Joseph N. Dean is now serving for the second term as judge of the probate court of Greene county, and is one of the leading members of the bar of his district. He makes his home in Xenia, and is numbered among the native sons of this county. There his birth occurred in Jasper township, August 22, 1844, his parents being Joseph and Hannah (Boggs) Dean, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Ohio, while both were of Scotch-Irish extraction. The paternal grandfather of our subject was one of the honored pioneers of this county. Coming from Kentucky in 1812, accompanied by his wife and eleven children, they settled in what is now New Jasper township, and there all of the children were reared to mature years and married and had families of their own, averaging eleven children each. There were thirty-six members of the family who served in the Union army, and all continued through the term of enlistment, and returned home, with the exception of one, who died at the front. Thirty of the number are still living—honored veterans of the war which preserved the Union.
Joseph Dean, the father of our subject, accompanied his parents to Ohio and throughout his entire life fpllowed farming, although in early life he had learned both blacksmithing and shoemaking, which pursuits he followed for a few years in connection with farming. He was one of the most prosperous farmers of the county and was a natural mechanic, having particular ability along that line. He could do anything required about the farm, and his efficiency in this direction enabled him to keep his place in first-class condition. In his family were nine children who reached mature years, while two died in infancy. The father passed away at the age of seventy-eight years, nine months and twenty-three days, while the mother was called to her final rest when she had reached the age of seventy-nine years, one month and four days.
The Judge was the eighth in order of birth in their family of eleven children. He acquired his early education in the schools of New Jasper township and when seventeen years of age he offered his services to his country, enlisting on the 17th of August, 1861, as a member of Company B, Fortieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Hayworth and Colonel Cranor. He was mustered in at Columbus and the regiment was first assigned to the command of General Garfield. The first battle in which he participated was at Prestonburg, Kentucky. Later the regiment was assigned to the Fourth Army Corps, under Gordan Granger, and with that command Judge Dean participated in the battles of Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and various engagements of the Atlanta campaign, including the battle of Atlanta. Later he met the enemy in a battle at Lovejoy Station and Jonesboro, and on the 17th of October, 1864. he was mustered out. He was wounded in the face at Chickamauga, and was again hit by rebel lead at Lookout Mountain, where he aided in capturing three pieces of artillery. He was recommended for the commission in recognition of his gallantry and bravery on that occasion.
After his return home Judge Dean continued his education, becoming a student in Smith College, at Xenia, while later he was a student in Iron City College, at Pittsburg, where he completed his literary course and was graduated in 1867. He then began reading law under Hon. R. F. Howard at Xenia and for a time devoted his attention to agricultural pursuits, but wishing to make the practice of law his life work, in 1876 he entered the Cincinnati Law School, in which he was graduated with the class of 1879. Immediately afterward he opened an office in Xenia and has since been a member of the Greene county bar. In 1882 he was elected prosecuting attorney and served in that capacity for six years. His preparation of cases is most thorough and exhaustive; he seems almost intuitively to grasp the strong points of law and fact, while in his briefs and arguments the authorities are cited so extensively and the facts and reasoning thereon are presented so cogently and unanswerably as to leave no doubt as to the correctness of his views or of his conclusion. No detail seems to escape him; every case is given its due prominence and the case is argued with such skill, ability and power that he rarely fails to gain the verdict desired. In 1896 he was elected probate judge and filled the office so acceptably that he was re-elected in 1899. He is thoroughly familiar with the law, which comes into play in the probate court and his decisions have been strictly fair and impartial, winning him high commendation.
On the 17th of July, 1867, Judge Dean was united in marriage to Miss Lydia Cleaver. of Clinton county, Ohio, a daughter of James Cleaver, of Wilmington, Ohio. She died on the 1st of July. 1874. leaving one son. Walter P., who is now deputy probate judge of Greene county. On the 7th of June, 1888, Judge Dean was again married, his second union being with Mary Gaumer, a daughter of Jonathan and Mahala Gaumer. of Muskingum county. Ohio. Three of her brothers are electors and in the family eight became teachers. Two have also been connected with the legislature, one is a member of the house and the other of the senate. Mr. and Mrs. Dean hold membership in the First United Presbyterian church of Xenia, as does his son. The Judge also belongs to the Union Veterans' Legion and the Grand Army of the Republic. He is likewise a member of the Association of Ex-Soldiers and Sailors, of which he was one of the organizers and has served as its president. He was a member of the Committee of One Hundred and did most effective work in the cause of temperance, especially at the time of the memorable election of 1902, when it was definitely decided that Xenia should be free from the curse of the saloon. His loyalty in citizenship is of the same kind that prompted his enlistment in the hour of his country's peril. At the bar he has achieved success through honorable efforts, untiring industry and capability and in private life he has gained that warm personal regard which arises from kindness and geniality, deference for the opinions of others and from true nobility of character.
From History of Greene County, Ohio, by George F. Robinson (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co, 1902)