Greetings from Niagara Falls, NY!
I am 53 and have lived my life as a white man. In Dec. 2001 I learned that I
have a mixed race lineage of Native American, African and European. My
gr-gr-grandfather, George Denning, served with the 26th Regt. NY US Colored Troops. He lived and died in Odessa, Schuyler Co., NY.
I have met or corresponded with many distant cousins of color that I have
discovered in the past year. They are beautiful people and I am proud that
we share a diverse lineage. A few of them have been doing research but we
have not been able to confirm good information about the parents of George
Denning: William Denning said to be born in 1800 from CT or RI, and Cornelia Tuttle Denning, said to be born in 1790 and from Goshen, Orange Co., NY.
A distant cousin was told years ago in a last conversation with his father,
before the father's passing, that there was a 12-13 old bare foot servant
(probable slave) girl on a William Denning estate in the Hudson Valley area
(Newburgh or Goshen) which hosted George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette. I believe there was a Capt. William Denning in Fishkill Landing, across the Hudson River from Newburgh, during the Revolutionary War. There is also a Denning House in Salisbury Mills, Orange Co., NY that is now an antiquarian book store. I wrote to the proprietor but have heard nothing.
It appears that our mixed race lineage started with this young girl and a
white man at the estate. My gr-gr-gr-grandfather William Denning was perhaps the son of the servant or a grandson. I suspect he was born of a slave and later freed, having been given the name of his mother or grandmother's slaveholder. I suspect that his wife, Cornelia Tuttle, was a Mohawk. Yet I and others have not been able to make any connections.
Since we seem to know the name of William Denning, a person of some
significance during the Revolutionary War in the Hudson Valley, NY area, I
am hopeful that there is a good way for us to determine if he was a
slaveholder, as seems likely, and information about his slaves that might
reveal our ancestral roots with William Denning born abt. 1800 as a man of
color. I expect that the best way to research is to go to Fishkill
Landing/Newburgh/Goshen, NY. I understand the Town Hall in Goshen burned so vital records were lost there as relates to Cornelia Tuttle and my
gr-gr-grandfather George Denning who apparently was born there with other
Any advice you can offer on the best way to proceed would be greatly
appreciated. It is so easy to get side-tracked and I do not know how best to
focus on what is most relevant from what likely is not. I am planning a
first reunion of our huge diverse extended family in Odessa, NY this July
and hope by then to have more information to share as we celebrate our
common bonds and pay honor to those who traveled a tougher road before us than we will ever comprehend.
Thank you for any guidance in helping me in this spiritual quest to connect
to my ancestors of color. The now illegible inscription on the Denning
memorial stone in the cemetery in Odessa, NY for the family plot where my
gr-gr-grandfather is buried says "Thou art gone to the grave but we will not
deplore thee." I will not. I am humbled and immensely grateful to have this
hidden history made known to me to make me a better person and to pay proper respect to a grandparent who sacrificed his health, left lame and in pain, after serving in the US Colored Troops in that great and awful war. It took him many years and much effort to receive his invalid pension of $12 per
month. He attained the rank of Corporal. George Denning was my
gr-gr-grandfather and I am proud of him and all my ancestors of color.
Your expertise in helping me find out more about his ancestry is greatly
Daryl B. Denning
PO Box 174
Niagara Falls, NY 14304-0220
800-217-7265, 8-5, M-F, Eastern Time