Monday, July 6, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About Lemuel Dean?

It continues to be a surprise to find a reference to an ancestor in newspapers that are well over 125 years old. References to my 3GreatGrandfather, Lemuel Dean, keep appearing in historical newspapers. He shows up for a variety of reasons, some expected, others surprising.

Lemuel Dean apparently didn't follow the belief that you can't fight City Hall. At one meeting in 1873 he presented a request to the Atlanta City Council for a reduction to his property assessment. Later at the same meeting, he pressed for payment for damages done to his property after the city had been working on the street on which he lived.(1)

Dean also served several times on the Fulton County Grand Jury.(2) As a retired teacher, I may not have agreed with the Grand Jury's recommendation in 1859 to not fund the building of school houses, but I appreciate his willingness to serve Fulton County in this way. 

Through the years, Lemuel Dean had been involved in civic affairs in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. In 1859, he was named to a committee to work out the details for an upcoming state convention to be held in Atlanta.(3) Later, during the Civil War, Lemuel Dean was among those citizens who were thanked for providing horses for use by the Tallulah Videttes, a local militia group being organized in 1863.(4)

According to one newspaper article, in 1867 Dean had been one of a group calling for a town meeting to discuss the Sherman bill, the federal legislation that lead to reconstruction.(5) The wording of the original article makes his political stance concerning reconstruction apparent.

The Daily Intelligencer, 3 Mar 1867, accessed on The Digital Library of Georgia

Legal notices provided additional information concerning Dean. Some of the notices relate to his handling of the estates of his deceased son Samuel Howard Dean as well as other Dean family members. In 1870, he was named as the guardian of the minor children of the late William Thurman.(6) Other legal notices referred to Dean as a nearby property owner, the witness to a sale, or a former owner of the property in question.

Upon his death in January of 1880, there was no obituary, only one sentence which mentioned his burial.(7) His sons William Hiram Dean and Jesse Priestly Dean were named as the executors of their father's estate. As such they had a number of notices published in Atlanta newspapers relating to this responsibility. A notice of an Executor's Sale published in the 14 Mar 1880 issue of The Constitution was close to half a page in length as it listed his numerous properties to be sold.(8) In addition to seven lots, all along the railroad in Clarkston, Georgia, the estate also included over 100 acres in areas of Fulton County, Georgia.  Furthermore, the estate contained 23 individual lots as well as a half interest in nine additional lots, all located within the city limits of Atlanta. It looks as if a good rainy day project would be to locate these areas on an old map of the City of Atlanta especially since I had no idea he ever owned that much property.

Apparently, Lemuel's estate took quite a while to settle. Beginning in 1881 there were numerous legal notices concerning specific sales conducted by the executors.(9) The final legal notices appeared in the fall of 1889. In them, the remaining executor, William Hiram Dean, stated he had fulfilled all of his duties relating to the estate.(10) I can't help but wonder what circumstances caused Lemuel Dean's estate to take so long to complete the probate process.

The final article I found was written years after his death.  An article about old homes in the Atlanta area mentioned Lemuel Dean's three-story home on Marietta Street,(11)

As I continue to learn more about Lemuel Dean, I am coming to see that he had many facets. He was a friend to some, an enemy to others, a man not afraid to speak his mind, yet someone willing to stand for his beliefs. A real person, not just a name on my family tree.

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of Atlanta newspapers available through,, and the Digital Archives of Georgia.

(1) "Proceedings of Council", The [Atlanta] Daily Herald, 20 Sep 1873; accessed on The Digital Library of Georgia, www.
(2) "April Term of the Superior Court", The [Atlanta] Intelligencer, 21 Apr 1859; accessed on The Digital Library of Georgia, www.
(3) "Internal Improvement Meeting", Weekly Atlanta Intelligencer, 25 May 1870; accessed on The Digital Library of Georgia, www.
(4) "To the Citizens of Atlanta", Southern Confederacy, 4 Jun 1863;  accessed on The Digital Library of Georgia, www.
(5) "Politics in Atlanta 30 Years Ago", The [Atlanta] Constitution], 2 May 1897; accessed on
(6) "[Legal Notices]", Atlanta Weekly Intelligencer, 16 Jun 1859; accessed on The Digital Library of Georgia, www.
(7) "All Around Us", Daily Constitution, 14 Jan 1880; access on
(8) "Executor's Sale", The [Atlanta] Constitution], 14 Mar 1880; accessed on
(9) "[Legal Notices]". The [Atlanta] Constitution], 22 Aug 1885; accessed on
(10) "[Legal Notices]". The [Atlanta] Constitution], 14 Sept 1889; accessed on
(11) Massey, R J, "Buildings of Yesterday and Today in Atlanta", The [Atlanta] Constitution], 16 Jul 1911; accessed on

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