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Biography - ROBERT K. DEWEY

Having the distinction of being one of the oldest continuous residents of Greenville, Robert K. Dewey has been an important factor in stimulating the growth and prosperity of the city, and a brief review of his long and useful life cannot fail to be of interest to the people of this section of Southern Illinois, and we are therefore pleased to place before the readers of this volume an outline of the chief events of his active career. Coming from honored New England ancestry, he was born August 25, 1830, in Lenox. Massachusetts, one of the most beautiful spots in the Berkshire hills, where Dame Nature fashioned scenery exquisite in its variety and marvelous in its quiet beauty.

His father, Oliver Dewey, whose birth occurred in the same town, July 24, 1805, was brought up on a farm, and as a boy and youth attended the public schools and the Lenox Academy. An excellent scholar, he prepared for college, but on account of delicate health did not matriculate. Soon after attaining his majority he was appointed deputy sheriff, an office which he filled for the next twenty-five years. Coming then with his family to Illinois, he took up land in Aurora, Kane county, and was there engaged in general farming for a long time. On retiring from active pursuits he came to Greenville, and subsequently lived with his son Robert during his remaining years, passing away March 4, 1901. In June, 1829, he was united in marriage with Eliza Sabin, a native of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, her birth there occurring on June 4, 1907. She died in Sandwich, De Kalb county, Illinois, December 23, 1886. They were both devoted members of the Congregational church, and in politics he was a steadfast Republican. Six children were born of their union, as follows: Robert K., the special subject of this sketch; Edmund S., deceased; Hannah J., wife of C. H. Sabin; Oliver B., deceased; Charles A.; and Myra E., wife of Andrew Beveredge.

Spending the first twenty years of his life in the Berkshires, Robert K. Dewey obtained the rudiments of his education in the public schools of Lenox, and subsequently continued his studies in the old academy in which his father had previously been a pupil. Coming to Illinois in 1851, he taught school in Troy, Madison county, for a time, and in 1854 located permanently in Greenville, Bond county, which has since been his home. Taking up surveying, a profession in which he was an expert, Mr. Dewey followed it many years, and superintended the laying out of almost all of the town site of Greenville. He served as county surveyor many terms, and still does much surveying in this section of the country.

In 1861 Mr. Dewey offered his services to his country, but was denied enlistment on account of sickness. He enlisted, however, in 1864 as quartermaster sergeant of the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. His brother, the late Edmund S. Dewey, served during the war as captain of a company belonging to the One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, while his brother Oliver was a private in the Tenth Illinois Cavalry. His other brother, Charles A. Dewey, tried to enlist, but was rejected, as the forefinger of his right hand was missing.

Returning to Greenville at the close of the war, Mr. Dewey continued as a surveyor until 1871, when he accepted the position of bookkeeper in the First National Bank of Greenville, and retained it for ten years. Being made county surveyor in 1884, he held the office continuously until the last election, in 1908, when he refused to run again. Since that time Mr. Dewey has been actively engaged in the real estate and insurance business, and also does considerable surveying.

A prominent and active member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Mr. Dewey has belonged to this organization for over three score years, and has the distinction of being the oldest Odd Fellow in Southern Illinois. A zealous worker in the efforts to advance the good of the order, he has held the highest office of the order in the state, in 1872 having served as grand patriarch. He is also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, in which he has held all of the offices. Politically he is an active supporter of the principles of the Republican party, and religiously, true to the faith of his ancestors, he is a Congregationalist.

Extracted 10 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1138-1139.

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