HON. W. C. DEAN, one of the prominent citizens of Jackson County, now
living in Ava, has the honor of being a native of Illinois, for his birth
occurred in Rockwood, Randolph County, December 10, 1838. His father, James
Dean, was born in Chelsea, Mass., January 22, 1810, and in 1836 emigrated to
Illinois, locating in Rockwood, then called Old Liberty, where he engaged in
the wood business. He was married December 14, 1837, to Ann Eliza Charles,
who was born November 7, 1819, and was a daughter of Capt. William B.
Charles, a native of Kentucky, who came to Illinois about 1835. Her father
was a steamboat captain on the Mississippi River. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Dean
were born the following children: Mary E., born July 28, 1844, was married
October 26, 1858, to Dr. W. W. Jones, by whom she has a son, W. E., who is
now Deputy Circuit Clerk. She was again married April 15, 1875, to Whitney
Gilbreath, a Drainage Commissioner of the Big Lake District; they have three
children, Lee, Nellie and Matie. Murray M. is represented elsewhere in this
work. Ellen Elvira, born March 12, 1851, was married November 1, 1871, to
Henry L. Jones, a druggist of Jackson, Mo., and they have five children:
Duree, a graduate of Bryant and Stratton's Business College of St. Louis;
Winnie, a sophomore in Ward's Seminary of Nashville, Tenn.; Nellie, Murray
and George O.
The father of this family made a failure of the wood business. He then began building flat-boats, and later embarked in merchandising, becoming one of the prominent and prosperous merchants of southern Illinois. He also dealt quite extensively in real estate. His wife, who was a member of the Presbyterian Church, died November 3, 1860, and he was again married February 2, 1863, his second union being with Esther C. La Puff, who was born in Orange County, N. Y., August 12, 1824. They were married in Brooklyn, N. Y., and the lady died October 3, 1875. The death of Mr. Dean occurred October 17, 1881. He too was a member of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he was a Democrat, and in an early day served as Postmaster of Rockwood.
Under the parental roof our subject was reared, and his education was acquired in the common schools and in an academy in St. Louis, together with one year's attendance at Shurtleff College. His business training was received in his father's store, and in 1865 he went to Shiloh Hill, where he embarked in merchandising for himself, building up an extensive trade, which rewarded his efforts during his thirteen years' residence at that place. He first formed a partnership with G. W. Young, but a year later sold out. He also made some judicious investments in real estate, which yielded him a good income.
April 7, 1869, Mr. Dean was joined in wedlock with Miss Clare Josephine, daughter of J. K. and Elizabeth (Gillespie) Burke, the former a native of North Carolina. Mrs. Dean was born near Shiloh October 9, 1850, and was there educated. Three children graced this union, of whom two are yet living, Carrie, wife of Will Bowers; and Bessie. The eldest daughter was educated at Monticello Seminary and in Ward Seminary, of Nashville, Tenn., and is an expert musician.
In 1878 Mr. Dean came with his family to Ava and purchased a mill. He made extensive shipments of flour to the south, and for some years he also did a large merchandising business. His brother Murray is now connected with him in the milling business. On the 1st of January, 1890, he established the bank which he still conducts, and also opened a cooper shop and lumber yard, which he yet carries on. These enterprises have also been successful. He now owns four thousand acres of the finest land of Illinois, and is one of the wealthiest citizens of Jackson County. He and his wife hold membership with the Presbyterian Church, in which he serves as Elder. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias, and for thirty years has been a member of the Masonic fraternity and is now Senior Warden. He takes an active part in politics, and is a stanch Democrat. He served as Supervisor of his township, and is now representing his district in the State Legislature, in which he serves on the committees on agriculture, roads and bridges, state institutions, visiting educational institutions and horticulture. He is an able leader of the people, for he is a man of intelligence, and he studies the interests of his constituents. Alike true to every public and private trust, he was won the high regard of all with whom business or social relations have brought him in contact.
Extracted 26 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 601-602.
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