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RG4194.AM:  Dean Family

Papers:  1852-1953

Steele City, Jefferson County, Neb.; India:  Missionaries; ophthalmologist; Doane College students and president; educators

Size:  1.5 cu.ft.


The Deane family came to America in 1736 and family members were the founders of Taunton, Massachusetts. Eventually, the family adopted a new spelling for their surname — Dean — and settled in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire. Samuel Chase Dean was born there in 1823. On August 9, 1856, Samuel Dean, a graduate of Williston Seminary, Amherst College, and Andover Theological Seminary married Augusta Elizabeth Abbott. Augusta’s parents, Amos and Anstice Abbott, had served as missionaries to India for the American Board of Foreign Missions. Elizabeth was born in India in 1835. When she was twelve, the Abbott family returned to the United States where Augusta completed her education at Mount Holyoke.

After their marriage, the Deans went to India as Congregational missionaries for the American Board of Foreign Missions. Six of their eight children were born there: Horace, 1857; Carrie, 1859; Walter, 1861; Frank, 1863; George, 1864; and Edwin, 1866. Because of Samuel’s ill health, the family returned to the United States in 1867. After stopping at the family home in New Hampshire, where Arthur Dean was born in 1869, and a brief stay in Georgia, where Norman Dean was born in 1871, Rev. Dean accepted a commission from the American Home Missionary Society and moved his family to Nebraska in May of 1872. His first assignment was at Jenkins’ Mill (later Steele City) where he organized a church. He later served at Wymore, Plymouth, and, finally, South Bend, where he died on September 9, 1890. Augusta Dean died in Northfield, Minnesota on February 12, 1916.

Several of the Dean children attended Doane College, three graduating from that institution and three others studying there for varying amounts of time. All of the Deans became successful in their fields of endeavor: Horace, a dairy farmer; Carrie, a teacher; Walter, a dentist; Frank, an ophthalmologist; George and Arthur, architects; Edwin, a pastor and Doane College president; and Norman, an Omaha businessman.


This collection consists of one box of manuscript material arranged in four series: 1) Autobiography of Frank Dean; 2) Diaries, 1852-1953; 3) Scrapbooks, 1867-1953; and 4) Miscellany. This material relates to the education and careers of various members of the Dean Family, early settlers of Jenkins’ Mill (Steele City), Jefferson County, Nebraska. Series 1 consists of the Autobiography of Frank W. Dean. The first two volumes are handwritten. Volume one covers Dean’s life up until 1941; volume two continues Dean’s story to 1955. Volume three is a typescript copy of Dean’s autobiography covering his life through 1951. In his autobiography, Dean discusses the Dean/Abbott family genealogy, his education travels, the settlement of his family in Jefferson County, Nebraska, life as a student at Doane College in the 1870s and 1880s, his medical training and practice, and his professional life as an ophthalmologist in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The Diaries of Series 2 include daily entries of events compiled by members of the Dean Family. The diaries of Augusta Elizabeth (Abbott) Dean contain information about her years as a missionary in India, 1852-1853 and 1901-1902. Frank W. Dean recorded weather conditions, daily activities and errands, professional meetings attended, and some political news for the years, 1945-1953. The diaries of Sarah (Meston) Dean, wife of Frank, record social activities and family news, 1916-1930. The remaining diaries of Carrie, Frank, and Edwin Dean describe trips to Europe and through the southern United States, 1891-1910, 1940, and 1942. Series 3 is comprised of two Scrapbooks, 1867-1953, which contain newspaper clippings and writings relating to members of the Dean family and their noteworthy accomplishments. Much of the material relates to Doane College history and to Edwin B. Dean’s tenure as president of that institution. The Miscellany of Series 4 includes genealogical notes, correspondence, a history of the Abbott family in India, writings of Carrie Dean, a report on Abbott’s Horometer (a navigational instrument invented by Amos Abbott), and missionary appointment certificates.

Note:  See the photograph component [RG4194.PH] for related images. For additional materials relating to Edwin B. Dean, see RG1995. The NSHS holds various collections relating to missionary work including records of the Congregational Home Missionary Society [RG2639] and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions [RG5537], as well as the papers of various individual missionaries.


Series 1 – Autobiography of Frank W. Dean

Box 1


  1. Handwritten autobiography, 1941

  2. Handwritten autobiography – continuation through 1955

  3. Typescript, 1951

Series 2 – Diaries, 1852-1953

  1. Elizabeth Augusta Abbott, 1852-1853

  2. Elizabeth Augusta (Abbott) Dean, 1901-1902

  3. Frank W. Dean, 1945-1948

  4. Frank W. Dean, 1949-1953

  5. Sarah (Meston) Dean, 1916-1920

  6. Sarah (Meston) Dean, 1921-1925

  7. Sarah (Meston) Dean, 1926-1930

  8. Carrie Dean – Three Trips in Europe, 1891-1892; 1906; 1910 (typescript)

  9. Carrie Dean, 1910 trip in Europe (original)

  10. Frank Dean – Automobile trip, 1940

  11. Frank and Edwin B. Dean – Southern trip, 1942

Series 3 – Scrapbooks, 1867-1953

  1. 1867-1950

  2. 1880-1953 (see OB033)

Series 4 – Miscellany

  1. Family names (genealogy)

  2. Genealogical notes

  3. Correspondence

    Memorial for Frank Dean

    “The Abbott Family in India”

    Writings of Carrie Dean

  4. Abbott’s Horometer report

  5. Certificates (see OB033)



Abbott family

Dean, Augusta Elizabeth, 1835-1916

Dean, Carrie, 1859-1944

Dean, Edwin Blanchard, 1866-1948

Dean, Frank Wilson, 1863-1955

Dean, Samuel Chase, 1823-1890

Dean, Sarah (Meston), 1866-1939

Dean family

Doane College (Crete, Neb.)

Jefferson County (Neb.) — History

Jenkins’ Mill (Neb.) — History


Missions — Foreign

Missions — Nebraska

Steele City (Neb.) — History


AIP/ksa   01-1990

Encoded TMM   03-25-2010