Henry E. Dean came to Kansas in 1885 at the age of eighteen. Then and for a number of years afterwards he was a humble worker in the ranks of the industrial army. Success did not come to him like a lightning flash, but as a result of long, steady and painstaking effort. For the first two years he was employed on farms in Leavenworth and Franklin counties. On removing to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1887, he found a job as teamster for one of the packing plants. Making himself known as one who could be trusted, and diligent in the execution of his duties, he was given positions in the rising scale of importance and financial income, and eventually he became foreman in the curing department of Sulzberger & Sons’ packing house.
A boyhood desire to become a lawyer had in the meantime crystalized into a set and fixed determination, and for several years, in addition to the duties of the day, he attended night school in the Kansas City School of Law. From that institution he was graduated June 10, 1900, and was admitted to the Missouri bar and soon afterwards to the Kansas bar.
Even after his admission he felt that it was the wisest course to continue earning money in the old routine rather than endure the starvation period which confronts the average young lawyer while waiting for clients. But in September, 1900, he opened an office in Kansas City, Kansas, and from that time with the exception of three years has been continuously engaged in practice. He was first a member of the firm of Bradbent & Dean, then Getty, Hutchings & Dean, then Hale & Dean, and finally Hale, Dean & Higgins. At present Mr. Dean is engaged in individual practice with offices in the People’s National Bank Building. Mr. Dean is well grounded in the fundamental principles of law, has a splendid practice, and both his reputation and position in the profession are thoroughly assured.
With his growing success as a lawyer Mr. Dean has become more and more widely known in public affairs and as a public leader of demonstrated ability. In 1909 he was elected president of the Wyandotte County Bar Association. In 1904 he was appointed auditor of Wyandotte County by Judge Moore, and filled that office for four years. When Kansas City, Kansas, adopted its commission charter, Mr. Dean was elected in 1910 a member of the first city commission, and was re-elected in 1911, serving altogether three years and part of the time as president of the commission. In August, 1913, Governor Hodges appointed him a member of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco and San Diego. He was made secretary of this commission and had the general management of the Kansas interests in that great world’s fair.
At the dedication of the site for the Kansas Building in October, 1913, at San Francisco, on the identical spot where the Twentieth Kansas Regiment encamped prior to its departure for the Philippines, Mr. Dean was chosen as the orator to deliver the dedicatory address. It was a notable speech, and was not only appreciated by the many citizens of the Sunflower State who were present at the occasion, but was widely read when republished by the press of the country. Without attempting to quote the address as a whole, some sentences should be extracted that reveal the intrinsic power of literary expression by Mr. Dean, and which also have some permanent interest to Kansans.
“Expositions of the past have been reminiscent in their character, and step by step have recounted the achievements of the long ago. The occasion which engages our attention today is unique in that it departs radically from the celebration of the past and finds its theme in the vital present. Not that we would detract one jot from these great world gatherings of the past, marking, as they have, world spochs, but our present ceremony is one of the preliminary steps to celebrate a material accomplishment from which are to flow blessings to all people of the great round world.
“And so Kansas comes with no halting step or blurred vision to participate in this great celebration which we believe presages these great things for humanity. But realizing with our backs to the past and our faces gazing hopefully into the future we descry shapes and figures which justify the prediction that following fast upon the heels of this marvel of engineering skill are to come yet social, industrial and moral changes that will go far toward the relief of conditions that to the thoughtful are fast becoming intolerable. And so Kansas comes to you today in no spirit of exultation, without bombast, egotism or boastfulness, but with a serene confidence in the future, and believing that we can see through the Golden Gate the crimson streaks which betoken the dawn of a new and better day, in the fullness of which the barriers erected and so long maintained by selfishness and the wrongful use of power are to be broken down, and in their stead shall be installed a reign of progress, justice and equity. And it is in this spirit that we today in the name of the great State of Kansas dedicate this spot, rich in its history of the past and golden with promise for the future.”
Mr. Dean has been a sturdy republican, and in 1916 was nominated by his party for the lower house of the State Legislature.
He is a member of the Union and Elks clubs of Kansas City, Kansas, and in Masonry has attained the supreme thirty-third honorary degree in the Scottish Rite. He is master of the Lodge of Perfection, and is also affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. Dean is a lover of outdoor sports, especially of hunting.
Henry Ezra Dean was born at Cold Springs, Kentucky, August 23, 1867, the fifth in a family of eleven children. His parents were Hiram E. and Matilda (McCollum) Dean, both natives of Kentucky. His father was a prosperous farmer in Kentucky and lived there until his death in 1909 at the age of seventy-nine. The mother is past seventy-five and is still living at the old home in Cold Springs. Hiram E. Dean served with credit as a Union soldier during the Civil war, became a republican upon the organization of that party, and both he and his wife were loyal Baptists. It was on the old home farm in Kentucky that Henry E. Dean spent his early years and gained his education in the district schools. Being without means to carry on his ambitions plans for a professional career, he came out to Kansas and put in the many years of hard work on farm and in packing plants until he was able to realize his early dreams.
On October 11, 1893, he married Miss Jennie B. Bown, daughter of William T. and Naney J. (Johnson) Bown, who came from New Albany, Indiana, to Kansas City, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Dean have three children: Helen, who died when six and a half years of age; and Harry E., and John Russell.