Calhoun County

1891 Biography - James Dewey

JAMES M. DEWEY is the oldest resident of Hardin, and the son of one of the earliest settlers of Calhoun County. He was born in Ohio, September 15, 1822. His father Abel Dewey, and his paternal grandfather were both natives of Virginia and the latter was a pioneer of Ohio, where he spent his last years. The father of our subject was reared and married in Virginia, Susan Dewey, also a Virginian by birth becoming his wife.

After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Dewey removed to Ohio, and after living there a few years, in 1827 started with their two children for this State, which was then considered in the Far West. They journeyed by the way of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to St. Louis. Mo., and after sojourning a year in the vicinity of that place, in 1828 came to what is now Calhoun County. At that time the country was sparsely settled, the Indians still made their home here and deer, wolves and bears were plentiful in the timber and on the prairies. The father of our subject bought a tract of timber land near Billerica, built a log house in the wilderness and at once commenced to clear a farm. His useful career as a pioneer farmer of the county was cut short by his death a few years later. His wife spent her last years in Hardin.

Our subject was six years old when he came to this county with his parents and has a distinct recollection of the pioneer scenes amid which he was reared. There were no schools in the county for some years, and the first was taught in a log schoolhouse on the subscription plan. For some years the family lived quite secluded as their neighbors were few and far between, and none lived very near the farm. Game and fish formed an important part of their fare, and the mother used to card, spin and weave and make all the cloth worn by the family; the men usually wore buckskin trousers.

Mr. Dewey was but a boy when his father died. He continued to live with his mother for a time and then went out to work by the day and month on a farm and was engaged in cutting cordwood, teaming to the river, etc. After marriage he invested in a farm a mile and one-half south of the court-house, but did not settle on it, continuing to reside in Hardin and renting his farm. He settled in this town in March, 1848, and has made his home here ever since. He was in business here nearly forty years and is widely known and respected.

Mr. Dewey was married July 12, 1849, in Columbiana, Greene County, Ill., to Caroline Brannam. The following three children have blessed their marriage: Helen, wife of M. J. Parker, of Jersey County; Emma, wife of B. F. Hammond, of Hardin; and Grant, who is Postmaster at Hardin.

Mrs. Dewey is a native of this State, born in Carrolton, Greene County, January 25, 1823. Her father, Absalom Brannam, was born and reared in Virginia, and went from there when a young man to Ohio, where he was married to Mary A. N. Halbert, a native of that State. They became early settlers of Carrolton, in this State, where they lived a short time prior to coming to Calhoun County, of which they were early pioneers. Mr. Brannam bought land here, but after living on it two years sold it and returned to Carrolton, where he followed his trade as a shoe-maker, and there he spent his remaining days, dying in 1845, in the month of November. Mrs. Dewey's mother subsequently married John Maitland and spent her last years in Hardin, her death occurring January 3, 1878.

Extracted 23 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 755-756


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