Monday, January 23, 2012

John Joshua Dennis (12 October 1872-20 September 1927) was my great grandfather. Although he was building a house for Dan Harper, the tree mentioned below was at Jesse Stokely's house next door, with a current address of 180 Smith Street in Newport near the city park. A very large, old tree currently stands in the front yard that may very well have been the tree in question, but the exact tree is unknown if still standing at all.

Joshua's death left his second wife, Rhoda Elizabeth (Ponder) Dennis, a widow with a mortgage and five children at home as well as two recently-married stepchildren. The couple lived, at the time of Joshua's death, on what is now Upper Rinehart Road just over the Cocke County border in Jefferson County, Tennessee.

Joshua, Rhoda, and his first wife, Laura A. Howard, are buried side-by-side in the family plot on lane 2 in Union Cemetery in Newport. His brother, Joel Leonard Dennis, buried not too far way, died at Dr. Northcutt's hospital just four years later in a work-related fall.

From the Newport Plain Talk, 20 September 1927, page 1:

Joshua Dennis is Killed By Falling From Tree

Joshua Dennis, resident of Jefferson county, was fatally injured about noon yesterday when he fell from a tree at the home of Jesse Stokely in Northport. Dennis had climbed the tree in an effort to capture a squirrel, and when about 50 feet above the ground the limb upon which he was standing broke and he fell to the ground. One leg was broken in two places, his farm injured and face and body bruised in several places. He was rushed to Northcutt hospital in Holder’s ambulance, where his injuries were attended to. He lingered until 10:30 this morning when he died as a result of the fall. Hospital physicians were unwilling to give up hope for his recovery after he reached the hospital, his injuries being of a very serious nature. Dennis was working on a house in the neighborhood when some boys gave chase to a squirrel. The animal was of a peculiar color, almost white, and this attracted the man’s attention. The accident created a good deal of excitement in the neighborhood. As stated, Dennis resides just over the Jefferson county line, but is known to many people in the city. He is a brother to Joel Dennis of Knoxville, who at one time was a well known carpenter of Newport. Funeral services will be conducted at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon at the First Baptist, conducted by Rev. Bishop, assisted by Rev. A.L. Crawley. Burial will be in Union cemetery.

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