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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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James H. Denison

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 569 - 570

One of the honored and respected pioneers of Sheboygan County is the gentleman whose name heads this article. Mr. Denison has been a resident of this county since 1846, two years before Wisconsin was admitted into the Union. He is a native of the Empire State, born in Seneca County June 3, 1817, and is the eldest of three children born unto Beckwith and Mary (Hurd) Denison. The Denison family is of English extraction, of old Puritan stock, and their coat of arms bore the motto, Domus Grata, meaning "Hospitable House." The founder of the family in America was William Denison, who was born in England, in 1586, and came to America in the year 1631. His son, Capt. George Denison, was a soldier in Oliver Cromwell's army, and a man who was held in the highest esteem. His son George, a grandson of William Denison, was born in 1653, and married Mercy Gorham, daughter of Capt. John Gorham, whose wife was Desire Howland, daughter of John Howland, of the "Mayflower." Mercy (Gorham) Denison was born in Barnstable, Mass., January 20, 1658, and died September 24, 1725. They lived in Westerly, R. I., where George Denison died, December 27, 1711.

Beckwith Denison, the father of our subject, was born November 22, 1780, in Saybrook, Conn., where he spent his youth, but later in life moved to Seneca County, N. Y. He received his education in the district schools, and later learned the trade of carpenter and joiner, which occupation he followed for a number of years, but afterward was engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was married three times, the first marriage being with Julia Chittenden, July 13, 1805. He had two daughters by this marriage: Una and Julia M. Mrs. Denison died June 18, 1815. On the 5th of June, 1816, Mary Hurd became his wife. Of this union three children were born: James H., Mary C. and Laura. Mary (Hurd) Denison died March 10, 1826, and on the 10th of the following October he took to wife Desire Wixom, who bore him one child, a son, George B. Mr. Denison was a hard-working man all his life, and he was respected and esteemed by those who knew him. His death occurred September 15, 1859, and that of his wife October 15, 1871.

Mr. Denison, the subject of this biography, who is removed from the founder of the family in America seven generations, spent his boyhood and youth in his native State. He was reared to the trade of carpenter and joiner. His primary education, which was received in the common schools and was supplemented by a course at Groton Academy, was completed at Union College, of Schenectady, N. Y., of which Dr. Knott was President. Mr. Denison followed the profession of teaching for some years as preceptor in the common schools, and also in select schools.

At the age of twenty-nine years Mr. Denison celebrated his marriage with Miss Louisa Cole, a daughter of Daniel and Sarah (Hopkins) Cole, the ceremony being performed September 2, 1846. Mrs. Denison was born March 22, 1826, and was educated in the public schools. She is a well-informed woman, who has improved her spare moments by reading, and in this way has acquired a liberal education. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Denison six children have been born, four sons and two daughters, of whom but four are living. Mary, the widow of Fred A. Leavens, resides near the village of Sheboygan Falls; Gertrude, who became the wife of Frank T. Bemis, who is deceased, is a resident of that village; Frank H. is an attorney-at-law in the city of Sheboygan; and James F. has fitted himself for the profession of law, but is now traveling in the West. The daughters were given good practical educations, and the elder was one of Sheboygan County's successful teachers.

Immediately after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Denison came to Sheboygan County. The journey was made by way of the Great Lakes to Milwaukee, thence to Sheboygan County, where they located. Mr. Denison purchased one hundred and sixty acres of unimproved land in the town of Sheboygan Falls, but the first six years they lived in the village. Afterward our subject purchased eighty more acres of land in Sheboygan Falls Township, where he and his wife lived for forty years. At the time of their coming Indians were quite numerous, often passing by their door, and they have seen deer and heard wolves about their house and around the village. Sheboygan City was a town of perhaps five hundred people. Pennsylvania Avenue was the main thoroughfare, and Eighth Street was not known as a business street.

Politically, Mr. Denison was an old-line Whig, but since the organization of the Republican party, has supported the principles advocated by it. He well remembers the old "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too" campaign. While he exercises his right of franchise, he has taken no active part in political affairs.

Mr. and Mrs. Denison are members of the Baptist Church, and he has been Clerk of the Church Board for over forty years. They are well known in the county, where they have spent so many years of their lives. They are living a retired life, making their home with their daughter, Mrs. Bemis, in the village of Sheboygan Falls.


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