Monday, July 16, 2012

Marion Washington Dennis - "Where ARE YOU hiding"

My mother's great-grandfather, MARION WASHINGTON DENNIS, remains a mystery to us today as do his parents.  Even after 5 years of Y-DNA testing and learning that he is descended from a FREEMAN male as far as my uncles' Y-DNA, we still cannot pinpoint where or when the name change came about.
Here's some of what we know about Marion and his younger life as written by his daughter Hallie DENNIS NUGENT to her half-sister, Mary Washington DENNIS GARDNER.  Be warned, she was not real literate and it has been transcribed as she wrote it with little punctuation:

"The Dennis family ar Grandfather Marion Washington married Mary Bell had 2 sons Joseph Marion  (spaces left between these words)   William their father did in the Civil War their mother died when Papa was 7 and Uncle 9.  I don’t know what part of Fla it was where they grew wheat and apples.  2 of the farmers each taken the boys, they were 30 miles apart got to see each other twice a year.  Uncle left home to come to Texas when he was 16 came to see Papa wanted him to come with him   that was the last they saw each other       When Papa was 16 he came to Texas taken a week to come by boat, no train or telephone them days.  When they got Galveston men came to haul the freight.  One man let Papa work on his wagon to Prairie Lea.  Man by name of Mooney gave  him a home and he went to school stayed with them 7 years   Then married my mother.  Grandpaw gave them some land, Papa built a house and dug a well after I (end of page).

Hallie went on to speak about the SMITH FAMILY (Grandpa Willie – William C. SMITH), Grandma Edna Pinglim (Edna Pendley) and others.  

And she also mentions that Marion Washington DENNIS had been married 3 times.  The only marriages we know of for him are that of my great-great-grandmother, his first wife - Elizabeth Della WRIGHT, daughter of Isophena MIEARS and Geo. Washington S. WRIGHT; and 2nd wife - Laura SMITH, daughter of Edna PENDLEY and William C. SMITH. 

I grew up not too far from my DENNIS family at San Angelo, TX.  All I ever heard was that they were "Irish".  Imagine my surprise when Y-DNA testing revealed that we were FREEMAN'S in surname and that our haplogroup was Q1a3a, which is a Native American Indian Haplogroup. 

Here is the only picture I have of Marion Washington DENNIS, 
born ca. 1855-FL or AL.  He may be the 14 year old Marion Dennis
living in the household of Benjamin ASHELEY (ASHLEY) in
1870-Elmore County, Alabama.  This Marion Dennis I cannot disprove being our Marion!  By 1880 he is married to Elizabeth 
and my gr-grandfather, Oran Marion Dennis is born in 
Guadalupe County, Texas.

Marion Washington Dennis, 
would you please show up somewhere 
ca. 1854 to 1870, please? 
Your loving gr-gr-grand-daughter, 


  1. Just found your blog today via GeneaBloggers. Great pic of your gr-gr-grandfather! Hope someone shows up with some clues for you!

  2. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist:

  3. Isn't that a fantastic photo? Welcome to the Geneablogging community.

  4. Jacqi Stevens, Dr. Smith and Alex Daw, thank you all!

  5. At least you have a cool picture of him!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  6. Theresa,
    Yep, I'm thankful for the picture!

  7. We Freemans had for decades thought our ancestry traced back to England but a few weeks ago discovered our paternal line has the Q1a3a haplogroup. Have you tested your DNA so that we can see if we're related? I've tested with both Family Tree DNA and 23andme. It was like scratching the needle across the record when I saw the Q1a3a in both my uncle and nephew. It didn't make sense, especially when there were other Freemans not testing Q1a3a and we were almost 100% European as far as the last few generations. We're still trying to sort out where in our paper trail it happened. In my first sentence here I would have said "we [x] Freemans" but I'm not sure now who our most distant ancestor is! :-)
    -Jennifer Freeman

    1. Jennifer, you can email me at: I am pretty sure if your guys at the Q1a3a Freemans' (now Q-M3) that they will show matching my uncle and his nephew (my mother's brother and nephew).- Revis

  8. Jennifer, my Dennis uncle and his nephew, son of his brother, tested several years ago in YDNA at Family Tree DNA. That's when we learned that we are Freeman's in Y-DNA. Another Dennis uncle and my mother have tested in Family Finders and at 23andMe. Did your men Y-DNA test at FTDNA or did you learn their haplogroup was Q1a3a when you all did Family Finders or 23andMe testing? Email me at: We've been involved in DNA testing for about 7 years now. And we have quite a few autosomal DNA matches at Family Finders and 23andMe with people who have Freeman in their surname lists.

  9. Jennifer, the lines the Q1a3a Freeman's have listed as descending from in the YDNA testing matches of my uncle and his nephew are: John Freeman b. 1771-Bedford Co. VA; Isaac Freeman 1787-NC; John Freeman 1774-1870-Yancey Co. NC; Elijah Freeman b. c. 1802-1875-NC, TN, AL. We match about 17 Freeman men. Is one of those lines yours?

  10. My husband's mother was a Freeman and he was told by his father and mother's sister they were Cherokee. This probably isn't true as everyone has a Cherokee myth in their family, but I don't doubt the Weyanoke and Chowanoke origin of the Freemans. My husband matches some Q1a3a Freemans on chromosome 9 but I can't know if it's through the Freemans or someone else. There's no paper trail for his Freemans. His grandfather was born 1922 in Brownwood Texas to a George H Freeman. That's all we know.

  11. I frequently return to this information because Marion William Dennis (mother Laura Smith) is my great grandfather. My grandfather passed away 2017, Jack Raymond Dennis. He was always told that his grandfather, Marion Washington was an orphan. I was happy to show him this single remaining picture about 4 years ago. Thank you for having this information and picture. Brooke Cherie Dennis Judice.