Larry Dennis Directory

Last Update: September 17, 2001

4th Gen. USA

Moses Dennis

Moses was born to Rev. John Dennis and Martha Wilcomb Dennis on May 27, 1750. He was born in Ipswich, Ma. (Essex County). Moses was only four years old when his mother died. He was raised mainly by his older sisters and brothers. Most of Moses' youth was spent in Ipswich. He became a sailor and a ship's cooper. According to one family biographer, J. D. Ordway, "he took cargoes of staves, hoops, headings of all kinds and sizes and packed them into a ship bound for the West Indies. There they would set up the casks of all kinds and descriptions and finish them off and sell them at a big profit."

Moses served in the Revolutionary War as a private in Captain McFarland's company. It was in Colonel Nixon's 4th Regiment of the Massachusetts Continental Line. He served at Boston, Trenton and Princeton. Moses had been given a pension for one year's of actual service. He had been taken prisoner by the British and was kept on an old prison ship anchored in New York harbor. The prisoners had very little food and clothing. The British would offer them food and clothing it they would desert and come over to the British side. Moses was one of the few that declined. He was then offered a large sum of money but he still refused. While many prisoners died, it was said that Moses survived because he was young and strong. He assisted the doctors and was put in charge of the medicine chest. He finally found the opportunity to escape.

The following report is from "The History of Hancock, New Hampshire, 1764 to 1889" by William Willis Hayard.

In 1780, Moses, with seven others, immigrated to New Hampshire. He bought in the town of Hancock. It was a lot called Blanchards Mile Square 2 and it contained 640 acres. He sold two farms from this lot and reserved 360 acres for himself. And it is one of the best in town and was situated in the southeast part of town. It was bounded on the east by the Contoocook River. For three years Mr. Dennis spent his summers only in Hancock, returning to Ipswich in the winter. He built a small hut near the bank of the river where he found a clearing supposed to have been made by the Indians for fishing purposes. In this hut he lived alone while he was doing his own work to prepare his land for his family. He made a wooden plate from which he ate his food, "washing it", he said, "when I forgot what I ate on it last."

There was an abundance of fish in the river from which he drew a plentiful supply. On one occasion he was somewhat startled while fishing to discover that the fish he had thrown behind him had disappeared. On investigation, he found out a fox was the thief. He had first supposed it might be an Indians.

Moses married Sarah Frye on May 27, 1781 in Andover, Ma. (Essex County). Jon French preformed the marriage ceremony. He was the pastor of the church in the South Parish in Andover, County of Essex. Sarah had been born on May 27, 1758 in Andover, Ma. (Essex County). Moses called Sarah by the name of Sally.

Moses and Sally had their first child on October 7, 1782 in Andover, Ma. (Essex County). They named him Moses Dennis Jr. and he was later to marry Lois Eaton on April of 1810 in Hancock, New Hampshire (Hillsborough County). When Lois died Moses Jr. remarried to Jane Graves. Jane lived from 1795 to 1816. Moses Jr. died on January 18, 1827 in Jasper, New York (Stuepen County).

During the third summer of Moses' stay to prepare the land he would build a log house a short distance from his hut. The following spring he took his wife, Mrs. Sarah (Sally) Frye Dennis, with him on his return to Hancock. Mr. & Mrs. Dennis stayed there the rest of their lives.

Mrs. Dennis rode from Andover, Massachusetts to Hancock on horseback carrying her child. Moses Jr. had been born on October 7, 1782 in Andover, Ma. (Essex County). Moses Jr. was only a year and a half old for this journey. Moses Sr. had a window of glass for Sally Dennis' house strapped on the horse she rode. This window had six panes of glass, and for several years it was the only glass window in the town. She was considered very proud of her extensive glass window, teakettle, spider, half a dozen cups and sauces and many silver teaspoons.

This journey took place in the spring of 1784 when Sarah (Sally) Frye Dennis was six or seven months pregnant with her second child. She was from a distinguished family of early New England settlers that settled in Andover. They had created Frye Village. Sally and Moses became much less privileged for the years to come.

Moses and Sally had their second child on November 25, 1784 in their new home. The log cabin with one window made out of six panes of glass. They named their little girl Sally Dennis after her mother. When she grew up she married Charles Symonds on November 27, 1809. Charles died on July 20, 1854 in Marlow, New Hampshire and she died on October 28, 1857 in Marlow, New Hampshire (Cheshire County).

The third child of Moses and Sally was another girl. She was born on March 29, 1786 in Hancock, New Hampshire (Hillsborough County). They named her Martha "Patty" Dennis. When she grew up she married Dr. John Baker on February 16, 1809. Dr. John Baker lived from 1783 to 1848. Martha died on September 17, 1857 in Marlboro, Ma. (Middlesex County).

Moses and Sally's fourth child was a boy and they named him Samuel Dennis. He was born on January 26, 1788 in Hancock, New Hampshire (Hillsborough County. He was later referred to as Squire Samuel Dennis. Squire Samuel Dennis married four times. He married Elizabeth Frye on October 13, 1818. She lived from 1796 to July 22,1822. Samuel and Elizabeth had two children: Elizabeth Dennis born 1819 and Sarah Dennis born 1820. Wife number two was Lucy Whitcomb and he married her on December 19, 1822. This was five months after his first wife had died. She lived from 1806 to 1825. Wife number three was Alice Whiting and he married her on November 24, 1825. Samuel and Alice had four children: Alice born 1826, Samuel Jr. born 1830, Rodney born 1834 and Abigail born 1839. She lived from 1796 to 1856. Wife number four was Olive Whiting and they married on November 20, 1856. She was born on January 20, 1800. They were married for 16 years. He died on August 18, 1872.

Moses and Sally lived in this log house a few years then built a frame house where they lived until the year 1800. Then they built a large house marked "J. Dennis" on higher ground a short distance from the other house. This house was the home during the remainder of their lives except for a short time when their son William lived with them. The house was burned on February 4, 1876 and was not rebuilt.

Family lore states that Moses would watch his workers and his farm through a telescoping glass that he had gotten during his marine service. Since he was not a captain of a ship during the Revolutionary War he probably acquired it during his time as a ships cooper to the West Indies. It was stated that he kept an eye on his workers. In that day it was appropriate to have slaves or indentured servants but there is no records of ownership so it is unknown exactly who he had working.

It was noted that Mr. Moses Dennis was a man of much general information and good judgement. He filled many offices of trust in the town and was universally respected. He was of a genial nature with much quiet humor and this made him, even in extreme old age, a most desirable companion. It was said that he felt his greatest treasure was his children and grandchildren. This way of thinking carried on for generation's.

Moses had left instructions with his creditors to not let his account go over $5.00. His primary interest was in his family and his farm. He was said to raise cattle and sheep.

After Moses died his son John Dennis helped his mother apply for and get a pension on behalf of his mother. John and his mother presented proof that about the first of January of 1776, at Winter Hill, Moses enlisted in the Army of the United States. It was in the Captain McFarland's company of infantry. This was in Col. Nixon's regiment in the Massachusetts line. It said that he served at Winter Hill until the enemy evacuated Boston. Then the regiment marched to New York and then went on to White Plains. While at White Plains a detachment was called for and he volunteered and marched through New Jersey to the Deleware. Then they went across the Deleware River to Trenton and on to Princeton. Moses was in the battles fought at these places. He was discharged at Chatham, New Jersey in February of 1777. Col. Nixon had been promoted and Col. Little commanded the regiment when Moses was discharged. He was in Captain Taggart's company at that time. While in the army Moses had kept a little paper book in which he noted the most remarkable events. When about to be discharged paper was requested to be turned back in so his little book was all taken but one leaf on which a discharge was written but not signed because Col. Little was not available at the time. This leaf of the book was presented to the court as proof that Moses had served in the Revolutionary War. Sarah (Sally) Frye Dennis could not appear before the judge at the age of 87, due to bodily infirmity, to state that she had heard her husband speak of services that he performed in the Revolutionary War. That he also served as a surgeon and surgeon's mate and was at the battles of Trenton, Princeton and White Plains. Her son John Dennis appeared on her behalf and she was able to make her mark on the official documents.

In a letter accompanying this request it is stated that Sally Dennis resided with her son John Dennis. He resided in Hancock in 1850. She received a pension on behalf of her husband of $43.33 per year. And it would begin for her on August 4, 1848. Her husband had been issued the pension on March 4, 1831. He received this pension until 1845 when he died. Sally lived until October 12, 1851 when she was 93 years old.