History of the Restoration Movement

David Roberts Dungan


1871 Sketch on D.R. Dungan

DAVID R. DUNGAN, the subject of this sketch, stands about five feet eight inches, and weighs about one hundred and fifty-five pounds. He has dark hair, more than a brown, but not a black, dark complexion, and yet not dark but fair, with eyes that correspond-sharp, penetrating, observing. With a sound constitution and an active temperament, he is good for any reasonable share of physical endurance. In his address he is very social, even familiar. He is a man depending but little on formality; is plain and outspoken, honest and earnest in his convictions. Is rather attractive, with a natural tendency to make friends without the least effort to do so. With him, life is a success.

Mr. Dungan is a native of Noble county, Indiana, and was born May 15, 1837. His grandfather, Isaiah Dungan, died a few years ago from the effects of an injury. At the time of his death he was nearly one hundred years old. His father, James Dungan, is still living, and is in his sixty-third year. His mother's maiden name was Mary Ann Johns. Her parents were natives of England, and a hardy, robust and long-lived race. His father's ancestors were from Scotland, so that the mixture of blood is what may be called Scotch-English.

When young Dungan was but one year old his parents removed to Clay county, in western Indiana, where they lived until the young man had attained his fifteenth year, when his father pushed forward a second time to the western frontier, this time to western Iowa, where they arrived just as the Indians were retiring and before the land was in market. This was in 1852. Having always resided on the frontier, his educational facilities were such as the common schools of Indiana and Iowa afforded. In addition to these privileges he spent a short time in the Kentucky University. He has derived the most profit from his private studies. He has been a close student since his twenty-second year.

Politically, he was raised a democrat of the straightest sect, but he has ever voted the republican ticket, with the exception of those rare occasions when the public good demands a change. At such times he performs his duty, regardless of fear or favor, party lines or party rewards. Religiously, he is what is familiarly known as a Campbellite, or the Church of Christ. He was immersed the last day of March, 1858, and in the spring of 1859 was required by the Church to exercise his gift in preaching. In September, 1860, he was ordained as an evangelist, and from that time to the present, has been, with scarcely an interruption, a constant and faithful minister of the Word; delivering on an average about two hundred and fifty sermons a year. About one hundred and twenty-five conversions has been the annual fruit of his zealous labors. In addition to his regular preaching he has held seven theological debates. He is also one of the editors of the Evangelist, published at Oskaloosa, Iowa, by A. Hickey and E. W. Johnson. During his ministerial labors he has resided in Omaha, Plattsmouth and Pawnee, Nebraska, and one year in De Soto, Iowa. Pawnee City is the scene of his present* labors. (*Jn the fall or 1871 after this sketch was In type, we learned that Mr. Dungan had accepted a call to the pastorate or the Christian Church at Lincoln, which he accepted; entering at once upon the discharge of bis clerical duties.)

He was married in Harrison county, Iowa, Feb. 17, 1861, to Miss Mary Ann Kinnis, by whom he has had a family of five children, three only of whom are now in the flesh.

Officially, he has never craved a public place. He acted as Chaplain of the House during the sitting of the last Omaha session of the Legislature, and on the 18th day of March, 1869, was appointed a Regent of the State University, and has not missed a meeting of the Board. He was present at the _laying of the corner stone of the University, and officiated as Chaplain. In all respects he has proved himself a faithful and efficient officer. He is a fluent speaker, of pleasing address and terse and logical discourse. Sustained by the Christian virtues of a modest and unassuming life, he has written his name on the tablets of enduring memory, to be loved and honored as a faithful and watchful shepherd, by the thousands who love him most because their spirits have been quickened by the words that fell from his lips in the spirit of the Divine Master.

-A.C. Edmunds, Pen Sketches of Nebraskans with Photographs, LINCOLN, NEBRASKA. R. & J. WILBUR, STATIONERS, OMAHA. c. 1871. Pages 224-226

1885 Sketch On D.R. Dungan

David Roberts Dungan, the subject of this sketch, was born in Noble County, Indiana, May 15, 1837. His father, James Dungan, was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, October 5, 1807. The great grandfather was one of the first settlers west of Pittsburg, and one of the first purchasers of land under our Government in the State of Pennsylvania. He is said to have been a descendant of the Earl of Dungannon, but to have been of Scottish and Welsh extraction. James Dungan was married to Mary Ann Johns near Wilmington, Ohio, in 1828, and soon after moved to Noble County, Indiana, where he remained till the spring of 1838, from whence he removed with his young family to Clay County, same State. Here he remained till the summer of 1852, when he took trail for the great Northwest, and stopped in Harrison County, Iowa. The bulk of the Mormons had just gone to Utah, and the Pottawattomie Indians had, but a short time before, gone to their hunting-grounds farther west.

The subject of this sketch had been a delicate, sickly lad up to this time, weighing on his fifteenth birthday only sixty-three pounds. In this new country, fare was coarse and the work was hard. Council Bluffs, then called Kanesville, was the nearest trading post and post office. There were two grist-mills a half mile nearer, where corn could be ground. A log house with one room and a sod chimney on the outside was the place of shelter for the first year. There was no lumber in the building; still it was a good house for that country. In point of ventilation it was without a blunder. The wild meats, corn bread and potatoes seemed to be wholesome diet, for with all the toil incident to making a new farm, his weight was 120 pounds on his sixteenth birthday anniversary, and all signs of ague had disappeared; and but for a premature grayness and baldness one would never suppose that he had been a sickly youth. He has reached a height of about five feet ten, and weighs about 170.

He was baptized into Christ by C. P. Evans, March 31, 1858, and one year from that day he tried to preach for the first time. He has preached regularly ever since. He was ordained to the ministry of the Word in the autumn of the year following.

February 16, 1861, he was married to Mary Ann Kinnis, of Glasgow, Scotland, and was employed by a cooperation to preach that year, part of the time in Iowa and part in Nebraska. C. P. Evans and W. A. Denton were co-laborers in that work. Part of the time he resided in De Soto, Nebraska, and part of the time in Omaha, same Territory. In the spring of 1862 he returned to Harrison County, Iowa, where he farmed and improved some land which he had previously bought, and preached on Lord's day to country congregations. During the winter, however, he taught school near Glenwood, Iowa. In the spring of 1863 he moved to Plattsmouth, Nebraska, where he preached and taught for a year. This school was offered to him the next year at double wages, but he chose to give all his time to the work of the ministry.

On the first day of January, 1865, he began work under the auspices of our General Missionary Board, in which work he continued for about six years, only taking out of it time for a short course in Kentucky University. Through his efforts, R. C. Barrow was located as a fellow missionary in Nebraska, who still continues to labor in that State as its evangelist. Under their labor the cause was well established in Nebraska.

In the summer of 1867 he was chaplain of the first State legislature of Nebraska, and the last one that was held in Omaha. In the fall of that year he moved to Pawnee City, where he preached till the spring of 1871, when he went to Lincoln, where he remained till 1874.

In the beginning of the effort to build up the State University in Lincoln, he was made a regent, which position he held up to the time of his removal from the State, in the summer of 1874, having been a regent for six years. He also served as Chaplain of the Senate, the winter of 1872-'73.

He drew the prohibitory liquor law that came within one vote of passing; and the final passage of the Warren Criminal Code that winter was largely owing to his influence and management. From 1874 to 1877 he preached for the church in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He was then two years preaching in Eldora, Iowa.

In the summer of 1879, he was nominated for Governor on the Prohibition ticket. He made a gallant fight, as is claimed by the Radicals of that State, who maintain that it was this campaign that brought the Republican party to an interpretation of their platform, which bound them to submit the constitutional amendment in favor of the prohibition of the liquor traffic in that State. Not long after the campaign was over, he came to Davenport, where he remained until September, 1863, when he went to assume his duties as professor in the Bible department of Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa.

He is not a graduate of any college, and yet he is regarded as one of the really learned men of the West. He has made every man his teacher, and acknowledges himself as particularly indebted to Professor's Fisher, Hand and Benton, aside from his teachers in Lexington. He is thought to have read and studied widely and deeply. He has served as lecturer and teacher at Clear Lake and Lake Minnetonka, the Chautauqua of the Northwest. He was President of the Iowa Christian Missionary Convention for five years, and of the General Convention for one. His unanimous choice by the Board of Trustees of Drake University as teacher of sacred literature indicates the confidence of the brethren of that State in his ability.

In the many public debates he has had, he is regarded as a fair and able disputant. He has thus considered Mormonism, Methodism, Baptistism, Soul-sleepingism, Adventism, Spiritualism, Atheism, Quakerism, etc., etc. Synopses of two of his debates have been printed, one with Leonard Parker, Methodist, which is now out of print, and the other with W. F. Jamieson, Spiritist and infidel.

He published "On the Rock" in 1873, "Modern Phases of Skepticism" in 1878, "Rum, Ruin and the Remedy" in 1879. He gave three out of the five lectures in the first printed lectureship of Missouri. He has written a number of tracts, such as: Modern Revivalism; Mistakes of Ingersoll about Moses; Our Plea and Mission; What Must We Do To Be Saved? These works have met with a good sale. During his pastorate in Davenport he edited the Northwestern News, the temperance paper of Iowa, for about a year and a half.

His preaching has everywhere had a good result. He does solid work only. His style is plain, scriptural and argumentative. His manner is that of a teacher rather than what is known as a pulpit orator. Still, as a popular lecturer, he is valued highly, and in his State brings the highest price.

-Disciple Of Christ, December, 1885, page 727,728

1904 Sketch On The Life Of D.R. Dungan

David Roberts Dungan was born in Noble county, Indiana, May fifteenth, A. D. eighteen hundred and thirty-seven. He was the son of James and Mary Ann Dungan. His mother's maiden name was Mary Ann Johns. In the spring of 1838, the family settled in Clay county, Indiana, where they resided fourteen years. The father was somewhat delicate, though he lived to be eighty-eight. He was full of energy, and though he preached on Lord's days a great portion of his life, he opened a farm in the woods and built a sawmill. Here the subject of our sketch, between picking brush, hoeing corn, assisting at the mill and from three to eight months in district school a year, got his start in education. One of the accomplishments of those times and of that country was knowing the best way to avoid ague. It was common faith that quinine bitters was the only orthodox remedy. The quinine was bought at wholesale rates in the spring of the year, when the price was down.

In June, 1852, the family journeyed again, this time to Harrison county, Iowa. This county fronts on the Missouri River and is the fourth county from the State of Missouri. The Indians had scarcely gone and the land was not yet in market. Everything was wild; game was plentiful and health was good. No more quinine was needed. Hard work in opening the farm, and small opportunities for education had been anticipated. The log house was perfect in point of ventilation. Life was a luxury and hunting was an ecstasy. Schools were few, and but for a great desire for knowledge, education would have been limited indeed. The books were purchased with reference to their valuable knowledge, and, many times, read and studied several times before it was possible to secure others which would be regarded as worth the reading. These surroundings shaped the course of Mr. Dungan in educational matters. He has not covered as much ground as many, but what he has done he has done exceedingly well. He may not know a little about everything, but he knows very much about the things he has determined to understand. In thirty-seven debates which he has held, this has been a great power; he knew all about the propositions under discussion.

At the age of twenty-one Mr. Dungan was baptized into the Church of Christ by C. P. Evans. A year later he began to preach and has kept up the work ever since, now a little over forty-four years. During this time he has preached eight thousand sermons, delivered eight hundred speeches on temperance and prohibition, and made nine hundred and sixty-two speeches in debate.

He was married to Mary Ann Kinnis February 17, 1861. To this union have been born eight children, two daughters and six sons; one daughter and five sons yet living, the others having died in early childhood. During the year of 1860 he preached for a co-operation, part of the time in Iowa, and part of the time in Nebraska. For this year's work he says he received one hundred and eleven dollars and fifteen cents. The summer of 1862 he farmed in Iowa and during the winter he taught in Mills county, Iowa. Then, in the spring of 1863 he moved to Plattsmouth, Nebraska, where he taught and preached for two churches. He was chosen as the missionary for Nebraska and wrought under the auspices of our General Missionary Board for six years and a half. He asked for, and obtained, R. G. Barrow as a co-laborer in that field. Mr. Dungan began his work for the Board on Christmas day, 1864, and Bro. Barrow began on the first day of July, 1865. They were true yokefellows for many years, and under their labors, with the help which came in, one hundred and thirty-seven churches were established. These were the days of religious battle, and Dungan was one selected for that work. He met Mormons, Methodists, Adventists, Baptists, Infidels, one Quaker and one conglomerated theological nondescript who called himself a Christian Union preacher.

Mr. Dungan served as chaplain of the first State Legislature of Nebraska. He afterwards was unanimously chosen to be chaplain of the Senate of that state. He served as regent of the State University at Lincoln for six years and three years of that time he was moderator of the school board of that city. He gave the first sermon in Omaha and Lincoln, presenting our plea. He returned to Iowa in 1874 and remained in that state until the summer of 1890, when he returned to Lincoln, Nebraska, to accept the presidency of Cotner University, which place he held till the fall of 1896, when he resigned and returned to Des Moines, Iowa. Between 1874 and 1890, he served the churches at Oskaloosa, Eldora, Mt. Pleasant, Davenport, and the church at University Place, Des Moines. He became the teacher of the Bible in Drake University in the fall of 1883, and continued till he resigned in the spring of 1890. For five years he was vice-president of Drake University, and for four years he did the work of the president, as President Carpenter was in the field working endowment for the institution.

Mr. Dungan's education was gathered from various sources. He acknowledges as teachers Eli Fisher, G. R. Hand, A. R. Benton, S. P. Lucy, and G. H. Laughlin. He was a student in Kentucky University, but did not graduate. When he went to Drake University in the fall of 1883, he intended to prepare for an examination for the A. B. Instead of that examination being complete, on motion of Prof. L. S. Bottonfield, the Masters degree was given instead. This resolution was unanimously adopted. He was a close student all the seven years he was at Drake University, and in the spring of 1891, the University of Nebraska conferred the degree of LL. D. This was imposed upon him because of his work for that institution as a Regent, partly because he had lectured to the law classes during one semester, but mostly because of his eminent attainments generally.

While president of Cotner University he did work in all departments. He taught Metaphysics, Psychology, Ethics, General History, U. S. History, Botany, Political Economy, Sociology, Elements of Criticism, Logic, etc. as well as work in the Bible Department.

He did not remain long in Des Moines but was soon located with the Mt. Cabanne church, in St. Louis. This position he held for three years and seven months, and resigned it to take the presidency of Christian University, at Canton, Mo. He resigned this position after two years, in favor of Carl Johann, the present incumbent. Since then he has been dean of the Bible Department. Mr. Dungan has written six books which have had a wide circulation. He is the author of a number of quarterly articles and lectures and booklets and tracts, enough to make six more books.

In the class room he has few, if any, superiors. As a lecturer, he is quite popular. His wit is ready and apt. In repartee he is never overreached. As a debater he is fair, stating his opponent's position as clearly as his opponent could state it.

In the pulpit he is more a teacher than an orator. Yet he has brought many thousands into the church. He is deliberate in speech, and no one doubts what he has said or what he means.

-Churches of Christ, John T. Brown, c.1904, pages 454,455

Filling In Some Holes

The sketches above give good information on the life and work of David R. Dungan. A few important additions are good to note. In the course of his lifetime, he authored six books. Perhaps the best known, and most utilized volume from his pen was the work on biblical interpretation called, "Hermeneutics: A Text Book," that he produced in 1888. This volume of 400 pages clearly defines sound principles of interpreting the Scriptures in a way that preserves the intentions of the Holy Author. This work has been reproduced time and again, and is still used as a standard text book in preacher's training schools, and in Bible Departments of Christian colleges throughout the world. Christians of today and for future generations will continue to be indebted to the memory of this man, just for the help he has given in the area of understanding and applying the word of God properly.

The last years of Dungan's life were spent in California. He passed from this life in 1920 in is buried next to his second wife, Nora Madden Dungan, in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Directions To Grave

D.R. Dungan is buried in Los Angeles, California. Heading north out of L.A. on the I-5, take Exit 139B, The Gardendale Fwy, Hwy #2. Heading NE get off at the N. San Fernando Rd. Exit and turn left. Go under the bridge and continue a little less than a mile. Turn right on Glendale Ave. The Forest Lawn Cemetery will be on the right, 1712 S. Glendale Ave. Enter through the main gate (Cathedral Dr.) You will see the mortuary and offices on your right. The Dungan plot is very near to the buildings you see, in fact just to the rear of them. Just past the building is a road to the right that goes behind the mortuary. Go down this road to the end of the buildings and take the first left. When you have turned left, stop the car and go into the section on the left (the section behind the buildings). From the corner count 16 markers down and the second row in to find the Dungan plot.

Special Note: Forest Lawn Cemetery is the final resting place of many of Hollywood's stars and starlets. The park is massive, but most of these are in mausoleums. Though I was not able to visit them all, the park and settings are some of the most beautiful in all America. A list I found said that the following are buried here: Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Pickford, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, George Burns & Gracie Allen, W.C. Fields, Tom Mix, Sammy Davis Jr., Walt Disney, Red Skelton, Robert Young, Lon Chaney, Ethel Waters, Alan Ladd, Dick Powell, Robert Taylor, Wallace Beery, Ted Knight, Sam Cooke, Joe E. Brown, Sydney Greenstreet, Nat King Cole, Jack Oakie, Ed Wynn, Jack Carson, Norma Shearer, Chico Marx, Dorothy Dandridge, Robert Cummings, Sid Grauman, Dan Daily, William Boyd ("Hopalong Cassidy"), Marie Dressler ("Tugboat Annie"), Irving Thalberg, Casey Stengel, Larry Fine, Aimee Semple McPherson, Edward Everett Horton and Jean Hersholt, plus authors Louis L'Amour, Theodore Dreiser and L. Frank Baum. And, as of June 25, 2009, the legendary Michael Jackson. Note: I was in the cemetery on June 25, 2012, the third anniversary of his death. There were many people at the Great Mausoleum to pay their respects. Access to the Great Mausoleum where Jackson and many other "stars" are buried is not allowed by the general public.

If you visit the park intending to see the graves of the stars, be sure to find all the locations before you arrive. The people in the park will not be helpful in locating the graves, as they are sworn to secrecy for most of the famous ones interred there. However, a little research on the web will help you find the locations of just about all listed above.

GPS Coordinates
N34˚ 07.448' x W118˚ 15.049'
or D.d. 34.124128,-118.250823
17' Accuracy
Grave Faces East
Section D, Lot 177, Space 47


Forest Lawn Memorial-Park & Mortuaries


Nora Madden Dungan
Devoted Wife Of
David R. Dungan
She Loved The Church
Her Memory Abides

Prof. David R. Dungan
Dean Of The Bible Dept. Of
Drake University
Author of
"On The Rock"

Photos Taken 03.20.08
Webpage renewed - 10.2019
Courtesy Of Scott Harp

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