Joseph W Denny 1820 – 1850

Joseph W Denny was born about 1820 in Baltimore, Maryland.  I have not yet been able to identify his parents. His name is also seen as Dennie and Denney.  I was not able to find him in the 1840 census.  At that time, only the head of household was named, and at only 20 years of age, he may well have been still in the household of his parents.

I found a short news item about two sailors being rescued from a ship that was sailing from Baltimore to St. Thomas in 1848.  One of them was identified as Joseph Denny.  Although the story below refers to the man as William, I think it is the same person, perhaps going by his middle name.  The following story was found in New York Municipal Gazette, Issues 41-48 (New York, N.Y.) p723

Wreck of the Bark Meteor of Alexandria (1846)

The Meteor, Capt. Janney, sailed from Baltimore for St. Thomas on the 3d September, and was wrecked in the disastrous gale of the 7th and 8th. The only survivors of the crew, John Thompson and William Denny, seamen, arrived at this port yesterday from St. Thomas, in the schooner Zenobia, they having been taken off by the bark Chancellor of New-Haven, and carried to Antigua.

We have been furnished by them with the following account of the loss of that vessel. She passed Cape Henry light at 4 P. M. on Monday, 7th Sept. 11 P. M., took in topgallantsails and reefed the topsails; 12 midnight, took in fore and main courses, and 8 A. M., 8th, close reefed the maintopsail and furled the foretopsail; also took in jib and spanker; at 3 A. M., carried away the fence of the maintopsail yard, and in an instant the maintopsail was blown into ribbons, the sea making a clear breach over the bark. About 4 ½ A. M., the vessel capsized; the cook being in the cabin at the time he was drowned. All hands immediately got on her broadside, and lashed themselves to the mizzen channel plates. A few minutes after, a heavy sea struck her, and washed the captain, mate and three men overboard, who were lost: two minutes after she was struck by another sea, and the lashing that was round Mr. Glass, the second mate, cut his bowels completely open.

At 5 P. M. the vessel righted, and the foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast all went by the board, bursting in their fall the decks open. All was now lost of the crew save these two men and the wounded mate, Mr. Glass, whom they made fast to the deck, the vessel at the time rolling beam ends under.

After being thus exposed eight days, with nothing but a little molasses to subsist upon, the two seamen were, through the blessings of God, rescued by the bark Chancellor, of New-Haven, Captain Samuel Collins, on the 16th Sept., carried to Antigua, and placed in the care of the U.S. consul at that port. Mr. Glass survived his injuries until about hall an hour before his companions were rescued.

A “bark” is a sailing vessel with three or more masts, a flat bow and square stern.  A news item in the Boston Daily Atlas, published 3 November 1846, described the ship as dismasted and full of water.  September would be hurricane season, and it sounds as that is what they sailed into.  The new story also had descriptions of other damaged ships. 

On 25 October 1848, in Boston, Joseph married Eliza Jane Hawkins, daughter of Cornelius D Hawkins and Sarah Winkley, of Tamworth NH.  Joseph and Eliza had a daughter, Elizabeth Josephine Denny (Lizzie J)  who was born 19 February 1850 in Chelsea, MA. 

Joseph died in April, 1850, in Chelsea, of lung fever, now called pneumonia.  The record, a US Mortality Schedule for 1850, confirmed that he was a mariner, born in Maryland, but did not name his parents. 

Eliza moved back to NH, married a widower, Joseph W Fuller of Portsmouth, and had four more children.  Lizzie married James O Kenniston.  He was also a seaman, and died in 1889.  Lizzie then married Robert V Noble.  I do not have records for any children for Lizzie, so Joseph Denny probably had no grandchildren.


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