Biography of John B. Dey
Washington County, IA Biographies





John B. Dey, a salient factor in the financial interests of Brighton, is proprietor of an extensive real estate business which, through his excellent management and commercial ability, is one of the most important concerns of the kind in this part of the state. He was born here, November 30, 1845, a son of Richard S. and Eliza Anne (Shearer) Dey. The father, a native of New Jersey, located in Ohio in the early days and in the year 1845 removed to Brighton Springs, Iowa, settling in Brighton township about two miles and a half southeast of the village, where he remained until 1876. During that year he took up his abode in the village of Brighton, where he spent his remaining days, entering into rest in 1901, his remains being interred here. Throughout his entire life he followed agricultural pursuits and was considered one of the most progressive farmers in the county, his excellent qualities at the same time gaining for him the respect of all who knew him. His wife, whose birth occurred in Ohio, where they were married, passed away in the village of Brighton in 1872. To them were born nine children, namely: John B.; Mary E., the widow of William Neal; Lyddie, widow of William Madden; Sarah M., wife of John R. Pensyl, residing in Stockton, California; Cyrus Frank, a gardener of Houston Heights, Texas; Lenora S., deceased; Henrietta A., the wife of Jeffries Harney, a stock dealer, of Welton, Iowa; Lucy J., deceased; and Clark P., a railroad agent, living in the state of Washington.

John B. Dey acquired his rudimentary education in the common schools, later pursuing a higher course of study in Wesley University, and after graduating from that institution he equipped himself for the commercial world by a course in a commercial college at Burlington, this state. About the time he was ready to enter the business world his patriotism being aroused he entered the Union army, enlisting March 30, 1864, in Company C, Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry to serve three years but was discharged at Louisville, Kentucky, July 12, 1865, as the war had ended. Although his martial experience was brief he participated in a number of hotly contested engagements; was present at the first battle of Buzzards Roost; participated in battles at Dalton and Resaca, Georgia; was with General Sherman throughout the Atlantic campaign and the march to the sea, thence to the city of Washington, where, with his companions in arms, he was honorably mustered out. While in the service near Petersburg he had sunstroke, the result of which has since caused him much acute suffering.

Following the war Mr. Dey returned to Washington county, where he engaged in farming for several years, presently giving it up on account of his health and taking up school teaching as an occupation. Finally he rented a mill, which he operated for some time but, this pursuit not being to his liking, he went to Libertyville, this state, where for over a year he was engaged as a clerk in a store, at the expiration of which time he again had recourse to school teaching for a livelihood. After following this vocation for about two years he came to the village of Brighton in 1877, where his father was interested in a grocery and hardware enterprise and he took stock in the same business, in which he was actively interested for about two years. Presently he severed his connections with the store and then engaged in carpenter work, having during his early days perfected himself at the carpenter's trade. He plied his craft until 1890, when he became affiliated with the State Bank as assistant cashier, the duties of which position he performed for thirteen years, and upon his resignation he entered the real estate business on his own account in Brighton, under the firm title of Dey & Mullen, the firm doing a large and lucrative business and being one of the largest financial enterprises in the city. Mr. Dey is also a notary public and his business transactions have been so important as to make him a factor in the financial life of the vicinity. He owns an elegant residence at the corner of Fountain and Jefferson streets and also one other residence property which are considered among the most valuable in the city. The Dey & Mullen Real Estate Company, which is also known as the Brighton Land Company, does a comprehensive business in realty lines, handling farm lands and city property and at the same time conducting a lucrative business in money loaning and insurance. Everything pertaining to the realty business is transacted by them and they furnish and write contracts, draw up agreements, draft deeds, enter mortgages, write leases and wills and in fact engage in the full round of business transacted by a firm of this nature.

In 1866 Mr. Dey wedded Miss Sarah J. Knerr, a resident of Brighton and their home is one of culture and refinement, being surrounded with everything with which to make life enjoyable. Politically Mr. Dey is a republican, having always taken considerable interest in local affairs, and has served as justice of the peace and clerk, treasurer and assessor of the village and in fact has filled all important local offices. The patriotism which led him to join the Union ranks years ago still predominates and he evidences his love for country and for military life by his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic, in which order he is prominent, having served his post as quartermaster and now as commander. Enterprise and industry together with patience and perseverance are qualities which have enabled Mr. Dey to attain to his present prosperous position in the commercial world and, his transactions having always been conducted in accord with a high standard of morals, he has been honored by the highest respect of the people and is justly numbered among the representative citizens of the county.

From:
History of Washington County, Iowa
From the First White Settlement to 1908
Vol II
BY: Howard A. Burrell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1909


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