Biographical Sketch of Thomas B. DEWEES (1893); Chester County, PA

Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by John Morris .


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Source: "Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County, Pennsylvania, comprising a historical sketch of the county," by Samuel T. Wiley and edited by Winfield Scott Garner, Gresham Publishing Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1893, pp. 334-6.


"THOMAS B. DEWEES, a prominent and successful business man of Phoenixville, and one of the largest property owners in this section, who served as a first lieutenant during the civil war, is a son of Thomas B. and Elizabeth (Hause) Dewees, and was born in West Vincent township, Chester county, Pennsylvania, February 28, 1844.

The Dewees are descended from French Huguenot stock, but the family has been resident in Pennsylvania since long prior to the revolutionary war. In 1703 a widow of that name came from Holland with her two sons, and settled in this State. From them have descended the now numerous stock of Dewees in the United States.

"Colonel Dewees, the paternal great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in eastern Pennsylvania, and at the breaking out of the revolutionary war, owned a large flouring mill at Valley Forge. Leaving his mill as Putnam left his plow, he threw all his energies into the struggle for independence, serving as colonel in the American army. After the war closed he was engaged in the iron business, and died about 1782 at an advanced age.

"His son, Waters Dewees (grandfather), was born at Olney, Bucks county, this State, and after attaining manhood devoted his life to the develop- ment of the iron industry of Pennsylvania. He owned the Olney iron works, and also the Catawissa iron furnaces in Northumberland county, and the Laurel iron furnaces of Chester county. About 1840 he removed to this county, where he owned and resided at the Marsh hotel property, in East Nantmeal township. During nearly all his life he was a prominent iron master and successful business man. He died in 1858, at his home in the city of Philadelphia, aged eighty-two years. He was an old-line whig in politics, and married a Miss Bull, by whom he had a family of children.

"Thomas B. Dewees (father) was born in Chester county in 1813, and resided here all his life. His tastes inclined toward agricultural pursuits, and he became a prosperous and prominent farmer of West Vincent township. He died at his home in that township March 8, 1876, in the sixty-third year of his age. In politics he was a whig and republican, and served for many years as a school director in his township. He was a regular attendant of the Episcopal church, and in 1835 married Elizabeth Hause, a daughter of Jacob Hause, of East Nantmeal township, Chester county, and to them was born a family of twelve children. Mrs. Dewees is a native of this county, and now resides on the old homestead in West Vincent township, in the seventy-ninth year of her age.

"Thomas B. Dewees grew to manhood on his father's farm, receiving his earlier education in the common schools, but later attending the academy at Freeland, Montgomery county, and then taking a course of training in the Tremont seminary at Norristown, in the same county. At the age of sixteen years he enlisted in Co. F, 12th Pennsylvania militia of emergency men, and on March 10, 1864, re-enlisted as first lieutenant of Co. E, 45th United States colored infantry. He commanded this company in the battles in front of Petersburg, at Bermuda Hundred, Strawberry Plains, Fort Fisher, Fair Oaks, and on the Dutch Gap canal, near Richmond. This regiment was afterward sent to Sabine Pass, Jefferson county, Texas, and did duty on the Rio Grande.

December 19, 1865, he was discharged from the service, and returning to Pennsylvania, engaged in teaching school for a couple of years. He then embarked in the grocery business in the city of Philadelphia, but after continuing a few months he disposed of his interests there and removed to Birchrunville, West Vincent township, this county, where he engaged in general merchandising. He was instrumental in having a post- office established at that place, and served as postmaster for about fifteen years.

In April, 1880, he went to West Chester, and for two years was engaged in the men's furnishing goods business. At the end of that time he returned to Birchrunville, and in 1884 again started a general merchandise store there.

In 1889 he came to Phoenixville and purchased the stove and tinware business of Kennedy & Davis, which he has since conducted. It includes house furnishing goods, and plumbing in all its branches, and is located at 219 Bridge street, where the premises occupied comprise a building twenty-five by seventy feet in dimensions, with an addition of thirty-eight feet for oil cloths, and in the rear of that a tin shop, the whole being two hundred feet in depth. A large and comprehensive assortment of stoves, tinware and house furnishing goods of all descriptions is constantly kept on hand, and sold at reasonable prices.

In the spring of 1892 he added the marble and granite business to his other departments. He has been successful in his various undertakings, and in addition to his business interests here he owns stock in several electric light plants in the west, besides being financially concerned in other enterprises.

"On November 1, 1866, Captain Dewees was married to Hannah Templim, of Birchrunville, who died October 31, 1882. On February 26, 1885, he wedded Ida L. Kueer, of West Vincent township, by whom he has two daughters: Mabel E. and Emma M. He is a member of the Vincent Baptist church, and a stanch republican in politics. He is also a member of Stratford Castle, Knights of the Golden Eagle, and of Josiah White Post, No. 45, Grand Army of the Republic. Captain Dewees has traveled extensively in the west, and is an enterprising, energetic, and thoroughly honest businessman, who is highly respected by the community."