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The Dennison/Ives Sampler
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Mercer Home Page
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Links - Lincoln Survey of New Boston, New Boston Ferry, Denison Family, Beeson Family, Alicia Ives Web Site

Courtesy of author Bill Hanlon, Castro Valley, Ca, owner of the sampler.

We purchased the Dennison / Ives sampler from a Healdsburg, California antique dealer in 1995. The dealer had found the sampler neatly folded in the bottom an old trunk at a local estate sale. Measuring 18Ē high by 15-1/2Ē across, it is in like new condition having never been framed by the Dennison family or exposed to sunlight.

After our purchase I did a little initial research and learned that a sampler that listed important dates in a familyís history was called a family record sampler. The Dennison / Ives sampler spent the next five years hanging in the entryway of our home before I finally decided to see if I could find out anything about the Dennisons. My research went painfully slow at first as all the antique dealer could tell me was that she was told the family came from either Ohio or Illinois. With the help of the Internet, I soon became addicted to finding out more about the Dennisons. Finally, after hundreds of hours of research the pieces started falling into place.

The Denison family is well documented in the book History of Mercer County, Illinois 1882. William Denison (b.1761-d.1840) and his family were the first white settlers in Mercer County. They arrived in 1827 and operated a wood yard at Denisonís Landing supplying steamboats traveling up the Mississippi River. The Denison family got along peacefully with the Sauk and Fox Indians, who hunted and fished in the area. All the Denisons learned to speak the native language and were close friends of Chief Black Hawk and Chief Keokuk, whom often visited their home as they traveled up and down the Mississippi. Early in 1832 Black Hawk, Keokuk, and 3,000 followers held a council of war at the future location of New Boston. The Denisons were present for this historic moment when Black Hawk spoke of war and Keokuk spoke of peace with the white settlers. Keokuk had sold 26,500,00 acres to the United States Government for 3 cents an acre in 1830 and had persuaded most the Sauk and Fox to move to the west side of the Mississippi. Black Hawk, who wanted to return to their settlement at Rock Island, wanted to drive the white settlers from the area. When the Black Hawk War started later that year the Denison Family temporally left the area for Nauvoo upon Chief Black Hawkís urging. Black Hawk had some of his followers protect the Denison home so it would not be ransacked or burned. Three of William Denisonís sons, William Harrison Dennison, Erastus S. Denison, and Joseph Dennison fought in the Black Hawk War. William and Joseph were privates and Erastus was a sergeant. The Denisons returned to Dennisonís Landing when the war ended that same year.

In 1834 William Denison Sr. and his son William H. Dennison sold some of their land along the Mississippi to Elijah Iles, a well-known land speculator from Springfield. A Captain in the Black Hawk War, Iles had opened the first store in Springfield in 1821, and later served as an Illinois State Senator in 1826 and again in 1830. The purpose of the Denison land sale was to create the town of New Boston and make a profit for the three by selling the individual lots. Abe Lincoln, a young surveyor from Springfield, who had served under Iles for twenty days during the Black Hawk War, worked with the Dennisons to lay out the town on September 20, 1834. The surveyed lots were divided equally between William Denison Sr., his son William H. Dennison, and Elijah Iles and were later either sold or auctioned off. As part of the sale arrangement the Denisons were given the exclusive rights to operate a ferry and wood yard. The senior Dennison, who had served in the Revolutionary War, died in 1840 and is the only Revolutionary War Veteran buried in Mercer County. He is buried in the New Boston Cemetery. Additional information can be found on the surveying of the Denisonís land in the book A. Lincoln With Compass and Chain by Adin Barber.

William Harrison Dennison (b.1810-d.1846) was born in Lebanon, Ohio and moved to Sangamon county Illinois with his parents in 1826. He was married once before he met Caroline Ives (b.1818-d.1881), whom he married on July 27th 1837. Caroline, who was born in New Haven, CT was a schoolteacher. William and Caroline had five children, Harriet Amanda Dennison (b.1838-d.1858), Isadora Ann Dennison (also know as Dora) (b.1840-d.1887), Charlotte Ruth Dennison (also know as Lotte) (b.1842-d.1894), Newton Ives Dennison (b.1844-d.1856), and William Harrison Dennison Jr. (b.1847-d.1848). William Harrison Dennison died in 1846, before the birth of his son William Jr. Both are buried in the New Boston Cemetery.

After William Harrison Dennisonís death Caroline married John Brooks Beeson in 1850. Beeson was New Bostonís first druggist. According to the 1850 Mercer County Census they were living in New Boston, IL with Carolineís children, Harriet, Isadora, Charlotte, and Newton, and Johnís son Orville W. Beeson from a former marriage to Harriet Newell, who had died in 1848. Caroline and John had a daughter, Clara Vashti Beeson (b.1850-d.1852) and a son Arthur Brooks Beeson (b.1852-d.1874) while living in New Boston, IL.

In 1853 one of William Harrison Dennisonís brothers, Ezra Ferris Dennison, led a wagon train to California. The Beeson family along with Johnís parents, Issac (d.1877) and Lydia, joined Ezra. They took the Oregon Trail, which splits off into the California Trail and ends in Sacramento, CA. The Beesons all settled in Sacramento where they were engaged in a mercantile business. They lived in Sacramento until 1858 when they moved to Healdsburg, California

While living in Sacramento Newton Dennison died in 1856 at the age of 12 and John and Caroline had three more children, Kate Caroline (b.1855-d.1885), Edward Isaac (b.1858-d.1948) and Edgar Elias (b.1858-d.1865). Harriet Dennison married Julius F.Taylor, a Dr. in 1855. They had two children, Ella (b.1856-d.1857) and William O. (b.1858-d.1858). Harriet died in Sacramento in 1858 at the age of 20.

Isadora Dennison married Daniel Madeira from nearby Volcano, California in 1857 and they lived with the rest of the Madeiras in Volcano. Daniel and his wife along with Francis Madeira moved with the Beesons to Healdsburg in 1858. It was there that Charlotte Dennison married Francis A. Madeira, the brother of Daniel Madeira in 1859. In 1862 all of the Madeiras moved to Carson City, Nevada where they continued in the mining and mercantile business they had started in Volcano.

The Madeira family had originally left Kanesville, Iowa (now Council Bluffs) on May 1st 1852 and arrived in the mining town of Volcano, California on August 30th 1852. They were part of a wagon train called the Dubuque Emigrating Company. More can be read about their trip west in the book Crossing the Plains in 1852 by Lucy Rutledge Cooke. The Madeira party included Colonel George Asbury Madeira, leader of the wagon train and an Ohio lawyer and Indian War veteran (b.1801-d.1865), his wife Susan Johnson (b.1811-d.1884), and their three sons, Francis Asbury Madeira a surveyor, sign painter, merchant, and newspaperman (b.1830-d.1909), Daniel Madeira a well know Healdsburg and Santa Cruz band leader and businessman (b.1834-d.1912), and George Madeira Jr. a well known mining engineer, mineralogist, and writer (b.1836-d.1922). George Madeira Jr. is also acknowledged as Californiaís first astronomer.

George Madeira Jr. built and operated Californiaís first observatory in the town of Volcano from 1860 to 1862. Using a telescope made in Paris and purchased by mail order from San Francisco, George and his brother Frank gave lectures on astronomy and charged miners a small fee to view the heavens. George later was appointed by the State Mining Bureau to collect mineral samples and exhibit them at the 1904 St Louis Worldís Fair.

After the death of George Madeira senior in Carson City, Nevada, the Madeiras moved to Santa Cruz, California around 1868 where Isadora and Daniel Madeira raised ten children. Isadora died at Santa Cruz in 1887 at the age of 47and Daniel died there in 1912.

Not long after moving to Santa Cruz, the Francis Madeira family returned to Healdsburg, where the Beesons lived. Charlotte and Francis Madeira had one daughter, Katie A. and they adopted a son, Chester E. While living in Healdsburg Francis Madeira owned a successful sign painting business with Edward Isaac Beeson, the son of John and Caroline Beeson. Francis, known as Frank or Sam by his friends, also surveyed the mining town of Ione, CA and worked for the Healdsburg Tribune for eleven years. His brother George and his family moved to Healdsburg in 1888

. Some of the Madeiras are buried in a family plot at the Oak Mound Cemetery in Healdsburg where many of the Beeson Family are also buried. The Madeira plot is a large concrete slab with only the name William Regulus Madeira 1867-1897 on it. William was one of George Madeira Jr.ís and Louisa Eleanor Mitchellís eight children. Cemetery records show that the following Madeiras are also buried in the same plot: Francis (Frank) A. Madeira, Charlotte (Lotte) R. Madeira, Mrs. Madeira (Frankís mother Susan Johnson Madeira), and Mary Truitt formally Mary Madeira (the first child of George Madeira Jr. and his wife Louisa)

. In the 1860 Federal Census there are seven people living in the Beeson Healdsburg household, John (age 45), Caroline (age 42), Arthur Brooks (age 8), Kate Caroline (age 5), Edward Isaac, and Edward Elis, both listed as three years old. Orville Beeson is listed as living with his grandparents, Isaac and Lydia Beeson. The senior Isaac Beeson (age 70) is listed as a blacksmith and Orville (age 15) is listed as a farmer. John and Caroline Beeson had another son Charlie William (b.1861-d.1865) while living in Healdsburg.

Arthur Brooks Beeson died at Healdsburg in 1874 at the age of 21.
Orville W. Beeson married Mary A Flage on August 11th 1883.


Edward Isaac Beeson married Emma C. Logan on Oct 14th 1886. They had three children, Edward Ives Beeson, Elva, and Eda. Their son Edward set the world high jump record on May 2, 1914 while a member of the University of California track team. His world record jump wasnít beaten until ten years later in 1924.

Kate Caroline Beeson (b.1855-d.1885) married California early pioneer, Mexican War veteran, and well know Healdsburg businessman, Ransom Powell (b.1824-d.1910). Kate Beeson was the fourth of five wives and they had one son together, Jesse R. Powell, who died in 1903.

. While living in Healdsburg John Brooks Beeson was a farmer, accountant, Census Marshall and the Railroad Agent for the city. He was well liked and respected in the community. I am unsure if Caroline continued teaching.

The Beeson family plot, also located at the Oak Mound Cemetery in Healdsburg, is the final resting place for the following Beesons, John Brooks Beeson (b.1819-d.1875), Caroline Beeson (b.1818-d.1881), Arthur Brooks Beeson (b.1852-d.1874), Edward Isaac Beeson (b.1858-d.1948), Emma Logan Beeson (wife of Edward). Edward Ives Beeson (son of Isaac and Emma) (b. 1890 - d. 1971), and his wife Bera Mothorn Beeson (b.1893 - d.1993) are also buried at the Oak Mound Cemetery, but in a different plot.

Since there is not a name on the sampler we can only guess who made it. It obviously depicts homes from the New Boston area, so I think itís safe to say it was made in that town. The last date on the sampler is the death of William Harrison Dennison (Jr.) who died May 24th 1848. Since this is as family record or memorial sampler, it was probably made in 1848-9 before Caroline married John Brooks Beeson. I have read that most samplers were made by young schoolgirls around the age of 10 or 11. Harriet would have been 10 in 1848; Isadora would have been 8, and Charlotte 6. I donít think Isadora or Charlotte would have had the skill at that age to produce such a detailed sampler. That leaves only Harriet or possibly Caroline, who would have been 30 years old at the time. The verse on the sampler says ďUpon the showing canvass stands, The labour of my youthful hands, No other care till this I knew ough, But Perseverence brought me thr.Ē This does not sound like a 30 year old schoolteacher and as you can see the person who made the sampler also had some trouble with the spacing and spelling. I believe the sampler was made by Harriet, traveled across the plains in 1853, and was handed down to one of her sisters or mother upon her death in 1858. Or, perhaps she made it for her mother Caroline and she had it until her death in 1881.
Bill Hanlon

The sampler has now made a trip to Antiques Road Show in San Francisco. The evaluation made there included much value added to the sampler from Bill's research on the family.






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