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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  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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WILSON DEWEY, the worthy octogenarian whose portrait* is here in view, a retired citizen of Haydenville, was born in Granby, Conn., July 1, 1815, son of Aaron, Jr., and Lovisa (Gillett) Dewey. Mr. Dewey’s paternal grandparents, Aaron, Sr., and Beadee (Gillett) Dewey, were lifelong residents of Granby. Grandfather Dewey, who was a well-to-do farmer, was a Whig in politics, and was a member of the Baptist church. Both he and his wife died at a ripe old age. Their children were: Aaron, Jr., Beadee, and Theda.

Aaron Dewey, Jr., was born in Granby in 1791, and died at the age of forty-five years. He was educated in the schools of his native town; and in early manhood he inherited part of the homestead, and purchased additional land till he had a farm of one hundred acres. He was a Whig in politics and a Baptist in his religion. He and his wife, whose name before marriage was Lovisa Gillett, became the parents of eight children, as follows: William, Mary, Watson, Wilson, Willis, Susan, Laura, and Wayne, the last of whom died young. Mrs. Lovisa G. Dewey married for her second husband a Mr. Stone, and died at the age of seventy-two. She was a member of the Congregational church at the time of her death.

Wilson Dewey received his education in Granby, and at the age of eighteen began work in a brass foundry, where he was employed in making andirons, fire shovels, and tongs by hand for twelve years. He then engaged in the carpenter’s trade with his brother Watson, and, being a natural mechanic, soon developed into a skilled workman. He later relinquished the carpenter’s trade to engage in manufacturing wagons and sleighs at North Granby; and, a short time after, he, in company with his brother Willis, purchased that business, to which they added the manufacturing of coffins. They conducted the enterprise successfully for seven years, at the expiration of which they sold to good advantage. In the mean time Mr. Dewey had bought a house in Granby, which he improved to a considerable extent; but this he later disposed of, and bought a farm. He followed agriculture for two years, and then went to Collinsville, Conn., where he was employed for seven months in finishing bayonets. From that place he moved to Northampton, Mass., and was similarly employed for another seven months. He later became Postal Clerk upon the route from New Haven to Northampton. Some years previous to this he was financially interested in the wholesale and retail fruit and produce firm of Dewey & Pratt. Later buying his partner’s interest in the business, he admitted his son Mortimer as a partner; and the firm of Dewey & Son conducted an extensive business for some time. Mr. Dewey relinquished mercantile business to enter the postal service, later being transferred to the Williamsburg route, on which he remained for fourteen years, and then retired.

Mr. Dewey is a Republican in politics, and is active in public affairs. He has been a member of the Board of Selectmen for three years, and he represented his district in the legislature in 1888. He is Vice-President and a Director of the Haydenville Savings Bank. He was made a Free Mason in Granby, and is now a member of Hampshire Lodge, and also of the Chapter and Council. He became a charter member of the lodge of Odd Fellows in Granby, of which he was Past Grand and District Deputy; but that lodge is now extinct. In 1884 Mr. Dewey bought the Briggs house, which is pleasantly located on West Main Street, Haydenville; and he has since resided here with the exception of a short time passed in Boston.

On September 28, 1841, Mr. Dewey was united in marriage with Mary M. Spencer, who was born in New Hartford, Conn., daughter of Milton and Amanda (Garrett) Spencer. Mrs. Dewey’s grandparents were Nathaniel S. and Louis (Steele) Spencer, the former of whom was a large real estate owner and an extensive manufacturer of wagons and sleighs in New Hartford. He built the first two-horse covered carriage, or “bus,” ever seen in his neighborhood, and was complained of by the deacons for driving his family to church in the new vehicle, which created considerable excitement on the Sabbath day. Nathaniel Spencer served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War; and his son Milton, Mrs. Dewey’s father, served in the War of 1812. Milton Spencer was born in New Hartford, and became a prosperous farmer of that town. He lived to the age of eighty-six years. His wife, Amanda Garrett, who attained the same age, was the mother of eight children: Flora, Orvilla, Mary M., Harlow, Ralzy, John, Waite, and Theda.

Mr. and Mrs. Dewey have had five children, as follows: Mortimer A., who married Georgie A. Wilcox, and died April 7, 1882, leaving two children — Fred W., who married Charlotte Crane, and is a boot and shoe merchant of Northampton, and Grace, wife of John Ross; Ella J., who died aged fourteen months; Eva L., who died at the age of five years; Carrie, who died aged seven years; and Everett H., who was born January 23, 1857, and is now occupying his father’s former position in the postal service.

*Editor's note: Portrait was included in the original printed book.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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