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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Dey Ventured To Lebanon From Jersey, Met Jackson, Clay

Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Among the many pioneers of Warren County was a well-known gentleman named John E. Dey. He was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in 1791. He was the only child of William and Phoebe (Ely) Dey, natives of New Jersey. His grandfather, John Dey, was a surveyor and an extensive real estate dealer who moved from New York to New Jersey.
At the age of two John moved with his father to Kentucky, the trip he well remembered. It was down the Ohio River. The Indians were still hostile and the flatboat was fired on several times. After living in Kentucky two years, the family returned to New Jersey, where he grew to manhood and learned the carpentry trade.
In January 1818, John married Sarah Mount, and in May they moved to Cincinnati. A short time later they settled in Lebanon.
In 1822, he ventured through the South spending his winters first working at his trade, and afterward selling plows, which he, along with a gentleman named Hackney, manufactured in Lebanon. (The firm's name was Hackney & Dey.) The plow was of an improved sort and was the first of its kind manufactured west of Pittsburgh. His business trips covered the rivers of the Ohio and Mississippi from Cincinnati to New Orleans. His trips would start in the fall and end in the spring, the last one being made in 1845.
When he first made his treks south, Memphis had a total population of just one white man, who was living with a tribe of Indians. A single blockhouse represented Vicksburg.
Deys' winters were spent at Bruinsburg on the plantation of Judge Bruin, who afterward became the first Governor of Mississippi. Andrew Jackson, years before when he was just a Colonel, lived at this place. Colonel Jackson quite often frequented the plantation and Mr. Dey became well acquainted with him. He remembered that he was a tall, slim man, with a nervous manner. He used to carry a pocket full of shelled corn and play with the grains at the dining table.
Dey told a story about Andrew Jackson that was more fact than fiction. He said Colonel Jackson, soon after he came to Mississippi, went back into the woods about four miles from the river to a noted meeting place of the hunting gentlemen of the country. Here he started a saloon, which he continued for many years. He never appeared behind the bar, but the establishment was his and he was responsible for it.
Dey's first trip to Lebanon from Cincinnati was by stagecoach, the trip taking a day and-a-half. The roads were so atrocious that the route was taken through the woods rather than by road. The appearance of Lebanon was nothing like it is now. There was a sugar camp where the present courthouse now stands. The total east end was planted in corn.
The first businesses he remembered in town were a grocery operated by William Lowry; George Foglesong had a pottery just below Broadway; a man named Nixon operated a tannery; and John Reeves kept a saddler shop. There were two taverns, one managed by Mr. Corwin and another whose owner was called Parcell. Phineas Ross was cashier of the Lebanon Bank and his brother, Thomas, was a lawyer.
Lebanon was on the regular stagecoach road from the South and West to the East. All the Southern and Western Senators and Representatives passed through here.
Mr. Dey remembered many, but the one who stuck out most was Henry Clay. He recollected him very well, describing him as a tall, heavy, loosely jointed man.
One story told by Dey was the occasion of Thomas Corwin's change from farmer to politician. Young Thomas was a stout, robust farmer and he was never to be outdone. At one of the corn huskings a few of the men were bragging of what they could do. Young Tom, committed not to be outdone, exclaimed, "Pshaw! fellows, that's nothing. Why, I can kick the moon out of its socket. Look here." With no regards to his safety, he made a herculean spring into the air, but, losing his balance, came down on his kneecaps, thus injuring them so that he was unable to walk for some time. With this venture, he was forced to give up all thoughts of farming and turn to law.

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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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