The Dean Family
submitted by: John R. Blalock
(note: This is a transcription of 8 pages of info. The spelling
and grammar is typed as it was written)*********** The following pages were copied from a brochure handed out at the Dean Reunion that was held in 1959 at Fairlio, Texas. Thomas Jefferson Dean I, born February 25, 1806 in North Carolina. At some unknown time moved to Butler County, Alabama. Died May 30, l887,at the age of 81, in Butler County, Alabama. Buried at the little Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church, where some of his descendants still attend. It is located near Greenville, Alabama. He was married three times, the second time to Mary Ann Burns, born January 14, 1823, died October 24, 1868. To Thomas Jefferson Dean and Mary Ann Burns Dean were born 13 children and it is their decendents who are gathering at the reunion in Fairlio, Texas over Labor Day Weekend. Thomas Jefferson had 21 children, 8 by his first wife: Frank, Mary and Martha Dean. We do not know the names of the others. The thirteen children by Mary Ann Burns Dean were: Elizabeth or Betty as she was called, who married a man by the name of Smith, who was killed in the War Between the States. To Elizabeth Smith was born one girl, Alice. Later Elizabeth married A.J. Thagard and to this union was born another girl, Fannie Thagard. Fannie Thagard had two children man by the name of Smythe: Jack Smythe and Dixie Smythe. Jack Smythe has one daughter now living in New Orleans, but her name is unknown. The second child of Thomas and Mary Ann Burns Dean was: Thomas Jefferson Dean II, who married Eliza Anderson Simpson and had 10 children. Other children in the order of their birth were: Jesse Jackson, Elijah Edward, Nancy Ann, Emma, Ella, Dora, Henrietta, William Henry and Dumpy. Nine lived to maturity and all nine married, but one, Dora, who married Henry Stallings, had no children.The other 9 had large families. There is not a great deal of information available about Nancy Ann, but it is very likely that she died shortly after her birth. It is possible that Henrietta and Dumpy may be one and the same child; however, if this is true, there are some gaps in the chronological dates of births that are puzzling. We know that William Henry and Dumpy were twins and that Dumpy died at the age of eight and William Henry died in boyhood. It is said that Henrietta became violently ill at the age of eight years, complaining of a severe headache. She was accused by her stepmother of faking illness, and nothing was done to relieve the child,whereupon she died late that evening. William Henry, while a student at Highland Home College in Alabama, was spending a few days at his home in Butler County, either between semesters or for a holiday, when he met his untimely death. Pigeon Creek played a tragic role in Dean Family History several times and this cold February day, it was to have a part in the young boy's tragedy. William Henry has just recovered from a serious case of measles. As he attempted to walk a log that was laid across the creek, his feet slipped and he was plunged into the icy stream. He was able to swim the stream all right, but exposure to the weather brought on pneumonia after so recently recovering from the measles, causing his death. Ella, the only one of the girls who came to Texas, was a twin to Emma. After the death of their mother and a step-mother came into the home, life became very unpleasant for the Dean children. Emma married early in life and Ella went to live with her twin. Although she was comparatively happy living with her married sister, Ella wanted a life of her own. Elijah Edward forwarded her the money for her journey to Texas, where she planned to teach Texas History in the college at Caddo Mills. However, Don Cupid early changed her plans and before she was launched upon a teaching career, she became Mrs. Henry Clay Dugan. It was at Ella's home in Caddo Mills, Texas that the big wedding supper was spread for John Seymore and his bride, Ida Belle Wright Dean. Emma Dean married William (Buddy) Grant and most of their descendents now live around York, Livingston, Ward, Hope Hull, Letohatchie and Montgomery, Alabam. One of Emma's descendants, Mrs. Ruth Richardson, is Private Secretary to the Governor of Alabama. Another descendant, Mr. Warren C. Grant, is Mayor of York Alabama. Emma's oldest daughter, Mrs. Nelia Novian, now at the age of 83 is quite cabably managing her ranch at Paint Rock, Texas. Laura Pauline Dean married Robert Carter Foster and most of her descendents have remained, for the most part, in and near the vicinity of the old planation homestead site near Greenville, Alabama. The four boys, Thomas Jefferson Dean II, Jesse Jackson, (Lige) Elijah Edward and John Seymore, and one sister, Ella, all came to Texas. Three of the boys, Thomas Jefferson, Jesse Jackson, and (lige)Elijah Edward came in 1869 shortly after the close of the War between the States. Thomas and Elijah came by covered wagon caravan, which is a most interesting story in itsself. Jack came by a boat from Mobile to Jefferson,Texas, then worked on a lumber wagon hauling lumber from Cass County to Hunt County. He later developed a business of his own, planting bois d'arc trees for Hunt County fence lines before the days of the barbed wire. Some of these trees still stand and a row of them can be seen on Washington Street in Greenville, Texas, near the intersection of Walnut Street. With the advent of the barbed wire, the early settlers erected the wire fence and tore up their contracts with Jack for the bois d'arc fence rows he had already built for them. That was Jack's first experience in bankruptcy, he later jokingly told his grandchildren. Jack married Alzena Smith and lived out his days near Farmersville. Elijah Edward (Lige)helped to build the network of railroads that weave in and out of Hunt County and recalled to his children in later years that it was the hardest work he had ever performed in all his life. He married Henrietta Angel Greer and moved from Hunt County to Denton County, where he acquired a large acreage of fertile farm land just outside the city of Denton. There he reared his family of nine children and lived out his days. He is buried at Denton. John Seymore Dean was born in October,1868,a year before his three older brothers came to Texas. But the "Texas fever" finally got him and he came to Texas as a young man of 19 and settled first at Plano, Texas. There he met and married Ida Belle Wright, who is the only living member of the second generation of Deans. In later years, John moved to Denton County, purchased a farm not far from his brother, Elijah Edward. and there reared his family of 10 children. At this place, his farm home burned and one of his children burned with the home. He then moved to Amarillo, Texas and most of his descendants now live in and around Amarillo, Texas.John is buried in the Claude Cemetery at Claude, Texas. Three sons of Thomas Jefferson Dean and Mary Ann Burns Dean fought in the Army of the Confederacy in the War Between the States. Frank, his son by his first wife, was a Captain in the Alabama Militia. Tradition has it(though official records have not yet been obtained to verify this0 that Thomas Jefferson Dean II enlisted in the War Between the States in the year of 1861 at the early age of 14 years, and served insteae of his Uncle Jesse McBride, who paid him fifty dollars and gave him a horse to do military service in his stead. It is definitely known that Tom served in the War and that he was given the job of leading the horses for the officers and because tender hearted boy could not find it in his heart to lead his horses straight ahead over the wounded, deah and dying soldiers, he came into disfavor with his superior officer. The Captain commanded that he lead the horses straight ahead or be shot from under his own horse. Tom could not do it for many of the men were his own friends and relatives. Tom was then place at the battle front where he was shortly thereafter wounded in the thigh and sent home to recuperate. As soon as he was able to walk, however, he returned to active combat and remained in the conflict until Lee's surrender at Appomatox. He served in battles near his home town in Butler County, Alabama. Jesse Jackson Dean served under the Captaincy of his half brother, Frank Dean. Two years younger than his brother, Tom, Jack also enlisted in the Army of the Confederacy as soon as he could-- at the age of fourteen. Shortly after entering the service, the youngster was caught asleep while on duty by one of his superior officers and was court martialed. The pernalty for this offence should have been death by the firing squad, but he was so young, and the South needed men so badley that it was decided at the court martial to pardon him and let him return to active duty, which he did and he served in active combat until the end of the War. He lived a long and active life and died in 1933 in Farmersville, Texas where he is buried in the I.O.O. F. Cemetary with a Confederate Soldier's marker at his grave. At the close of the War Between the States, the Dean Family found their life which they had known in plantation days considerably altered. Impoverished by the Union armies in the raids, left without seeds for planting, or without tools and implements with which to till the soil even if they had been allotted sufficient seed for planting, their slaves freed and their homes ravished and plundered, without food, clothing, or the necessities of life, the Dean's became obsessed with the idea of travelling westward to the great open plains of Texas. This idea especially appealed to the youngsters, Jack and Lige Dean. Adventure filled the minds of the youngest of the Deans, but the older ones were not so romantic about the trek. From childhood to manhood, Thomas Dean II emerged without the care free days of youth that a boy is entitled to. He had entered the War at the age of 14 and had witnessed the bloody horrors of war and returned home with the realization that life could never be the same again for him and his family. But he did not want to leave hi native Alabama. For many months, Thomas refused listen to the tales of the woundous Lone Star State. Texas had been engaged in the conflict too, and Tom could not see the value of pulling up stakes and going from one state of woe to another. It was Lige and Jack and his wife's people who wanted to go to Texas. The Andersons, the Simpsons, The Shields, the Skinners and the Woods, all relatives of Eliza Anderson Simpson Dean, thrilled to the stories about life in Texas, as related in letters to them from other members of the family already in the Lone Star State. Finally, Thomas Jefferson II yielded to his wife's tearful pleadings and joined in the preparations for the long journey to Texas.It was not an easy decision. In October, 1868, his mother had died at the birth of his youngest brother, John Seymore. A week before her death, John Seymore came into the world, unaware of the destiny that awaited him in life in the home of a step-mother. The week before John's birth,there was a death in the family and a week after his birth, another death--that of his mother. An interesting episode took place when Mary Ann Dean's body was being carried to its final resting place. Pigeon Creek crossed the plantation land of Thomas Jefferson Dean I and the fall rains had raised its level and increased the swiftness of its downstream flow until it was almost like a river. To reach the Mt. Zion Baptist Cemetery, Pigeon Creek must be crossed. The funeral procession started across the creek. In those days, there were no bridges. They simply waded the streams. As the wagon carrying the body of Mary Ann reached midstrem, the casket floated off and down the creek. Tom, Jack and Lige galloped on their horses to catch the rapidlly disappearing casket. Finally, the three boys retrieved the body, replaced it on the wagon, and the funeral procession proceeded to the burial grounds. Thomas Jefferson II was loathe to leave his bereaved father with a house full of little ones. He knew it would be the responsibility of his sisters to care for them, especially the oldest sister, Betty, who had two small ones of her own. But what man can withstand the wishes and the desires and the tearful pleadings of the one he has promised to love and honor and to cherish "til death do us part". And so, Eliza's tears and her pleadings finally prevailed and Tom II agreed to visit Texas for one year. Then, he expected to return to Alabama and make his home there for the rest of his life. But Tom came to Texas and staid, never returning to Alabama for even on visit to his native state. On October 25, 1869, the caravan of six covered wagons left Butler County, Alabama, for the great open spaces of Texas, and The Deans, the Shields, the Simpsons, the Andersons and the Skinners, composed this "Pioneer Pocession" of migrants who had caught the spirit of Westwad Ho in the aftermath of the War Between the States. Thomas Jefferson Dean II and his wife, Eliza, loaded their oxdrawn wagon with the barest necessitites: A spinning wheel, a small curved-top trunk of clothers, some home spun blankets, guns, ammunition, and food. The ox-drawn wagons made slow progress, and soon the adventurous spirits were brought low in the dust. In every wagon was a pregnant woman, and from one to five small children. They had nothing to lose by making the journey, true, for life had been unbearable in the wake of the war. Everything dear and precious to them had gone with the conflict. But the wearisome journey became at times, almost unbearable. The caravan traveled through Mississippi and Louisiana on a well-traveled trail, all the wagons staying close together and the men taking turns doing the chores. When eveningtide came, the six wagons pitched camp under a tree on the trail. The wagons were drawn up in a circle, with the ends of the wagons facing the center of the circle. The oxen were unhitched and tied to the wagons for the nights rest. The men and boys of the group set themselves to the task of gathering timber, brush and firewood and a fire circle was built completely around the outside of the wagons. Then, each family group made their own fire within the circle and cooked their meals for that evening and for the next days journey. There would be potatoes baked underthe embers of the campfire, cornpone, parched corn, wild turkey or other wild game, and birds, or perhaps fish. Certain men of the group were appointed each day to be watchmen for the night and it was their duty to keep the fires burnig, as well as to be alert for horse thieves or wild animals. Others hunted or fished or brought in food, while the women folks tended to the meals and their children. As the covered wagons approached Shreveport, Louisiana, Jacob Simpson's baby girl became violently ill. The caravan pitched camp early that evening and the mother and father watched over the sick child with faint hearts. Next morning, the child's condition grew worse and the group became alarmed. Provisions had diminished to the danger point and if the child's illness required a long stop-over, it would mean hunger and perhaps starvation for all. It was now the second month of their journey but many long miles still lay ahead of them and the nights were treacherously cold. Dr.Anderson, the Physician in the crowd, watched by the child's side with misgivings not only for her recovery, but also for other children in the group. It was decided that the other five wagons must continue on their journey next morning and leave Jacob and Ella Simpson and their family to brave it alone under the Live Oak in Louisiana,until their child recovered sufficientlly for the onward journey. The second day, the five wagons moved ahead, disheartened and discouraged. The Simpsons remained behind to nurse their desperately sick child. As evening drew nigh, the baby girl developed pneumonia and in a few hours died in her mother's arms. The Baptist Minister- School Teacher father dug the small grave under the Live Oak tree, carefully wrapped his baby daughter in her blankets, and laid her to her final rest about the time of day that the other wagons were beginning to pitch camp a day's journey ahead. When the news came to the group in the five wagons ahead that the Simpson child was dead, regret filled their hearts and minds that they had elected to move ahead and leave their brother and family to bury their dead child without friend or family to comfort them. But the brave pioneer hearts of this covered wagon caravan brushed aside their tears and hardened themselves for the great task that were to be theirs in the shaping and the making Texas History. They arrived in White Rock, Texas, on Christmas Day, December 25,1869. White Rock is still a small community about seven miles north of Greenville, Texas, but in these pioneer days, it was a thriving community, alive with the same sort of life that we visualize when we see the famous painting "Law West of the Pecos," where men took their religion and their politics seriously and the women cared for a house full of children. To greet the covered wagon caravan when it arrived in White Rock that brisk Christmas Day of 1869 were Franklin and Penelope Anderson Shields, the father of Johnson and Frank Shields who were in the caravan. It was, indeed, a family reunion because everybody in the group was related to everybody else. The family of Franklin and Penelope Shields were to become known for it was Franklin and Penelope who produced the famous Shields brothers who carried the circus billing as "The Texas Giants". Discovered in 1880 by the late P.T. Barnum as they punched cattle on their father's ranchlands around White Rock the four tallest of the nine Shields brothers were signed up by the showman and billed as...... the four tallest brothers in captivity." All were over seven feet. Three of the brothers became homesick after a few years in the circus and returned to Texas in 1888 to return to their former profession of teaching school, but Shade, christened Shadrack, went on to make a famous career in show business. The family of Dean is synonymous whith the church. In Alabama, the whole family of Thomas Jefferson Dean I attended church as a family unit at the Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church. Some of his descendants still attend there. Thomas Jefferson II hauled the lumber from East Texas and helped to build the Sonora Baptist Church located just outside what is now known as Fairlio, Tesas. The church building and the old fashioned brush arbor stood near what is now a modern arched entrance to the Sanora Cementery where many or the Deans and the Shields have been laid to rest. Seven of theDean children joined the church at Sonora and baptised in a creek which still, flows near the cemetery. Many Deans and Shields buried in Sonora cemetery. Johnse Shields one of the members of the covered wagon carravam was Church Clerk there for many years. Elijah (Lige) and Henrietta Dean organized the Plainview Baptist Church near Denton, Texas and it is still an active, progressive church in the community. Lige was known throughout Denton County for his generosity toward the poor, especially the poor children,and he has given a helping hand to many boy who needed a dollar in his pocket and a pat on the shoulder to keep up his spirits and hold his head high in the world of give and take. It is said of Laura Pauline Dean that her neighbors always called her to their bedside before calling a doctor. If Laura could not help them, then in their desperation, a physician was called in. And Emma was known as "the grand old lady" in her community and the communities round about. Heart ache is heartache, whether it be caused from the misory and suffering of national war, or from the misunderstandings and uproar in a home. While the older members of Thomas Jefferson Dean's children seemed to suffer most from the ravages of war, the younger ones suffered from sorrow in the home. But no human being can possibly understand the sufferings and sorrows of the Lord Jesus Christ unless he himself has sufered. And so, God, in His infinite longing and yearning to draw mankind to Him, permitsthe tragedies of life to fall in our lives in order that we might come to know Him. The Deans have a Christian Heritage. The torch is now ours. May we keep the fire of Christianity burning for our generations and the next and for all generations to come, until Christ shall come in all His Wonderful Glory to receive us unto Himself. And may we never permit the hurts of life to turn us away from Him, for it is not what the other fellow does to us, but what we ourselves do with our lives that counts for eternity. ************************ Before I start typing the exerts from the brochure I mentioned in my letter that Debbi just read to you pertaining to history, I would also like to contribute a part to your worship service this Sunday morning. In another part of the brochure,I read the following words and it is certainly food for thought for us all. "The worn out Bibles of Jack Dean, Lige Dean, Tom Dean, Laura Pauline and Emma testify to the kind of lives they lived. Is your Bible coming apart from use, with the pages worn and tattered, the verses underscored in red or, is it nice and new and clean Bible and UNUSED?"
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