MURRAY DEAN, who is prominently connected with the business interests of
Ava, being now engaged in milling, merchandising and banking, was born
December 26, 1848, in Liberty (now Rockwood), Ill. The common schools
afforded him his early educational privileges, and later he studied in the
Chester High School and in an academy in Nashville. He received his business
training as clerk in his father's store, and then was employed as salesman
for John C. Clendennen, of Rockwood, until 1872. In that year he traveled
through the south, handling nursery' stock, and in August, 1873, came to
Ava, where he was made Superintendent in his father's mill, of which he is
Four members of the family became owners of the mill in 1877, and later Murray and his brother W. C. bought out the other partners, running the business together until July, 1893, when our subject became sole owner. The mill is supplied with a full roller process and the latest improved machinery, and has a capacity of two hundred barrels of flour per day. Extensive shipments of the leading brands, "Belle of Ava" and "White Lily," are made to the south. Employment is furnished to fifteen men, and fifteen men are also employed in the cooper shop, which is run in connection with the mill. The elevator has a capacity of forty thousand bushels, and both it and the mill are run by steam power.
In 1875, in connection with his brother W. C., Mr. Dean opened a general store and continued the same under the firm name of Dean Brothers until 1889, when William Divers became a member of the firm. In 1891 our subject bought out his brother, and operations are now carried on under the firm name of William Divers & Co., who do a business of $50,000 per year. They erected a three-story brick building, 80x50 feet, with a storeroom and warehouse on the lower floor and a storeroom and offices on the second floor, while the third floor is used as a Masonic hall and is one of the finest in southern Illinois. Murray Dean is also a member of the firm of Dean Brothers, bankers and lumber merchants of Ava.
In 1874 Mr. Dean was united in marriage with Miss Mary C. Cheatham, who was born in Jackson County in 1856, and is a daughter of Noah Cheatham, now of Ava. They had nine children, eight of whom are yet living, Sadie, Homer Kent, Mamie, Dollie, Maud, Charles, James Lester and Ralph.
In 1890 Mr. Dean erected his fine home, a two-story and basement brick residence of ten rooms, supplied with all modern conveniences and accessories, including hot and cold water, and is heated by steam. It is elegantly and tastefully furnished and is ever open for the reception of their many friends. The family is one of the most prominent in the county. In politics Mr. Dean is a Democrat and has for several terms served on the Village Board. His wife is one of the leading members of the Free Will Baptist Church. A man of good business ability, sagacious and far-sighted, Mr. Dean has through his own efforts won the success which has crowned his life, and therefore well deserves his prosperity.
Extracted 31 Jul 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry, and Monroe Counties, Illinois, pages 652-653.
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