Alexander Finley Denny

Male 1827 - 1886  (59 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    All

  • Name Alexander Finley Denny 
    Born 1827  Randolph County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 1886 
    Buried Elmwood Cemetery, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Alexander F. Denny
      Information about Alexander Finley Denny is sparse despite for a period of three years he was perhaps the most important man in Huntsville. He was born in the section of Howard County, Missouri that would become Randolph County in 1827 the son of David Rice Denny and Rebecca (Rowland) Denny. His father, a veteran of the War of 1812, was an early settler and arrived in Howard County with his father Alexander Denny, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, in 1818. David Rice Denny later served as a judge in Randolph County. Alexander attended Missouri University in Columbia, Missouri and graduated from the Law School of Harvard University in 1850. He then practiced law in Huntsville in partnership with Thomas B. Reed (who would later become a Missouri State Senator) until joining the militia in 1862. He married Martha McDowell Pitts December 5, 1855. She died March 15, 1857, and was buried in the Pitts Family Cemetery in Randolph County near Yates. He then married Sophia Elizabeth Pitts July 20, 1858. By Sophia he had Eleanor M. Denny, Younger Rice Denny, Rebecca Anna Denny (she died when she was three), George W. Denny (he died when he was four), Mary (Denny) Gordon, and Sophia Emily Denny who did not live long.

      On August 21, 1862, after Missouri had been involved in the Civil War for nearly a year the Enrolled Missouri Militia was formed. Denny raised a company of men for the Union that became a part of the 46th Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia. He was originally Captain of Company C of this regiment, but by October 1, 1862 he held the rank of Major and was military commander of Huntsville. Charles F. Mayo was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Captain to take charge of Company C. On Dec. 22, 1862 Denny was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Sometime after February 3, 1863 he became a part of the 1st Provisional Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia. Unlike the Enrolled Missouri Militia, the Provisional Enrolled Militia was a full time force on active duty. Enrolled Missouri Militia often spent time garrisoning towns, were only called on when a need arose, and did not often see combat while the Provisional Enrolled Militia was considered a combat unit. During his time with the 1st Provisional Lt. Colonel Denny saw action against General Shelby of the Confederate Army from September 22 to October 26, 1863. At other times he was in the field combating guerrillas. He left active duty with this unit November 17, 1863. After the operations against General Shelby some of Lt. Colonel Denny's time was spent in administrative duties trying to maintain law and order, or simply managing the logistics of the war in the area. Such was the case when in November of 1863 when he asked of his commanding officers what to do with commissary stores (including 11 tons of beans) left in Mexico, Missouri with no soldiers there to eat them. Another time in November of 1863 while still a major he had to inquire into the release of two prisoners of war who had served under Colonel Poindexter of the Confederate Army. It had been promised they would be released, but had not appeared at their homes yet.

      After leaving the 1st Provisional Regiment, Denny returned to the 46th Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia on April 21, 1864, and once again was in command of Huntsville. During this time he had at least three interactions with the Andersons. The first was a skirmish with Jim Anderson and about ten bushwhackers On August 7, 1864 Lt. Colonel Denny learned Jim Anderson was close by. With the 46th Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia and a detachment of the 9th Cavalry Missouri State Militia (unlike the 46th they were seasoned guerrilla fighters) he found him at Owen Bagby's farm about five miles south of Huntsville. Upon approaching Bagby's house the guerrillas began firing. Lt. Colonel Denny and his men then charged Anderson and his ten men at which point the bushwhackers fled. They continued to pursue them for some distance until they lost them in the brush. No Union troops were killed and one bushwhacker was. On July 31, 1864. William T. Anderson aka "Bloody Bill" sought to take Huntsville, by luring the militia outside the city. In order to do this he went to the home of Lt. Col. Alexander Denny's elderly father Judge David Denny. There he hung the old man three times from the gate post, and sent a servant into Huntsville to let Denny know he had his father. Lt. Col. Denny had to be held back from rushing out with men to his father's rescue as the townspeople suspected it was a setup for an ambush. Once Anderson realized the militia was not coming he left Denny's father for dead. According to local lore, Judge Denny crawled the two miles into town. Another significant interaction took place September 25, 1865 when Bill Anderson again tried to lure the militia out of Huntsville. He sent an ultimatum demanding the militia surrender the town that he had signed, "Col. Perkins." Denny's response was, "come in and take it." He had all four companies of the 46th Enrolled Missouri Militia stationed in the town, and both the college and courthouse were fortified. According to former guerrillas, Anderson wanted to try to take the town anyway stating these were only local militia. His joint commander, George Todd though, perhaps remembering the Battle of Fayette the day before said they should not. Anderson heeded Todd's advice and they road on. The note said there were 500 in their number, but Denny put the estimate at 250. Major Austin with his companies of guerrilla fighters arrived an hour after the bushwhackers left, but their horses were tired so they could not pursue. Denny could have encountered the Anderson's another time, but was away from Huntsville. Where Lt. Colonel Denny and the 42nd Enrolled Militia were during Bloody Bill Anderson's raid on Huntsville is unknown. One much later newspaper account said they had gone to Allen on a false report Bloody Bill Anderson was there. All that is known is Huntsville was not garrisoned at the time of the raid, and it is possible the militia was ordered elsewhere.

      The rest of the war saw Lt. Colonel Denny only seeing actions with small bands of guerrillas, and continuing to do his administrative duties. Lt. Colonel Denny left active duty on March 14, 1865, and returned to his law practice. Sometime between 1875 and 1880 he left Huntsville and moved to Kansas City. His second wife Sophia died December 16, 1875 and is buried in the Huntsville City Cemetery. He is shown as practicing law in Kansas City in 1880. He died sometime in 1886 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City next to his son Younger Rice Denny. For all his activity in Randolph County for most of his life there is relatively little written on Lt. Colonel Denny. Most of what exists are advertisements for his law firm in the local papers, and then his official record in the military. You would think there would be more. He was born in what would shortly become Randolph County into a family that had came here early. His father is listed in the histories as one of the earliest settlers in the county. He was an attorney for twelve years before the war in Huntsville in partnership with a man who become a State Senator. And he achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel and oversaw Huntsville's defenses for much of the war. However, this was a time of divided loyalties. Many Southern Sympathizers had Oaths of Allegiance extracted from them, even as their sons served for the South. Still others were conscripted into service against their will, and there are records to show Lt. Colonel Denny's 46th Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia was the destination of many of these drafted men in the county. It was also under his command of the defenses at Huntsville, Confederate Captain Samuel Delaney Washburn was executed at Huntsville. It could be resentments carried over from the war saw to it his name was not mentioned in the 1884 histories of the county. Later histories probably neglected to mention him because his story has been lost to time. It is a shame as no doubt he protected Huntsville from more raids by guerrillas intent on pillaging the town and deserved to be remembered.
      Historic Huntsville, Randolph County, Missouri by Berry Lee Towles Canote
    Person ID I5678  Root Tree
    Last Modified 26 Jan 2017 

    Father Judge David Rice Denny,   b. 19 Jan 1792, Madison County, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Feb 1871, Randolph County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Mother Rebecca Rowland,   b. Howard County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married Dec 1824  Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F1996  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Martha McDowell Pitts,   b. 11 Dec 1837,   d. 15 Mar 1857, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 19 years) 
    Married 5 Dec 1855 
    Last Modified 26 Jan 2017 
    Family ID F2009  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Sophia Elizabeth Pitts,   b. 6 Jul 1835,   d. 16 Dec 1875  (Age 40 years) 
    Married 20 Jul 1858 
     1. Eleanor M Denny,   b. 17 May 1859,   d. 5 Dec 1953  (Age 94 years)
     2. Younger Rice Denny,   b. 8 Nov 1861, Randolph County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Jan 1935, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years)
     3. Rebecca Anna Denny,   b. 1864,   d. 1867  (Age 3 years)
     4. George W Denny,   b. 19 Sep 1867,   d. 29 Aug 1871  (Age 3 years)
     5. Mary Denny,   b. 5 Feb 1869,   d. 3 Oct 1942  (Age 73 years)
     6. Frances L Denny,   b. 13 Sep 1872,   d. 20 Aug 1964  (Age 91 years)
     7. Sophia Emily Denny,   b. 1875,   d. 1875  (Age 0 years)
    Last Modified 26 Jan 2017 
    Family ID F2010  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Headstones
    Alexander Finley Denny & Younger Rice Denny
    Alexander Finley Denny & Younger Rice Denny
    1861 - 1935
    Martha McDowell Pitts
    Martha McDowell Pitts
    Wife of
    A.F. DENNY.
    and daughter of
    J.A. & S.R. PITTS.
    Mar. 15, 1837
    Aged 19 y'rs 3M's
    4 d's.