Biography of Col. A. P. Dunbar

Col. A. P. Dunbar, retired, Charleston; with one exception, the oldest living inhabitant of the city; was born in Fleming Co., Ky., July 4,1810; his father, Alexander Dunbar, was a soldier in the war of 1812 and participated in the battles of the River Raisin and the Thames, and was present at the famous Perry’s victory on Lake Erie. The subject of this sketch, after receiving an English education and reading law to some extent, came to Clay Co., Ill., in 1828, at the age of 18 years, and engaged in teaching; after two years, he returned to Kentucky, where he completed his law studies, and was admitted to the bar in the spring of 1831; he at once came to Coles Co., located at Charleston, and began the practice of his profession, which he continued for forty-six years; he was the first lawyer in the counties of Coles, Cumberland and Douglas; he assisted in carrying the chain at the second survey of lots in Charleston in 1831. On the breaking, out of the Black Hawk war in 1832, he received a commission as Colonel and rendered valuable service in recruiting and forwarding the troops from this vicinity. In 1832, he was appointed Circuit Clerk and Recorder to fill out an unexpired term; in 1834, he was elected Justice of the Peace, and held that office eight years; in 1836 and 1837, he represented Coles Co. – then including Cumberland and Douglas Cos.-in the State Legislature, and occupied the same seat with the lamented President Lincoln, Hon. Stephen A. Douglas being also a member of the same House; he was again elected to the Legislature in 1844, serving two years; he was appointed, in 1870, Prosecuting Attorney, to fill out the unexpired term of Gen. John Boyle, and has held other offices of trust, among which may be mentioned that of Police Magistrate from 1868 to 1874. Col. Dunbar was first married in 1834 to Miss Ellen Monroe, a native of Glasgow, Ky.; she died in 1835; and on Sept. 27, 1836, he married Mrs. Susan F. Harrison, the widow of Matthew T. Harrison, of Kentucky; they have had eight children – Alexander Mason Dunbar (of Charleston), Mary Ellen (now Mrs. I. N. Cutler, residing in Missouri), Imogene Caroline (afterward wife of Bruce Anderson, and who died in 1870), Lucian Sylvester (of Charleston), Albert Perry (who died in 1876), Lucy Arabella (now Mrs. Wm. O. Peake, of Charleston), Susan Virginia (who died when less than 2 years of age) and Charles Ulysses, of Charleston. Col. Dunbar’s law library, together with many valuable papers, was destroyed by fire in 1877, upon which he retired from practice. Col. Dunbar was an Old Line Whig, and joined the Republican party on its organization in 1856; he stumped the county and vicinity for the Republican candidates at every Presidential election since that time; he is a fluent, effective public speaker and an able lawyer.


Chapman Brothers Portrait and biographical album of Coles County, Illinois Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887.

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