J.W. Dennis 1866 - 1947
J.W. Dennis was born in the Morgan community in Laclede County Missiouri October 8, 1866, and is the oldest child of Jasper and Caroline (Roper) Dennis. On October 17, 1886 he was married to Miss Susan Elizabeth Lowrance, he called her "Lizzie" daughter of Dr. Sam Stias Lowrance, a chistian physician of Lebanon, Missiouri. Four sons and four daughters were born to this union. They are in order of their births; Alpha Isom, Elsie Ester, Ida Ursla, Ethel Mae, Elmer Alva, John Elbert, and Edison O. J.W., as he was known to the communties where he lived, attended the schols availabe to him in rural Missouri at the time and early in his life he became interested in music. His father, Jasper Dennis, who was a music lover and it is said that Jasper led the singing in Church sometimes. This love of music and influence of Jasper, no doubt, caused J. W. Dennis to educate and school himself in the musical arts. He took his first lessons at the singing school taught at White Oak Pond Missiouri by J. E. Frazier in July, 1884 and he taught his first singing school in Competition Missiouri in 1887.
J.W. Dennis then began his work as a composer. His first song that made complete sense was written in 1901 it was "Saved to Serve" A. J. Showalter, the nationaly known musician, once said of J.W. Dennis, " He is the leading teacher in the Great Southwest. He has no superiors, and few equals." In 1917 he wrote the first song EVER written in compound sextuple measure 18/8. The song was "Beautiful Homeland." Ten years later he wrote a second song in the same measure, "Over in the Glory Land." His many songs and publications have taken him to renowed fame.
Sometime around 1891-1895 J.W. moved his family to Dectur, Wise County, Texas near Alvord, Texas. He continued to teach singing schools and write music. While in Wise County, Texas he saw fit to continue his study of music by special work in Fort Worth, Texas under such men as Dr. Plamer and A. J. Showalter. Also he became involved in the publication of song books and this continued for many years. He also worked with others including G.H. Showalter and R.H. Cornelius. They published at least one new book each year, and sometimes two. He edited and help publish two song books called "Home Gospel Songs. No. I and No. II. with proceeds going to support Tipon's Orphan Home at Tipton, Oklahoma. Virgil O. Stemps said that the song "I'll Be A Friend to Jesus" written by J.W. Dennis made him famous. When L.H. Matthews, Of Erick, Becham, Oklahoma wrote a poem about the death of Will Rogers and Wiley Post, J.W. Dennis "set it to music," J.W. Dennis also wrote the song "Hurrah for Oklahoma."
In 1905 J.W. Dennis decided to move his family to the Delhi Community, Indian Territory, just south of Sayre Oklahoma. There he purchased a farm of eighty acres and later another eighty acers and began farming again. The move to Oklahoma was made because he was having some health problems in Texas and the change in climate would help. He built a two story house with a large front room. This was for the purpose of family reunions. He wanted a big place for his children and grandchildren to come to and visit. He also took in roomers and boarders occasionally and still taught music classes in the home, all theses things helped pay the bills.
Later in his life J.W. took up Auctioneering and would always be honered to accept invitations to sing or lead in church events.
As old age came on, J.W. Dennis became diabetic and after an extended illness was called home by his Master in 1947. Curtis Camp conducted the service. In 1954 the companion of his youth followed "in the way of all the earth." They sleep in Erick Cemetery, awaiting the coming of the Lord in whom they believed, lived and died.
Taken from two different bio's: written by an unknown church brother and the second written by his grandson, Ira S. Bruce
Susan Elizabeth Lowrance Dennis
1864–1952 (m. 1886)
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