James Wallace Dunnan, the only son and eldest child of Hugh and Eliza Jennings (Wallace) Dunnan, was born November 9, 1877, at Mount Jackson, Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, and when four years of age accompanied his parents on their removal to Illinois, his family being established upon a farm three and a half miles south of Elliott in Dix township, Ford county. There James W. Dunnan lived the life of a farm lad and attended the district schools until 1892, when his parents removed to Paxton. He was then fifteen years of age and entered the public schools, being graduated with honor from the Paxton high school in June, 1896, at the age of eighteen years.
In the fall of the same year he entered Monmouth College, at Monmouth, Illinois, and on the completion of a three years' course there was graduated with the class of 1899. While in college he took high rank and gained special distinction in the Eccritean Literary Society, of which he was a member, being called upon on many special occasions to deliver orations, give readings or appear in debate. In the senior year he was a member of Monmouth's team in the annual debate between Monmouth and Drake University, of lowa. He also appeared as one of the orators of the annual commencement exercises, delivering the winning oration in the contest between the Philo and Eccritean Literary Societies. While in college he was also local editor of the Oracle, the students paper, and was a reporter for the Monmouth Daily Gazette.
In the winter of 1899-1900 Mr. Dunnan was in the south and in July, 1900, he purchased and became the editor and publisher of the Eastern Illinois Register, which was founded in 1875 by Dr. J. C. Dunnan and was the only democratic newspaper in the county. He has edited this paper to the present time with marked ability, making it always a power to be reckoned with, not only in Paxton but throughout Ford county, where the paper has a large and growing circulation. While a stanch democrat in his political views and always supporting the party's nominees loyally in national and state affairs, Mr. Dunnan is ever impartial and unprejudiced in his editorial utterances regarding candidates of the opposition and in local matters it has always been his policy to support the men he considered best qualified for the office, irrespective of party affiliation. His paper, therefore, might properly be termed an independent democratic journal. In 1902 Mr. Dunnan was honored by his fellow citizens by election to the board of alderman of the city of Paxton, where he served on important committees and also as chairman of special committees, having charge of extensive improvements made in connection with the waterworks system. In 1904 he was honored by members of his party with the nomination for state senator in the twenty-sixth senatorial district, composed of Ford and McLean counties, and although defeated, he ran far ahead of his ticket. In 1904, and again in 1906, he attended the state conventions of his party as a delegate from Ford county.
On the 16th of June, 1903, Mr. Dunnan was married to Miss Mabel White, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Weaver White. For many years Mr. White was circuit clerk and recorder of Ford county and was prominent in its public life. Mrs. Dunnan is a graduate of the Paxton high school of the class of 1898 and also a graduate of the Chicago Piano College, which indicates her native and acquired ability in the art of music. Two daughters have been born of this union: Katharyn Jane, born May 6, 1904; and Martha Belle, born September 22, 1906. The parents are members and prominent workers in the United Presbyterian church at Paxton, while Mr. Dunnan is a welcomed visitor in the lodge meetings of the societies of the Modern Woodmen and the Court of Honor, with both of which he holds membership.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 833-835.

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