Monday, October 26, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Samuel Jennings Denyer - School Master

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at a newspaper article that references Samuel Jennings Denyer, the brother of my second great grandfather, Ebenezer Denyer. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The Bucks County Gazette
Bristol, Bucks County, PA.
Friday April 23, 1909
Page 1


Becoming reminiscent last week, Samuel Geil, aged 85 years, imparted to the Gazette correspondent some interesting information which has probably never been published before.

Most interesting was the story of how the lead deposits at New Galena were discovered many years ago as the result of a farmer’s curiosity being aroused by the fact that some of the rocks he picked up were so much heavier than the ordinary ones. Remarking upon it to Jesse Moore, then a blacksmith in the vicinity, he was told to bring several of the rocks to the smith, and when he did Moore succeeded in some way in smelting the ore in the furnace. He found it very rich with the metal, but it was not until many years later that the mining of the ore was taken up.

Mr. Geil also talked of some of the old school masters he had known before the public schools were known, and among others mentioned Christian Burkholder, Samuel Jennings Denyer, Thomas J. Clark and Henry Bertel. All of these men, he said, were German Mennonites, for it was among this sect that the best educated men were to be found in those days. Burkholder was the inventor of a peculiar spelling machine.


1. Samuel Jennings Denyer, the older brother of my second great grandfather, Ebenezer, became his legal guardian upon their father, William's death. The probate documents identify him as the 'tutor' for his younger siblings, which simply meant 'legal guardian' at the time. But apparently he had experience as a teacher.

2. Samuel Geil, born in 1825, was a first cousin of William Denyer's wife, Elizabeth Sliver Denyer. William and Elizabeth's son, Samuel Jennings, was born in 1822, and died in 1861 at the age of 38. My ancestor, Ebenezer Denyer, was born in 1828 and died in 1872 at the age of 43. So Samuel Geil outlived his cousin's children by a large degree. (Samuel died in August of 1909, only a few months after this newspaper article.)

3. I find it interesting that Samuel Geil lists Samuel Jennings Denyer as a teacher, since he was only three years younger. But it's possible.

4. Samuel Jennings' mother was of German Mennonite descent, but his father, William, was from England, and was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church. Some sources indicate Samuel had attended an M.E. seminary, and was preparing for a ministry himself at the time of his death. As cousins it's likely Samuel Geil knew the Denyer family weren't Mennonites, but the memories of an aging individual aren't always the most reliable.

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