Dewees Brothers Were On Cameron Hill Before Building Side-By-Side Homes At Riverview

  • Thursday, October 6, 2022

The brothers Sam T. and Warren A. Dewees were longtime Chattanooga grocers as well as Cameron Hill residents. They first got a taste of life high on the prominent downtown hill. Then they settled in a big house at 309 West Sixth St. that was home to a host of Deweeses.

They were sons of Thomas and Wilhelmina Pennypacker Dewees. The father was a native of Pennsylvania and the mother was from Virginia. After the parents married, they settled in Ohio, where Thomas Dewees was a bricklayer. 

The couple had seven sons. Warren, who was the fifth, was born in 1853 in Stark County, Ohio. He learned the bricklayer trade from his father. After arriving in Chattanooga in 1869, he was a bricklayer until 1872 when he took a job as driver for the Southern Express Company. He rose quickly through the ranks until he was the supervisor over 14 employees.

Sam Dewees was in Chattanooga during the war period after volunteering for the Union Army when he was only 15. As a 16-year-old he was present at the fierce fighting at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. During one bombardment, he ran for protection to one of the trenches in Fort Wood. A cannonball struck the ground a few yards in front of him. Being almost spent, it rolled into the trench. The cannonball struck the man at Dewees' side squarely in the forehead, though it did not crush his skull. The victim of this mishap survived, but he "did not recover his senses."

Sam Dewees returned to Chattanooga in 1868 and was first a clerk at the M. Block Drug Company. He was an alderman during the trying days of the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1878. He became a grocer in Chattanooga and a Cameron Hill resident. He was living on Magazine Street near James (West Ninth) in 1876, and Warren at the time was nearby on East Terrace close to James. By 1882, both were living on Poplar Street at the corner of Fifth. It was 1884 when they moved into 309 West Sixth.

The Dewees brothers were also joined in Chattanooga by two other brothers, Charles and Edward. Edward also went into the grocery business. Edward lived for a time at the 309 West Sixth house.

Warren stayed a bachelor, though Sam married Lida Strauss. Their children included a son Warren and another son, Tom S., who moved to Coral Gables, Fla. One daughter married Tom Selman. Another married Oscar Seagle, who was born at Ooltewah in 1877. He was a renowned baritone who traveled the United States and Europe giving concerts, including at Carnegie Hall. The Seagles lived at Schroon Lake, N.Y. Their talented son was named John Dewees Seagle. He was born in 1906 when they were living in Paris. The Seagles and Warren Dewees had gotten to Paris on the steamship Olympic at the time of the Titanic disaster. They were not informed about it until they landed in France.   

Warren helped in the operation of the grocery that was on Market Street in addition to his work at Southern Express. Later, Warren rejoined his brother full-time in the grocery at 810 Market.

Sam and Warren Dewees built homes on the same lot in Riverview in 1911. Sam Dewees died in July 1928. Warren Dewees was living with the Selmans when he passed away in March 1934.

The house they had so long enjoyed at 309 West Sixth passed on to S.G. Light. L.L. Hudson was one of its final owners. 




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