William Wallace Dimond – 1996 Inductee

William Wallace Dimond is best remembered as Downs’ first postmaster, but that was only one phase of his active life.  Born at Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, on September 22, 1839, he served the Union cause during the Civil War, came west to Osborne County among the first homesteaders in, and was a city and county official here.

Dimond’s great-great-grandfather was Captain James Lawrence, who was commander of the American frigate Chesapeake during the Revolutionary War.  It was he who immortalized the words, “Don’t give up the ship!”   In the Civil War Dimond served in Company G of the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  Wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill, he was furloughed home to recover and saw no more action, but served instead as an Army recruiter.  The minié ball that wounded him he had made into a watch charm that he wore until his death.

He married Susan Bixby on January 3, 1866, at Hartfield, New York.  Dimond visited Osborne County in 1871 and was among the early influx of settlers.  He returned to Pennsylvania, brought his wife Susan here in 1872 and they homesteaded southeast of Downs.  Three years later, he bought a relinquishment on a farm just east of what later became the Downs townsite.  There he was appointed postmaster for the post office of Violet.  During those years before the railroad arrived, he hauled wagonloads of freight from distant railroad points to the new town of Cawker City.

The Dimonds were charter members of the Downs Methodist Episcopal church, which was organized “in a cottonwood church that stood on the Blunt farm,” as it was once described.  When Downs was founded in 1879, he became postmaster of the new town and held that appointment six years.  He was also Downs city clerk and in 1897 was elected county treasurer, serving a little more than two terms before resigning because of ill health.  William and Susan had no children of their own, but in 1896 they adopted a son, Benjamin Stuart.  Dimond was among the Civil War veterans who founded the Ben Greenman Post, the Grand Army of the Republic organization in Downs.  He helped organize the Masonic Lodge in the schoolhouse that stood in north Downs, and was a Ross Township trustee and member of the Downs school board.

William Dimond was visiting in Osborne onMarch 27, 1911, settling some business.  He was engaged in conversation with his friend, William H. Mize, when he became ill suddenly.  He was rushed into the nearby office of Dr. Miller but soon expired.  It was later determined that he died of heart failure due to acute indigestion.  He was buried in the Downs Cemeterywith both the Masons and the GAR conducting services.  A sketch at that time said of him:  “A certain directness that inspired respect and trust marked his speech.  No one ever doubted his meaning nor questioned his steadfast purpose.  It was a part of his life, of himself, to be just what he seemed to be.”

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