The gentleman whose career is briefly sketched in the following lines is
an influential member of the Marion County Bar, who by reason of his
professional success has been honored from time to time with positions of
responsibility and trust. He also holds worthy prestige as a citizen, being
interested in whatever tends to benefit his fellow men, and in matters of
public import. His reputation as an influential factor and trusted leader is
duly recognized and appreciated.
Charles F. Dew is one of Illinois' native sons and a descendant of an old Virginia family that was first represented in the West by his grandfather, Rev. John Dew, a Methodist minister of much more than local repute and one of the leading men of his church in the central and southern parts of the state. This eminent pioneer divine was the intimate associate and co-laborer of the celebrated Peter Cartwright, whom he assisted in evangelistic work among the early settlers, and his name frequently occurs in the latter's autobiography and personal reminiscences. He was not only an able and earnest preacher, but also a prominent educator and to his efforts more perhaps than to those of any other man is due the founding of McKendree College, of which he was the first president. Subsequently he served for many years on the board of directors of that institution and was untiring in promoting its interests by every means at his command. He migrated from Virginia in a very early day and settled originally near Trenton, Clinton county, but spent the greater portion of his time in ministerial work in different parts of the state and establishing churches, many of which are still in existence and flourishing organization.
Henry P. Dew, son of the above and father of the subject, was born in St. Clair county, Illinois, in the year 1833. He married in 1861, Sarah C. Arrowsmith, whose birth occurred in June, 1838, and who bore him three children, namely: Edward, died in early years, Lulu, who also died young, and Charles F., whose name introduces this sketch. Henry P. Dew departed this life at Odin, Illinois, in the year 1872, his wife, who is still living, makes her home with Charles F., her only surviving child. The Arrowsmiths moved to Illinois from Ohio and were among the early settlers of Marion county, the parents of Mrs. Dew locating near Salem in 1848. Mr. Arrowsmith purchased land and in due time became a prosperous farmer and praiseworthy citizen. He reared a family of eight children, three sons and five daughters, and with his good wife has for a number of years been sleeping the sleep of the just.
Charles F. Dew was born March 20, 1866, in Washington county, Illinois, and received his preliminary education in the public schools, this training being afterwards supplemented by a course in the high school of Centralia, where he was graduated in 1883. Actuated by an earnest desire to add to his scholastic knowledge, he subsequently entered McKendree College, where he prosecuted his studies until completing the prescribed course and receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science, after which he engaged in educational work, devoting the ensuing ten years to teaching in the schools of Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota.
Mr. Dew achieved honorable distinction as an educator, and while in the profession taught in the schools of St. Louis, Kansas City, and served for some time as superintendent of the public schools of Rush City, Minnesota, in the meantime receiving from his alma mater the degree of Master of Science. Although a natural teacher and fond of the work, he had no intention of making it his permanent calling. Accordingly, in 1893, he retired from the school room and began the study of law in the office of Judge William Stoker, of Centralia. After three years of close application, under the direction of that able lawyer and jurist, he took the required examination at Springfield and received his license to practice in the state and federal courts, his admission to the bar bearing the date of 1896. The year in which he was granted his license, Mr. Dew engaged in the practice of his profession at Centralia, and after experiencing the usual difficulties which beset the young attorney at the beginning of his career, he forged rapidly to the front among the successful lawyers of the city, and in due time built up a large and satisfactory legal business. His habits of study and concentration together with his previous experience as a teacher were greatly in his favor and he brought to his profession a well disciplined mind, which enabled him to grow in public favor within a comparatively brief period. In connection with the duties of his calling, he became actively interested in political affairs and it was not long until he acquired considerable political prestige, not only locally, but in district and state matters as well. In recognition of valuable political resources as well as by reason of his fitness for the position, he was elected City Attorney of Centralia, and so ably did he discharge his official functions that he was twice chosen his own successor. His record while looking after the interest of the municipality was without a blemish and compared favorably with those of his predecessors.
As a lawyer Mr. Dew stands deservedly high and his career thus far has been characterized by continuous advancement and a success such as few of his professional experience attain. He is well grounded in the principles of jurisprudence and by critical study has become so familiar with the leading authorities that he experiences little difficulty in applying his knowledge to practice or in successfully competing with older and more experienced men. He is regarded as a safe and judicious counselor, careful and methodical in the preparation of legal papers and all matters entrusted to him are sure to receive his earnest attention and to be attended to with promptness and dispatch.
Mr. Dew is a man of scholarly tastes and an influential factor in the literary life of Centralia. His office in the Ramer Building on North Locust street is not only frequented by clients and those deserving legal advice, but it is also a favorite resort of the intellectually inclined, for therein are frequently considered and discussed matters of high import in which only men of like tastes and inclinations have an interest. Mr. Dew is a member of the Masonic fraternity and the order of Woodmen, and the Methodist Episcopal church represents his religious creed. Although earnest in his views and with the courage of his convictions on all subjects, he is a man of liberal ideas and only requires the same respect for his own opinions that he accords to the opinions of those who may differ from him. Mr. Dew was happily married on the 25th day of November, 1908, to Hattie H. Porter, of Centralia, daughter of William and Rose R. (Ray) Porter, early settlers of Salem. Mrs. Dew's grandfather was one of the large land owners of Marion county and for many years a leading citizen of the county in which he lived.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 552-555.