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Below is a family biography included in the Woodruff County portion of Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Hon. J. B. Dent, widely and officially known throughout Wood County, and a prominent citizen of Augusta, is a native of Monongalia County, W. Va., being born May 10, 1831, and is a son of James and Dorcas (Berkshire) Dent, the former a Virginian and the mother from Cumberland, Md., the marriage of the parents taking place in the former State. The paternal grandfather, John Dent, was the first sheriff of Monongalia County, W. Va., and was a captain in the Revolutionary War, his father-in-law, Col. Evans, by his bravery, also won his title in that struggle. John Dent died in Virginia, having been known throughout his entire life as a man of active and energetic habits, retaining these even in his old age. The maternal grandfather, William Berkshire, was a Baptist minister, and his son Ralph was chief justice of West Virginia for several years. James Dent was captain of a company of militia in his young days, and in 1835 moved with his family to Putnam County, Ill., where he made his home until his death, in 1883, his wife dying in 1878. Six of their eleven children are now living: Mrs. McCoy, Mrs. Parrett, Hon. J. B., Mrs. Douglass (of Iowa), Mrs. Taylor (of Kansas) and S. E. J. B. Dent was put to school at an early day, and after acquiring a fair knowledge of the English branches, he entered Judson College, remaining here for two years. Upon starting out in life for himself he accepted a position as salesman in a wholesale house of Chicago, filling this position for two years; later was in business in Galena, where he remained also two years, and afterward spent some time in Cairo. In 1861 he enlisted in Company A, First Illinois Cavalry, and was commissioned second lieutenant, but at the end of one year he joined the Fourteenth Illinois and was made captain of Company C. When mustered out of service was major of his regiment. He was in the battles of Lexington, Buffington’s Island, Knoxville, Cumberland Gap, and was in all the battles from Dalton to Altanta, and during his war career was thrice captured, once at Lexington, in 1861, and again in 1864, while with Stoneman on his raid on Macon, and was put under fire of his own batteries at Charleston, S. C, but remained uninjured. When captured the third time he was on a train going from Charleston to Cincinnati, and was taken back and put in Libby prison. After being held in this dungeon for two months was exchanged. In the fall of 1865 he came to Arkansas and located in Woodruff County where he met friends and decided to permanently locate. Although his finances were at a very low ebb he bought a farm, and is now one of the largest real-estate owners in the county, his lands amounting to about 5,000 acres, 2,500 of which are wild land, and the remainder of very fertile soil. He officiated as county assessor in 1874, and for three terms held the position of county and probate judge. In 1888 he was elected on the Democrat ticket to the State legislature, and is now filling the duties of that position in a manner highly satisfactory to his townsmen who honored him with their votes. He was a delegate to the National Convention that nominated Cleveland for the presidency, which met in St. Louis. He was one of the men who defended Gov. Baxter and replaced him in office, acting as lieutenant from Augusta during the Brooks-Baxter trouble. During the Ku-Klux and militia times he fearlessly expressed his opinion, defended himself against both parties and assisted in protecting his neighbors from the depredations of these lawless men. The Major is a whole-souled and honorable, man, and is ever ready to defend his country, friend or neighbor. He has taken the degree of Knight Templar in the order of Masons, and takes great pride in his lodge.

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This family biography is one of 69 biographies included in the Woodruff County portion of Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Woodruff County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Woodruff County, Arkansas family biographies here: Woodruff County, Arkansas

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