A striking example of what industry, coupled with a tenacious adherence to well-laid plans and possession of acute business foresight, will accomplish when applied to agriculture and the general activities of the farm is seen in the brief life record of James B. Dunn, the subject o this notice. Few men have undertaken the battle for financial independence with less capital or with poorer prospects of success, and yet he actually carved out his own opportunities and turned them to his advantage so naturally and so completely as to place him among the substantial men of his municipality. In the comparatively short space of twenty years has he accomplished a task to which many men devote a whole lifetime, and are still far short of his material and substantial success.
In Pittsylvania county, Virginia, James B. Dunn was born July 21, 1865. His father, Thomas H. Dunn, passed his life in Virginia and North Carolina as a farmer and died in 1901 at the age of seventy-seven years. He was taken prisoner by the Federals while serving in the Confederate army and was held at Point Lookout, Virginia. He was a plain citizen with an even and rather uneventfully life and was devoted to his family and to his farm. He was born in Henry county, Virginia, and was married there to Fannie M. Crogan, a daughter of Robert Crogan, of North Carolina, where his widow still resides. The eight children of their union are: Addie, Rena, Jesse, Thomas, James B., John, Allen and Ruth. All make their home under the parental roof, save John, who is deceased, and James B. of this review.
The educational opportunities of James B. Dunn were such as the country school afforded, many times having four miles to walk to attend school. He attended spasmodically until near his majority when he left home and sought a place in the world of affairs in Clay county, Texas. He came out by rail with all his belongs in a small grip-sack, so to speak, and found employment on farm. He landed in Texas in 1887 and the next year he bought the Red river ferry boat of Robert P. Grogan on easy terms and took immediate charge. He had a contract with the government and with the state line which yielded him fifteen dollars a month whether he crossed the river or not, and the transfer business during high water times netted him a fair compensation for his labors. His government and state contracts terminated in March, 1893, when the Rock Island built through the territory, and he sold the ferry soon after this event. As he made money he bought cattle and later land. His first land cost him seven dollars an acre for three hundred and twenty acres. He next bought two hundred and twenty acres. He next bought two hundred and sixty-five acres at $6.25 and $10.00 an acre; and three hundred and twenty acres more, where he makes his home, at $14.25 an acre. Later he bought two hundred and sixteen acres from Byers Bros. At $21.00 an acre, and then two hundred acres adjoining his first land on Red river, at $32.50 per acre, in all making 1,422 acres of rich and fertile prairie, some of it the choicest on Red river. He farms himself about two hundred and forty acres to grain and cotton and keeps a small amount of stock with him—from seventy-five to one hundred and twenty-five head of cattle—all the time.
January 12, 1893, Mr. Dunn married Dora Zigler, a daughter of Samuel and Maggie (Allen) Zigler, of North Carolina. Of the Zigler children Samuel V. and E. May, wife of Lee Lauten, live near the old home and mother, while Mrs. Dunn is between them in age and concludes the family. Mr. Zigler died April 20, 1891. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn’s children are: Bethel; Addie May; Maggie Lee; Thomas Clay; John Zigler, and Jesse Allen.
In politics Mr. Dunn holds allegiance to the time-worn principles of Democracy, and while he seldom fails to cast his vote, he works politics from no mercenary standpoint and desires no opportunity to enter official life. As a citizen his achievements show him to be progressive and his popularity at home shows him to be a good neighbor and a firm friend.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 396-397.