Transcribed by: Mary Ann Kaylor
JOHN DEWS when a man, actuated by pure motives, accomplishes something from which good is derived, he merits the approval of the hearts that love him. A person whom it is proper to praise cannot be flattered, and one who can be flattered ought not to be praised. We feel assured that, by a quiet and blameless life, he is deserving of mention in the pages of our work. He was born in the beautiful little village of Helaugh, Yorkshire, England, September 15, 1806, son of Thomas and Mary Dews.
The Dews family have lived in Yorkshire for many generations, supposed to be of French ancestry. Thomas Dews was a farmer, and educated the subject of our sketch to farm life. At the age of twenty-two Mr. Dews upon hearing o the chances afforded a young man of energy in this new country, emigrated to America, and landed at New York in the spring of 1829. After traveling in the East for a few months, and not meeting with that success he expected, he became homesick, and as he had money enough to pay his passage across the mighty deep, he returned to his native land. In 1831 he again returned to this country with a determination to remain and succeed in life, if hard work and frugality would accomplish that end. When he landed at New York the second time he immediately went to Cincinnati. Upon his arrival at that place he found himself in debt thirty dollars to a comrade. He soon found employment in a rock quarry, at eighty-seven and half cents per day, where he worked a short time. He then went into a brewery, where he engaged himself for three months, at ten dollars per month. At the expiration of this time he worked at a foundry about three years, working hard and saving his money with the intention of coming further west and locating. In 1834 he made a trip into this state, and after looking round for a suitable location, his choice finally centered upon Macoupin county, and in that same year he entered eighty acres of land from the government, but not having sufficient means to improve it, he returned to Cincinnati, where he followed driving state and draying for nearly two years. In 1836 he came to Alton, where he was employed in a warehouse for about eighteen months; in the meantime he employed some parties to break and fence part of his eighty acres of land in this county. In 1837 he settled permanently in Western Mound township and began improving his farm. The same year he was married to Miss Sylvia Morris, of Macoupin county. They have raised a family of six children, five girls and one son, viz: Louisa, Mary F., Elizabeth Ann, Hannah, Abiah Sophia, and William H. The girls are married and settled in the vicinity of Chesterfield, with the exception of Mary F., who is living in Kansas. William H. is still under the parental roof. Mr. Dews in his boyhood received little educational advantages, but in after life, from sheer necessity, he improved his education sufficiently to transact most any ordinary business. We find in Mr. Dews a man who started in life without aid, and what he has accumulated of this world's goods has been by hard work, frugality and good management. Mr. Dews has excelled as an agriculturalist, because he has always conducted his farming operations scientifically. From an eighty acres start in life and this eight gained by menial labor, we find him the possessor of over fourteen hundred acres of land. It is a proof of what energy and frugality will do for a young man in this country, that goes into the battle of life with a firm determination to succeed. In politics he was formerly an old line whig, but upon the formation of the republican party he identified himself with that party and continued to vote on that side; but in minor elections he generally votes for those he considers the best men. He was raised under the tenets of the Episcopal church, though never affiliating with any religious sect. After the gained his majority he always liberally supported religious and educational enterprises, believing that churches and schools form the basis of moral and intellectual development.