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Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HON. W. C. DEAN, one of the prominent citizens of Jackson County, now living in Ava, has the honor of being a native of Illinois, for his birth occurred in Rockwood, Randolph County, December 10, 1838. His father, James Dean, was born in Chelsea, Mass., January 22, 1810, and in 1836 emigrated to Illinois, locating in Rockwood, then called Old Liberty, where he engaged in the wood business. He was married December 14, 1837, to Ann Eliza Charles, who was born November 7, 1819, and was a daughter of Capt. William B. Charles, a native of Kentucky, who came to Illinois about 1835. Her father was a steamboat captain on the Mississippi River. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Dean were born the following children: Mary E., born July 28, 1844, was married October 26, 1858, to Dr. W. W. Jones, by whom she has a son, W. E., who is now Deputy Circuit Clerk. She was again married April 15, 1875, to Whitney Gilbreath, a Drainage Commissioner of the Big Lake District; they have three children, Lee, Nellie and Matie. Murray M. is represented elsewhere in this work. Ellen Elvira, born March 12, 1851, was married November 1, 1871, to Henry L. Jones, a druggist of Jackson, Mo., and they have five children: Duree, a graduate of Bryant and Stratton’s Business College of St. Louis; Winnie, a sophomore in Ward’s Seminary of Nashville, Tenn.; Nellie, Murray and George O.

The father of this family made a failure of the wood business. He then began building flat-boats, and later embarked in merchandising, becoming one of the prominent and prosperous merchants of southern Illinois. He also dealt quite extensively in real estate. His wife, who was a member of the Presbyterian Church, died November 3, 1860, and he was again married February 2, 1863, his second union being with Esther C. La Puff, who was born in Orange County, N. Y., August 12, 1824. They were married in Brooklyn, N. Y., and the lady died October 3, 1875. The death of Mr. Dean occurred October 17, 1881. He too was a member of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he was a Democrat, and in an early day served as Postmaster of Rockwood.

Under the parental roof our subject was reared, and his education was acquired in the common schools and in an academy in St. Louis, together with one year’s attendance at Shurtleff College. His business training was received in his father’s store, and in 1865 he went to Shiloh Hill, where he embarked in merchandising for himself, building up an extensive trade, which rewarded his efforts during his thirteen years’ residence at that place. He first formed a partnership with G. W. Young, but a year later sold out. He also made some judicious investments in real estate, which yielded him a good income.

April 7, 1869, Mr. Dean was joined in wedlock with Miss Clare Josephine, daughter of J. K. and Elizabeth (Gillespie) Burke, the former a native of North Carolina. Mrs. Dean was born near Shiloh October 9, 1850, and was there educated. Three children graced this union, of whom two are yet living, Carrie, wife of Will Bowers; and Bessie. The eldest daughter was educated at Monticello Seminary and in Ward Seminary, of Nashville, Tenn., and is an expert musician. In 1878 Mr. Dean came with his family to Ava and purchased a mill. He made extensive shipments of flour to the south, and for some years he also did a large merchandising business. His brother Murray is now connected with him in the milling business. On the 1st of January, 1890, he established the bank which he still conducts, and also opened a cooper shop and lumber yard, which he yet carries on. These enterprises have also been successful. He now owns four thousand acres of the finest land of Illinois, and is one of the wealthiest citizens of Jackson County. He and his wife hold membership with the Presbyterian Church, in which he serves as Elder. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias, and for thirty years has been a member of the Masonic fraternity, and is now Senior Warden. He takes an active part in politics, and is a stanch Democrat. He served as Supervisor of his township, and is now representing his district in the State Legislature, in which he serves on the committees on agriculture, roads and bridges, state institutions, visiting educational institutions and horticulture. He is an able leader of the people, for he is a man of intelligence, and he studies the interests of his constituents. Alike true to every public and private trust, he was won the high regard of all with whom business or social relations have brought him in contact.

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This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Jackson County, Illinois family biographies here: Jackson County, Illinois Biographies

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