Among the progressive, self-made men of Hancock county is numbered the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. Since his fifth year he has been a resident of this section of the Hoosier state and from the time he left the beautiful hills and valleys of his native Virginia his name has been inseparably connected with the history of that region that far transcends in all that pertains to enterprise and prosperity the romantic county where he first saw the light of day. Lewis C. Dudding, the subjects father, was a native of Kanawha county, West Virginia, and when a young man married in the same county and state Miss Jane A. Slaughter, both being members of old and well-known southern families. In early life the father worked at coopering, but after coming to Hancock county, in March, 1850, purchased land and devoted his attention to the cultivation of the soil. His farm, consisting of eighty acres, was in Center township, but for some years prior to making his purchase he lived in the township of Jackson. He reduced his place to a good state of cultivation and became quite well situated, although not what the world considers a wealthy man. He worked diligently, lived well, made comfortable provision for his family and earned the name of a quiet, law-abiding and substantial citizen, who always aimed to live up to his ideal of right. He died November 4, 1871, aged fifty-six years, and his wife followed him to the silent land on the 4th day of October, 1891, when sixty-six years old. They were zealous members of the Baptist church an lived lives consistent with their religious profession.
Nine children were born to Lewis C. and Jane A. Dudding, namely: John C., the merchant policeman of Greenfield; Andrew, formerly a citizen of Rush county, who died in 1891; William C., of this review; Joseph, departed this life in Virginia; Phenicia, wife of J. A. Chandler, of Anderson, Indiana; Mary E. died in January, 1888; James B., of Noblesville, Indiana; George R.., who lives in Illinois, and Lewis N., whose death occurred in December, 1891.
William C. Dudding was born April 27, 1850, in Kanawha county, West Virginia, and, as already stated, was a lad of five years when brought to Hancock county, Indiana. He was educated in the common schools, which he attended in the winter, toiling at the severest farm labor in spring, summer and autumn. He took an active interest in his studies and became quite well informed in the branches constituting the public school course. He was equally as industrious on the farm, contributing his share toward running the place and providing for the familys support. He remained at home until his twentieth year and then started into the world in quest of his fortune, choosing a partner in the person of Miss Nancy E. Stephens, of Center township, to whom he was united in the bonds of wedlock September 22, 1870.
Immediately after his marriage Mr. Dudding began farming in Center township and continued to live there and prosper until 1881, when he disposed of his place and took up his abode in Greenfield. In 1881 Mr. Dudding went on the road as a canvasser for nursery stock for J. K. Henby, working for two years on commission and salary. He then became partner with Mr. Henby and C. M. Gibbs, as J. K. Henby & Co., for one year, during which time he was on the road in charge of a company of men. Then, in company with Douglas Beckner and W. H. Moore, who had canvassed for him, formed the firm of W. C. Dudding & Co. In 1892 Beckner retired and the firm has continued as Dudding & Moore. They sell nursery stock all over the central stats, representing the Pan-Handle Nurseries, of Greenfield, owned by J. K. Henby & Son. The canvass is conducted systematically and annual sales amount to about twenty-five thousand dollars. He is also interested in Hancock county real estate, building city property, improving farms and buying and selling, being the present owner of considerable farm and city property. In company with Mr. Banker he secured the franchise for the Indianapolis & Greenfield Rapid Transit Company and was identified with its building and operation until 1901. He is also the president of the Citizens Natural Gas Company, which heats the town. It was a stock company organized ten years ago, he being the prime mover and its president during its entire existence. He, with others, built the Columbia Hotel at a cost of thirty thousand dollars, he being the president of the company. This gave Greenfield a hotel comparable with any town in this part of the state. His interest in the town has been manifested in many ways, every local enterprise receiving his assistance and encouragement. Messrs. Dudding and Moore erected in 1891 the large business block on Main street which is still known as the Dudding & Moore block, although it was sold in 1899. This is one of the substantial improvements of Greenfield, and in other ways Mr. Duding has been liberal in the expenditure of his means to promote the material interest of the city.
In all of his transactions Mr. Dudding has manifested zeal and enterprise and his business tact, careful judgment and knowledge of men have enabled him to carry to successful issue the various undertakings to which he has devoted his time and energies. He undertakes only what he can perform and his progress from a very humble beginning to his present position of influence in the community shows him to be the possessor of abilities of no mean order. He sympathizes with any movement that promises to advance the public welfare, but looks with disapprobation upon schemes that have no solid foundation and discourages questionable enterprises gotten up merely for speculative purposes. His diligence in business, directed and controlled by shrewdness and safe management, has resulted in a sufficiency of worldly wealth to place him among the financially strong men of Greenfield.
On the 13th day of August, 1895, the death angel entered the home of Mr. Dudding and took therefrom the devoted wife of his youth, and November 23, 1897, he was united in marriage to Miss Minnie M. Galbraith, daughter of James P. Galbraith, of this county. Mr. and Mrs. Dudding have no children. Politically he is a stanch Democrat and as such has exerted a strong influence for his party in a number of local and general campaigns. He is a warm supporter of the principles and doctrines of Democracy and, being well read upon the leading questions of the day, has well grounded opinions and the courage of his convictions to express them. He is a Mason, belonging to blue lodge and chapter in Greenfield. As a man and citizen Mr. Dudding is highly respected. By his candor and integrity he has won the good will of a large number of friend and his personal popularity is second to that of few of his fellow men in the city of Greenfield.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 340-342.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 29, 2002.
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