Dickey, Theophilus L.

Born: 1811-10-02 Paris, Kentucky

Died: 1885-07-22 Atlantic City, New Jersey

Commonly known as “T. Lyle,” Dickey attended Ohio University and graduated from Miami University in 1831. He taught school in Ohio and Kentucky before moving to Macomb, Illinois, in 1834. He studied law and gained admission to the Illinois bar in 1835. In 1836, he moved to Rushville where he edited a Whig newspaper, speculated in real estate, and continued the practice of law. During the Panic of 1837, Dickey lost all of his money, and he moved to Ottawa, Illinois, in 1839 in order to regain his fortune. With the outbreak of the Mexican War, Dickey raised a company for the First Illinois Infantry and served in the war as a commissioned captain. He resigned his commission due to ill health and returned to the practice of law. Voters elected Dickey as judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in 1848, but he resigned after four years to return to the practice of law in Ottawa and in Chicago. He was a delegate to the first Republican state convention of 1856, but he supported Stephen A. Douglas over Abraham Lincoln in both the 1858 senatorial and 1860 presidential campaign, and spoke throughout the state on Douglas’ behalf. During the Civil War, Dickey served as a colonel of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, and later, as a member of General Ulysses S. Grant’s staff.

John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:61-63; H. W. Howard Knott, “Dickey, Theophilus Lyle,” Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1964), 3:290-91. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.