The Mystery of Hiram Oliver Dingman

by , under, Books, Burials, Family History, Family History Research, Family Stories, Find A Grave, Mystery, Name Change, Names, Oklahoma

What happened to Hiram Oliver Dingman, my great uncle born in Sandy Creek Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania? Using (which I used for most the the research described herein), he is easy to track through 1860 when he was 12 years old, living in the household of his father, Nelson Dingman, in Salem Township, Mercer County, along with his mother, Jane, and siblings Mary Ann, Andrew S (my great grandfather), Emily, and Sanford W.

After that, there is no evidence of Hiram Oliver in census or other records until 1930.

Nancy L Machcinski sent me an email in 199? stating that she believed that we were related. Her great- great grandfather went by the name of Benjamin Franklin Keller, but he named all his kids with the middle initial D. Also, in biographical history book history, he was quoted as saying he and his relatives were from Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

One example of this naming convention was his daughter Amy Viola D Keller.

Here is how Nancy described the discovering of a probable name change for Hiram Oliver Dingman:

Benjamin F. Keller turned out to be an alias name. He was in the Oklahoma Land Rush and an article was written about him in a book published in 1901 by the Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, Illinois, with the title Portrait and Biographical Record of Oklahoma. My brother, Edward F. Blick, a retired professor from the University of Oklahoma, who lives in Norman, OK found the article in the college library. Benjamin F. Keller was really Hiram Oliver Dingman, born Jan. 1848 in Mercer Co. Pa. and is buried at Highland Cemetery, Ft. Mitchell, Ky.–Nancy L. Blick Machcinski

The following is what I have found for Hiram/Benjamin:

Hiram Oliver Dingman, as Benjamin Franklin Keller, married Phianna Condo Hunter in Lawrence, Kansas, on 5 Jun 1884. He was 36 years of age and Phianna was 30.

The 1860 census shows that Phianna was living in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and that she was born in that state. Her father Joseph Hunter died of consumption in June 1860, according to the mortality schedule for that year. Apparently, her mother, Jane, moved right away to Kansas City with Phianna and another daughter Clara, for they are enumerated in the 1860 census for Kansas City. The census suggests that Jane was married to Silas Case. Phianna was enumerated in Lawrence, Kansas, in the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

Benjamin and Phianna are living in Florida in 1885 according to a state census for that year. The census shows them living in Orange County and lists his occupation as “carpenter.” There were no children in the household.

By 1890, the couple was living in Township 16, Logan County, Oklahoma. A list of homesteaders in Logan County in 1892 has him living on property designated as N E 13 16 3 W. In 1898, at age 50, Benjamin Keller (aka Hiram) was living on the same property further identified as being served by the Guthrie Post Office

The 1900 Federal Census lists Benjamin Keller (aka Hiram) as living in Iron Mound Township, Oklahoma, in 1900.

Benjamin (aka Hiram) and Phianna C Hunter were divorced in 1902 after 18 years of marriage. He was 54 years old.

Phianna was married two more times before her death in Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma on 21 Nov 1921.

In the 1910 census, at age 62, Benjamin Keller (aka Hiram) is living with his son Clarence, age 15, in Iron Mound Township, Oklahoma. Benjamin is listed as a farmer, and Clarence is a farm laborer.

Sometime before 1930, he apparently resumed using his birth name of Hiram Oliver Dingman. In the 1930 Census, he was living in the Kenton County Infirmary in Covington, Kentucky at age 83. According to a 1931 directory, was a resident there.

Hiram’s Kentucky death certificate states that H. O. Dingman died at the infirmary on 18 Feb 1934 at age 86. It further states that he was born in Greenville, Mercer County, Pennsylvania and that his father was Nelson Dingman. He was buried on 21 Feb 1934 in Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, which is near Covington. There is no marker on his grave (see Find A Grave entry), and the informant listed on his death certificate does not appear to be a relative.

How sad.

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