Since I begin the genealogical journey long ago, my attention was repeatedly drawn back to my third great-grandmother Mary Ann Dewey. In 2009, little was known of her besides a seemingly arbitrary birth date and location, Sep 1833 in St. Reme, Quebec.[1] I found this striking since my family had never mentioned any connection to this part of the American continent. The trail ran cold for a while, 4 years or so. Last month when I tried the search engine Mocavo I found some great results immediately. Thanks to census research, I knew the Dewey family lived in Fort Covington, New York so I tried using the terms, “Dewey” and “Franklin County, New York”. An individual I had not known about named Rev. George Washington Dewey had appeared in a 19th century genealogy, Descendants of George Colton and was married to Margaret Colton. Significantly, the genealogy lists his birth as 8 Jan 1811 in St. Remi, Quebec. Here was a suggestion that the Dewey family did originate in St. Remi.[2]

Successive search results led me to Louis Marinus Dewey and his brothers’ massive Dewey Genealogy, The Life of Admiral Dewey, U.S.N. and Dewey Family History. The book was self-published in Westfield, Massachusetts at the end of the 19th century. The Dewey family had proprietary claim to the town of Westfield, having been among the original settlers in the 17th century. Further research however maintains that I remain cautious of the information placed in here.  From this genealogy, I can tentatively create a pedigree sketch of my Dewey line.[3]

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 9.30.05 AM

Fig 1. Generations 4-8 My research on the Dewey line begin with my third great-grandmother Mary Ann Dewey. (next pedigree begins with Samuel Dewey who married Elizabeth Younglove)

dewey family genealogy

dewey family genealogy

Fig 2. Generations 1-4 The story of my Dewey Family ancestry originates in the infancy of this country and a man named Thomas Dewey, whom immigrated to Dorchester, Massachusetts circa 1633.

Concerning our migrant Ancestor, a more up to date and definitive treatment of his life has been presented in Robert Charles Anderson’s Great Migration genealogy. I will talk about this in more depth when I start my weekly colonial ancestor bio series (more of a way to exercise my knowledge of colonial American genealogy for my upcoming job). I’m going to focus more right now on discrepancies found in more recent generations.

Beginning with Samuel Dewey (Generation no.5) born 25 Jan 1737 in Sheffield, Berkshire, Massachusetts we find a frustrating brick wall. According to the author, Samuel had moved from him home to New York, settling in the town of Skenesborough (now Whitehall) in Washington County. Unfortunately, the town records were lost in a fire. He is then reliant upon “circumstances and traditions”, which lead him to giving the identities of three of his eight known children, the next in my lineage being Ezekiel Dewey.[4]

As much as we would like to believe tradition, it simply does not bode well in the professional genealogy world. As a researcher, I do not know if all possible sources have been checked (most likely not) and this is cause for me to reinvestigate the validity of the facts presented. After fact checking the birthdate in the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records database, the birthdate of Samuel Dewey should be corrected to 25 Jan 1736.[5] Samuel’s wife remains unknown.

Moving on to Ezekiel, he is the sole reason my ancestors had any connection to the Province of Quebec. The circumstances of Ezekiel’s early childhood days are unknown, he most likely grew up in Sheffield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. His father Samuel was not a man of particular prominence, which stands in contrast to the affluent agricultural life Ezekiel gained in his adult years. He supposedly married Elizabeth Goodell from Hartford, Washington County, New York. Ezekiel a resident of Willsborough, Essex County, New York as early as 1800 and bought property in Hemmingford, Huntingdon County, Province of Lower Canada in 1801. The Dewey homestead in Hemmingford was nestled deep in the frontier and for farmers marching to the market in Montreal along poor roads, the Dewey homestead was the “caravanserai”, a place for them to stay overnight. The house itself was massive and the author claims Ezekiel was well known in the area. In 1824, Ezekiel bought four farms and 500 acres in St. Remi. A string of tragedy struck the family when Ezekiel passed in the spring of 1836 and later his wife Elizabeth, nurse to those in her neighborhood was with a maiden daughter and burned to death by clothing catching fire.[6]

This genealogy invaluably lists the children of Ezekiel who were the aunts and uncles of my third great-grandmother Mary Ann, including the individual that was her father, John Dewey. The author felt it important to remark that John Dewey was a “man of intelligence” and amassed a nice estate for himself in Fort Covington, Franklin County, New York until his death in 1875.[7] My own research in the local newspapers has a lot to say about the history of his estate and a more accurate date for his death. The Malone Palladium published a notice on 16 Oct 1879 that John Dewey of Fort Covington was very sick and unlikely to recover.[8] The exact date of death is unknown, but it clearly outweighs the validity of the author’s claim that John died in 1875.

The author was unfortunately vague with the source of this information and it is my job now to find the primary documents to back up this very intriguing story belonging to my ancestry.

Link to Genealogy – Life of George Dewey, Rear Admiral, U.S.N. and Dewey Family History 

[1] Margaret Elizabeth Freeman, Family Tree Papers, Privately Held in Fletcher Family Archives.

[2] George Woolworth Colton, A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Quartermaster George Colton, (Lancaster, Penn: Wickersham Print Co., 1912), 105. Accessed online at Mocavo.com

[3] Louis Marinus Dewey, et al., Life of George Dewey: Rear Admiral, U.S.N., and Dewey family history. (Westfield, Mass: Dewey Publishing, 1898). Accessed online at Library of Congress (archive.org).

[4] Louis Marinus Dewey, et al., Life of George Dewey: Rear Admiral, U.S.N., and Dewey family history. (Westfield, Mass: Dewey Publishing, 1898), 272.

[5] Ancestry.com, Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, Sheffield, Massachusetts.

[6] Louis Marinus Dewey, et al., Life of George Dewey: Rear Admiral, U.S.N. and Dewey family history. (Westfield, Mass: Dewey Publishing, 1898), 293.

[7] Ibid, 294.

[8] Malone Palladium (Malone, Franklin, New York), 16 Oct 1879, page 3, image 3. Accessed online at NYS Historic Newspapers.


Jake Fletcher, “Discoveries, Brick-walls, and Discrepancies in Life of Admiral Dewey Genealogy,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 26 Dec 2014. https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/discoveries-brick-walls-and-discrepancies-in-life-of-admiral-dewey-genealogy/

Copyright (c) 2015 Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduced without author’s permission.