We have some new Dennis lines to add to our
family. This is all so exciting to me.
One line is Robert Dennis of Covington KY. His line goes
back to Jesse Dennis b. 1803 KY.
the second is Chester Dennis whose line also comes from KY
but using the Dennis surname.
Chester's line is believed to go back to Josiah Dennis b.
abt. 1787 MD and d. abt. 1850 in Grayson Co. KY.
The third line is Carl Dennis who also comes from KY.
Since Robert can confirm that Jesse Dennis was in KY as
early as 1834 and the fact that two additional Dennis lines
were in KY very early 1800s, we have several ways to view
The line of Carl Dennis and a newly discovered DNA line
of Chester Dennis [Josiah Dennis b. abt. 1787 MD; d. abt
1850 Grayson Co. KY] probably indicates that we need to
research a generation before John Tennison who d. in 1808
in Caswell County, NC. We assume from his will that this
John Tennison, did not have additional sons unknown to
Dennis researchers. As far as John Tennison's brother,
Ignatius Tennison, all his family used the name of TENNISON
in Caswell Co, NC and in 1810 when they migrated to Green
Co. KY. The person who did the research on Ignatius' line
personally went to Green Co. KY to do her research before
the internet. She found no relations using the surname
DENNIS in this line. Some of this line then moved south to
MS. all keeping the Tennison surname. Some of this line
stayed in KY and ended up in the 1840's and after in Hart
and Metcalf counties under the name Tennison.
In Green County, KY we also found a Levi Tennison who
was not in NC but probably came to KY straight from VA or
MD. Do not confuse him with Levi Tennison/ Dennis (John
Tennison's son who moved to Overton Co. TN). We have a few
scant records of Levi of Green Co., KY and his line.
Ignatius Nevitte b. ca. 1745 MD and his brother John b.
ca. 1750 descend from Ignatius Tennison of St. Mary's
county MD. Some early records suggested a 3rd son Reuben
Tennison b. ca. 1751. This is one possible lead.
A second lead would be in the previous generation.
Ignatius Tennison b. ca. 1695 St. Mary's Co. MD was one of
four sons of John Tennison and Sarah Lesmaster of St. Mary's
Co. See attached chart pg. 16. Viewing the chart on 5
generations of Descendants of John Tennison one can find
several lines that may have moved to KY and changed their
name from Tennison to Dennis. See attached chart D, pg.
15. Remember that as far as we know the surname change was
not intentional. The Caswell Tennison /Dennis family could
not write. We have found court records using both names,
one document using both surnames in the same document. If
this happen in NC it could have happen elsewhere.
I always thought that one possibility of the surname
change could be a German court clerk who deleted the "son"
from the surname. I believed that I read that in old
Germany the son of man had the suffix "son" added to his
name. English writing is very hard to read. Who knows!
We need to find a documented descendent from the line of
John Sims Tennison [b. ca. 1725] or his brother Henry
Tennison [b. ca.] for DNA testing. If the DNA of a Henry
Tennison descendant was a close match in our markers then we
have a whole list of 8 males as possible lines including a
Samuel Tennison b. ca. 1766. See chart 15 attached.
Note that the Levi Tennison, son of John Sims was the
line that also moved to Green county, KY.
If the DNA markers of a John Sims descendant were
farther off then I would believe that we need to go down a
generation to the possibly of a Reubin Tennison / Dennis [
b. ca. 1751] brother to Ignatius and John Tennison.
Those of you who have read my books know, my early
research is from Ralph Smith. He did the most extensive
research possible. He was a court clerk and
was very meticulous in his research. He has written several
books on the early St. Mary's and Charles county families
including the Tennison lines. I have a copy of his books
and will try to reread the lines of Justinian's brother.
I presented very little on this line due to the large amount
of material I needed to cover.
If you do research on the web on these two early
brothers, Justinian and John Tennison, note that there is
conflicting information between some other researchers and
Ralph Smith. I go with Ralph's research. I can't remember
the exact conversation, but I know in a phone talk
with Ralph, he stated that when he went back to recheck some
original wills at the county court house, he found that some
papers had accidentally been switched between the two
brothers' estates. This was back when you could go and view
the original documents. He knew that the documents had been
switched because of his notes. Others who researched after
that assumed that the documents were correctly placed, hence
the difference in the heirs of the two early brothers. I
will try to call Ralph and discuss our new finds with him
and report back.
I have read some of the web information on the DNA
markers and which ones mutate quicker between generations.
If some one is of a more scientific nature, they could
explore if the genetic marker discretion can tell us
something. For example if one marker mutates
quicker we would not weight it as much as a marker that is
more stable. this might help us tell the closest of the KY
lines to John Tennison line.
sue dennis green