Joseph W. Dennis, the last survivor of those pioneers who came to Seneca, Kan., in 1856, is a native of Henry county, Kentucky, where he was born April 9, 1825. He is the son of Batson and Mary Ann (Callender) Dennis, the former born and reared to farm life in Henry county, Kentucky, the latter born near Richmond, Va., and when a young woman came to Kentucky, where she was married to Batson Dennis. When Joseph W. was five years old his parents removed to Johnson county, Indiana, and resided there about eight years, when they took up their residence on a farm ten miles southeast of Bloomington, Ill. They remained there until 1856, in which year they came to Kansas, locating on a squatter's claim one mile south of Seneca.
Joseph W. Dennis was married on July 8, 1847, to Miss Mary Ann Young, of Dewitt county, Illinois. They began housekeeping on their own farm in McLean county, Ill. Mrs. Dennis was the daughter of John and Catharine Young and was born in Darr county, Kentucky. Her parents moved to Dewitt county, Illinois, when she was a child and there they passed the remainder of their lives. To Batson and Mary Ann Dennis were born the following children: Samuel, who died near Seneca; Sally, who died in Kentucky; Joseph W., the subject of this review; John H., who died on the old homestead near Seneca; Jesse, who was killed by desperadoes in Nemaha county before the Civil war, his murderer having been captured and hanged in Seneca, the first execution in that town; and Batson, who died in Perry, Okla. Joseph W. is the only one of these children now living, and has himself reached the advanced age of eighty-six years. To him and his wife were born ten children: Mary Ann, John B., Emily, Elizabeth, Amanda, Martha, Campbell, George W., Sarah and Philip. Of these children, Amanda, Campbell and Philip are living in Nemaha county. Mary Ann Dennis, the wife and mother, died on April 18, 1908. She was a lifelong member of the Baptist church and was a noble helpmeet. Mr. Dennis has also been a member of the Baptist church for over forty years and politically has been a Democrat all of his life. His whole career has been given to farming and stock raising and he now lives in the house he built in 1860, close to where he built his first cabin in 1856. He still owns the same quarter-section he secured by squatter's claim over a half century ago. At one time he owned 1,200 acres in Nemaha county, but he has since given each of his children a homestead of eighty acres, and at his death the quarter-section on which he now resides is to be the property of Amanda, Campbell, Philip and his grandson, Amos Highsmith. The mother of this grandson died when he was ten months old and he was reared in the home of his grandparents. Amos Highsmith married Miss Louise Lelevre and they have one child, Lowell Fay Highsmith. Mr. Dennis has about twenty grandchildren and twenty-four great-grandchildren. Mr. Dennis has reached an unusual age and few there are in the state that can boast his distinction, that of having been a continuous resident of the state for over fifty-five years. Kansas reveres its pioneers for it was their labor, courage, sacrifices and energy which have made possible the remarkable record of this great commonwealth among states. Mr. Dennis expects to spend the years that remain to him at the old home at Seneca.Pages 1447-1448 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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