Jul. 7, 1818 Bakersfield Franklin County Vermont, USA
Nov. 9, 1900 Scranton Lackawanna County Pennsylvania, USA
He grew up in Bakersfield, Vermont one of ten children of John and Abigail (Reed) DUNN. Four of their sons became ministers, Hiram, Lewis, Thomas, and Ransom; also, they had at least one daughter, Amanda Dunn Montague. Ransom's eyesight was poor but he never ceased to study. He became an orator, writer and sought-after pastor in the northeastern Free Will Baptist movement. He came west to preach and teach in the newer states, finally lending his time and influence to the growth of Hillsdale College in its formative years, and forward. He became the "Grand Ole Man" of Hillsdale College, serving the College in various capacities (professor, fund-raiser, and president) from 1852 to 1900. From 1853 to 1855, he obtained over $10,000 of the original college funding, securing its foundation, travelling 6,000 miles by carriage and horseback through frontier Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. He was given the honorary degre of A.M., from the Wesleyan Univ. Middletown, Conn, in 1860, and awarded the Doctor of Divinity Degree from Bates College, ME, in 1873. In 1840, he mar. 1) Mary Eliza Allen, kin of Ethan Allen, of whom was said, "she was an earnest Christian, an ornament to society, and of inestiminable treasure to the church." They had two sons, Newell Ransom in 1841, and Francis Waylon in 1843, and a daugh. Cedilia in 1845. Mary Eliza died in 1848, leaving the three children and her husband. In Sept. 1849, he mar. Cyrena Emery in Dover, New Hampshire. Dr. Dunn was a long-time anti-slavery activist, giving his two sons, after their graduation from Hillsdale, 1862, to the 64th Reg. of the Illinois Volunteers. Wayland was with Newell Ransom in Corinth, MS, when Newell died in 1863, from disease, and arranged to ship his brother's body home for burial. Then, Wayland, frail from the hardships of war, expired Dec. 1874, at Hillsdale. (Both bur. in Oak Grove).
A book of lectures by Prof. Dunn, and co-educator Prof. John J. Butler, entitled, "Butler and Dunn's Systematic Theology", was published, 1891, which instantly became a favorite of scholars interested in bibilical doctrines, and is still a sought-after volume. A Discourse on the Freedom of the Will is one of his most notable works.
Upon the death of his second wife, Cyrena, Dr. Dunn was editorilized for "His long, loving, and untiring service in connection with the college, his upright and Christian principles as a man, have endeared him to thousands whose hearts beat with the most tender sympathy for him...." Cyrena was eulogized as a helpmate to him who helped him become the renowned personage he was. Her home was always open to their many friends, far and near, and to homesick students at the school. Six of his family are interred in Oak Grove Cemetery beside the one which stone says, "Father." His influence was great in his church and Hillsdale...even now, after one hundred years, books are still being written about him. Within the cornerstone of Central Hall is the prayer of Ransom Dunn: "May earth be better and heaven richer because of the life and labor of Hillsdale College." (Some info taken from a book by Dr. Arlan K. Gilbert, "Hillsdale's Grand Old Man: Ransom Dunn" pub. 2007; and, F.W. Bapt. Cyclopaedia, pub. 1889, and other town history books.) His daughter, Helen Dunn GATES memorialized her father in her book,(1901): A Consecrated Life: A Sketch of the Life and Labors of Rev. Ransom Dunn, D. D., 1818-1900.