Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-MISC MSS
Location: LH-MISC MSS

(Description ID: 606935)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

James A. Dickinson


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

Photocopies of the James A. Dickinson material was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in 1990 by descendants of the Dickinson family.

Biographical Sketch
James Alpheus Dickinson, born May 22, 1849, Sandusky County, Ohio was the youngest son of Rudolphus and Marguerite (Beaugrand) Dickinson. The Dickinson and Beaugrand families were among the earliest pioneers to settle in the Sandusky region. Rudolphus Dickinson became prosecuting attorney of the county and was a member of Ohio's Board of Public Works. In 1846, Dickinson was elected to Congress and re-elected in 1848. In March of 1849, two months prior to the birth of James, Dickinson died in Washington, D.C. At the age of thirteen, James ran away from home, enlisting as a first class cabin boy in the U.S. Navy in May of 1863. The greater portion of his one-year enlistment was spent aboard the gunboat Tawah on the Mississippi River. Following his service, Dickinson attended Notre Dame (1866-1869). He eventually returned to Fremont to practice law. Family data states he also practiced medicine in North Carolina. Around 1880, Dickinson moved to Washington, D.C. and entered government service in the Treasury Department and later, in the Department of Labor and Commerce. In 1886, Dickinson married Hattie Platt in Washington, D.C. Dickinson was the father of two daughters: Mrs. Areme Bennett and Mrs. Marguerite Bruckner. Dickinson died in Washington, D.C. November 12, 1922. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Scope and Content
The collection consists of a photocopy of Dickinson's diary and memorandum book kept during and shortly after his Civil War service, miscellaneous Dickinson/Beaugrand family data, funeral notice of Rudolphus Dickinson, a letter written by Dickinson to a Sandusky County, Ohio friend during the war, and a photocopy of a watercolor portrait of Dickinson taken in his sailor's uniform (ca. 1863-1864). The Dickinson diary is that of a bright, young boy seeking adventure as well as his manhood amidst the chaos of war. His daily entries (May 1863 to May 1864) provide an excellent perspective of a sailor's life aboard a gunboat of the Mississippi River Squadron during the Civil War: He offers factual data about crew size and composition, armament, duties, combat, food, equipment, living conditions, other vessels, and stops along the Mississippi, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers.

A link to the typed transcript of the diary from May 14, 1863 to May 27, 1864 appears below.

Ac. 5118
Photocopies, 1863 to 1990

Diary:  May 14, 1863 - May 6, 1864:  (Click here to access a transcript of the Dickinson diary)

Memorandum Book: May 24, 1864-Sept. 17, 1865

Letter to Joe Batig from James A. Dickinson: May 10, 1864

Correspondence re: Beaugrand estate claims, 1849-1856

Miscellaneous notes re: family data

Funeral notice of Rudolphus Dickinson

Print of watercolor portrait of James A. Dickinson in U.S. Navy uniform

Obituary of James A. Dickinson from Fremont Daily News

News-Messenger article with Dickinson diary excerpts

 Click here to access a transcript  of the Dickinson diary