Son of Joseph Dean and Catherine Knott Dean.
Joseph H. Dean came from England with his parents and crossed the plains to Utah when he was a young child. He served multiple missions for the LDS church in Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands. He was a skilled carpenter and stone cutter, and was employed in the construction of the Salt Lake Temple for six years. Joseph was dedicated to music and was a chorister and composer. He wrote many hymns, including "Before Thee Lord, I Bow My Head," which was published in the LDS hymnbook.
He married Sarah Allen Arnold in 1876 and Florence Ridges in 1885, both in the Salt Lake Temple.