John served in the Continental Line of North Carolina, 10th Regiment, Quinn’s Company during the Revolutionary War. He enlisted 20 Jul 1778 and served 9 months. Since he was born in 1764-1765 he must have been around 13 when he enlisted. So he must have lied about his age. It is interesting he served in the Continental Line of the Revolutionary Army along with his uncles Julius and Joshua. This must have been a very patriotic family. Most of the men in this area of Virginia and North Carolina served in the Militia rather than the Regular Army.

John Dean married Hannah “Polly” Marshall probably about 1785 in Surry County, North Carolina. Nothing is known about her other than a reference to her in Henry “Bud” Scalf’s book about the Dean and James families. There was a Marshall family that also lived in Surry County, North Carolina close to the Deans, so it is feasible this is true. Also she is referenced in several DAR application documents as John Dean’s wife.

Hannah and John had six children: Job (1785), Lillian, (unknown), Hannah (unknown), Peninah (September 27, 1794), Miranda (August 17,1797), and Sarah 1805.

From Bud Scalf’s book “Mountain Kinsman Ride” we learn (corrections are bracketed) about John Dean’s moving to Floyd County. It should be noted neither of these stories are proven and may include exaggerations and mistakes.

“Pernina [Peninah] Dean James, who lived until 1880 [1884], related to Mrs. McCoy and Mrs. Honaker how she and her father came by themselves to Johns Creek and built a cabin. They journeyed horseback, father and daughter, through the wilderness in 1808, a year before the James and Charles families arrived. Pernina [Peninah] was 14 years old. It took time to build a cabin and both labored hurriedly, for the father wanted to bring the rest of the family from North Carolina before winter came along.

He and Pernina [Peninah] talked of the return trip and [the] decision was made for her to stay at the cabin until he returned. To construct a safe sleeping place, a frame-work was swung to the cabin rafters and food to last for his absence was stored in the swinging haven. At night she climbed in and slept, food lying beside her, safe from prowling animals. She told her descendants, over and over again the story of the terrible nights alone in the swinging bed, of how the wild beasts would scream and she would cry from loneliness and fear.

When John Dean arrived back in Surrey county and (sic) hold how he had left his 14-year-old daughter in a cabin on Johns Creek, the mother was distraught and her lashing tongue drove family preparations for the trip to the new country. They left hurriedly, left also many things they should have brought as necessary to their convenience in the Johns Creek cabin, because Mrs. Dean wouldn’t take the time to pack. Only arrival at the cabin and finding Pernina safe allayed the anger and fear of Mrs. Dean. “In never expected to see you alive,” she told her daughter.”


” The John Dean family moved away. John died in Wayne county, West Virginia, but Pernina [Peninah] Dean James continued to live at the old homestead on Johns Creek until she died in 1880 [1884] and was buried at the mouth of Brushy. Her life was one long regret, as she expressed it “for the beautiful blue mountains of North Carolinas.” She lived long enough to see her children and several of her grandchildren established in homes of their own and to pass on to her descendants the story of a section that was a little bit of our mountain annals.”

There is also an article from “The first James, Charles and Dean families in Pike County” in the Appalachia Expressed by June Johnson

“John Dean was born in Halifax County, Va. He was a Revolutionary War soldier of the Continental line from North Carolina, having enlisted July 20, 1778; serving nine months. John (1757-1846) and his eldest daughter, Pernina [Peninah] “Viney” (1791-94 -1880-83), came by themselves to Johns Creek at first. They journeyed on horseback through the wilderness somewhere between, 1805 and 1808, before the Jameses arrived. Records show that Pernina was 14 years old.

They settled near the present post office at McCombs, Pike County. (The farm of T. B. Blackburn estate is a part of the old Dean farm.) The initial trip and dangers seemed to be too rough and stark to bring the rest of the family at first.

Working together, John and Viney cut the trees and lifted the logs to build a cabin. At last it was finished; sturdy enough to keep out the bears and other wild animals.

John knew he had to make the trip back to North Carolina to get the rest of the family and guide them back to the homestead.

He and Viney talked of the trip. It was a terribly long and hot trip to make to turn around and come back. Then, too, should they abandon the cabin? Homesteaders had to prove occupancy. Also it was known that wandering settlers often burglarized unoccupied cabins. At any rate, it was decided that Viney would stay alone in the cabin while he was gone, even though there were no neighbors on whom who could call in an emergency. The Jameses would not arrive for a couple of years.

To construct a safe sleeping place, a framework was swung to the cabin rafters. Food to last the duration of his absence was stored in the swinging haven.

It was not that long since Jenny Wiley had been captured by the Indians, back in 1789, but their cabin had been on a main Indian trail. This one was not; and besides, more people had come in now, and the red-man situation was more controlled.

In case of wandering savages, however, the door could be tightly secured, and she had firearms for an emergency. She thought, they act like madmen. You can’t reason with them. I know they are agitated about losing their land, but they never had a bath or a haircut, and they have been taught no manners, etiquette or work habits; not to mention lessons in books.

Her father taught her how to manage, and they practiced a few sessions.

Unabashed, she assured her father, “1 will be all right. You go on, and try to be back before long. I promise I won’t’! go swimming or wandering around alone.”

Now that he was gone everything seemed different. That night she climbed in the makeshift bed and lay there with her eyes wide open staring into the-darkness. The food was placed beside her, safe from prowling animals. She had to fortify herself with many prayers. Her mother had long ago assured her that she was protected by the Lord.

It was hard not to be scared. She kept her gun by her hand at all times.

She later told her descendants over and over again, “It was terrible being there at night alone in the swinging bed. The wild beasts would scream, and sniff around the house. I would cry from loneli­ness and fear. I had to be brave. I knew my parents would come as soon as they possibly could.”

When John Dean arrived back home in Surrey County, his wife Hannah “Polly” Marshall Dean, said, “Where, is my Pernina [Peninah]?” Her eyes were wide with fear and accusation.

John replied, “I left her in a cabin on Johns Creek, but I built a swinging bed and the cabin is very strong. You don’t have to worry. She will be all right.”

The mother was not known for taking things lightly. She stamped her foot. “You surely didn’t do such a thing. How could you possibly leave a 14-year-old alone? Oh my God. I, can’t believe you would do this. Did you leave enough to eat for her? Anything could happen to her. What if she fell? What if Indians came by?” She began to cry.

Wailing and advising everyone, Polly’s lashing tongue drove the family to make hasty preparations for the trip.

They left hurriedly, and also left behind many things they should have brought as necessary to their convenience in the Johns Creek cabin. Mrs. Dean, in her concern, wouldn’t take time to pack.

Only arrival at the cabin and finding Pernina [Peninah] safe alleviated the anger and fear of Mrs. Dean. Running the last few steps, she clutched her daughter’s breast. “I never expected to see you alive.” She told her.

All eyes were on Viney. “I was all right. Nothing at all happened. I watched carefully when I got water from the creek. I washed in the cabin. I missed you, but I am all right.”

It is not known why Peninah came with her father on this journey. I think Job was the oldest child and the only son. At least we know he was older than Peninah. In 1808 he would have been 23. So why didn’t he go on this dangerous and difficult journey with his father? Why did John Dean take a 14 year old girl instead? It does raise some questions.

Over the years John was involved in many legal transactions. You can see many of them at the following link.

It is not known when Hannah Marshall Dean died. No record of her death has been found. Although we know she died before 1833 when John Dean married Vinah Low in Lawrence County. At the time he was living across the state line in Caball County, Virginia which became Wayne County, West Virginia after the Civil War. Maybe Hannah had died about this time.

From John Dean’s will and other legal documents we know of six children that he and Hannah had.

“The appraisement of personal property of John Dean is recorded in Wayne County, Virginia (W. Virginia) will book C, p. 50 and was done the 24th day of April 1846 by William Brumby, John Faral (Jarrell) and Thomas Preston. The appraisement was filed on 24 July 1846. (Both Jarrell and Preston were Floyd County names.)

The sale date is shown as March 28, 1848 with a Vina Dean buying a great deal, such as a gray mare, a sorrel horse, 40 head of hogs, a black and white cow and calf, a flowered back cow, shovels, plough and tounge, 4 augers, 1 drawing knife, 4 hoes and 1 matick, 4 axes, 1 “pare horse quiring”, 1 hand saw, 1 little wheel, 1 half bushel, 1 loom, 4 baskets, 2 bunches wool and sheat, saddle and bridle, lot of corn, 9 slays and harnesses, and numerous household items such as a clock, pots, kettles, trommels, tubs, barrels, coffee mill, shelf and shelf ware, looking glass, kitchen shelfware and sive and sarch, 5 peas of hoop er ware, 1 chest, 3 feather beds and sheets, coverlets and steds.

The proceeds from the sale amounted to $625.55 less accounts paid in the amount of $92.78 leaving a balance of $528.75 to be distributed to the heirs of John Dean.”

Signed H. Bowen, John Plymale. Source: Freda Strampe

From the size of the estate it appears John was fairly well off from the number of cattle, sheep and hogs that he owned as well as 8 slaves. He never applied for a Revolutionary War pension, maybe he didn’t feel he needed it.

Then on March 3, 1847 a survey for 100 acres in Wayne County was granted to the heirs of John Dean. Job Dean; Pernina James; John H. Riggs, Malinda M., James G., Amy M., Hiram W., & Reding L. Riggs; Sarah Wireman; Marinda McQuary; Alexander, John D. Thompson, Malinda Sellars & Elizabeth Thompson heirs at law of John Dean

“One hundred acres, lying and being in the County of Wayne, on waters of Rich Creek and Mylam branch of the Left hand fork of Twelve Pole and bounded as follows viz: Beginning at a hickory on a point on the Honey Trace fork of Rich creek; Hence S. 80″E72 poles to a white oak on a ridge of the Honey Trace of Rich Creek, and on a line of a survey made for Dameson Telfort S.29 1/2 E. 18 poles to a poplar and birch in the head of the Hone Trace fork of Mylam S. 1″W 90 poles to a white oak on the same ridge N.39.W 46 poles to two charred oaks on a point N.13W 16 poles to two chestnut oaks on the same ridge S 19″W. 150 poles to a stake; Thence N. 75 E 170 poles to the beginning with its appurtenances.

Therefore in 1847 of John and Hannah’s six children Job Dean, Peninah James, Marinda McQuary and Sarah Wireman are still alive. Hannah who married Redden Riggs has already died and her husband and children – John H., Malinda M., James G., Amy M., and Hiram W. inherit her share. Lillian who married an Unknown Thompson had also died and her heirs Alexander, John, Elizabeth and Malinda Thompson Sellars inherited her share. It is not known if Alexander and John are her sons or if one of them was her husband.