6th Gen. USA
John Adams DENNIS
John Adams DENNIS was born on April 13, 1818, in Hancock, New Hampshire. He died 06/26/1890 (10:00 clock) in Old Soldiers and Sailors Home, Burkett, Nebraska. He was the first child born to John and Nancy Hunt Dennis. He was especially close to his brother and sister’s. This was probably true because he was the oldest child in the family and someone to look up to.
His sister Nancy was very special to him. She married Benjamin Winn and John Adams’ son, John Quincy Dennis (number two), was always close to the Winns. Nancy was the second child born to John and Nancy Hunt Dennis. She was born on January 6, 1821. His next sister, Sarah B. Dennis was born March 4, 1824. And John Adams Dennis’ brother Charles Norton Dennis was born in March 16th, 1826. After Charles was born there were four more sister’s born in the family. Maria Lousia Dennis (October 4, 1828), Lucy Amelia Dennis (March 18, 1831), Martha Elizabeth Dennis (September 6, 1833), and Julia Abby Dennis (December 8, 1838).
John Adams Dennis and two of his sisters ended up in the middle of Nebraska. Martha Elizabeth “Lizzie” Dennis Humphrey spent most of her life in Quincy, Ill. “Lizzies” family lived with her parents in their last years and remained in the family home. Charles Norton Dennis settled in Keokuk, Iowa. This is located on the southeastern border of Nebraska. Charles and John Adams remained close all their lives.
John Adams Dennis was an adventurous young man probably because he had heard the stories of his grandfather's life as a young man. John Adams Dennis’ grandfather, Moses, was a mariner in the times of the Revoluntary War. Moses went far out from home, which was in Ipswich, Ma. to build a life on 320 of the 640 acres he homesteaded in New Hampshire after his war years. He divided the other 320 acres into two parcels and sold them. John Adams Dennis’ grandfather, Moses Dennis, was a good man and was well thought of by the entire community. Moses Dennis was mostly interested in running his big place, and making sure his workers were properly taken care of. It was believed that he kept watch over his workers with a telescope that had been used in the war years. Most landowners had workers that were of the nature of slave labor. It was common to have indentured slaves as well as purchased slaves in the years before and after the Revolutionary War. Also he believed in not getting into debt, so he told the town storeowner not to let his account to get over $5.00 without letting him know. His family was his main concern. Moses' grandchildren loved and respected him very much because he would tell wonderful stories of his adventures. He shared the fact that he had kept a journal of events during important times in his life. Moses impressed that keeping a journal was an important thing to do for many reasons. It would verify how things had occurred and it would help him to remember things correctly.
John Adams Dennis also grew up seeing how much his Grandfather and his Father loved and respected their wives and how they felt that their children were their truest treasures.
Before John Dennis (John Adams Dennis’ father) was to be married he was a mariner and traveled to China. On his last trip he brought home some beautiful golden brown silk with the tiniest stitches to his bride to be, Nancy Hunt. Nancy Hunt Dennis was known for her beautiful work in making candlewick spreads for tables and beds. Towards the end of Nancy's life, her son, John Adams Dennis', daughters would stay with the family to help with their Grandmother Dennis' needs. Later that gift of silk was given to their Granddaughter Jane Augusta Dennis Johnson and she later gave it to her daughter Iona Johnson Woodside.
John Adams Dennis was raised on a place near his Grandfather Moses Dennis. As his Grandparents grew older and needed looked after, John Adams Dennis’ father moved back to his Grandfather Moses Dennis' homestead. John Dennis was to stay there until his parents both passed on. Later, John Dennis sold the place and he and his wife moved to Quincy, Ill. Their daughter, Martha Elizabeth Dennis Humphrey, lived there and they built a big home and all lived together. It was the first all brick home built in the town of Quincy, Illinois and it was considered quite nice. Martha's son Edward Humphrey inherited the property after his parents had passed on but later lost it for back taxes.
When John Adams Dennis was young, he and a friend decided to try their hand at digging for gold out west. They traveled to the East Coast and went south by ship. They went around the tip of South America and back up the West Coast. Later in life as he told his children of this adventure he said there was nothing to see but dry bushes and very few people as they traveled up the Coast of California.
They got off the ship at San Francisco and bought a small house for $40.00. Then they went south and east a bit and dug for gold. They stopped when they had about $2000.00. The two men were concerned about how to get the gold home without anyone knowing they had it. First they hid it under some boards on the floor of the ship as they sailed home. Then when they got off the ship John Adams Dennis put on old ragged clothes and he made a hunch for his back. They hid the gold in the hunch and he rode home without anyone bothering them. As to how he used his share of the gold there are no stories to fill in this blank.
He also told a story to his children that when he was young he had worked in a machine shop as a mechanic. He shared a room with a fellow worker. That fellow had said on the first night that they shared a room, that he would warm John Adams Dennis feet if he would warm his feet first. John Adams Dennis hung one of his feet out in the cold air while the guy warmed his feet. When it was his turn the fellow was quite shocked. The next night the fellow said he thought it was better if they just warmed their own feet. The problem was solved.
John Adams Dennis married Augusta Ursula Cross on April 14, 1842 at Manchester, New Hampshire when he was only twenty-four years old. John and Augusta felt strongly that they would make sure their future family would be well educated. Augusta had been a teacher before they were married. Their first son was born nine months after they were married on January 3, 1843 in Manchester, New Hampshire. They named him John Quincy Dennis. He was well educated and was learning a third language when he went to the Civil War with his father.
They had a second son named George Edwin Dennis in June 2, 1845. He was also born in Manchester, New Hampshire. George E. Dennis and John Quincy Dennis were very close brothers. This was true because they spent all their time together as children and young adults for the next twenty years. Plus the next child in the family to survive infancy didn’t come until 1852.
The next baby was a girl and she was born on January 28, 1848. They named her Jane Augusta Dennis. She died when she was a year old. The family still lived in the Manchester, New Hampshire area. The whole family was so impressed with how sweet and special this baby was and how broken hearted they were when she died. Then John Adams and Augusta had another child that was a boy and was dead at birth in 1850. So on September 1, 1852, when another baby girl was born they gave her the name of the little girl they had lost, Jane Augusta Dennis. She was born in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Charles Lawson Dennis was born on January 27, 1854. He was also born while the family lived in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was the sixth child born in the family. The family moved to Burlington, Iowa after Charles was born. The next child was a boy named Benjamin Cross Dennis and he was born on July 1, 1856 in the Des Moines Hospital in Iowa.
John had gotten a hired girl to help his wife after each arrival of a new child and when ever she needed help. Their last son was a boy and they named him Ira Whitcomb Dennis. He was born on September 14, 1861 in Des Moines Hospital. Again they had help around the house after Augusta gave birth. Augusta and John Adams Dennis were married for twenty years when she died on March 4, 1862 in the Des Moines Hospital. One of the daughters born to the next wife declared that Augusta had died when she developed complications from her appendix. The youngest daughter of the second wife declared that it was from something else. John Adams Dennis’ family was heart broken to lose her and she left behind a number of young children. The ages of the children were; 19, 17, 10, 8, 6, and 6 months old.
John Adams Dennis decided to ask the hired girl if she would step into his life as his wife and help him raise his family. The hired girl's name was Barbara Ellen Morgan and she was about his oldest son’s age. She was a small girl but honest and hard working. Barbara said yes and they were married within two months after his wife had died. Many family members were very shocked with the suddenness but he didn't know what else to do. He told his new bride that in order to pay for the farm they were living on he would join the army. He would fight in the Civil War for awhile but that he would be home for planting in the spring and she would take care of the place and his children until he could come home. His oldest two sons would go with him: John Quincy Dennis would go in as a soldier and George Edwin Dennis as a fifer. They were members of Company D 25th Regiment, Iowa Infantry Volunteers. John Quincy Dennis #1 kept a diary as his father had told him his grandfather had kept a diary during the Revolutionary War. It was kept in a very small booklet and the diary had these entries (the entries are abbreviated statement as they were written);
Oct 26, 1862 Sunday at home. All three companies turned loose last night till Monday at seven o’clock, and G (George) and I (John Quincy) started home ¾ of an hour after candle light and footed it home arriving at midnight. Fooled around the house with the children and Susan Fox till afternoon, then went over to the lake hunting but no luck. Was not very tired or sore this morning. All the folks well or around the neighborhood. Oct 27, 1862 Monday Burlington. Started for B. (Burlington) about 2 hours before days end and got here about 12 o’clock. November 6, 1862 Thursday On lower Mississippi. Left Cairo this morning at daylight. Past Columbus and Bellmont battleground about middle of A.M. Bound for Helena. Some of the boys got some of the balls that were fired at the Battle of Belmont. About the middle of P.M. got in sight of Island No. 10 and just before we got to it we ran over a snag and stuck on another one pretty tight. There is a gunboat right ahead and beside the Island - looks like an iron-plated steamer. The name of the boat we are on is the Edward Walsh. We have 100 head of cattle aboard and I should think more than 10,000 bushels of grain. And provisions and forage for the army. Two regiments (the 119th Illinois is one) left Columbus by railroad while we were at that place. The 111th Illinois was at Columbus. The 119th is going to Corinth. F. (Father) is not well yet. There are only 405 companies aboard, the others are soon on the Hiawatha. November 8, 1862 Saturday Stuck on a sandbar opposite of Point Plensit. About the middle of the forenoon the Hiawatha moved in sight with the other boys aboard. We have not moved about 8 to 12 miles in 48 hours. All curse the pilot. November 9, 1862 Sunday Playing euchre and got off of the sand bar about 1 or 2 o’clock and ran about a mile and stuck again. November 10, 1862 by Island No.10 We were pulled off by another steamer and we put ashore opposite the Island to repair one of the wheels, which was badly mashed. Six of the arms of it being broken. While ashore (cooks were allowed ashore) I got some nails from a burnt steamer said to be the remains of a rebel gunboat which was destroyed at the No. 10 fight. We are lying here playing euchre and sleeping. Having run all over the boat till we are sick of it. We are not allowed to come down on the stairs so we climb down the rods and ¼ of us are down most of the time. We are stuck yet but we are ½ mile lower down than yesterday. We are 159 miles from Memphis by the river according to Etna’s Insurance Company’s man and figures. And 56 miles farther from Helena. The 34th Iowa Regiment (from Burlington) passed us just after daylight. Captain Smith (C.B.) went on to Memphis last night on a boat that came along, he will (it is said) send a boat up here to take us off. Just before night the John J Roe (said to belong to the man that owns this one) came up and after bothering around trying to pull us off till night, laid up along side of us and commenced unloading us, but it was morning before the task was done, and then after more bother and fooling we (most of us) got on the Roe but still the Walsh could not move, so a cable was drawn from one to the other and then she came to her senses. Before night we came aboard the Ohio Belle and started down the river. November 12 The Hiawatha took off our sick and passed on down the river. There is a squad of cavalry scouting on the riverbank of the river along here. We have seen them twice (Union). It is nearly night and we are not any lower down the river yet. There are but 21 or 22 houses in Point Pleasant village that I can see from here. For food we have good crackers, coffee, and some bacon (smoked) but we have no way of cooking meat on the boat. The Hiawatha draws within 21 inches of as much water as we do. We have been here over 60 hours now. George Ed. and I are both on guard today. November 13 Thursday G. (George) and I (John Q.) was on picket guard last night. There were but 2 reliefs and when I was off, I went past the guard and got some persimmons (the first I ever saw which more were on, some of the others went about ½ or ¾ mile and got (jayhawked) some 15 or 20 chickens. The 120th or 122nd Illinois Regiment were with us till morning, in the Stephen Decatur. (the boat we were on from Burlington to St. Louis). After we got to Memphis and jayhawked all the apples we could we dropped down a piece to coal. There is a battle expected at Holly Springs soon (about 50 miles from Memphis). I didn’t see Fort Billow yesterday as we passed it. November 14, 1862 Friday At Helena Arrived here about middle of afternoon. Stopped at (Memphis) Fort Bickens last night. We are to camp by the 3rd and 4th Iowa Cavalry it is said, about a mile and 3/4th from Helena. The banks are alive with soldiers. List of regiments here; 4th, 18th, 24th, 25th, and 39th Iowa Infantry and cavalry. November 16, 1862 Sunday On the Gladiator. Rumored we are going to Little Rock. There are 13 steamers and one gunboat. The names are gunboat St. Louis, Steamers; Hiawatha, Gladiator, Toton, Meteor, Pocket, Imperial, City Belle, Decator, Key West, No. 2, Nebraska, Ohio Belle, Café Tecumseh, Lake City, and afterward tow boat, another gunboat and a steamer---. November 17, 1862 Monday The gunboat stuck last night and it took till about 10 o’clock to get her off, rained all last night but we got into the cabin and kept from getting any wetter. It is reported that the Resket was fired upon last night and a man or two was killed last night, but I can’t believe it. About night a squad was sent ashore to search a house with orders to bring everybody aboard, the result was the capture of a Black and a White boy. November 18, 1862 Tuesday Laid up for the night by the mouth of White River. The 26th Iowa jayhawked 3 or 4 oxen (beef) and 40 or so chickens last night. The 25th went ashore and jayhawked 30 coffee pots and brought them aboard. We put the cavalry ashore at two points (above) (I think) White River and we are going up White River I think, and probably to Vicksburg before we go back. About 3 o’clock we started up White River and soon after we (the Gladiator) ran into a snag which tore away part of the wheelhouse but did no serious damage. We expect fun soon by night. Our guns are loaded and our accouterments are all on. November 19, 1862 Wednesday Got up White River about 6 or 8 miles and found too little water and backed out to the Mississippi this A.M. and landed afternoon and sent out foraging parties and brought in chickens, hog and ox, and sheep, a plenty. I didn’t get to go out but about 15 of our company did. I jayhawked a canteen from one of the 26th this morning and a leather carryall yesterday. Our squad killed 3 hogs and a 2 year old heifer. November 20, 1862 Thursday The guards were all taken off and the men turned loose. Three of us went about 4½ or 5 miles and got a Smith’s Alger, about a dozen pounds of sugar, a sheep, a duck, 6 or 8 letters, pretty tired. November 21 Friday Started for Helena again. Reports have it that General Grant has driven the enemy to within 40 miles of Vicksburg and we will go there from Helena soon. November 29, 1862 In a Mississippi swamp and Timber (especially sweet gum) very plenty and tall. Left Helena day before yesterday on boats and came down about 6 or 8 miles and landed and camped for the night. The next day we started about 3 or 4 hours after sunrise and marched till 2 or 3 hours after sundown (estimated at 24+ miles). All of us sore and tired. The force is estimated at 12,000+. This morning after starting awhile we came to the Coldwater River, which we followed till night and camped. I suppose we are near the south. We burned 2 or 3 cotton gins and got considerable honey, sweet potato’s, meat, chickens, and some maple sugar (but I got none). November 30, 1862 By the mouth of Coldwater, Mississippi. Weather is cool enough to be comfortable. A little cloudy. The cavalry and the battery went ahead this morning and we are to stay here till morning at least, unless ordered ahead to support them. In case we will have to double-quick and help them. It is said they are going to destroy a railroad, a few miles across the river from here. The boys drove up a lot of cattle yesterday and we came along and killed them last night. Cities and Towns on the Mississippi River from Burlington to Helena: Fort Madison, Indiana—Quincy, Illinois—Keokuk, Iowa—Saint Louis, Mo.—Cairo, Illinois—Columbus, Ky.—Memphis, Tenn.—Helena, Arkansas—Vicksburg—Natchez. December 1, 1862 Winter. Rained last night and many got wet. We (father and I) brought a tent the size of a blanket and kept pretty dry. Foraging parties bring in excellent beef and some molasses and sweet potato’s but we have no way to cook well. We can get plenty of sassafras roots here. December 2, 1862 Tuesday. Raining or rather drizzling today. The artillery are shelling the woods around (so said) as they expect there are some sesech somewhere near. Last night at dark the long roll was beaten and we fell in and marched 4 to 10 miles to help the cavalry who were said to be fighting by the railroad ahead (at quick time). After marching that far we turned and marched back to camp again. We will have a good place to sleep in the mud tonight. December 3, 1862 Wednesday There were between 20 to 30 prisoners brought in camp, mostly last night. Taken at Grenada last Monday. December 4, 1862 Thursday Laid on our arms last night, or rather with our arms beside us and we were ordered to sleep with our cartridge boxes and belts on and be ready to fall in at any time, but we had no alarm. Rained last night. December 7th, 1862 Sunday On board steamer headed for Helena. We went about 12 miles and camped. The 4th Iowa was ahead. Yesterday we went to within 7 or 8 miles of the river and camped. We jayhawked more (our regiment) than any other regiment and our company more than any other company and Landon Hilgard and Joe Velmough took the lead in our company. L. H got 3 German sliver spoons, a microscope, a razor, pair of scissors, etc. Joe went in for catalpas more. I got De Bouis Review. Father got some medical pamphlets. It is a fine day. Got home about the middle afternoon. Wrote a letter to Uncle C. by candlelight. Got a letter from Carl Hamilton (Golly how sweet) My pen is poor, My ink is pale, My love for you shall never fail. Do you remember the time we went to Burlington together? “When this you see, remember me, Though many a mile apart we be.” I want you to fight like the devil. If you come with an honorable discharge, It may be that you can expect a reward. December 8, 1862 Monday Called up at 4 to roll call and when we fell in it was detailed to go on a forage with five others and when we fell in we went to Helena and had to pack sacks from the Meteor (steamboat) and load them on wagons—each had 100 pounds of corn or oats in it. The White Cloud is going with a load of betterments. December 9, 1862 Tuesday F. (father) on picket. Drew a pair of shoes (no. 9’s) but find them to small but will have to stand them. Cool but a nice fair day. There is a fleet on the way to Vicksburg I suppose—So say the papers. December 10, 1862 Wednesday Nice Day! Brigade Review by General Steele, fine snow, but damn hard on the men, so the privates say. I am on the sick list and didn’t go out. Sent letters to Jock and L.L. will send to Uncle C. soon and probably to sundown. Weather warm. December 13, 1862 Saturday Sent letters on the 11th to C.N.D. (Uncle Charles Norton Dennis) and K. and N. T. Went (F. (father), G. (George) and I) on a foraging expedition yesterday. Rain all day most. Got 100 loads of corn and about a dozen hogs. Man of the Dubuoue Battery wounded in leg about 160 yards from me from buckshot—two loads. ( I on sick list today—diarrhea—full of Wind-Rhes g*//. Took half of it. Very warm today. Wrote to M.E.G. but no postage stamps tonight. Got a letter from Carl Ham. December 14, 1862 Sunday On sick list again (on quinine Ap g 1) for the diarrhea (yesterday I got Rhes ) Sergeant had a box of kid gloves stole last night and had all quarters searched for them. Rained all night last night and looks as though it would tonight. December 17, 1862 Wednesday We are going to leave this place tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock. Don’t know up or down the river but either to General Grant or Vicksburg. I had the cramps in the stomach last night but feel okay now as far as that is concerned. F. (father) and G. (George) are on guard today. We will probably get to send our dress coats home and perhaps some other things with them. Fox will have to be left in the hospital here on account of the rheumatism, which is just bad enough to bother his marching with a load but is getting better and will follow us probably. December 21, 1862 Sunday Nice day. Not gone from camp H. yet nor any more prospects than before. We were to draw rations yesterday but as usual they put it off and cheat us out of from one to three days’ rations. Yesterday someone stole a barrel of sugar from the commissary and after a hunt and big thresh and swearing they found the barrel in a hollow with the head knocked in and about 25 or 30 pounds of the sugar gone. The rest was all right and safe. About 11 o’clock we got orders to get ready by 2 o’clock to march and then came a devil of a mess striking tents and packing knapsacks. About half past 2 we fell in and marched out of town and camped close by the river about midnight and then went aboard the J. Roe on the hurricane deck. (Then there was a sentence to practice German: German-Got sorgt fur Mih---God care for me). December 23, 1862 Tuesday _______ the mouth of the White River about noon I should guess. I have been taking down the names of all the boats in sight so far today and have got the names of _4. The weather is tolerable cool for the hurricane deck but not very bad. We ________ the mouth of the Arkansas River and the town of Napoleon (a damned cesspool as ever was) There were 2 or 3 men lost in the river last night. We passed the town about 2 P.M. Napoleon is a nice looking place, having the best looking houses I have seen this side of Saint Louie, (I think). December 24, 1862 Wednesday Stopped last night on the Mississippi side of the river. The boys set fire to a nice house, stable and cotton gin which made a nice light for some of us took a hand of euchre in the night by the light. I have 6 more names. Very smoky this morning. We didn’t start till after noon for some reason. After going about 10 to 15 miles we found we could see our starting place about a mile or so off across a neck of land. There we had 1 or 2 men killed at a small town yesterday, as we were coming down and a couple of boats landed and the men were landed and drawn up in a line and the town was burned. Captain Gillmore and 1st Lieutenant Thompson of Company K have resigned and 2nd Lieutenant Hall appointed Captain and Sergeant Major Conrad is now 1st Lieutenant and 1st Sergeant is 2nd Lieutenant of Company K. 1st Sergeant leader of Company D is appointed Sergeant Major and Sergeant Barlow is 1st Sergeant and G.M. Coe is 4th Sergeant of Company D. It is reported that 20,000 men are going down to Vicksburg now. December 25, 1862 Christmas Friday Lying up along the Louisiana cooking our Christmas breakfast. Almighty nice morning. We will probably have to land before we go much nearer Vicksburg. The boys say they saw about twice as many boats as I have the names of. A little before noon we ran down to the mouth of the Yazoo (it is supposed) and ran to shore and laid in on the other side for the night. There are 10 or a dozen gunboats in sight. We had a gay Christmas. Started up the Yazoo about noon as near as I can guess. Company D is the bodyguard of the Harvey. And we have to keep our accouterments on and our guns handy all of the time. I think we will probably go to Jackson or the vicinity and have to fight to get the place. When we were at the mouth of the Yazoo we were about 10 miles or so from Vicksburg and some houses in the distance were said to be part of the place. Infantry are not allowed below and the artillery are clearing away the place for action. December 27, 1862 Saturday We landed on the southwest side of the river last night but came aboard the Roe again this morning. There was a fight with a band of battery yesterday in the P.M. a few miles above. The gunboats were shelling when the 17th Illinois came in behind and charged on it and took it with the lose of 40 men. This is the first fight for the 17th . We kept up the river some 4 or 5 miles and landed and formed in line in a damned cockle patch. Company had a skirmish with about 40 or 50. None hurt. December 28, 1862 Sunday The ball was opened about 2 hours before morning by the artillery. It is almost 10 o’clock and there has been a steady cannonading on the right about ¼ mile off, I guess. One of the company was wounded in the leg by a piece of shell—flesh wound. The 13th or 17th of Missouri is on ahead of us and the 31st Iowa is behind. Banks is 2 days march off and Grant about the same distance. There are heavy guns heard in direction of Vicksburg. The upper and lower are said to be at Vicksburg. 12:20 P.M. The firing was entirely stopped on our left (W.N.W.
west-north-west) but is kept up most of the time to our right by both cannon and musket. Night. We are now back by the boats. We ( the 25th lost 1 man, Corp. Young Company B) and 8 wounded today. Our right has beaten them back and we are to go and help push them.
The next transcription is in poor quality and a bit jumbled…………
Ansell (died, Loomer Hadley F Endley F laib ocher D Beck R Eridus B Lucphart R Chase D Crammer D Clerk D Coumell Sergt. Coe B. Crawford R Dennis R Dennis R Dennis R Egleston I Evenman Fisher D Fox R Fairchild Carson ______ Hillgard S Heed Ricks R Helerrich Walter T Hag__ Hudson Helerbrant Jackson and Johnson Jarvis Kork T KullerLuk T ___chtedsing D Lockwood ______ Miller Mitchell Murphy Misson P.U Company D 25 Iowa Kerbly Reusher Staddard Stout Seamans R ______ Sutter D Walker ______ Work D Woodmanser Underwood R ___belholde F Spencer Smith Shreder . Things I have jayhawked and the price I got; Dozen to 17 for green apples ,40 Brown-- .10 Ark apples .10 box of blacking.
The next section has names of towns and it is not clearly transcribed so it is not included here. December 30, 1862 Tuesday _______ all last night and we _____n’t else much (_______) other than our last _______ in rifle _____ are excused from duty today. No shooting today. Report is that we have Vicksburg City. The cesech won’t let us get our wounded from the field but it is supposed they will take care of them. December 31, 1862 Wednesday ______er and said the rebels had a black flag waving on top of the hill yesterday---we saw it. Grant is said to be close up again. G. (George) is on guard. We were mustered for pay this P.M. our guns were unloaded just before night. As many as possible were drawn and the rest fired. On Dec. 18 I returned J.A.Dennis and my shoulder ____ strape and buttons. J.Q. Dennis. Also returned for J.A.D. to the Captain one Bayonet Scabbard, Belt, U.S. Cartridge Box and strap. J.Q.D.
January 1, 1863 Thursday Happy New Year. We are near having a nice New Year’s present in this way. The 25th and a lot of the regiments are ordered to go to the boats after night and we got here according to the order, taking care to bring our guns in such a manner the moon which was shining bright, should not reflect from them and let the enemy get suspicious of any movement. It was found that we three divisions were going up the river to stop three forts the gunboats had been shelling for some time but when we were all aboard a heavy fog set in which prevented our getting but ¾ of a mile up and as the work was planned for the night we will have to wait till tonight probably as they are too afraid to attack in the day time. So we get no present today. Memphis is said to have been taken by the rebs and our mailboat also. Grant is now said to be at Yazoo City. S.Badly _______ ___ bury ____of our U.S. men yesterday and the _______ that were helping said that they had buried about 200 more. F. (Father) is not very well today. This book is full.
Have heard the firing in the skirmish Dec. 27 and sounded like popping corn. J.Q.
John Quincy Dennis was shot on January 10, 1863 and died on January 11, 1863.
From Roster of Iowa Soldiers-------
“From holding vital position in that battle, Soldiers won distinction of hardest fought battles of the war from Goldsboro the 25th moved brigade and divisions to Raleigh and thence after surrender of rebel General Johnston and army to Washington D C –went into camp and there and mustered out June 6, 1865. Camp McKean, near Mount Pleasant, Iowa 10 companies quartered Aug. to Sept. 1862. Regiment of 472 men inclusive. Commander Col. Gess Stone. Early November proceeded St. Louis thence down Mississippi River to Helena, Arkansas. Camped for reconnordered expeditions near White River. On Dec. 22nd 1862 regiment moved down Mississippi under the command of General Sherman to Vicksburg. It was an unsuccessful movement so returned. The expedition moved down Mississippi to Arkansas Post. On January 11 1863 the 25th participated in the battle and capture of the rebel stronghold. They were in the siege of Vicksburg and at the battle of Arkansas Post John Quincy Dennis was shot in the stomach on January 10, 1863 and died the next day. They had fought from 11 that morning till 5 that evening. There had been a regiment of 1000 men fighting. John Quincy was conscious but there was nothing his brother or father could do to help him. He kept asking for water and finally George went to get some. John said to his father, "Where is George?" And father said he was after water for him. John said, "he may get the next lick. Tell him to take care of himself." John Adams Dennis laid down beside his son
and John Quincy never breathed again. George said, "before they got John I just fired and after that I aimed". One Johnny reb kept firing at us so I aimed and the firing stopped. When John Quincy Dennis left for the war he started a diary and in the front it said it was to go to his sister Jane Augusta Dennis if something was to happen to him. In the diary were several notes of practice of learning to read and write German. Brother George kept it for some years and then gave it to his sister Jane as John Quincy Dennis #1 had asked. She later gave it to her daughter Iona Woodside. It was very small, about one and one-half inches by three inches. Iona Woodside tried to transcribe what was inside but it was really faded at that time. The family still has the little book and it is unreadable, and when a copy was made of what Iona had written down they were very happy to know what had been in it. John Adams Dennis wrote some diary notes as his son had done but his heart wasn't in it.
Minnie Mary Dennis Roush Wetz copied some of her father’s diary notes down in 1956………
March 28th, 1863 Beaufort, South Carolina 13 miles from Beaufort.
April 20th, 1863 Millikum Bend, Louisiana 12 miles above our old camp
--- Miles from Vicksburg.
November 1st, 1863 Chickasaw on the river. Camp near Wood Villa, Alabama.
December 31st, 1863 Washington, Iowa Camp Proil Woodvillella
Young Point opposite Vicksburg
January 29th, 1864 Halfway between Charleston and Savannah and half to march tomorrow but may not get to Charleston ‘tis only 40 or 50 miles
March 16th, 1864 In this father says who will be our next president.
Lincoln - Tremont - Chasel - Butler - McClellan or Grant
June 6th, 1864 Adworth Georgia Father said Sherman has gone west and Grant has gone east. (Father liked Grant I think) He said Sherman is now our commander and he is not careful of the lives of his men, in my opinion, I don’t like him very much but he may do better than in 1862.
John Adams Dennis wrote many letters home and those letters were shared among his daughters after he and Barbara was gone. Some are still around as of 1998 and they are extremely fragile. The handwriting on the few that was found is so fine. You could tell John Adams Dennis was very particular that his children and his new young wife wrote well and spelled correctly.
John Adams Dennis’ letters home to his wife……………
George told his niece, Iona Woodside, that they fought with Grant at Chickaw Bayon to meet up with Sherman down river from Memphis. Grants supplies were cut off so they went back. They went from Georgia to Vicksburg to Memphis in a boat. At Savannah they got by on parched corn and rice with the hull still on for ten days. Fort McAllister guarded the river at Savannah. Then they were with Col. Weitz near the southern prison at Andersonville, Vicksburg. From Memphis to Lookout Mountain then to Chatanooga. They left a division of the 15th on the wrong side of the mountain so they guarded a New York battery with Col. Hooker at Lookout Mountain that day. The next morning the Johnnies were gone so they marched to Missionary Ridge. John Adams Dennis kept a diary some of the time about locations and leaders.
Jane learned of her brother's death when they had gone to town by wagon to get supplies and she read the casualty list. She just refused to believe that John Quincy had been killed until her father told her it was true.
John Adams Dennis' new wife, Barbara Ellen Morgan Dennis, became pregnant before he left for the war and when his oldest son died they decided to name the new child after him when he was born. John Quincy Dennis (#2) was born on March 5, 1863 in Washington, Iowa. This baby arrived when Barbara was just nineteen and a half years old. She was bravely raising John Adams’ four children that were still home and managing the care and upkeep of her husband’s farm.
John Adams Dennis missed his family very much and would ask for pictures of them and a small mirror so he could see himself next to them. He wrote many letters home and sent money home as he could to help buy medicine for his last son by his first wife. Ira Dennis wasn't a well child but Barbara did her best to look after John Adams Dennis' family until he could come home. When John Adams Dennis said it was time for him to go home the army held him and his son George in by drafting them back in, and that really made him mad but there wasn't anything he could do about it. He was forced back in with all the drafted men. All through the war he had a hard time with his stomach and the cold, wet winters. He would have to eat hard tack, sowbelly, and coffee unless he could jayhawk fruit or pies. He told his wife not to send him any jellies because the black market was stealing all that kind of stuff and selling it back to the men. Already a buddy had bought a jar and tore off the label and found it was from his own family. John Adams Dennis said he would wait to smell the sweet breath of his new wife after she made jelly when he returned home. Sometimes they could buy goods. He wrote many letters home because he missed his family so much. Sometimes he would buy double amounts of writing items and sell some for a profit to pay for his expenses. Sometimes he would write letters for others for a small charge to help raise money. If John Adams Dennis saw something he thought he could use as a pattern to make things after he got home he would send one of the items home so maybe someday they could make and sell them after the war. He would remind Barbara to not let the children play with the item he would send home so it would stay in good shape. The side of him that was a teacher came out when he would be reading the letters of his new wife; he would correct her errors and tell how it should have been worded. The romantic side of him spoke of her sweet breath and how he missed being warm next to her at night.
The war was much more costly than they had anticipated. John Adams Dennis was on the sick list a lot with dysentery. Also the cold and wet conditions were hard on his joints. He would joke that the rebels were such a bad shot that he could sit near their firelight to write letters and they couldn't get him. Barbara would worry that he would not tell her if something bad was to happen to him and he said he would always tell her everything. He worried so much about his bride, his children and his home. There was always a deep sadness in John Adams Dennis’ heart because he had lost his oldest son. John Quincy had died in such a painful way. He mentioned that his son George was sort of full of it and he had to keep after him. Maybe it was George's way of letting off steam.
John Adams Dennis and George Dennis were discharged in Washington, D. C. on September 12, 1865. They had to walk all the way home to Iowa. Around the time of his discharge his son Ira Whitcomb Dennis died of a brain fever and died in 1865. John and Barbara's next child was born in Burlington, Iowa on June 17, 1866. She was born just nine months after he came home. They named her Flora Ellen Dennis. She was a shy, small addition to their family and one of John and Barbara's hardest working children.
After the long walk home in September George was a very different young man. He came home a very settled young man. He had seen far to much violence and sadness in his twenty years of life and now he needed to see life come to life. On Christmas day of 1866 he married Maria Roberts. They lived either with or near by George’s father and stepmother. This was an added blessing to John Adam’s because he would have the joy of being with some of his grandchildren in his life.
George and Maria had their first child in about nine months. He was a boy and they named him Ira E. Dennis after the baby brother George had lost. Ira was born September 16, 1867. Ira was born between George’s father’s second and third arrival of children with his second wife, Barbara. George’s father had twelve children with his second wife and they were born almost the same time as George’s children were born. The only difference was that George had nine children, (two boys and seven girls), and his father had twelve children. Of those twelve children born to John Adams and Barbara there were two sets of twins. George moved to St. Cloud, Florida in his old age to live with his daughter, Nancy “Nannie” Dennis Madison, and was buried there.
John Adams and Barbara’s next arrival was extra special because they were twins, Frances Emma Dennis and Francis Marion "Frank" Dennis and they were born in the Burlington area of Iowa. They were born on July 28, 1868. Frances Emma was a very out going person and cleverly tried to always think of being somewhere else when there was chores to be done when she was a child. Frances would keep her sister Flora on her toes chasing after her. Frank was a nervous person and had occasional fits that were probably epilepsy. Frances and Frank were caught one time chasing the baby pigs and got a paddling from their father. He also was mad at Flora for letting them get into trouble. She had been up in the loft watching. Flora was so frightened she couldn't speak and so her father sent her into the house with a swat. Some times when Flora’s parents were away on a trip into town she would cut loose. She would ride around the yard on the bareback of a horse and stand up and whip it to go top speed for the fun of it. When anyone was around she was so shy.
George and Maria welcomed their next arrival on November 18, 1868. They named her Lenora Dennis.
In 1871 the family moved by wheel cart from Adair County, Iowa to Greenfield County near Orient, Iowa (originally Richland, Iowa). The family was slowly moving westward. John Adams Dennis had been Justice of the Peace while they had lived in Adair County. His community always had great respect for him. He usually served on the School Board and at times was the President of the School Board.
The year of the move was the year their daughter, Mary Marinda Dennis was born. Her middle name was after her grandmother of her mother’s side of the family. She was born on June 2, 1871 at the new residence. At this time John Adams’ family purchased a large piece of land that needed to be cleared and a house built. The family cleared half of the land for crops and cattle and built a home. Their family was growing quite fast and it would take a lot to support the family. The times seemed to be going quite well.
John and Barbara's next child was a son and he was born on January 26, 1873. His name was William Walter "Will" Dennis. And just four and one half months later George and Maria’s fourth child arrived. He was born on May 12, 1873 and they named him Charles Dennis after his Uncle Charles Dennis.
Somewhere around this time the first house they had built burned down and they built a bigger and better home. Thank goodness the fire did not destroy all their special heirlooms. Some of the things had already been in the family for generations. One thing we have not located very many of is copies of pictures of the family as they were growing up. Perhaps many of them were lost in the fire.
On the new home John Adams hand carved decorative edging boards to go around the edge of the roof. As they were working on the new home they needed to use the space and they hadn’t built the stairs up to the second floor, so they nailed boards on the side of the wall. Those boards went up to the roof of the old section and then they would climb through the window. That is where Flora would go when she would sleep walk. This was very scary for the family so they hurried the building of the stairs. Many years later, after J.A. and Barbara had passed on, four of their children took a drive to Iowa to see the home. The people that lived in the home invited them in and they reminisced about each room and the playfulness that had gone on during those times. It was a good trip down memory lane. And it was good for a couple of the siblings that hadn’t grown up knowing how well off their father had been before they were born.
There was a section and one half of land and it took all of the family to work the farm to make a go of it. They also had several hired hands. A young man named Hooker David Layman came by the farm asking for work. He was about the age of Barbara's first son, John Quincy. He became part of the family and Barbara thought of him as another son. When he came to the farm he had brought a small pill box with small pills that were to help his heart. Later in his life Flora and Frances had a discussion as to which one of the girls should get the box. Flora knew that Frances could not swallow pills of any size so she cleverly thought of a contest that she was sure to win. She said that whoever could take the last pill in the box should get to have the box. After she had the box she said she wanted to be buried with it.
John Adams Dennis’ sons and almost son (John Q. #2, Frank, Charles, Ben, Hooker and probably George) cleared half the land so they could raise cattle and some crops. The women had many chores in the household. Besides taking care of the big family they had to cook for all the workers. It was a fine big farm; they even had to hire workers at times of the year to keep up with their good fortune. In October of 1875, John and Barbara's daughter Mary died. Then December 1, 1875 a new baby boy joined the family. His name was Manley "Irving" Dennis. It was around the same time that George and Maria had their next child. They named her Estalla Mae Dennis and called her Stella. At this time John Adams Dennis was a grandfather to five children while being father to his first families surviving four children and father to his second families surviving five children. He had lost a total of five children at this point. Each one was so missed because they were each part of John Adams Dennis’ treasures in this life.
Their next child was a little girl and helped to fill the void of losing Mary Marinda. Her name was Minnie Mary Dennis and she was born on February 8, 1877. Jane Augusta Dennis (John Adams Dennis’ daughter by his first wife), said she always felt close to Minnie because she had been born after a baby girl had died in the family. She knew the family would be making comparisons of the two little girls and Jane knew what it was like to not know if she could live up to their expectations.
The next child was a boy and they named him Jesse Arthur Dennis. He was born on June 27, 1879. Flora wrote about Jesse’s birth this way:
“When my brother, Jesse was born on June 28, 1879 father drove four days hunting for a hired girl. He found one that could not dress a chicken or make a bed. The beds were made of straw ticking at that time”. Flora’s mother said, “she never put on her head.” But father insisted that she come, so she came the next morning when father went to get her. It was Flora that did most of the work even though she was only thirteen years old. She had the hired girl pick the chickens after she showed her how. Then Flora did the washing while her father ran the washing machine. Then she churned the butter, skimmed the milk and cooked for the seven hired men. There was much to be done on a regular basis to run the house. They always baked twelve to fourteen loaves of bread every other day and washed dishes in a big wash tub. Francis was two years younger and had a talent for disappearing when the chores were to be done. Flora’s mother fussed that Flora was to young for such a load and said to keep the hired girl for awhile to help in any way she could. Barbara said she would be up and helping Flora as soon as she could.
Barbara was only thirty-five and three quarter’s when she was handling such a heavy load in her life. She was still caring for John Adams Dennis’ last three children by his first wife and probably living with or close by his oldest son and their family of five children, and she had eight living children of her own to look after. Then on top of that she had all the chores of running a large house and feeding all the hired hands. Even though she was a very strong person she was a very small woman. John Adams Dennis was always so proud that she came into his life in his time of need. She had become his truest partner in his life.
Flora was pitifully bashful. She would hide in the pantry when the hired men were eating. She would only appear for a moment with the coffee or such. Francis was known to show up at dinnertime dressed cute and be out going with everyone. Even when Hooker joined the group he couldn’t get the attention of Flora.
On July 10, 1879 George and Maria welcomed their sixth child into the family. This was one month after Jesse had been born. This child was a little girl and they named her Ina L. Dennis.
During the years they lived in this area John Adams Dennis worked as a Postmaster at the Orient post office. He had been a Justice of the Peace for the County of Adair and he was President of the School Board at various times where they lived.
When his daughter Jane finished her education, she came home and taught school in a classroom set up in a room over the kitchen of the home that John Adams Dennis had rebuilt. Later she taught school in the Adair County District and the Orient School District. In her lifetime she was considered a leader in the teaching field. It was around this time when she married Curtis Johnson. They were married in John Adams and Barbara Dennis’ home on July 14, 1880. Jane and Curtis raised their family in the Orient area and one of their daughters was to grow up and be a teacher in the area. They raised five children. The second child joined the Jane and Curtis Johnson family as an adopted son but all of the children held a special place in the hearts of the family. The oldest child was born November 29, 1881. They named her Orpha Ursla “Sula” Johnson. The others were named Robert William “Billy”, Iona Augusta, Viola and Olive. Unfortunately we don’t have all their dates of birth. In last years of their lives, Jane and Curtis Johnson lived with their daughter Olive and her husband Will Murray. Olive and Will Murray had three boys and a girl. They lived in Montana. A couple years before living in Montana she lived in Darlington, Washington. Her daughter Sula had come to Darlington to be near her folks. They received their mail in care of the Palace Café. Jane said, “Sula can bake – makes good bread, cakes and pie”. Iona Augusta Johnson died on July 4, 1924; she had been married to Ross Wilburn Woodside. She had inherited the small diary of John Quincy Dennis #1 from her mother (Jane Augusta Dennis Johnson). Iona painstakingly typed it up so the words would not be lost as time took its toll on the pages. It had been a very hard undertaking but thank goodness she did the job. As of the year 2000 the family still has this little piece of history. When they received a copy of what Iona had typed they were so happy. Iona Johnson Woodside sent this typed copy to her cousin, Pearl Roush Manners. Pearl was the daughter of Minnie Mary Dennis Roush. Pearl had spent her life gathering documents, letters and family interviews. Also as many pictures and address’ as possible. At a time in history when copiers and computers were not there to aid in her work, it was quite an undertaking. Most of what is written here is gleaned from her hard work. Her daughter, LaVada Manners Goranson was kind enough to share her things to be copied by her second cousin D. Dennis.
The times when John Adams and Barbara lived in the Orient area were becoming hard and the economy was slipping. Everyone was experiencing a recession and was out of work. They couldn’t spend money and those that had products to sell had no market. John Adams Dennis could not sell his goods so he could not keep up with his expenses.
Charles Lawson Dennis married Rachel Ward in the family home on January 15, 1882. Charles and Rachel also lived on the family farm. A few months later John and Barbara were again blessed with a special gift. A second set of twins was born on April 18, 1882. They named them Joseph Argella Dennis and Cora Amelia Dennis. The children came along when J. A. was getting much older and they were a light of joy for him. They would have very little memory of him. The rest of their lives as children were filled with struggle and poverty.
Now back to the life of John Adams Dennis and his family.
The bank was not forgiving when John Adams and Barbara couldn't keep up their payments on the mortgage and neither was the State of Iowa about back taxes. At one point John Adams Dennis was offered enough to pay off their debt for the cleared half of the land and the house but Barbara so loved her home she refused to sign the papers. Somehow, she felt things would get better.
Charles and Rachel had their first child. They named her Grace and she was born in 1883. We hope to have more complete records as more families join this family genealogy site.
Finally with the economic panic of 1884 and 1885 John Adams Dennis knew some changes had to be made when the bank started foreclosure procedures. John Adams Dennis’ Civil War years allowed him to claim a homestead in Nebraska. So he took his older sons, George and Ben, to make a claim and set up places to live for the families and livestock in Nebraska. It was fourteen miles north of the town of Scotia, Nebraska. In the book, The Pioneer History of Greeley County, it states the area as the clay hills on the West Side of the precinct.
George and Maria had their last child on February 18, 1885. Her name was Georgie Dennis. She arrived in Iowa just before they left for Nebraska.
On October 1, 1886, Frank, John and Mother went to Hamilton, Ill for a short visit. Barbara may have made one last attempt to go to the family for financial help before they actually had to leave her beloved home. If this was the case it did not change the things that were to come. Frank was just eighteen years old and like all children he was focused on the moments at hand. He wrote a letter home and this is some of his comments:
It was very dry and not much good hunting was available to John. It was also to late for fishing. He teased that brother John Q had an interest in a colored girl named Susie. He bet that if John Q were asked about her “he would not own up to it though”. He also commented on the narrow escape from death that John had when he was run over and the fellow didn’t even stop. On this trip Frank and John went down to the river and gathered some gourds to bring home to the girls.
When John Adams Dennis’ family was to come to Scotia, Nebraska, there was no money for lumber so they built sod houses and a shelter of sorts for the stock. John Adams Dennis took his oldest two sons to make the claim and prepare it for the family. Then Ben and George were to take care and keep building homes on the homestead while John Adams went back to get the family. It was around this time that Ben became acquainted with the family on the neighboring farm and met his future wife, Ella Madison. Over the coming years there were many marriages and close friendships between the Madison’s and the Dennis’.
John Adams and his sons and Hooker (his almost son) loaded covered wagons with the family and their goods, which included the family bible that was 135 years old. Later it was Flora that was to get the Bible. Thank Goodness the Bible had survived the fire.
When they were about to move a girl neighbor friend of Flora’s (Lizzie Woods) said maybe the next time I see you, you will be Mrs. Hooker Layman. Flora said that more likely it would be Frances that would be Mrs. Hooker Layman. Little Flora drove one of the wagons, while some of the boys drove the livestock. There was around fifty heads of cattle. This great journey was the chance for Hooker to get closer to Flora and win her heart. Minnie was to help with the newest twins and to keep from losing them they tied them together.
Minnie wrote how much she would miss her friends and how sad she was to be leaving in her journal at this time. Again John Adams encouraged his children to keep journals. Minnie also helped to care for the dozen or so chickens they were bringing to Nebraska. At one point they got loose and flew into the bushes and had to be gathered up. Everyone had a job. Barbara was heart broken to leave her beautiful home so she had John Adams take the hand carved gable end down so she could always have a piece of her home. They traveled to Plattsmouth, Nebraska and ferried across the Missouri River in 1885. Then they headed north and west to the homestead. This trip was very hard on John Adams Dennis. He was sixty-seven years old and the years had taken quite a toll on him physically. He still believed that the family could come out on top of their latest troubles. His attitude was to never give up.
John Adams felt such a large amount of responsibility to be able to support so many members because his family was growing so much. And of course, whenever things became harder for the family it became twice as hard on Barbara to hold things together. Almost everything that happened to the family occurred while Barbara Ellen Morgan Dennis was pregnant.
Shortly after they arrived at the homestead in Nebraska, John Adams and Barbara had their last daughter. John Adams Dennis was 68 years old when his newest daughter was born. Her name was Lillie Lucrettia Dennis and she was born on April 18, 1886.
The sod houses were hard to get use to because of the dirt floors and dirt falling from the roof into the plates and pans. It made living so much harder than they had been use to. The first winter was one of Nebraska's coldest and because their stock weren’t used to such cold weather, half of the cattle perished. The winters in Nebraska seemed harsher. Their arrival in 1886 really brought this knowledge home to the family. They lost 26 head that first winter. The cold was especially bad for John Adams Dennis. He could barely be of much help with the place; his knees were so bad.
The fall of 1886 Flora and Hooker were married. It had taken 5 years to win her heart and they were married on October 4, 1886 in the family sod house. Charles and Rachel went to California for the birth of their next child. Rachel was from California and after losing her twins she wanted to go home. Everything seemed to be falling apart in her father-in-laws life. They named this child, Myrtle. She was born in 1887.
The winter of 1888 was the worst that Nebraska had experienced since they had been keeping track. The blizzard and cold nearly wiped everyone out. What little was left of John Adams Dennis’ stock could not stand the cold.
John Adams Dennis’ sister, Nancy Dennis married Benjamin Winn and they raised their family in Scotia, Nebraska area. It was good to have family in the area. Benjamin Winn was born on October 2, 1818. One of Nancy’s sons married Amelia Smalley and they were close to John Quincy Dennis#2 during his lifetime.
Ben and Ella Dennis’ first child arrived just before Flora and Hooker Layman’s son. Ben named his son Roy Dennis and he was born on April 17, 1888. He arrived before they went to Oregon. Flora and Hooker’s first son was born on April 23, 1888 and they named him Walter Layman.
John Adams Dennis’ sons Ben decided to try his luck out west and migrated with his family to Oregon and Washington by the railroad for half fare. The government was encouraging people to go west by giving families half fare tickets. The mid-west was having such a depressed time. Charles and his family also went to Oregon and settled in the Gaston area where all their children were born. Ben and Charles were close all their lives and later moved to southern California, where they lived the rest of their lives. It was revealed from a poster, that when Ben and Ella lived in California, Ella operated a café that sold the “best homemade pies” around.
On May 29, 1887 Frances married Byron Madison and moved on to start their family. The first winters were so bad that people had to break up furniture to burn to keep warm. Barbara was worried at one point when Frank went out to care for the livestock and the blizzard was so bad that he might not find his way back to the house. " When the spring came and we had planted corn we had hail so bad it beat the corn down and we had to replant", Minnie remembers. After several of the older children married and moved away, the family experienced a prairie fire and Minnie and Jesse and their father set a back fire to save their buildings.
The food in the cupboard was low at one point, so Frank took some wheat into town to be ground for flour. It just so happened that the mill was being repaired for a couple days. Barbara had Minnie scrap the flower barrel to find enough for the small children and the rest just had to wait for Frank to return and when they saw him coming up the valley they were so happy.
There had been no schoolhouse close enough for the children to go away from home and attend classes, so they were home schooled. But in 1887 they had a school to go to that was located about 3 miles from their house. Father was very strict that they all attend school.
In a few short years the family had came down in stature because of the hard times. John Adams Dennis’ health prevented him from getting on top of things again. He had never let life’s hard times stop him from coming up with a new and profitable direction for the family. His age, physical health and the harsher weather just wouldn’t let him bounce back this time. The family had such a fine way of life before the move. Now it was hard for all of them to get use to living this new way of life. The older children that were still home felt so depressed and hopeless. The younger children never knew those finer times and spent their years of growing up in a less than secure life that left them fairly bitter.
Things had overwhelmed Frank and he had a mental break down. He went to the Norfolk Insane Asylum in 1888 for a while until he could get his nervousness under control.
Flora and her husband went to Oregon with a team of horses after their first son was born and stayed with Ben and Charles over the winter. They hoped to make a living with the team of horses by grading roads or what ever they could. Flora became so home sick and her husband had a bad bout of pleurisy. The dampness of Oregon’s Willamette Valley kept everything green and growing but Flora and Walter were not used to so much rain. As soon as they could they came back to Nebraska. Later they even tried to move back to the farm in Iowa for awhile and farm there. In their life they moved around quite a lot trying to make a living.
In one of Floras letters home she shared a family incident with her mother. Flora told her mother that the mystery of the missing mattress-ticking needle had been solved. A mattress-ticking needle is used to sew the cover on the mattress and hold the stuffing inside. Flora said, “Hookers toe is healing quite nicely”. In her letters she would share stories of the care and growth of her children and how she hoped to see her mother soon.
George’s daughter, Nancy Maria “Nannie” Dennis, married Charles Henry “Charlie” Madison on February 22, 1889. They lived in the Horace area most of their lives as did all of George’s children. Later in the lives of Nannie and Charlie they went to Florida and her father joined them in his old age.
Somewhere late in 1888 and early 1889, John Adams Dennis had a stroke and he was paralyzed. The family moved to Ord, Nebraska for awhile but it was too much for Barbara to handle. John Quincy and Frank and Will looked for some place for their father to be cared for and found the Old Soldiers and Sailors Home in Burkett, Nebraska. The family moved to Grand Island, Nebraska to be near John Adams Dennis. He died there on June 26, 1890.
John Adams Dennis had been raised to know that he had been related to the second and sixth Presidents of the United States. John Adams had been voted in as the first Vice President of the United States when he lost the election to George Washington. John Adams and his family, Samuel Adams (the leader of the Boston Tea Party) and others, helped write the words that were to form our democracy and fight for our freedom.
In the ancestry charts, President John Adams’ grandparents were the (many great’s) grandparents of John Adams Dennis’ mothers, (Nancy Hunt Dennis), ancestors. To hold onto this connection she wanted to name her first son after John Adams. Nancy also impressed on her son to name his first son after John Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States.
Sadly for everyone, John Adams Dennis’ oldest son, John Quincy Dennis, was killed while fighting in the Civil War. He died just before John Adams Dennis had his first son by his second wife. So that was why they renamed this new child, John Quincy Dennis. It was never talked about much during the life of the second John Quincy Dennis. John Quincy Dennis grew up through ups and downs in his father’s life and lost his father when he was only twenty-seven years old. He spent much of the next five years with his sister; Frances Dennis Madison and her husband Byron. They had a farm in the Horace area. John Quincy married at the age of thirty-three. He married a German girl named Carrie Anna Graff. John Quincy Dennis and his wife lived a quiet life, struggling to make ends meet on a small farm in Horace, Nebraska. This was located just north of Scotia, Nebraska and not far from where his father had attempted to homestead in his old age and lost everything. In a way it was a constant reminder of the downfall of his father.
Occasionally, his oldest half-brother, George E. Dennis would come to visit. He would have been almost like a second father to John Quincy Dennis. This was also the area that his Aunt Nancy Dennis Winn and Aunt Lucy Dennis Gray had come to homestead. J. Q.’s mother and brother, Joe Dennis, lived in Grand Island. It was a fairly long drive so they didn’t get there very often.
John Quincy Dennis #2 and Carrie Anna Graff Dennis raised two children. The oldest was named Ray John Dennis and he was born May 28, 1898 when his father was thirty-five years old. The second child was a girl and they named her Mable Amelia Dennis and she was born April 5, 1908 when her father was forty-five years old. Ray or Mable never knew their grandfather John Adams Dennis. Their own father, John Quincy Dennis, died on May 19, 1928. This left John Quincy Dennis’ widow to manage on her own for another twenty-seven years, very much like his mother had struggled after his father died.
Another famous family connection that didn’t come to light until many years later is the connection to the Mayflower. When the Mayflower arrived in 1620, it had two separate parties on board that are directly related to the family through Nancy Hunt Dennis. William Mullins and his daughter, Pricilla Mullins were on board. Also, John Alden was on board. In about a year of their arrival John Alden and Pricilla Mullins married. So they would be (many great’s) grandparents of John Adams Dennis’ sisters, brother and all their descendents.
Now, back to the life and times of John Adams Dennis’ family:
In June of 1891 Minnie went to stay awhile with Uncle Charles Dennis. His place was located across the river from Nebraska at Keokuk, Iowa. The fall of that year she went on to stay with her Grandmother Nancy Hunt Dennis in Quincy, Ill. She was to help out with her Grandmother for her room and board. The financial burden would lighten for Barbara Morgan Dennis if she sent some of her children to live with relatives. Barbara had been surrounded with a big family all her life. She probably missed them very much. The letters that must have gone back and forth would have been so interesting. It would have filled in a lot of blanks to read about those times in their lives. Barbara still had to support several of the smaller children back in Grand Island, Nebraska. Barbara would sell jewelry, books, soap, Synder medicines and remedies by selling door to door. She did laundry work and ironing. It was a very hard time for her.
Grandmother Nancy provided Minnie Mary Dennis with school clothes when she stayed with the family. With the help of Aunt Lizzy they did their best to take care of Minnie. Minnie worked around the house for her keep. Grandmother Nancy was very old at this time and was mostly confined to her bed upstairs. When she would need something she would pound on the wall and Minnie would do whatever was asked of her. Minnie missed her big family and worried about how her mother was managing.
December of 1891 Irving Dennis also was in Quincy, Illinois and could not get along with his Aunt Lizzie. Aunt Lizzie and her family also lived in Grandmother Nancy Dennis’ big house. She had asked Irving to peel some apples and he told her that first he wanted to write a letter to his sister Flora. Aunt Lizzie (Elizabeth Dennis Humphrey) told him the only letter she would allow him to write at that time would be to his other Grandmother. He could ask Grandmother Morgan if he could come to stay with her if he wanted to write anything. This made Irving so mad that he packed up and demanded to be taken to the train right then. Irving and his brother, Jesse, were known to have a low tolerance level. Or maybe a better way to describe their personalities would be to say that they had very short fuses. It turned out to be as bad or worse because his Uncle Jesse Morgan lived with his Grandmother Morgan. Uncle Jesse was really mean to Grandmother Morgan and worked Irving like a dog. He would ride Irving all the time and told Irving he didn’t have the right material in him. He just kept giving him more and more chores until he could not take it anymore. Irving Manley Dennis was about sixteen years old at this time and did not have the choice to be a carefree young man any longer. He went to work next for a Sweed in Burlington, Iowa. The man was pretty nice. The Sweed had 3 daughters and 1 son.
Barbara was given a widow's benefit of $600.00 and a small pension for the time her husband was in the Civil War. Flora had told her of a nice little house in Grand Island that would sell for $600.00 so she bought it and raised the smaller children there. Minnie went to help her Grandmother Nancy Dennis in Quincy, Illinois. The boys, (Will, Irving and Jesse), went to work on farms to help their mother and later they went to Wisconsin to work on a farm and Minnie went there to help out with their care for awhile. John Quincy Dennis went to live with his sister Frances and her husband, Byron Madison. Flora and Hooker Layman were starting their new life.
John Quincy married Carrie Anna Graff on October 1, 1896. He remained close to Frances and her children as long as he lived. John Quincy Dennis’ son Ray John Dennis was raised with his cousins. Ray had been born in 1898. John Quincy Dennis’ daughter, Mable Amelia Dennis, was not born for 10 more years so she was closer to a different generation of family. Frances’ daughter Pearl married Sam McDonald and they lived on the farm near John Quincy Dennis. Sam McDonald was not always able to provide for his family and one winter Uncle John Quincy told them to come and get all the potato’s they needed from his root cellar. Pearl said, “nothing had ever tasted so good”. Ray John Dennis thought that Sam and Pearl’s son Dallas McDonald was always so full of it. On one of their visits Dallas McDonald was playing near a fly strip. A fly strip was a curly ribbon with a sticky, sweet surface and flies would get stuck on it. Dallas spotted a fly that had just gotten stuck to the strip and was flapping its wings hard. He said, “Give ‘er da gas fly, give ‘er da gas”. Dallas McDonalds adventuresome personality tickled him so much that when he had his second son he named him Dallas. He had also wanted the name Quincy for his second name but his wife went along with just the Q. Rays wife, Pearl, thought the name Quincy was so old fashioned. Ray wanted to name his first son Ace but he and his wife settled on Jack Ray Dennis. Ray’s oldest son was a gentle, sweet child but he did not survive past his fifth year because of illness. Before Ray settled down to marriage he had an adventurous side of his personalities. He would drive fast over the sand hills in his little old racer car. Sometimes this would upset the older people in the area. Then Ray decided to travel around the country. He didn’t have much money so he and a friend hopped a train like hobo’s and went west. They would work awhile and then travel some more. It was not always an easy way of life but he did a lot of different things and saw a lot of different places. Ray did this for several years until he heard that his father was ill and needed him to come home. It must have been in his blood from his grandfather, John Adams Dennis, and great-great grandfather, Moses Dennis. It was said that John Quincy Dennis lived a quiet life. He liked to hunt and spent much of his life just getting by on his small farm. He and his son would grade roads with a team of horses when the weather was good enough. John Quincy Dennis was his mother's special son because he was her first and he was good to his mother.
Ben and Ella Dennis’ daughter was born in Gaston, Oregon on March 13, 1893. They named her Elsie Jane Dennis and when she grew up she married W. W. Mathews. Ben and Ella had four children. Ben and Ella’s next child was named Benjamin Cross “Ben” Jr. Dennis. He was born on October 7, 1897. Their last child came on March 20, 1901. They named him Elmer Eugene Dennis and he was also born in the Gaston, Oregon area. John Adams Dennis lived long enough to know that his son, Ben, had his first three children. At least he knew that his “truest treasures” was growing larger in numbers.
Joe Dennis was twenty-five years old when he married Mary “Alma” Strawn on March 30, 1907. They raised their family in the Grand Island, Nebraska area. Joe and Alma had six children. After she died he married Luella Glenn on June 9, 1938. Joe’s children’s names were Ethel, Mildred, Irving, Mary, Harold and Raymond. He was able to stay close to his mother in her old age. He also handled her will and divided her belongings so that all her children could have something to remember her.
There was a double wedding on September 18, 1907. Lillie married Ed DeBusk and Cora married Hy Larson. Will Dennis married Grace on November 28, 1910. Finally, Barbara Dennis would have to support just herself for the next twelve years of her life. And enjoy her grandchildren that were still in the area.
John Adams Dennis fathered twenty children. He lost five of them over the years. He was also around or knew about a number of grandchildren when he was alive. And many more came after he died. The family spread out over the United States and so many of them and their descendents have lost track of each other. We hope the Internet site, www.dennisfamilyonline.com, and story line will reconnect a family that has so much to be proud about.
John Adams Dennis was married to Augusta Ursula CROSS on April 14, 1842. This was his first family. Augusta Ursula CROSS was born on October 15, 1820 in Swanzey, N.H. Augusta had been a teacher before she married John Adams. She died on March 4, 1862 in Des Moines, Iowa. She died from complications from appendicitis or perhaps something else. John Adams DENNIS and Augusta Ursula CROSS had the following children:
Child 1. John Quincy DENNIS (#1) was born on January 3, 1843 in Manchester, N.H. He died on January 11, 1863 as a Civil War Casualty.
Child 2. George Edwin DENNIS (born June 2, 1845) married Maria Roberts and they had nine children.
Child 3. Jane Augusta #1 DENNIS was born on January 28, 1848 in Manchester, N.H. She died in 1849 in Manchester, N.H.
Child 4. Boy DENNIS was born in 1850. He died at birth.
Child 5. Jane Augusta #2 DENNIS was born September 1, 1852 and she married Curtis Andrew Johnson. They had five children.
Child 6. Charles Lawson DENNIS was born January 27, 1854 and he married Rachel Ward. They had four children.
Child 7. Benjamin Cross DENNIS was born July 1, 1856 and married Ella Madison. They had four children.
Child 8. Ira Whitcomb DENNIS was born on September 14, 1861 in Burlington, Des Moines Co., IA. He died in 1865 in Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa. He wasn't a healthy child. During the Civil War years his father sent home money for medicine for him but shortly after he returned from the Civil War Ira died. It was said he died of a brain fever.
John Adams Dennis was married to Barbara Ellen MORGAN (daughter of Robert MORGAN and Marinda HERBERT) on May 4, 1862. Barbara Ellen MORGAN was born on August 11, 1843 in Fulton County, Ill. She died on March 2, 1922 in Grand Island, Nebraska when she was almost 80 years old. After her husband died she lived thirty-two more years and she supported her family. Sometimes by selling door to door. She sold Jewelry, books, soap, Synder medicine and remedies. And she did laundry work and ironing. Her sons helped by working where they could. John Adams DENNIS and Barbara Ellen MORGAN had the following children:
Child 1. John Quincy DENNIS was born March 5, 1863. His oldest half brother had died on January 11, 1863 from a gun-shot wound during the Civil War. It was his father’s wish to name his first son of his second family after his oldest son. John Quincy Dennis married Carrie Anna Graff. They had two children: Ray John Dennis (married L. Pearl Johnson and they had six children and fourteen grandchildren of which one is Larry Ray Dennis) and Mable Amelia Dennis (married Ernest Thom and they had one son).
Child 2. Flora Ellen DENNIS was born June 17, 1866 and married David Hooker Layman. They had six children.
Child 3. Frances Emma DENNIS was born July 28, 1867 and married Byron Samuel Madison. They had six children. Frances was a twin with Francis.
Child 4. Francis Marion "Frank" DENNIS was born July 28, 1867 and married Mary Winslow. They had eight children.
Child 5. Mary Marinda DENNIS was born in 1871 in Richland, Iowa. She died on Oct 1875 in Richland, Iowa.
Child 6. William Walter DENNIS was born January 26, 1873 and married Grace Grant.
Child 7. Irving Manley DENNIS was born on December 1, 1875 in Richland, Iowa. When Irving was 9 years old he moved to Nebraska with his family when they decided to start over on a homestead. The move was too much for his father and after much bad luck his father had lost his stock, then his father had a serious stroke and ultimately passed away. Irving moved to Iowa to work on the farm of his uncles Morgan. When he got a little older he moved to Minnesota and that is where he met his fiancée', Margaret A. Longster. He died on February 8, 1907 at Heron Lake, Minnesota at the age of thirty-two years old. He was engaged to Margaret Longster at the time of his death.
Child 8. Minnie Mary DENNIS was born February 8, 1877 and married Edward Orvil Roush. They had five children. Their daughter, Pearl Roush Manners, had collected large amounts of family history and that is the biggest part of this collection of stories. Her daughter, LaVada Manners Goranson, was kind enough to share her legacy.
Child 9. Jesse Arthur DENNIS was born on June 27, 1879 in Richland, Iowa. Jesse spent some time with his mother's brother and other family members after his father (John Adams Dennis) died. But he didn't get along with his uncle very well. So after awhile he went with his brothers William and Irving to work in Minnesota for awhile.
Child 10. Joesph Argella DENNIS was born April 18, 1882 and married Mary “Alma” Strawn. They had six children. Joe married Luella Glenn after Alma passed away. Joe was always there for his mother. When she died he handled her small estate. He fairly divided her keepsakes and made sure everyone had small pieces to carry on their memories of their mother and father. He took care of the family graves during his life and raised his family in the Grand Island, Nebraska area. He worked for years for the post office. Joe also operated a carpentry business. Maybe it was a natural talent that came from his ancestor, Thomas Dennis. Thomas was the first Dennis generation on this story site and he was a joyner or maker of fine furniture and he lived in the 1600’s. Joe was a twin with Cora Dennis.
Child 11. Cora Amelia DENNIS was born April 18, 1882 and married Hy Larson. They had four children.
Child 12. Lillie Lucrettia DENNIS was born April 18, 1886 and married Edward Grover DeBusk. They had three children.