Professor Dimsdale was an English gentleman of fine scholarly attainments, having received his preliminary education in the preparatory school of Rugby, made famous by Hughes' well known novel, ''Tom Brown of Rugby.'' He was born near Thirlsby in north England, and came of a family noted as being among the leading iron-masters, engineers and contractors of public works in that part of the country. Thomas J. was not of robust physique and as he himself expressed it was the "runt of the family," so his parents designed him for the Church and he was sent to Oxford to complete his education for the ministry. But financial disaster came to the family because of the failure of a scheme to utilize the sewage of the city of London in the reclamation of barren lands and he was compelled to give up university work in his sophomore year. He then emigrated to Canada, locating at Millbrook, Ontario, where he experienced many vicissitudes of fortune. On the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains he joined the throng of adventurers travelling hitherward.
In the winter of 1863-64, being unable to work in the mines, he sought to make a livelihood in Virginia City by teaching, and as there were no schools yet established, and people were willing to pay liberally (enormously it would be called in these days, $2.00 per week) for tuition, he succeeded fairly well in his vocation.
When the Territory of Montana was created in the spring of 1864, the professor attracted the attention of Governor Sidney Edgerton, and that official tendered him the office of territorial superintendent of public instruction, which he accepted. While filling this position, the Montana Post was established, and Messrs. Tilton and Dittes, recognizing the ability of the professor, installed him as editor-in-chief, and he filled both these positions with satisfaction to all concerned, until a short time before his death, which occurred two years later.
Professor Dimsdale was not an editor to the manner born. Indeed, it is doubtful whether, if the place had not been tendered him under the conditions then existing, he would ever have entered the sanctum. He was not of strong physique, and was diffident to a degree, pouting like a child when subjected to blame, and blushing like a school girl when receiving praise. Many who were present when friends presented him with au ivory-handled, silver-mounted pistol as a testimonial of appreciation of his work in publishing the "Vigilantes of Montana" then running as a serial in the Post) will remember the bashful hesitancy with which he accepted the gift. And more yet will remember the almost boyish glee with which he started in to learn how to "shoot it off." And still more remember the trepidation with which they watched him sallying forth to practice with the unwonted weapon; and how they trembled the while for the safety of the children and. the family cow! And how elated he was when he got proficient enough in handling the gun to be able to hit an oyster can at ten steps once in ten times.
Rut this is digressing. Professor Dimsdale could not have made an all around editor in times of hot political controversy. He was not ''built that way." The domain of politics was terra incognita to him. But he was a man of acute perceptivity, a thorough master of the English language, a ready and quick observer and a fluent descriptive writer. So he edited the Post quite acceptably. The void in the political education was filled by able assistants, some of whom have risen to prominence in the Republican party. Luckily, for more than a year the Post held the newspaper field without a rival, and the absence of political discussions from its columns elicited no tokens of disapproval. If the editorial utterances savored more of literary talent than a genius for political polemics, it was so much the better, for the country was full of hotheads from Union and secession ranks, and the paper's magnanimous (?) abstinence from unpleasant remarks about them brought ducats to the treasury and good will from all sides to the profit of the proprietors and the enhancement of Dimsdale's reputation as an unbiased and impartial political writer.
As soon as the paper was fairly established, Professor Dimsdale set about the publication of the "Vigilantes" in its columns. It was an immense drawing card for the subscription department, and the circulation ran up at a rapid rate. The work was a recital of the doings of the famous organization which stamped out the carnival of crime that had been running riot in the embryo Territory for a year previous to the capture and execution of George Ives, December 21st, 1863. It was a graphic description of the robberies and murders committed by the road agents whose crimes made life a dreary burden to the inhabitants of the region; the measures of their arrest and extinction and the tragic fate which befell the thugs and assassins at the hands of the selfconstituted ministers of justice. Its publication at once stamped its author as a writer of promise, and the professor began to indulge in day dreams of wealth from its reputation in more substantial form,-dreams, alas, which were doomed. never to be fulfilled.
While Professor Dimsdale was revising and preparing his "Vigilantes'' for the press, in 1865, he was assisted in his editorial duties by H. N. Maguire. When the last installment of the work appeared in the Post, the author resumed his editorial chair.
By this time, a democratic newspaper had been started in Virginia City, and an exciting political controversy was inaugurated.
Professor Dimsdale began to feel that the burden of shaping the course of the paper was becoming more arduous and onerous. His retiring disposition rebelled at the exchange of phillipics and expletives with rival editors which was forced upon him by the change in the situation, and he was often on the verge of surrendering his position to someone less thin-skinned and sensitive. But a degree of pride and a dread of humiliation, coupled with some injection of spinal stamina by his intimate friends, together with a deep sense of family responsibility, for he had taken to himself a wife, sustained him in his work, and he continued to edit the paper. His work was intermittent, however, for the disease from which he suffered had taken fatal hold and the following summer saw him confined to his room by nervous prostration, aggravated by pulmonary troubles of old standing. He succumbed to his ailments September 22nd, 1866, and passed from life to death, leaving his wife, the only relation in this country, to mourn his loss.
In his sickness, his long-tried and staunch friend, Col. W. F. Sanders, was an almost constant attendant at the bedside, and it may be said that the departing journalist literally died. in the arms of his friend, at the age of 35.
Professor Dimsdale was a public-spirited citizen of the highest type. He was an ardent worker in the cause of education, often over-taxing his strength in hie labors. He filled the office of superintendent of public instruction for two years with signal ability and credit to himself. He was, also, a churchman of the Protestant Episcopal faith, and conducted the first service of that denomination in Virginia City. The initial meeting was held in the office of Judge William Y. Lovell, on Christmas Day, 1865, Professor Dimsdale acting as lay reader. He was a member of the Montana Lodge No. 2, A. F. I A. M. and was buried with imposing ceremonies by that, order September 24th, 1866, a large concourse of members of the fraternity and other friends attending the funeral.-(From the Rocky Mountain Magazine, March, 1901.)