face of the fact that in 1862 and in 1870 his party at home was in a hopeless minority. Of those two conventions he was made the temporary presiding officer. In the last instance the honor was unusual, for the reason that his party was in the minority.

On January 16, 1883, he died at his home in Dixon.

While at Vandalia, as state treasurer, Stephen A. Douglas made his appearance as a candidate for the office of district attorney, his first political aspiration. Almost destitute of friends and entirely destitute of money, Major Dement divided his room with young Douglas, and assisted him to what might now be denominated a meal- ticket. Better than either, he introduced the aspiring candidate to powerful friends, and before Douglas was ready to return home Dement had secured for him the desired appointment.

The late General Usher F. Linder has told a story wherein he credits Major Dement with saving both the life and honor of the former: "General Linder had offended a desperate member of the state senate, for which a challenge very promptly followed through General James Turney, the senator's second. As Linder's second, Major Dement accepted, and replied that "the fight must be with pistols at close quarters, each man holding a corner of the same handkerchief in his teeth. General Turney was thunderstruck, and expostulated but to no purpose, that such a condition meant the deliberate murder of both. 'It don't matter,' answered Dement, 'your principal is cool, desperate, and deliberate, while my friend is nervous and excitable, and if he has to lose his life, your friend must bear him company.' The duel was called off without a moment's delay."

While receiver, Major Dement engaged in the business of smelting quite extensively, and during the latter years of his life, he was an extensive manufacturer of plows and flax bagging. At the time of his death, he was one of the largest land-owners in the State.

Note from page 73: 59. Editor's note -- Colonel John Dement, subsequently of Dixon, Illinois.

Note from page 31: 8. Editor's note -- Governor Reynolds's aids were James D. Henry and M. K. Alexander. Upon Henry's resignation, for active service John Dement was appointed. Enoch C. March was made Quartermaster General, and William Thomas Brigade Quartermaster.