Figure of the Week

John Norton Dishman

Born 1863 - Died 1951

John Norton Dishman (1863-1951) was one of Stafford’s truly remarkable citizens. A highly respected African American businessman in Brooke, he was the son of Armistead Dishman (1837-1903) who had come to Stafford from Fauquier County. The elder Mr. Dishman purchased and resided on what was long known as the “Silk Farm” just east of Brooke. John was one of eleven children born to Armistead and his wife. Armistead’s obituary said of him, “He tried to give his children a good common school education and train them how to work; that he was successful is shown by the fact that seven of his children have taught school in Stafford.”

Over the course of his life, John N. Dishman worked at several businesses and seems to have done well with all of them. During the late nineteenth century, he partnered with Robert A. Johnson in a fishing business at Tump. In the 1890s, he took a job with the Alart & McGuire Pickle Company that had established a pickle brining plant in Brooke. John managed this facility for many years. He also ran a store that was located next to the pickle factory. John was one of the first businessmen in Brooke to have a telephone, opening an account with the Toluca & Fredericksburg Telephone Company in 1904. When the Brooke pickle factory closed in the 1930s, John temporarily moved to Milford in Caroline County to manage the C. C. Lang Pickle Factory there. He retired from this latter post around 1941 and returned to Brooke. John N. Dishman donated the land on which Mt. Hope Baptist Church was built and the pickle factory stood on a lot next to the church. He served as clerk of Mt. Hope for 61 years and was superintendent of the Sunday School for 63 years. He also taught school at Brooke. In 1889, he married Mary A. Pool (1873-1954). He and Mary were buried at their beloved Mt. Hope Baptist Church.