Although men–Prince Perkins, William Perkins, Henry Dennis and his sons, Perkins William Dennis, N.B. Dennis and S.B. Dennis–originally purchased, founded, developed, expanded and led The Dennis Farm into the 20th century, there is a Women’s History chapter in the history of the Farm. In the mid-19th, The Dennis Farm had a woman steward and in the 20th and 21st centuries it has had three. For Women’s History Month, DFCLT salutes the four Dennis women who have been stewards of the Farm, right up to the present day.
Angeline Perkins Dennis (1832-1873) inherited the upper tier of the Farm, the Perkins Farm, when her father, William Perkins, passed away in 1858. Even after her husband Henry Dennis purchased 100 adjacent acres and the combined property became known as “The Dennis Farm,” Angeline’s acres, the original Perkins acres, remained in her name. That made Angeline Perkins Dennis a 19th century, African American woman landowner.
Edith Angeline Dennis (1899-1980), Angeline Perkins Dennis’ granddaughter, was the owner and steward of the Farm from 1939 until she passed away, in 1980. Edith renovated and updated the house and grounds for use as a family summer home for the Dennis Family, and paid the taxes until the end of her life. In the years when African Americans were still not welcome in many hotels and resorts in the United States, the Dennis Farm welcomed friends from throughout the summer to visit the Farm and enjoy the family’s hospitality. Edith A. Dennis, an alumna of Bloomsburg State Normal School and the University of Pennsylvania, was a 20th century, African American woman landowner.
Hope L. Dennis (1906-2006), Edith A. Dennis’ youngest sister, inherited the Farm from Edith in 1980, paid the taxes for the rest of her life, and co-founded DFCLT with her niece, M. Denise Dennis in 2001. When she passed away, in 2006, Hope entrusted the development of DFCLT to her niece, Denise, in her will. Hope Dennis, an alumna of Bloomsburg State Normal School, Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan, was a 20th and 21st century, African American woman landowner.
Margaret Denise Dennis, known as Denise, Angeline Perkins Dennis’ great-great granddaughter, co-founded DFCLT with her aunt, Hope Dennis, revitalized the property, assembled a dynamic team that has transformed the Farm into an active historical, educational and cultural site, and continues to pay the taxes. Under her auspices, the Farm has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and welcomes educators and visitors from across the United States and abroad. Denise Dennis, an alumna of Swarthmore College, is a 21st century, African American woman CEO and one in a long line of stewards of The Dennis Farm.