Eva Dewey: Saving Granby’s Past

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Photos of Eva Dewey courtesy of the Dewey family

Picking up from last month, where we met Bertram Dewey and his career as a rural free delivery man for the U.S. Postal Service in Granby, this month we introduce his wife, Eva, who was equally committed to Granby and public service. While Bertram worked multiple jobs as a mailman and groundskeeper, Eva was raising three boys in their 1932 Sears Roebuck home. Their small farm supplemented their income when Eva started selling eggs and milk. By 1936, four years after they built the house, they were able to pay off their mortgage.

As her children grew, Dewey’s involvement in town life increased. In 1939, she founded the Women’s Bridge Club; in 1942 she joined the Women’s Forest Fire Crew; and four years later, she founded the Lost Acres Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary. In 1960, she started the Sow and Reap Gardening Club out of the South Congregational Church, where she was a member for over 50 years. Members still host an annual plant sale there.

In 1959, Dewey would become the archivist and curator of the Salmon Brook Historical Society. The society was incorporated that year and was led by Ethel Linnel, who founded the organization in 1945 and established the Granby History Room in the basement of the Granby Library. When Linnel retired, Dewey took over. 

As the historical society grew, so did its collection of documents and artifacts and the Granby History Room overflowed into Dewey’s home for storage. In 1966, the Salmon Brook Historical Society was fortunate to be gifted the Abijah Rowe house from the Colton sisters, Mrs. Allison Nathan and Mrs. Carolyn Avery. In 1974, the society received the Enders Home from West Granby. These additional buildings would afford the space for Dewey to move the archives from her home to where the Salmon Brook Historical Society sits today and start a research library.

For over 15 years, Dewey kept Granby’s history in her home, preserving these records and creating copies and transcription by both typewriter and hand. Dewey also contributed greatly to the research. She created genealogical family histories of the Wilcox, Gillet, Griffin Hayes, Jewett, Goddard’s, Case, Dibbles, Holcomb, Shattuck and Loomis families, as well as 30 other families. 

In the book Heritage of Granby, published in 1965, Dewey contributed a chapter discussing ten prominent families in Granby. This book is available on the SBHS website for interested parties. Dewey spent hundreds of hours researching for this as well as answering letters from Granby citizens interested in their family history. Today, her files can be found inside the Preservation Barn at the Salmon Brook Historical Society. While researching, I often find a reference of Dewey by signature or read one of the copies she wrote out by hand. Her legacy of preserving our town history is still appreciated today.

While Dewey reduced her volunteer hours at the society in 1986, she kept gardening and sewing in her Sears and Roebuck house. Eva outlived Bertram by 20 years and died in 1997 at the age of 94 and is buried next to him in the Granby Cemetery. For over a quarter of a century, Eva Dewey dedicated herself to collecting and organizing Granby’s history and we at the Salmon Brook Historical Society are grateful for her contribution.

 To learn more about Eva or Bertram Dewey or Sears Roebuck Houses or prominent families in Granby, join the Salmon Brook Historical Society by calling 860-653-9713 or visiting salmonbrookhistoricalsociety.com