Notes and Documents
Rails to Chihuahua: A Letter from Edwin Lyon
Dean, September 22, 1882
EDITED BY EDWINA ANTONIA CLARK*
EDWIN LYON DEAN WAS BORN IN 1858 IN PRAIRIE HOME, IOWA, THE
oldest of six children of Dr. Thaddeus Joseph Dean and Almira
Anderson Dean. After the Civil War they left their home, then in St.
Louis, and followed the Oregon Trail. They settled in Oregon for about
fourteen years, where Dr. Dean established his medical practice. Edwin
had already begun his career with the railroads, and at the time his let-
ter from Mexico was written, his family was living in Joseph, Oregon.
After the Mexican Central Railway was completed, Edwin returned to
Oregon and married. He and his wife, Martha (referred to as Mattie in
the letter), lived in Hood River and Portland. He continued working
for the railroads, straying briefly to try his hand in the restaurant busi-
ness in Denver.1 They had a daughter, Lily Gladys, who died just before
her fifth birthday in 1888 and they divorced soon after the tragedy.
By 1897, Edwin Dean had made Seattle his home and taken a perma-
nent position with the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad Company.2
His family joined him there. It was the final move for them all. On
Christmas Day, 1900, he married Blanche Adelaide Lester, one of the
* Edwina Clark, a Seattle native, lives m Houston with her husband, Bob As an elementary
school teacher, she taught in the Houston public schools for thirty years. After retiring, she
began researching her family's history and has joined several genealogy organizations based on
her research. She and her husband are collectors of Mexican folk art, silver, textiles, and ceram-
ics They admire and respect Mexican culture.
Employment record, 1883 to Dec. 2o, 1885, agent and dispatcher, various locations under
H. S. Rowe, supt., Portland, Oregon Railway & Navigation Co. (OR&N), left, to go m business
(original in possession of the author); employment record, 1886 to Jan. 15, 1889, business for
self in Denver (original m possession of the author).
2 Employment record, 1897, dispatcher, Seattle, under L. E. Smith and J. C. Ford, supt.,
Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad (original in possession of the author).
VOL. CVII, No. 1 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY JULY, 2003
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed May 24, 2013.