S. S. Dilenbeck, a well known banker and real-estate dealer of Perry, Iowa, was born in Jefferson county, New York, April 6, 1845. He was a son of Abram and Barbara (Baum) Dilenbeck, both natives of New York. They passed away in Henry county, Illinois.
While living in New York Abram Dilenbeck was engaged in the milling business. He removed to Henry county, Illinois, in 1854, when that country was very wild and the deer roamed in large herds over the prairies. The family were of limited means but by industry and thrift they were enabled to purchase one hundred and sixty acres of wild land, for which they paid eight dollars an acre. Mr. Dilenbeck was a supporter of the republican party and was known as a “black abolitionist.” He and his family were devoted members of the Methodist church. In the family were five children, three of whom are now living: Myron, a resident of Henry county, Illinois, who enlisted in an Illinois volunteer regiment and in the second battle in which he participated became almost totally deaf, so that he was discharged because of this disability; Mrs. Charlotte Houghton, of Henry county, Illinois; and S. S., the subject of this review.
S. S. Dilenbeck was educated in the common schools and at the high school in Geneseo, Illinois. Because of impaired eyesight he was obliged to give up his studies when only seventeen and he began working on a farm for thirteen dollars a month. Not satisfied with this, he sought for something that would put him upon a more substantial basis and devised the plan of buying eighty acres of land from his father, on which he was to make payments as he was able. So successful was he in this venture that it was not long until his farm was paid for and he was able to add eighty acres more to his original purchase. He brought his farm up-to-date in every particular, employing the most modern methods in his agricultural work. For fifteen years he continued and at the end of that time had a well stocked farm with fine buildings and was enjoying the returns of abundant crops. He was offered a price which well repaid him for the labor he had expended upon this piece of land and he accordingly sold his farm. He lived for some time in Geneseo and then removed to Ida Grove, Ida county, Iowa.
He had made extensive land purchases in Ida and in Sac counties and became identified with the real-estate interests of this section. Soon after his removal to Ida Grove he became associated with the banking interests, assisting in organizing the First National Bank of that place, of which he became assistant cashier and director. Later he and his associates added branches at Holstein, Battle Creek, Sioux City, Cushing, Castana and Danbury, erecting new buildings for each one of the branches. When he had put these institutions on a sound paying basis he disposed of his holdings in them and organized a private bank at Arthur, Ida county, Iowa. In addition to his interests in the banks he had become the owner of six hundred and forty acres of land and after seven years at Arthur, Iowa, he sold out his banking interests and came to Perry, Iowa, where he continued his real-estate deals and where he has accumulated a fortune in this line of business. He has never entirely given up his banking business but bought a controlling interest in the Citizens State Bank of Perry and has been its efficient president ever since. His real-estate operations have put him in possession of eighteen hundred acres of land in Iowa.
Mr. Dilenbeck was married, December 25, 1868, to Geneva L. Seaton, the daughter of William and Malinda (Williams) Seaton, of Bureau county, Illinois. Mrs. Dilenbeck’s grandparents were pioneers in the days when the Indians were numerous and demanded their share of the pioneers’ provisions. This made their journey of eighty miles, which they were obliged to make in order to reach the mill, one that was fraught with danger on every hand. We talk about the simple life today but these good people out of necessity led a life of simplicity of which we have scarcely dreamed. They ate out of wooden dishes and the grandmother baked her bread in the fireplace on old hoes and shovels, which she scoured for that purpose. They kept a half-way house between Princeton and Seatonville and in that way were widely known. William Seaton, the father of Mrs. Dilenbeck, was born in Indiana, while his wife was a native of Putnam county, Illinois. He came to Illinois with his parents, who were Kentuckians, when he was a mere boy, and passed away in 1853. His widow later married Joseph A. Pinnell but she passed away while on a visit to Rhode Island, on April 8, 1891.
To Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Dilenbeck have been born three children: William Otis, who died at the age of four years; Arthur A., who passed away at the age of two, and B. C., who was born at Edford, Illinois, is now cashier of the Citizens State Bank of Perry and whose sketch appears on another page of this volume.
Mr. Dilenbeck is a stanch republican but has never cared to hold any office, preferring to devote his time to his business interests. He and his wife are members of the Methodist church, which Mr. Dilenbeck joined at the age of thirteen. He has always led the life of a sincere, Christian man and though he has amassed a fortune he is modest and unassuming but very pleasing in manner. From a boy he has been quick to see the future value of property and has been patient in holding his land until an advantageous price could be secured. The property in his hands has always been of benefit to the county or city in which it was located, for he improved every piece of land he buys and is eager to assist in all that advances the growth of the city. Though this has added to the value of his holdings, that has not been his primary aim, for he is public-spirited to an unlimited degree. He is much admired by a wide circle of friends, who realize that he has earned his way to his present position by his own unaided efforts.
Source: Past and Present of Dallas County, Iowa, by Robert F. Wood, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company Chicago, IL, 1907.