Dewey, Jack (fl. 1830s)
Jack Dewey (fl. 1830s) was a slave carpenter from New Bern whose work for the Cameron family in Hillsborough and Raleigh is documented in their records. He belonged to Charles Dewey, cashier of the State Bank in Raleigh. He may have gained his training from Charles’s father, New Bern carpenter John Dewey.
In addition, he had worked with another of New Bern’s finest artisans, the carpenter-joiner Asa King. On February 20, 1833, John M. Roberts of New Bern wrote to Duncan Cameron to recommend Asa King’s workmanship and noted, “Mr Deweys Jack now in your employ worked a Considerable time with Mr King.” How long Jack Dewey had worked with King remains unknown, but he was probably involved, as King and Dewey were, in executing some of New Bern’s finest Federal period buildings.(According to Roberts, Asa King had built houses for Mr. Smallwood and Judge Donnell, among others, as well as the State Bank, and it is likely that Jack Dewey was involved in some if not all of these.)
Charles Dewey probably hired Jack Dewey out for many jobs, with the Cameron projects the only documented examples. He was hired for six-month terms at $100 per term. In 1834 he was put in charge of carpentry in constructing Paul Cameron’s large frame house, Burnside (1834-1835) in Hillsborough, while John Berry of Hillsborough handled the masonry work. He also worked on the Duncan Cameron House (1835) in Raleigh, where construction was supervised by builder William Drummond.
Jack Dewey operated with considerable autonomy and traveled frequently between Hillsborough and Raleigh. Paul Cameron wrote in 1834 that he had gone to Hillsborough to see “how Jack and his company had employed them selves. They had not gone on as well as I had expected in laying down the floors—but said that they had waited until all the flooring plank had been carried up that a selection might be made of the best for the floors of the lower rooms.” In 1835, after Jack Dewey had gone to Raleigh to work on a house being built by Paul’s father Duncan Cameron, Paul wrote to Duncan, “What has become of Jack—I hope that you will get him off at the very earliest day—as I am resolved to make a finish of my house in short order.” During 1836, Jack worked on Duncan Cameron’s project for at least six months, for on October 30, 1836, Cameron’s account with carpenter Thomas A. Waitt included $30.00 for “Six months board for Jack Dewey.” Where Jack Dewey went after this project is not yet known.
- Cameron Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
- Dates:1834-1835Location:Hillsborough, Orange CountyStreet Address:Opposite east end of Margaret Ln., Hillsborough, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Lucile Noel Dula, Pelican Guide to Hillsborough (1979).Note:For Paul Cameron of Burnside, Berry evidently built the brick chimneys, a brick kitchen, and a large brick ice pit, which still survives. Jack Dewey of New Bern accomplished much of the carpentry.
- Dates:1835Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).Note:The house built in 1835 for Duncan Cameron was remodeled in 1901 for his grandson Bennehan Cameron, who added a large portico and additional rooms. It stood on the south side of Hillsborough Street opposite St. Mary's School. Portions of its interior woodwork are said to have been reused in a house in Raleigh's Hayes Barton neighborhood.