Written by Rosanna Williams Denning (June 27, 1927)

02 Mar 1830 1
Coleford, Kilmerston, Sommersetshire, England 1
02 May 1898 1

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Personal Details

02 Mar 1830 1
Coleford, Kilmerston, Sommersetshire, England 1
Male 1
02 May 1898 1
Mother: Martha Nichols 1
Father: Henry Denning 1
Sarah Merrifield 1
08 Jul 1849 1
Tahowan, England 1
Race or Ethnicity:
White 1
Date: 04 Jan 1850 1
Performed by: John Williams 1
Place: Abeceycan, South Wales 1

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  1. Contributed by blake


Early Family History - Coming to America

James Denning, son of Henry Denning and Martha Nichols, was born at Coleford, Kilmerston, Sommersetshire, England, on 2 March 1830. His father was a Collier (miner). When very young, he went to the mines to work; he never had the opportunity of attending school.

July 8, 1849, he married Sarah Merrifield, at Tahowan, England. After their marriage, his wife taught him his ABC's and he learned to read; was a great reader; read everything he could get hold of, and became well-versed and could talk intelligently in discussions on most every subject.

They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1850; my father, John Williams, baptized them on January 4, 1850 at Abeceycan, South Wales.

On Feb. 15, 1853, they went on board the ship called "International" to sail from Liverpool, England. Their baby (James Henry) was three weeks old. The ship laid in the Irish Channel until the 28th of Feb., before sailing, it was waiting for favorable weather conditions.

There were 425 Saints, under the direction of Christopher Arthur, aboard. Baby James Henry took terribly ill on this hard two-month voyage, he was thought to be dead, so they strapped his body to a board (as was the custom) and raised the board to shove him overboard. One of the Saints shouted "Wait, I believe I saw the baby breathe!" They pulled the board back and unwrapped the baby and HE 'WAS BREATHING. He lived to fill a noble and wonderfully useful life; loved and respected by everyone.

They arrived in New Orleans Apr. 23,1853.

Added by blake

Settling in the west


They came to Salt Lake City with the Capt. Daniel Millers Ox team Co .. There were 282 people, 70 wagons, 27 horses, 470 cattle, 153 sheep. They left camp at Winter Quarters, June 9, 1853. They endured great hardships, having to walk a great deal of the way. Food was rationed out to them, they all shared alike.

After their arrival here Sept. 9, 1853, they settled in Bountiful, Utah. He helped build the Spanish- type wall around Great Salt Lake City, Utah, for protection against the Indians. It was during this year that Chief Walker waged war against the new citizens of Utah and many lost their lives.

On Dec. 29, 1853, the Church Chronology, (paper) states that the so-called Spanish Wall would be 12 feet high, 6 feet thick at the base, tapering to 2 feet 6 inches at a height of six-feet above the ground, and keeping that thickness to the top. It was to be six-miles ill length and made of adobe and rock. He was a veteran of the Echo Canyon war and also assisted in bringing emigrants to Utah. After 1860 the practice of sending wagons and teams from the valley to carry the emigrants from the East, eliminated the need for handcart travel after that year.

Many people who could not afford to purchase wagons and teams were able to make the 1,300 mile journey by this cheaper mode of travel. James and Sarah also helped to settle a town at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, it is now known as Brighton, utah. He was a hard worker and very strong. In 1858, they moved south, then came back in 1862 and settled in Logan, Utah.

In 1862 a large emigration arrived from Europe. The Church sent teams to the Mississippi River to bring the Saints across the plains. James Denning drove 4 yoke of oxen in this train also. He and his family were missioned to Bear Lake in July of 1864. Later on they settled at Montpelier, Idaho. They went through many hardships. I have heard Mother Denning tell of making moccasins out of cowhide. There were no shoes to be had. The snow was so deep that they could not get out until spring. They had to cord, spin and weave their own clothes. Most of this work fell to the women. The men worked hard too and together they prospered, even though the wheat: froze every year during this Ume. They had 13 children, all but one grew to manhood and womanhood; his name was William and he died when two years old with the croup.

The family moved to Malad and is buried at St. John Cemetery, near Malad, Idaho. Two headstones mark the graves of James and his dear wife Sarah; on these two headstones are the engravings of two-clasped hands. On hers it reads; "Sarah Merrifield, wife of James Denning, born Aug. 19, 1832, died Jan. 9, 1900--She was a kind and affectionate wife and a fond mother and a friend to all". On the headstone of James Denning, born March 2, 1830, died May 2, 1898, is written;"Amiable and beloved father, Farewell. Not on this perishing stone, but in the Book of Life and in the hearts of Thy Afflicted Friends is thy worth recorded". The headstones were placed there by their son, James Henry Denning. What greater tribute could a son give to his beloved parents.

Added by blake


At the time the above history was written, June 27, 1927, James Denning had 5 children living, 105 grand-children, 207 great-grandchildren, making a total of 317. now 40 years later . none of us know the correct total of descendants. Part of this history was written by Rosanna Williams Denning on June 27, 1927 and the rest written June 27, 1967 by Pearl Denning Barron, from church and family records for a Denning Family Reunion to help us all to be more grateful of our heritage and the price that it cost our dear ones.
Added by blake

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