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History of Adair
County, Iowa, 1915.

Biographical.  Volume 2.

  
 

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Byron Dwinnell.

The sterling traits of character which Byron Dwinell displayed throughout an active life were such as endeared him to all with whom he came in contact and caused his memory to be cherished.  Predominant among all other traits was his kindly spirit and he shed around him much sunshine of life.  Therefore his death, which occurred at his home August 17, 1910 came as a great shock to the community in which he lived.  On the day prior to his demise he had been about town as usual and few of his friends dreamed on that day that the end was near.  Mr. Dwinell was born at Northfield, Vermont, April 5, 1837.  He came of a family of French origin, the name being originally De Vinell.  When a young man he removed to Cedar county, Iowa, where he was living at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war.  On the 9th of August, 1862, in response to the country's call for troops, he enlisted as a member of Company K, Thirty-fifth Iowa Infantry, known as the Veteran Relief Corps, and on the 24th of September of that year he was made a corporal.  He served for three years, giving valiant aid to the country, his record being in harmony with the military history of his family, for his father was a captain in the War of 1812, while his grandfather served with the colonial army in the Revolutionary war.  In the maternal line he was descended from the Cole family, which was represented in the Revolutionary war by six brothers.  The same spirit of patriotic devotion to his country was manifest by Mr. Dwinell throughout his entire life.

After the close of the Civil war he returned to his home in Cedar county, Iowa, and was there married on the 17th of November, 1866, to Miss Ann Eliza Haagensen, who was born in St. Thomas, West Indies, and was of Danish descent.  In 1871 they removed to Adair county and for five years resided upon a farm, after which they took up their abode in Fontanelle and conducted the old Gibbs House.  Subsequently Mr. Dwinell was for many years proprietor of the Fontanelle Hotel, which he conducted with that hospitality and generosity that cheered many travelers on their way and made a comfortable home for many resident guests.

Mrs. Dwinell preceded her husband to the better life, passing away May 29, 1900.  She was a member of the Danish Lutheran church and a lady of many admirable qualities.  Mr. Dwinell's death occurred when he had reached the age of seventy-three years, four months and twelve days.  One of his close friends wrote:  "In his death we mourn the loss of one loyal in the defense of his country, true to the community in which he lived, one who loved his neighbor as himself, one whose devotion to his family will cause them to mourn him not only as a devoted father but as the faithful friend and companion."  A friend writing from a distance said:  "The Lord didn't make many men like 'By.'  Had he made more of them, the old world would have been a better place in which to live."  Another said:  "His old heart never could distinguish and never tried to distinguish whether its charity and esteem were well planned or ill planned, and this made him the likable character he was, such as the world can ill afford to lose because it has so few.

Sleep the sleep that knows no breaking,
Dream of battlefields no more:
Days of danger, nights of waking.
Soldier rest, thy warfare o'er."

One of the local papers wrote:  "Byron Dwinell will be kindly remembered by all who knew him.  He possessed the native instincts of courtesy and was a gentleman in the true sense of the word, so impressing all with whom he came in contact.  He possessed a cheery disposition and his never failing good will made him an enjoyable companion at all times and in all places.  His long years of residence in Fontanelle made him a familiar figure who went about with a pleasant word of greeting for all.  In his long years of hotel keeping he was more than landlord;  he was in deed and fact the genial 'mine host' of the days of chivalry and he dispensed welcome and hospitality with genuine generosity.  With all of his courtesy, he was at times blunt and outspoken, saying perhaps truths that ought not to have been said but in a way that left no sting.  One of his charming traits was a talent for entertaining his guests and friends with stories whose points he brought out with clearness.  He would relate such in most interesting manner, not certifying for their credence but for the fun that was in them.  The world in which he lived was brighter and better for his presence.  His last days led in paths of pleasantness and peace, free from the cares and struggle for gain but comforted and contented with sufficient means to meet his modest wants.  After the death of his wife he was surrounded by the care of his surviving daughters, the Misses Emma and Josie Dwinell, and their companionship fulfilled the ideal relations of father and children.  The funeral sermon was delivered by Rev. A. Breeling from the test:  'Be ye therefore also ready, for the Son of Man cometh in an hour when ye think not.'"  He was laid to rest in Fontanelle cemetery, and although several years have since come and gone, his memory is yet cherished by all who knew him.  Life meant to him opportunity---opportunity not only for the attainment of success but for good deeds, and there are few whom make life so sunshiny and attractive.

 

 

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