Thursday, June 23, 2011

EmigranThursday - Alexander Denham

Alexander Denham Family, Wellsville, 1880 Census
Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday featuring Alexander Denham of Wellsville, Columbiana County, Ohio. His biography appeared on page 336 of Brant and Fuller’s History of the Upper Ohio Valley with Historical Account of Columbiana County, Ohio published in 1891. Additional sources from and

  • Alexander Denham, retired merchant and manufacturer of Wellsville, Oh, was born in Douglass (sic), Lanarkshire, Scotland 24 May 1811; the son of John Denham and Grace Kennedy. He came to America in 1836, went to Pittsburgh and stayed there nine years employed in public works. In the spring of 1845, he came to Wellsville and embarked in the general mercantile business which he ran successfully for 27 years. In 1874, he purchased an interest in the machine shop of Stevenson & Co, with which he was identified until September 1887, when he retired from active life. He married 9 December 1845 Mary Logan, daughter of John Logan and Jane McCully of Alleghany, PA. Alexander and Mary had three children: Jane, John and Mary. “Mr. Denham is one of Wellsville’s most worthy citizens and a man widely and favorably known in this part of Ohio.” He was prominent in local affairs, and filled various official positions in Wellsville. He was a republican and active member of the United Presbyterian Church and was the last charter member of this church when it formed in 1848.

I could not easily find anything about this family in Lanarkshire (via FamilySearch). In fact my search did not return any Denhams in the entire county, which seems incredibly unlikely. I had better luck finding Alexander Denham in the US Records. In the 1850 census, taken on 24 July 1850, Alexander, a merchant born in Scotland, his wife Mary, born in Ireland, and their 11 month old daughter Jane were living in Wellsville. In 1860, Alexander, a grocer, Mary and their three children, Jane, John and Mary were enumerated in Wellsville. Also in their household was Margery McBean as domestic. Margery was probably from one of the several McBean families living in Scotch Settlement, about 7 miles from Wellsville. All three children were still in the household in the in 1870 and 1880 census along with their parents. Alexander is a dry goods merchant in 1870 and ‘gentleman’ in 1880. In the 1870 census John Denham was an apprentice to a carpenter, but by 1880 was working in a foundry (I think as a clerk, the entry is hard to read), presumably the Fulton Foundry which his father had joined in 1870.

Ancestry also has digitized two of the Columbiana County Histories and editions of the Saturday Review from East Liverpool. The 1879 History (Horace Mack, ed) states that Alexander served as a city councilman for Wellsville in 1869 and 1870 (p280). This history also includes a brief notices about several county residents and on page 332 lists: Denham, Alexander, s/o John and Grace Canady Denham, b. Douglass (sic), Scotland 1811, s. Wellsville 1845, Retired. PO Add. Wellsville

The 1926 county history (Harold Barth, ed.) states that Alexander Denham joined Samuel and Thomas B. Stevenson in 1870 (p144). The Stevensons had purchased the Fulton Foundry, which built boats and steamboat machinery for the river trade. The Stevenson Company was eventually controlled solely by Samuel. The Saturday Review (East Liverpool, OH), 20 August 1887, included a notice that Samuel Stevenson had purchased Alexander Denham’s interested in the Fulton Foundry and Machine Works, the oldest industrial establishment in Wellsville.

I’m not certain if Alexander Denham qualifies as a “Scot on the make,” but he certainly did well for himself in America.

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