submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, Sept. 7, 2007

Dec 7, 1899 (hand written)

At his home in Muscatine, as No. 400 East Fifth street, of cancer, GEORGE B. DENISON, aged 70 years, 9 months and 24 days. For over a year past the deceased had suffered from a cancer in his face, which was the ultimate cause of his death. Knowing that there was no hope for his recovery he was prepared to meet death unflinchingly, and at 6:50 this morning his spirit winged its flight to the Great Beyond.

George B. Denison was born in the town of Floyd, Oneida county, New York, on the 13th of February, 1819, and was a son of Samuel and Nancy (Burlingame) Denison. The Denison family in America is descended from an old and distinguished English family, some of whose members figured conspicuously in English history during the stormy days of Charles the First and Oliver Cromwell. The founder of the family in this country was Wm. Denison, who, with his three sons, Daniel, Edward and George, came to America in 1631, only 11 years subsequent to the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. They settled at Roxbury, Mass. Daniel was prominent in military matters and served as speaker in the House of Representatives; he left but few descendants. Edward died childless. George settled in Stonington, Conn., and was a Colonel of the Colonial army, and won renown fighting with the Indians. He married and had a large family. It was from this branch that the forefathers of the deceased sprang. One branch of the family settled in Canada in an early day and there became prominent.

Daniel Denison, the paternal grandfather of the deceased, married a Miss Avery, of the noted New England family of that name, and settled at New London, Conn., where he resided until 1771, when he moved with his family to the then wilderness of Rensselaer county, N.Y. There his son, Samuel, father of George, was born on the 24th day of October, 1774.

George B. Denison received his primary education at home and later took a course in an academy. He was a student in the Oneida Institute at Whitesboro, N. Y., the first abolition school in America. After completing his education he became a teacher and followed the vocation several years. In the summer of 1850 he came to Muscatine, prospecting for a site for business. At that time a new school house was being erected and by offering the building committee some valuable hints in perfecting their work, he became known to them as an educator, and was employed to teach the school the succeeding spring. He returned east that fall and the following spring came back and entered upon his duties as teacher of the first graded school taught in Iowa, commencing May 12, 1851. He remained in charge of the school for four years.

On an examination of the school law Mr. Denison found that while it made ample provisions for the building of school houses, it utterly failed to make suitable provisions for maintaining the school after the house was built. This was a very serious oversight, to remedy which Mr. Denison drew up an amendment consisting of nine sections, entitled an “An acto to extend the powers of school districts,” and submitted it to the Legislature, which left it optional with the electors of the district to levy a tax and make the schools free or support them by “rate bill.” The House passed the bill as drawn by Mr. Denison, but the Senate struck out by one majority the “free school” section, but unanimously passed the rest of the bill, and in this shape it was passed by both Houses and was approved by the Governor Jan. 22, 1853. This was the only change made in the school law from 1847 to 1856, when the law was revised entirely. He served several years as a member of the Muscatine school board and in 1864 was elected County Superintendent of schools, was re-elected, serving from 1862 until Jan. 1, 1866, a term of three and a half years. He had always been an advocate of a liberal and broad-gauged system of education and had devoted at least ten years of his life to educational matters. His first vote was cast at a school election and the first dollar of tax he ever paid was toward the building of a school house in the district where he went to school.

In early life Mr. Denison was a Whig in political sentiment and voted for Wm. Henry Harrison for President in 1840. In 1856, the Whig party having broken up, he joined the new Republican party and cast his vote for its first candidate, John C. Fremont, in 1856. He had advocated and supported the policy of that party continually since.

He married Miss Margaret M. Lyons, a native of Herkimer county, New York, and a daughter of Dr. Benjamin Lyons. They were the parents of three children, of whom only the youngest survives, a daughter, Miss Edna, who with her mother, is now left to mourn their irreparable loss.

Since 1876 Mr. D. had been engaged in banking. On the 1st of September 1878, he joined G. A. Garrettson in a private banking business, under the firm name of G. A. Garrettson & Co., successors to the Muscatine National Bank, which connection has continued to the present time, and to which in his latter years he devoted his time and attention largely, together with the construction of water works with Truman Cowell.

Mr. Denison was a plain, practical man, of great force of will and character, of pure habits and honorable life. He took great interest in the welfare of the community in which he lived, and was liberal and earnest in his support of all works and enterprises which his judgment approved, and which he believed to be for the good of his fellow citizens. And he was especially liberal to the deserving poor and helpless. Daring the trying times of the civil war no man in Muscatine county contributed more generously than he to the support of needy families of soldiers in the field. Ad his generosity was entirely without display, the recipient of his bounty being often ignorant of the donor. His death is a great loss to this community, to his associates in business, and to a large circle of warm and intimate friends, as well as to his own household.

The funeral is appointed for next Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock, from the family residence.


Notice of Death for G.B. Denison, Geo. Kneese and Wm. Fletcher

Old Settlers' Meeting.
Dec 1889 (hand written)

A meeting of the Old Settlers was held at the City Hall this morning at nine o’clock. There were present:

J. P. Walton, Peter Jackson, J. H. Monroe, John Dunn, Frank Geiger, J. S. Richman, Judge Brannan, John Mahin, Samuel McNutt, Will. Narvis, B. H. Eversmeyer, Dr. S. M. Cobb.

The President J. P. Walton stated the object of the meeting to be to take suitable notice of the death of G. B. Denison and G. Kneese, stating that we had not been called together for a period of six month, a longer interval than usual.

In relation to G. B. Denison Judge Brannan bore testimony to the general evenness of his disposition, a quiet modest, unobtrusive citizen, commending himself to the respect of his fellows, and ever ready to minister to any in need.

Judge J. Scott Richman spoke of his acquaintance with Wm. Fletcher, Geo. Kneese and G. B. Denison, giving some testimony in relation to Mr. Denison’s very superior excellence in many respects as a teacher.

Col. Munroe told of his wonderful capacity of getting along with his scholars without any whipping, always cool and patient under every trying circumstance.

John Mahin spoke of Mr. Denison’s many excellent qualities.

Samuel McNutt, Judge J. S. Richman and Col Munroe were made a committee on resolutions on G. B. Denison, Kneese and Fletcher. On motion adjourned.----P. JACKSON,Sec’y.


The committee appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiment of the Old Settlers on the death of G. B. Denison, beg leave to report as follows:

    Resolved, That in the death of George B. Denison the Old Settlers of Muscatine have lost a highly esteemed member, the community a valuable citizen, a man who was prominent in the establishment of Iowa’s common school system, and an eminent teacher in its early history, a successful business man in later years, and at all times an honest, unostentatious, earnest and able man, who performed well his duties in all the relations of life, as a citizen, as a kind husband, an indulgent father, and a faithful friend.
    J. H. MUNROE.

    On the death of Mr. Geo. Kneese your committee submits the following: Resolved, That in the death of Geo. Kneese we have lost one of our old and estimable citizens, who, in all the conditions in life through which he passed, won the esteem and confidence of the community, and who will be long missed in the circle of his acquaintance.

    J. H. MUNROE.

    On the death of Mr. Wm. Fletcher your committee submits the following: Resolved, That in the death of William Fletcher we mourn the departure of a man who was modest, kind and upright, an early settler in our vicinity, and highly esteemed by those who knew him best.

    In memory of all three of these departed ones we are reminded that, these are thy victims, Death, but

    “There is no death, the stars go down
    To rise upon some fairer shore,
    And bright in Heaven’s jeweled crown
    They shine forevermore.”
    J. H. MUNROE.

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