Biography of Hon. Sherwood Dixon

Hon. Sherwood Dixon, born November 15, 1847, in Dixon, Illinois, was a prominent lawyer and legislator representing the Nineteenth District. He was the son of James P. Dixon, an early pioneer and son of John Dixon, the city’s founder. Educated locally, Dixon studied law under William Barge and was admitted to the bar in 1869. He practiced law in partnerships, notably with the firm of Dixon & Bethea. In 1868, he married Melissa G. Mead. Dixon was active in politics as a Democrat, serving as a state representative and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was also committed to education, serving on the local School Board for several years.

Hon. Sherwood Dixon, the present Representative of the Nineteenth District, and a worthy member of one of the most honored pioneer families of Lee County, is now engaged in the practice of the legal profession in the city which bears his name, as a member of the firm of Dixon & Bethea. He was born in the city which is still his home, November 15, 1847, an honor to which few of his age can lay claim. His father, James P. Dixon, was a native of New York City, and a son of John Dixon, the founder of the county seat of Lee County. The latter emigrated with his family to Illinois at an early day and amid the wild scenes of pioneer life James Dixon was reared to manhood. In Buffalo Grove, Ogle County, he married Miss Fannie Reed, a native of Delaware County, NY, where her father, Samuel Reed, was also born. After his marriage he came with his family to Illinois at a very early day and located at Buffalo Grove, upon land which he obtained from the Government. The Indians were still numerous in the settlement and the work of civilization seemed scarcely begun. Samuel Reed and his wife there resided until death and were prominent people of the community. During the Black Hawk War they had to flee to the fort at Dixon for protection from the red men.

The parents of our subject began their domestic life on a farm near this city, and in public affairs James Dixon was quite prominent. He became agent for the Fink & Walker stage line running from Galena to Rock Island and Chicago. Throughout this part of the State he had a wide acquaintance and was a leader in all public affairs. Just before his death he engaged in keeping a livery stable. In politics he was a Whig and his opinions were much sought in the councils of his party. On the 11th of April, 1852, this honored pioneer passed away. His widow yet survives him and is making her home with her children. She was born in 1815. The members of the family who still survive are Sherwood and Mrs. William Barge, residents of Dixon; Henrietta, wife of William Richards, of Moline, IL; Sarah, wife of George W. Goodwin, of Sioux City, Iowa; and John R., of Chicago, a telegraph operator on the Western Indiana road. He married Miss Mattie Evans, of Indiana.

Our subject acquired his literary education in the public schools and afterward entered the law office of William Barge, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. In 1869 he was admitted to the bar and soon afterward formed a partnership, becoming a member of the firm Ustic, Barge & Dixon. The senior member was formerly Circuit Judge. This connection continued until 1874, when Mr. Dixon went to Chicago and became associated in the practice of law with William O’Brien and William Barge, the firm title being O’Brien, Barge, and Dixon. For three years this connection continued, after which our subject returned to his native city and formed a partnership with his present partner. They continued together from 1878 until 1884, when for four years the firm of Crabtree & Dixon carried on practice. In 1888, the first named gentleman was elected to the bench as Circuit Judge, and Messrs. Dixon & Bethea resumed their old business relations. Their office is located in the Schuler building, and the practice which the firm has built up is an extensive one.

Mr. Dixon was united in marriage with Miss Melissa G. Mead, their union being celebrated in this city, where the lady was born in 1847. Her father, Herman Mead, was a native of New York, and at an early day came to Lee County, locating on the farm where he made his home for a number of years. In 1855 he removed to Dixon, where both he and his wife passed away at an advanced age. Mrs. Dixon was one of their eight children. She is an intelligent and cultured lady who has a host of friends in this community and her social standing is high. Of the Methodist Church, she is a member. Three sons have been born of their marriage, Henry S., who is now studying law in his father’s office; Louis, who is employed in the Sun printing office; and George C., who is yet attending school.

The cause of education has ever found in Mr. Dixon a warm friend and for seven years he has been connected with the School Board, serving as its president for three years. From September 1880 until September, 1888, he was Master in Chancery, being appointed by Judge Ustis, Circuit Judge. In politics, he is a staunch advocate of Democratic principles and has been a member of every State Convention since 1872, while in 1884 he was also a delegate to the National Convention. As a member of the General Assembly, he has proved an able representative of his district and is quite prominent in the House. During the last session, he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a member of many other committees of importance. He took a leading part in drawing up the election reform bill and did good service as a member of the committee on Municipal Corporations, Elections, Federal Relations, Contingent Expenses, and Senatorial Appointments. With the interests of his constituents ever in his thoughts, his labors for the benefit of the county he represented proved him a most efficient assemblyman. His public and private life have been alike above reproach. As a lawyer, he is gifted, possessing more than ordinary ability and his success at the bar has won him a foremost place among his professional brethren. He possesses great energy and enterprise and whatever he undertakes he carries forward to completion. His natural abilities well fit him to be a leader of the people and the high place which he holds in the regard and esteem of his fellow townsmen is well merited.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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