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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Dewey, Charles

by Memory F. Mitchell, 1986; Revised by Jared Dease, Government and Heritage Library, December 2022.

28 Nov. 1798–20 Oct. 1880

Charles Dewey, banker, was born in New Bern, the son of John Dewey, who was born 29 Apr. 1767 at Stonington, Conn., and died 22 May 1830 at New Bern. John Dewey, an architect, built the Masonic Temple and Theater in New Bern. Young Dewey's mother was Mary Mitchell Dewey, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who died in 1839 at the age of sixty-seven.

Virtually nothing is known about Dewey's early life. He began his career in 1820 as a clerk with the New Bern branch of the State Bank of North Carolina. His work was recognized in a tangible way in 1826 when he was appointed cashier of the Fayetteville branch of the same bank. The following year he was elected cashier of "the mother bank" in Raleigh, succeeding William Henry Haywood. On 7 May 1828, one Hu Campbell wrote to Dewey attesting to his integrity, his pleasing personality, and the accuracy of his work. In Raleigh Dewey served as cashier of the Bank of North Carolina and its successor, the Bank of the State of North Carolina. After the Civil War, when that bank was closed, he was elected cashier and later president of the Raleigh National Bank, a position he held at the time of his death. Thus for sixty years he was affiliated with a bank, rising from clerk to president.

Dewey continued working in his later years. Writing to a niece in October 1872, his wife observed that her husband was "so busy all the time in the Bank—has not had recreation this year except those summer drives—We rode until it was too cool for an open carriage, and I only go for the good sweet air, and care not to be shut up, but for old folks we are wonderfully well thus far." Five years later, in a letter of 12 Apr. 1877 to a nephew, Dewey referred to the good health that he and his wife enjoyed.

Dewey was married three times. His first wife was Catherine M. Hall of New Bern; a marriage bond was signed 30 Jan. 1822. His second wife, Ann Letitia Webber, was born in New Bern, 6 Jan. 1803, and died in Raleigh, 17 Nov. 1835; the date of their marriage is not known. On 5 Jan. 1837 he married Juliana ("Julia") Ann Haylander, a native of Philadelphia who moved to Raleigh at an early age; she was born 12 Jan. 1804 and died 21 May 1886, surviving her husband by six years. Four children survived Charles Dewey. One of his sons, Thomas W., married Bessie Lacy, daughter of Dr. Drury Lacy, pastor of Raleigh's First Presbyterian Church. Dewey was a faithful member of the same church for over fifty years, serving as longtime superintendent of its Sunday school and as a ruling elder. In 1837 he presented the church with two communion plates.

Despite enslaving a few people and a amassing a moderate amount of property, Dewey never accumulated vast wealth. He left a house and lot in Charlotte to Anna Maria Dewey, wife of his son Frank H., who resided there. Bonds, notes, stocks, and other property were willed to his wife and his daughters Mary Ann and Rachel D. Wilder. He and his wife resided on Cabarrus Street in Raleigh.

Because the First Presbyterian Church was undergoing repairs, Dewey's funeral was conducted at Raleigh's First Baptist Church. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.


D. L. Corbitt, ed., "Letters from Hugh Luckey, Raleigh Hatter, 1843," North Carolina Historical Review 25 (1948).

Dewey family record book (in possession of Mrs. Rita C. Dewey, Goldsboro).

Charles Dewey Papers (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Marriage bonds for Craven and Wake counties (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Tombstones, Oakwood Cemetery (Raleigh).

Raleigh News and Observer, 21 Oct. 1880, 22 May 1886.

Raleigh Register, 24 Nov. 1835.

Records of First Presbyterian Church, Raleigh (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Tax lists for Wake County and Wills of Charles and Julia A. Dewey (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Additional Resources:

Battle, Kemp P. "The Personell and Methods of the Bank of North Carolina, 1859-67." Proceedings of the North Carolina Bankers Association First, Second and Third Annual Conventions. Charlotte, N.C.: Queen City Ptg. Co. 1900. 82-83. (accessed February 11, 2014).

Dewey, Adelbert Milton. Life of George Dewey, rear admiral, U.S.N.; and Dewey family history. Being an authentic historical and genealogical record of more than fifteen thousand persons in the United States by the name of Dewey, and their descendants. Westfield, Mass., Dewey publishing company. 1898. 836-838. (accessed February 11, 2014).

Charles Dewey Wildes Papers, 1900-1930. State Archives of North Carolina. (accessed February 11, 2014).

"State News." Carolina Watchman. December 12, 1872. 2 (accessed February 11, 2014).

Bullock, J. Marshall. "Dewey, Jack (fl. 1830s)." North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary.  The NCSU Libraries and The NCSU Libraries Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center. 2009. (accessed February 11, 2014).

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