Oliver Perry Dinges was born on May 12, 1844 in Centre County, Pennsylvania where he was raised and partially educated. In 1854, he moved to Illinois with his parents. During this time, he worked on the farm during the summer and attended school in the winter. He also worked on the railroad and in the lumber business for a few years in Wisconsin. Dinges moved to Lincoln in 1874 where he married Alice Elizabeth (Preston) Dinges (1843-1922) of York State and together they had two children, Pansey B. Dinges (1883-1974) and Oliver Perry Dinges Jr. (1887-1913).
On Sep. 10, 1891 Chief Dinges conducted a raid on some gambling rooms over a place called the Ivy Leaf saloon. After the raid Dinges was accused of stealing $35 (about $840 in present day monetary value) from one of the cash drawers and this eventually led to a few lawsuits. The following article courtesy of the Lincoln Evening News talks about a brawl that occurred in result of the raid.
Lincoln Evening News - Thursday, Sept. 24, 1891
Headline: A Clash of Arms
Police and Civil Officers in Battle Array, At Lincoln's City Hall.
Chief Dinges Resists the Attempt of the Gamblers to Get Their Apparatus Back by Means of a Constable - A Lively Time with a Ridiculous Finale. An Exotic Time.
One of the most intensely exciting incidents of which Lincoln has ever been the theatre, took place around the city hall last night, and it had a most ludicrous ending after all. The whole trouble arose over a writ of replevin sworn out in Justice Foxworthy's court for the gambling apparatus captured in Bradeen's place when it was raided two weeks ago. Fullington was formerly a paper-hanger in Bradeen's employ when the latter was in that business, and it is hinted that he is only a figurehead in the whole deal.
Shortly after 4 o'clock Constable Kaufman appeared at police headquarters and demanded the stuff. Chief Dinges told him he did not know where it was, Kaufman expressed his belief that he did, and affirmed his intention of going into the vault in the city hall building, which is situated inside the railing enclosing the electric fire alarm machine. He secured the services of Nels Westover, who brought along his chisels, and the two were about to open the vault by force when they were arrested by order of the chief for destroying city property. They were kept in durance vile for an hour and a half, but in the meanwhile Judge Foxworthy, hearing of their predicament secured a writ of habeas corpus for their release in county court.
Deputy Dillon had the writ, but it was sometime before he found the men, who had been taken before Judge Brown on the charge above mentioned. He started to serve the writ on the chief but the latter cleverly evaded him, and mounted the patrol wagon which was standing in the street below. Deputy Dillon chased the wagon until he caught it, and served his paper, but the chief did not look at it, simply throwing it into the street Kaufman and Westover were discharged before 7 o'clock and therefore no appearance was made in county court, and judgment went by default.
Judge Foxworthy attempted to get a settlement of the matter of the gambling tools by agreeing to allow some third party to keep them until the right of property was determined, but the chief asserted that he did not know where they were. At 7 o'clock a platoon of seventeen policemen were thrown around the vault, and the entrance thereto, and they had orders to resist all attempts to enter. Kaufman thereupon swore out a warrant for the arrest of the entire force present, including the chief and Sergeant Miller on the charge of resisting a writ of replevin.
Deputy Sheriff Hoagland took the warrant and with Dillon repaired to the station. Mr. Dinges could not be found, but the civil officers being assured that resistance would be withdrawn they sat down and waited for the chief to come back. He came not, however, and the deputy started in to serve his warrants. The contents were read to the officers amid a great deal of suppressed excitement. Sergeant Miller, who was in command of the men had been sitting in a chair directly in front of the vault, keeping his nerves steady by reading a copy of the News. Hoagland tapped him on the shoulder, told him he was under arrest, and asked him to go with him. The big sergeant refused. The deputy repeated his question, and the sergeant rose and stretched himself.
Hoagland stepped outside and called for volunteers to aid him. A few responded and they marched on the policemen. A scuffle ensued, during which George Bradeen, who made himself very conspicuous, received a rap over the head with a policeman's club, Dillon was rather roughly handled, and Officer Carnahan's (Note: Officer Carnahan was Lincoln Police Department's first African- American police officer.) clothes torn, but no one got real mad. The assaulting force was too small, and Deputy Hoagland called for more men. He got 'em, and the besiegers moved forward. Tubman was secured this time, and they started after more, when Judge Foxworthy stepped up, and in the interest of peace addressed the men.
He explained the law to them, and the futility of further resistance; paid them a high compliment for their obedience to orders, but warned them that the write must be served if blood had to flow. After a desultory talk with the officers, they filed down and out, and Constable Kaufman and Nels Westover tackled the vault again. It yielded quickly, and the constable stepped in. As a fitting final, he found naught but a pile of bricks, a few old books and a big hole in the brick wall. While the parley had been going on in the front the wall between the interior of the vault and one of the cells had been knocked down, and the booty gone. That is, if it was ever there, which is to be doubted.
The policemen will have their hearing before Judge Foxworthy at 3 o'clock this afternoon. Chief Dinges appeared before Judge Stewart this morning to answer the writ of habeas corpus, and for alleged contempt in refusing to obey the court's order last night. The chief stated that at the time the writ was served on him he did not have possession of the prisoners, having turned them over to Judge Brown. The court stated that there was a technical case of contempt only, and discharged the chief.
The hole in the rear of the vault opens into the first cell in the corridor and is through a wall three bricks in thickness. It is said that the goods were out three-quarters of an hour before the constable secured ingress.
On Jan. 22, 1892, O. P. Dinges was arrested on the charge of grand larceny. Article courtesy of Morning World Herald - Saturday, January 23, 1892.
Headline: Chief Dinges Arrested
Lincoln's Chief of Police Arrested by the Gamblers for Larceny.
The Sealed Bonds Have Become a White Elephant-District Court Notes-Lincoln News.
At 2 o'clock this afternoon a constable walked into police headquarters, where Chief of Police Dinges was removing his overcoat, having just returned from Kearney, and after reading a warrant placed the chief under arrest under the charge of grand larceny. Dinges immediately gave bail for his appearance and was released. The affair created no surprise, as it had been expected daily and would have occurred before if Justice Foxworthy had not refused to issue a warrant. This is only another act in the gambling raid episode and can end only in one was. It will be remembered that on the 10th of last September a raid was made by order of the chief on the gambling rooms over the Ivy Leaf saloon, run by Anson Fullington, Dennis Hammond and others. It has been alleged that among the articles captured was $35 in cash, of which no account or mention was ever made. The gamblers have sworn to be avenged on the chief for the war that he has waged against them, and have been trying for some time to secure a warrant for his arrest, charging him with having taken the money found in the gambling rooms and appropriating it to his own use. Justice Foxworthy refused to issue a warrant for fear that owing to a certain coolness between the two men, Dinges might think him a party to the scheme. Today Hammond appeared before the county court and reiterated his charges and secured a warrant. The paper was immediately put into the hands of the sheriff for service. Chief Dinges says that he is not worrying any over the matter. He had known for some time that such a scheme was likely to be sprung, but had not considered it necessary to leave town to avoid it. He further says that he can account for everything taken from the Ivy Leaf rooms. He considers the affair simply in the light of a persecution to even upon his fight against the "tinhorns" that have so long infested the city.
Obituary from the Lincoln Daily Star - Tuesday, April 25, 1916
Headline: Passing of Mr. Dinges.
Old residents of Lincoln learn with regret of the death at Kansas City of O. P. Dinges, following an automobile accident in which he was injured. There was a strenuous period in the history of Lincoln when there was probably no man in the city so widely known as O. P. Dinges. It was when he was chief of police during the administration of the late A. H. Wier as mayor.
Mayor Wier was elected on a platform that was at that time regarded as somewhat puritanical, and called upon Mr. Dinges to help him fulfill the obligation he had undertaken. He could hardly have selected a more determined man for such a strenuous duty.
At the time Mr. Dinges was elevated to the chieftainship of the police department he had achieved a competence and was ready to retire from active pursuits. Doubtless he may have thought that the position he was led to accept would be a fine opportunity to ease off. If so, he could not have made a greater mistake, for as far as retirement from the strenuous life is concerned, he might as well have accepted a job in a rolling mill.
Every police officer who conscientiously enforces the law invites, and never fails to receive ample abuse and unpopularity. Mr. Dinges, lofty as were his purposes and conscientious as were his acts, fell heir to the common lot, and when he retired from the position he found himself burdened with damage suits and other litigation that depleted his fortune.
It is gratifying to his friends to know that after his removal to Kansas City a dozen years ago he retrieved some of his losses, but if he had lived a thousand he never would have outlived the unmerited odium that attached to his faithful police service for Lincoln's moral uplift.
Oliver Perry Dinges is now buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, MO. Along with his wife and son.