About the Trust
The purpose of The Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust is to develop the Dennis Farm into an educational and cultural site for scholars, researchers, educators, cultural heritage tourists, school groups and others interested in this extraordinary history.
The hauntingly beautiful Dennis Farm was originally settled by the family of Prince Perkins, free African Americans who moved to northeastern Pennsylvania from Connecticut in 1793, with the original wave of settlement into the region following the American Revolution. Descendants of the Perkins’ granddaughter, Angeline Perkins Dennis, and her husband, Henry Dennis, have retained ownership of the 153-acre property into to the twenty-first century, although it hasn’t been a working farm since the early twentieth century. The history of the Perkins Dennis family and the Farm are fully documented. This continuous, documented ownership of property by African Americans, in a largely white county in the northeast, represents a little-known and remarkable story in American history and holds lessons for us today.
—Jacquelyn D. Serwer, Chief Curator
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture
—Brent Leggs, National Trust for Historic Preservation
The site’s historical features include:
The Perkins-Dennis Cemetery
The remains of family members born in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including veterans of the Revolutionary War, are resting in the Perkins Dennis Cemetery. One Civil War veteran who was a friend of the family and men and women who died on the Underground Railroad are among the fifty souls interred in the cemetery.
The Prince Perkins Archeological Site
The Perkins’ early homestead including the foundation of the house, spring, garden markings, and well are located at the hilltop.
An elaborate series of stone walls, built during the nineteenth century, define the perimeter and individual sections of the property. The walls help track changes in the farm throughout the century.
Built in the first quarter of the nineteenth century and restored in 1939, the farm house is an example of a classic timber frame saltbox, reflecting the family’s New England background.
Barn Complex Ruins
The stone walls of the original barn complex foundation, also, trace the growth of the farm from the early 19th to the early 20th century.
Because it was never modernized, the Dennis Farm has the footprint of a New England farm circa 1800.
According to a study prepared by a team of archeological and historical researchers, “The Dennis Farm represents an exciting opportunity to blend archeological and environmental history at one location… There are presently no other locations in the northeast that combine these ingredients and that are trying to actively interpret them, preserve them, and present them to the public. The property’s African American ownership for over two centuries is unique in northeastern Pennsylvania and is an important story that needs telling…Pennsylvania scholars have also identified the Dennis Farm as a location associated with Underground Railroad History.”
–Robert P. Casey, Jr., United States Senator[/span]