Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday's Stories, 52 Ancestor Weeks, Week # 34, William Henry Dews

Copyright 2014, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

This is week 34 of my participation Amy Johnson Crow's, once a week challenge to blog about one ancestor a week, tell their story, biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on that one ancestor. More about the challenge can be found at her Blog, No Story Too Small.

William Henry Dews was born Jan 25, 1846, probably in Princess Anne County, Virginia to Edward Dews and his wife Mary (whose maiden name is still undiscovered).

I have not found any records (yet) that indicate William served during the Civil War.

On Aug 2, 1870 at Princess Anne County Virginia William married Sarah Williamson.  William and Sarah may have lived in North Carolina for a spell, as their first born, Edmond's (or Edward) death certificate states he was born in North Carolina.  Sarah and William had two children, the aforementioned Edmond/Edward and Lilly May.  Sarah died sometime before October of 1887.

On October 27, 1887 William married Lorena Estelle Eley Norsworthy, a widow, in Norfolk County, Virginia. William and Lorena had 6 children together:  Henry Leroy Dews, Sarah Anne Dews, an unnamed baby boy, Delphine "Della" Dews, Lorena Estelle Dews and Florence Ruth Dews.

The following photo was in the effects (slide collection) of Lorena Estelle Dews Nunnally, my great-aunt, daughter of William and Lorena Dews. She wrote on the slide, "Fluffy was born here, this is the last place we lived."  (Note Fluffy = Florence Ruth Dews).

I inherited a good part of Rena's notes and slides about family.  The following notes were concerning her father:
     "William Henry Dews about 60 years old, died at Saint Vincent De Paul Hospital on Church St (original buildings) about January 1, 1907 (a few days before or after).  I was 6 years old, a week later, Jan 8 1907 and Florence (Fluffy) was 2 years old the previous November 7, 1906.  She is 3 years 10 months younger than me.
     Father fell from a wagon on Christmas Eve on his way home from market, where he and Henry had taken Christmas wreathes and greens that Mama and Sadie had made for market.  He left Henry in charge and started home.
     Some boys had thrown fire crackers under the horse's feet and frightened it.  The wheel went in a hole on Queen Street.  The hole was unlighted-street repairmen had left the hole unlighted.
     He received a concussion and died several days later in the Hospital.  The family (Mama, Sadie and the rest of us) didn't know he was in the hospital for a couple of days.  Henry thought that he had gone home and Mama thought he was still with Henry.  Two or three days later someone told Henry that his father was hurt and in the hospital."

Many research hours were spent trying to verify this story.  Calls to the hospital resulted in the information that the records prior to 1949 had been destroyed.  No death record has been found.  Finally a kind genie angel found this newspaper article, which pretty much verifies Rena's hand written story about her father's demise.

December 28, 1906 issue of the Norfolk Virginia-Pilot:
     "Farmer Dews May Die as Result of a Fall
     W. H. Dews, a farmer, supposedly from Princess Anne county, who fell from his wagon on Christmas day and sustained a fractured skull, is critically ill at St. Vincents hospital, and is not expected to recover.
     At the hospital yesterday it was said that all efforts to locate Dews' relatives had failed."

A search for his burial place has also been very frustrating.  It is fairly clear that William was buried with no marker.  Family shared that they believed he was buried at the Emanuel Episcopal Church, Kempsville, Virginia.  This photo is from the slide collection of Rena Dews Nunnally.  Written on the slide:  "Father buried Xmas 1906 or 07.  October 12, 1943 original - 100 years old - burned. New church 1961."

The church was contacted, they have no record of William being buried there, since the church burned, and presumably all their records with it in 1941, this was no surprise.

Wish list for William:  Photo of William.  Further research for possible Civil War service.

* Additional source data can be obtained by contacting me, see the right hand column for a yahoo email address.

** 52 Ancestors Weeks Button courtesy of Amy Johnson Crow.

*** I use many resources to research, is a free site. is a pay site for which I pay, no discounts, etc.  Fold3, is another site I subscribe to and pay for.  None of these sites have asked me to review them, or use them.  See my Disclaimers page for further details.


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