WILLIAM HENRY DEWS, widely and prominently known throughout this district in connection with his agricultural and financial interests, is one of Macoupin county's native sons, his birth occurring in Western Mound township, March 20, 1852, his parents being John and Sylvia (Morris) Dews. The paternal grandparents, Thomas and Mary Dews, were natives of Yorkshire, England, where the family had been established many generations ago, coming to that country originally from France. There Thomas Dews engaged in agricultural pursuits and there his son, John Dews, the father of our subject, was born, in the village of Helaugh, on the 15th of September, 1806. In 1829 he crossed the Atlantic to America, but returned to his native country for a short visit soon afterward. Upon again coming to this country in 1831 he located first at Cincinnati, Ohio, where he remained three years, after which he came to Macoupin county, in 1834, and located upon government land in Western Mound township. He was a farmer by occupation and continued to engage in that line of activity throughout his active career. That he was successful in his undertaking is indicated by the fact that at the time of his death he was the owner of fifteen hundred acres of land and was numbered among the extensive land owners and successful business men of this locality. He had three brothers who also sought a home in this country, namely: William, a farmer, who passed away in Cincinnati, Ohio; Robert, who also engaged in agricultural pursuits in Macoupin county and died about 1853, during the cholera epidemic; and George, a Methodist minister, who passed away in Greene county, Illinois. John Dews married Sylvia Morris, who was born on the 8th of June, 1819, near Thornmore Inn, Lincolnshire, England, a daughter of John and Ann (Sexty) Morris. Her father, a son of John and Mary Morris, was born in England on the 17th of June, 1792, and in his native country was married on the 1st of May, 1815, to Ann Sexty, who was born May 4, 1794, a daughter of Richard and Rebecca Sexty, natives of the parish of Thorn, Yorkshire, England. John Morris came with his family to America in 1830, and here established his home in Chesterfield township, Macoupin county, Illinois, where he took up government land. In his family were eleven children, namely: Hiram Sexty, born April 15, 1816, a sailor who was lost at sea; Eric, born September 13, 1817; Sylvia, the mother of our subject; Felix, born February 25, 1821; Ann, born September 8, 1823; Mary, born May 6, 1825; Elizabeth, born January 18, 1827; Robert, who died in infancy; Rebecca, who also passed away in infancy; John, born January 25, 1832; and Adelaide, born June 1, 1834. Unto John and Sylvia (Morris) Dews were born nine children, of whom three died in infancy, the others being: Eliza, the deceased wife of Charles Towse, of Chesterfield; Mary Francis, the widow of Bethel Towse, residing in Sterling, Kansas; Elizabeth Ann, who married John Dams, of Chesterfield; Hannah, the wife of Benson Weisner, of Greene county, Illinois; William Henry, of this review; and Abiah S., who married James W. Hall, of Chesterfield, mentioned elsewhere in this history.William Henry Dews, whose name introduces this sketch, was educated in the public schools of this county and during the period of his boyhood and youth, when not busy with his text-books, he assisted his father in the work of the home farm, thus gaining comprehensive experience and thorough knowledge concerning the best methods of carrying on agriculture. In 1894 he became identified with general merchandising in Chesterfield, Illinois, and was therewith connected until 1900, when he sold his stock and withdrew from mercantile interests. In that year he organized the Bank of Chesterfield, of which he became president, and he has since remained the executive head of that institution, which is one of the well known and popular moneyed concerns in the county. Throughout this entire period, however, he maintained a deep interest in agricultural pursuits and now divides his attention between his financial and farming enterprises. From time to time he has added to his holdings until today he is the owner of eleven hundred acres of farm land, all in one body, equipped with fine buildings and constituting one of the best improved and valuable properties of Macoupin county. At one time he also had heavy live-stock interests, being one of the first to introduce fine blooded Hereford cattle into this section, and was recognized throughout this district as a breeder of high grade stock. In the management of both branches of his affairs he manifested much executive ability, keen sagacity and clear judgment, and is rightly classed among the most prosperous and successful residents of his part of the state.
Mr. Dews was married, on the 18th of August, 1892, to Miss Hattie Belle Kidd, of Virden, Macoupin county, a daughter of Simon James and Martha E. (Evans) Kidd. The paternal grandparents of Mrs. Dews were Benjamin and Hannah (Reese) Kidd, natives of Virginia, who came to Macoupin county early in the year 1830, and here the mother passed away when her son Simon was eight years of age. The father, a farmer by occupation, died in 1878, in southern Illinois. In their family were ten children, of whom three passed away in early childhood, Simon James Kidd being the ninth in order of birth. The others were as follows: Mary Ann, the deceased wife of Jackson Barr, of Kansas; John W., of Litchfield, Illinois; Isaac R., deceased; Sarah, the deceased wife of James W. Henderson of Barrs Store, Illinois; Thomas, who died in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1880; and Lizzie, who has also passed away Simon James Kidd, who was born on the 10th of March, 1848, had an interesting military record, enlisting for service in the Civil war when only fifteen years of age. He became a private of the Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, joining his regiment at Vicksburg, and from the very first saw much active service. he participated in all of the important engagements of his command and was with Sherman during the latter's Atlanta campaign. He was captured while on detached duty, and held at the prison at Andersonville for a period of six months, or until the close of the war. Throughout the entire period of his service he was loyal to the cause for which the Union was struggling, whether stationed on the lonely picket line or in the midst of the fight, and never, throughout his service, did his courage wane nor his loyalty falter. He was married, on the 27th of December, 1868, to Martha E. Evans, a daughter of William and Louisiana (Noble) Evans, who were the parents of six children, namely: Belle, the wife of Clifford Roland, of Farmersville, Illinois; Martha E., the wife of Mr. Kidd; Catharine, the widow of Joseph Beard, of St. Elmo, Illinois; Albert Evans, of Paumee, Illinois; Benjamin Evans, residing at Virden, and Hattie, who married C. L. Davidson, of Virden. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Simon James Kidd were born six children, as follows: Hattie Belle, the deceased wife of William Henry Dews, of this review; William and Albert, both of Portland, Oregon; Mary, residing in Chesterfield; Richard, also of Portland; and James E., of Virden. Unto William Henry Dews and Hattie Belle Kidd were born three children: John Dale, born December 7, 1894; Olive, who passed away in infancy; and William Simon, whose birth occurred on the 23d of February, 1901. March 3, 1901, Mrs. dews passed away at Chesterfield.
Mr. Dews is well known to the fraternal circles of this community as a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Knights of Pythias, while his religious faith is that of the Episcopal church, of whom he is now serving as vestryman. He gives stalwart allegiance to the republican party and for some time served as justice of the peace. His fellow citizens manifested their appreciation of his ability and worth by electing him to the office of mayor of Chesterfield, and while incumbent in that office he instituted many needed reforms and improvements, chief among the latter being the laying of cement walks throughout the village. His efforts have ever been closely allied with those of the community in which he resides and his efforts have been effective forces in promoting progress and advancing the general welfare of this portion of the county. The family occupies a foremost position in the social circles of Chesterfield, and Mr. Dews is popular with a large circle of friends which is almost coextensive with the circle of his acquaintance.