|« Chapter 15: Alice Denty Dean||HOME||Table of Contents||SEARCH||Chapter 17: William Denty »|
The youngest child of John and Susannah Denty, Susan Kent never married, instead remaining with her parents and nursing them through an evidently frail old age. On 14 Aug 1845 "Susan Denty" purchased 2.18 acres near Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama from Joseph and Mary Carothers. Whether this Susan Denty was "Junior" or "Senior", i.e. this Susan or her mother, wasn't stated; but the land was described as that upon which "John Denty and his family are now residing . . . on the road leading to Triana". Father John died in 1848 and Susan and her mother were living alone when enumerated in the 1850 Census. It may have been after her mother's death in 1858 that Susan decided, whether from loneliness or economic necessity or both, to take in the young family enumerated as her boarders in the 1860 Census. Thereafter, she often had at least one, and usually two, families boarding with her as evidenced by the 1870 and 1880 Censuses. Her relationship with one such family was to become both lengthy and complicated. See photo.
We first encounter Susan in her own words at the age of fifty-one, just after a visit to the Abernathys with her brother John Ramsey Denty. Like all of Susan's letters to follow, it was written to Rebecca Denty Abernathy, Susan's niece.
I take my pen in hand to let you now that I arrived home safe the same evening we left your house. Brother John stoped in Athens until Sunday and then cum on to my house and on Munday morning left for home. I have not heard from him since. You have no daught looked for a letter from me before now but I am so out of practice I cant begin. I have bin to church today and am sumhow lazy. We have the promise of a protracted meeting to begin next Thursday. I would be glad to have you and your husband and mother with me at that time if you coul[d] make it convenient to cum. You will please write to me on the reception of this and let me know how you are in health. My helth is tolerable good at present, I only weigh one hundred and sixty nine pounds. So you sea I have not grown any smaller since at your house. You will ples write to me on the reception of this and tel your Daughter Lizzie to write to her old aunt. You will pleas excuse such a poor scrall as I am not in the habit of writting. Give my love to your husband and kiss all the children for me. I must bring my letter to a close by subscribing my selfe your affectionate aunt.
Written to her sister-in-law Elizabeth Abernathy Denty and appended to the letter above was the following:
I will try to write you a few lines to let you know that we ar all up at present. I have a cold and my cought is quite trubblesum. And my eyes hurt me very much. I hope this will find you all well. You will pleas write to me and let me know when you will com to see me. Tell the children I have sum little presants for them if they will com to se me. Give my love to Aunt Sookky and tell her I hope to see her again. Tell Cozzen James if they have not found a name for their church I will send him one. Not nowing the names of the churches in your part of the country I will send sevrel.
No more at present but remin your affectionate and loving sister.
That there was genuine affection between these three women is indicated by Rebecca Denty Abernathy naming her next child Susan Kent Abernathy. Of course, it's also possible that Susan was able to tell Rebecca of a Kent connection, that her mother had been born a Kent for instance; and Rebecca named her child accordingly. Susan did not write again for more than a year . . .
Huntsville Ala Feb the 7th 1869
My Dear Niece
I once more take my pen in hand to rite you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive. I have a verry bad cough and cold and have had all winter. I would have written sooner, but am so nervous. I want to come to see you but don't see how I am to leave home. The family that lived with me so long have left me, and the ones that as hear may not stay long so you see my chance is a bad one. I have heard from Brother John but once since we were at your house. He wrote me a few lines last summer stating that Brother William was dead that he died the 18 December before. My dear Rebecca you no doubt think that I am unconcerned about ritting I had so much to dooe and out site when there is any confusion you will please excuse me. The time is not fare distant when I hope to see you all as there is and old Lady that says she will take care of my cows while I go to see you so you may tell the children Aunt Susan will try to come to see them once more. Give my love to your Husband and Mother and kiss all of the children for me. Pleas rite on the reception of this and I will see in that time whether or not I can come.
Their is a friend of mine very sick not expected to live. She is my nearest neighbor and I shall miss her so much. I must close my pore scroll by subscribing my self your affectonate Aunt.
Rebecca apparently visited Susan in Huntsville, for nine months later Susan wrote . . .
Huntsville Nov 1st 1869
It has been so long since I heard from you that I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know how I am. I have not been well since you were here. I was sick a whole week besides Rheumatism in my neck and shoulder clear down into my hand. Mollie wrote one letter since you were here but I do not know whether you got it or not. I got a letter from you since you were here. How is all of the family and how is Sister. There has been a good many deaths about here. Who is your preacher this year we have our same preacher Brother Brown. This is his third year. Mrs. O'Reilly family is as well as usual. I want to see you all very much. The children are all going to school little Mollie is almost walking. Mollie says she wants to see the children very much. Please excuse my neglect for not writing and write to me as soon as you get this. Give my kindest love to them all and receive a portion for your self. Mrs O'Reilly and Mollie send there love to you all.
So I will close
Your loving aunt
S. K. Denty
The O'Reilly family mentioned by Susan had been boarding with her since at least 1870, when they were enumerated on the census in her household. Father James O'Reilly may have originally been a painter, but by 1870, he'd become a policeman in Huntsville. He and wife Susan J. had children Mary (or "Mollie", who married J. M. Radford), Charles, James, Margaret Ann, William, George, Robert, and Terrence.
Susan's close relationship with the O'Reilly family soon became strained. On 13 Aug 1870, her brother John Ramsey Denty wrote Rebecca Denty Abernathy that he "was truly sorry to hear that O'Riley is about cheating Sister Susan out of her property after her doing and thinking so much of them . . . you will please find more about the matter if possible and let me know how it is that he can have any claim to any particle of her property whatever". On 13 Oct 1870, a B.R. Abernathy, who lived in Huntsville but was apparently a relative of the Giles County Abernathys, wrote that: "Miss Susan Denty has been in to see me today, and requested me to write you that she had gotten your letter and the things sent with it. She also asked me to write you that she would be greatly obliged to you if you would come down and arrange her affairs for her. She is very tired of the tyranny of the man O'Reilly and is anxious to get him off her place, but is afraid to do anything herself. She was opposed to troubling any one about the matter, but I overpersuaded her. She was afraid to write, knowing O'Reilly's curiosity would make him troublesome, and so I proffered to write for her."
There is unfortunately a gap of almost eight years before the next letter from Susan, and in that time her difficulties with the O'Reillys had been, if not totally resolved, at least smoothed over. They were evidently no longer boarding with her in 1877, but had instead moved into the house next door. Aging, having no family close, perhaps Susan became increasingly dependent on them in spite of herself.
Huntsville Ala March 16 1877
My dear Niece,
I received yours and little Mollie's letters some time ago, but have neglected writing until now. But I hope you will excuse me for being so negligent as I have been very unwell and still felt very bad. And I want you all to write to me often for it me great joy to receive your dear letter, and will ever continue to do so. Tell Mollie I appreciated your letter very much, but her's a great deal more, because it was the first one that she ever wrote to me, and I want her to write again, for it was a very sweet little letter. We are having very changeable weather now. There is not a great deal of sickness in this vicinity now, excepting Measles among the children. Mrs. O'Reilly's four youngest have had them and all have recovered excepting the baby who is still very sick caused by him taking cold. Mrs. O'Reilly is very unwell herself. Dear Rebecca I am very anxious to see you all. But it is an utter impossibility for me to leave home, situated as I now am. But it would give me infinite pleasure to have you all come and visit me. And if all can not come, I think you might arrange so as for yourself and some of the children to come and stay a while with me for I am ever lonely. Tell Sister I wish I could see her once more and give my best love to her. You will find enclosed in the letters my picture, which I had taken very recently. I can not write a long letter this time, as I have nothing of interest or importance to write. Please answer immediately and let me know if you can come. Give my love to your husband and the children and receive a large portion for yourself. May this letter find you all safe and well, is the heartfelt prayer of your loving Aunt.
Susan K. Denty
"Mrs. O'Reilly and family send love to you all.
And Mollie wants you to write to her.
Huntsville Ala. April 23rd 1877
My dear Niece,
I received your kind and welcome letter which came duly to hand and found me as well as usual. I was glad to hear that you & the family are all well. But I am very sorry to hear of Mr. McKnight's illness. Dear Niece I am very proud to think that I have a niece so intelligent as Lizzie is and I know you cant help but be proud of her. I would be so glad to see her. In fact I am very anxious to see you all. And I am perfectly delighted to think you are coming to see me soon. I hope you will get to come in June and I wish you could bring all the children with you. I wish you would write to Brother John & try to hear from him & get him to come to see me when you come, for I wish I could see him. Tell Sister and Mr. Abernathy I want to see them very much. Write to me soon and let me know if possible what time you think you can come. Kiss all of the children for me. Give my love to all the family and receive a large portion for yourself. Mrs. O'Reilly's family are all better except Mr. O'Reilly he was very seriously stabbed in the arm with a knife by an intoxicated man who he was trying to arrest. They all send love to you all. Nothing more at present. Mr. O'Reilly is very much better now.
Your loving aunt,
Huntsville Ala. July 4th 1877
My dear Niece
I received your ever welcome letter which came duly to hand and it gave me great pleasure to hear from you all once more. I was sorry to hear that you were not well, but I hope this letter may find you much better. I am not very well myself. I am counting the hours and even the minutes till I shall see you and be with you awhile. I wish you could bring all of the children with you, for I want to see all of them. Please write and tell me exactly what time you will come. And whether you have heard from Brother John yet. When you write to Mary again give her my love and tell her to write to me. The weather is very warm now, and I think we shall have rain before long. I want Lizzie to come to see me before she leaves home again. Remember me to all of the family. Kiss the children for me, and tell Sister how well I would like to see her. I will close as I have nothing to write. Mrs. O'Reilly and her family send love to you all. I wish you could have your Pictures taken and give me one, for I have always wanted one. Come as soon as you can for I want you to make me as long a visit as you possible can.
With love your Aunt
S. K. Denty
Rebecca Denty Abernathy did visit, as evidenced by Susan's next letter.
Huntsville, Aug. 13, 1877
My dear Niece,
I received your ever welcome letter informing me of your safe arrival home, and I now seat myself to answer it. I am as well as usual except a fall which I got last night. I started down the steps and I fell and hurt my knee very badly. The young lady who was with me when you were here left the next Tuesday after you left. But I have a colored girl who is more assistance to me than she was. I am more anxious than ever to see you all. A lady friend of mine Miss Ann Huddleston who lives in the country was here to see me last week. And she has promised to come back about October and stay here while I go to see you all. I know I heard nothing from Brother John or Mary yet. If you have heard from them, let me know. Mrs. O'Reilly is much better. The children are all well. They all send love to you. Nothing more at present. Give my love to Sister & all of the family & receive a large portion for yourself. Kiss all the children for me. Please write as soon as you can for I am always glad to get a letter from you.
Your loving Aunt
Oct. 17th, 77
My dear Niece,
I received your ever welcome letter and Mollie's nice present. The apples are perfectly delicious. Give Mollie my warmest thanks for them and tell her I wish she could have come along with them herself so that I might have seen her. I am quite unwell at present but I hope when this letter reaches you it may find you all enjoying perfect health. The fair was only tolerably good this year. I wish you all could have been there. My dear Niece in regard to going to see you, I have lost all hope of getting to go this fall. Miss Ann Huddleston, the lady whom I was depending on, is in very bad health, and I fear she will not be able to come in any more this winter. So that I see no chance for me to leave home, but no one knows how anxious I am to be with you all. And I want if it is possible for some of you to come to see me soon. Mrs. O'Reilly and family are just tolerably well. Tell Sister I wish she would try to come to see me. Give my love to all of the family and receive a large portion for yourself.
Write soon to your loving aunt.
Susan K. Denty
Huntsville Ala. Feb. 4, 1878
My dear Niece,
I have just received your welcome and anxiously expected letter, and was very happy to hear from you again, and also to hear that you were all well. I am as well as usual. I haven't had very much to do this winter. I have been milking only two cows, but have four to attend to now. I have not seen Miss Bettie since a short time after you left, but probably will see her very soon and I will deliver your message. I haven't any one living with me now. Annie and Mollie stay with me of a night. Mr. Doyle has not been very well. Mrs. Doyle is well. They both send you their love. "Joseph P. Doyle" is his name. Mollie did not go away to teach school. Mrs. O'Reilly is a great deal better than she was when you were here, but is not entirely well yet. Terry is as fat as a little pig, he has improved immensely since you saw him. He has a bad cold now. The rest of the family are well. Annie says she guesses Desie slept with Mama that night. I am glad Lizzie is doing so well. I wish that she may always succeed so well. Dear Niece you do not know how bad I want to see you all, and I wish I could make arrangements to see you. But if I find that I cannot, you must be sure to come to see me and bring as many of the children as you can with you. Tell Sister I am anxious to see her once more. You must excuse the brevity of my letter as I have not much to write this time. Mrs. O'Reilly and family send their love. Kiss all of the children for me, give my love to Sister, your husband and receive a large share for yourself. Tell Mollie I was much pleased with her sweet little letter, and I hope she will write to me often and I want her to come with you if possible when you come to see me.
Write to me soon.
Your loving Aunt
Susan K. Denty
Huntsville Ala. March 25, 1878
My dear Niece,
I received your ever welcome letter which came duly to hand. I was sorry to hear of you all being sick, but I hope when this letter reaches you, it may find you all restored to perfect health again. I am not very well my self, but able to go about and do my work. I have only ten head of hogs now, but I think I will have some little pigs soon. My cows are doing very well, I have four cows with young calves. One more cow will give milk very soon I think. In regard to the pigs you spoke of sending me, I shall be delighted to have a pair. Mr. Doyle tells me it would be safest to have them sent by Express. It will cost some more than by freight, but I would rather pay more and be sure of getting them. Mr. Doyle says if they are full blooded Bershires, he would like to buy a female, and Mr. O'Reilly a pair if you wish to sell any. Let me know in your next letter what you ask for them. Miss Ann Huddleston is in town now. She has been here a week, and intends to stay two months, if her brother in law's health does not get any worse. I cannot say for certain that I can go to see you yet on that account, but if I find out that she can stay that long I will write and tell you when I will go. I would be so happy to be with you all. We are having lovely weather now. Every thing looks like spring sure enough. Mrs. Doyle & family send their love to you. Mrs. O'Reilly is better but little Terry is not well.
Mr. O'Reilly has been very sick. He had a severe attack of pneumonia, but is better now. They all send their love to you. Mollie says she would like so much for me to go to see you all, so that she could go too. Tell your Mollie that I have one of her apples left and I am going to eat it now. Please let me hear from you as soon as you get this. Give my love to all of the family and receive a large share for yourself. Annie returns many thanks for the little sister of Charity. And she guesses it was Susie that slept with you.
Your loving Aunt
Huntsville Aug 11 [1878?]
My dear Niece,
I have received both of your letters, and I received one from Alice Dean the same day that I received your last one. So I suppose she did not wait for an answer from you before she wrote to me. I was very glad to hear from her. She writes as if Brother John might come to see me soon. Oh how I wish he would meet you here. I am anxiously waiting to have you with me again. What I would give to see you all. I wish I could see some chance of going to see you all. But I want you to come to see me for fear we may not see each other at all. I would give any thing if only I could go and see all of my relatives once more. I want you to write very soon, and let me know when you will come if you can. We had a pleasant shower this evening. We were needing rain very much. It has been very dry for some time. Your letter found me as well as usual, and I hope this will find you all in perfect health. Mollie has been quite sick but is better now. All join me in sending love to you all. Write soon.
Your loving aunt
S. K. Denty
In regard to the pigs, I have 18 head, and food is so scarce that I fear I would not be able to take care of them until I dispose of some of these that I have. But I am more than grateful to you for your kind offer & will let you know when I can take them.
Huntsville July 3rd 1879
My dear Niece,
I have waited for months hoping to receive an answer to my last letter, but have been disappointed. So I will write again to try to find out what is the matter that you have not written. Certainly some thing has occurred to prevent your writing as you were always punctual before. I have been very anxious about you all. I received a letter from Alice Dean two weeks ago. She wrote me that they had bought a home, and she had been very busy. They were all well. We are having very hot weather now and in need of rain very much. My health is just tolerably good. I hope this will find you and family in perfect health. Do not fail to write me a long letter soon and tell me all the news, as I shall not be contented until I hear from you. There is to be a grand Picnic at the fair grounds tomorrow given by the military company here, the Madison Rifles. I wish you were here, as I know you would have a nice time. Excuse this short letter. I will write more when I hear from you. Dear Niece can't you make it convenient to come to see me soon. I would be so glad if you would, as there is no chance for me to go to see you now. Give my love to all the family, kiss the children for me. How is Sister's health. Don't fail to write as soon as you get this.
Your loving Aunt,
Although Susan had written that her health was "tolerably good", it did not remain so. Shortly thereafter, niece Rebecca Denty Abernathy visited from Giles County, Tennessee, perhaps specifically to nurse an ailing Susan. On 7 Aug 1879 she wrote her daughter Lizzie: "If you all keep well, I have promised to wait on her until next week. It may be she will not be able to start before the last of the week. I thought she was not so well yesterday, but I think she is better today. She can sit up some longer, and her leg does not pain her quite as much. I expect the Dr will come today, and I will ask him what he thinks about her going. Everybody I have seen seems to be so glad she has got some one who is related to her and wants her to go with me. The people are so kind to her, send her so many nice things to eat. I told her I was afraid we could not make up for all her friends here." Susan did then travel to Giles County with Rebecca, staying there until autumn. During that visit Rebecca received the letter below from Catherine D. Hancock, who she’d met while in Huntsville. According to Rebecca, Catherine and her husband Benjamin had "moved here after she [Susan] had taken sick", was "just as kind to Aunt as any one could be", and had "promised to take care of her house and furniture".
Huntsville Ala Oct the 8 1879
I received your ever welcome letter at dark that was written the 12 of Sept. I had been looking for a letter from you for some time. All of Miss Susan friends is complaneing very much because we could not hear from her. M. Ben went to the post office ever day and when he would come home at night he would say no letter from Miss Susan yet. Ever time any one comes in they will say when did you hear from Miss Susan and I would tell them the same old story not but the one time. Mrs. Parks had been looking for a letter for some time from you or Miss Susan one. Tell Miss Susan that Death has been abroad in our land of late and robed us of some of our citizens. Mrs. John Parks has lost her baby Mr. Joe Winston his wife Mr. Miller one of his children. Mrs. McCray her baby Mrs. Grooms and old Mrs. Ehlers both died last week and some others in town that I did not know. Mr. O'Reily is down with the Consumption and not able to be out and hasn't been for some time. Some think that he cannot live long. His wife is very uneasy about him. He spits up blood all the time and he will not send for poor Mollie to come to see him. I do feel so sorry for her and her Mother. Mrs. Leizey Ladler is very sick at this time. I believe that I have told you all the news about the people of Huntsville and all the news that I know at this time only we are having bad weather for the fair. Now I will tell you all about Miss Susan cows. Baby is doing splendid. I have as much milk and butter as I can use. I feed her well. One of the cows Mrs. Parks has gone dry but the other one is giving some milk yet. Old Gard is all right. Tell Miss Susan that I say I wish that she could sep over and take dinner with Mr. Ben and me today and see how ever thing looks. Tell her I take the best care of ever thing I can and think of her often. I wish I could see you and her this morning to tell you all more than I can write. I do all my own work wash and iron get some sewing to do, and get along very well to be as poor as we are. I will close for this time and when I see D.C. Baldridge I will write again to you all.
Write soon and often
C. D. Hancock
The Mrs. Eckles that I spoke of being is the old rich lady that lived on Clinton Street.
Benjamin and Catherine Hancock and J. M. and Mary O'Reilly Radford were enumerated with Susan as her boarders in the 1880 Census, with the senior O'Reilly's residing next door.
NEW 11 Jan 2011
May 2__, 1880
My dear Niece,
You will think strange that I have waited this long time to answer your kind letter, but I beg of you not to think it was that I have not thought of you many, many times and wished that I could see yourself, your husband and your dear little babe. You will not be angry with me, but forgive my seeming neglect and write me a long letter in reply to this telling me how you are all getting along. I went home with Rebecca about the middle of August and just got back about two weeks ago. I left them all in good health. Rebecca has a little son born the 28th of February. His name is William Delacy. My health improved very much after I went to Tennessee. But I am not so strong as I was before my illness. Dear Alice, I think of you so often and it seems that nothing would afford me more pleasure than to be with you for awhile. And if I feel that I am able to share the means, I want to go to see you sometime. Write and tell me when you heard from Brother John and his children Mary and Nathaniel. I want you to your's, your husband's and the baby boy's photos if you have them. I would like so much to have them. Can't you make it convenient for you and your husband to pay me a visit this summer? It would make me so happy to see you. Ask Mary and Nathaniel to write to me for I would be glad to hear from them. Do not fail to write immediately for I am anxious to hear from you.
Give my love to your husband and all of my relations you may see. But reserve a very large share for yourself. Kiss the little baby boy for me.
Your loving Aunt
Susan K. Denty[16a]
Susan died of pneumonia on 10 Jan 1888 in the home of Susan O'Reilly, whose husband James had died in 1886. However, the Abernathys were not notified of her death until nine months later, and then it was a Mrs. Grubbs who notified them rather than any of the O'Reillys. Rebecca wasted no time writing to relatives and friends in Huntsville inquiring into the circumstances of Susan's death. One of the letters she received in response was from Mary O'Reilly Radford . . .
Huntsville Ala Sept 26th 1888
Dear Mrs. Abernathy,
Your letter of the 19th inst. Just received, and to say that I was both astonished and distressed to hear that you had just heard the sad news of your Aunt Susan's death but faintly expresses my feelings. For my brothers say they dispatched you at once, but received no reply, and I wrote immediately to both you and Mrs. Alice Dean and addressed the letter, so that I was sure there would be no mistakes, and this is the first I have ever heard from you or Mrs. Dean. We thought very strange of it, and Mrs. Parks told me some time last spring that the Misses Grubbs told her they had seen the death of Mrs. Rebecca Abernathy in some paper, since she again told me that Miss Lucy Grubb had been to Decatur & learned there through some of her relatives that you were well only a short time ago, and consequently we did not know what to think or believe. Dear Mrs. Abernathy, when I wrote you I tried to tell you as near as possible all about Dear Tudy's death, also enclosed one of the funeral notices in the letter. You did not say whether you rec'd the letter or not, I will write you again as best I can. She was taken sick the 1st day of the New Year with a chill and a severe pain in her side. As soon as the Dr. came he said she had pneumonia. But did not seem to think her at all dangerously ill, and the night before she died, next morning at 10 o'clock, he said she was a great deal better. She was in great pain all the time with her side, but never one time spoke about dying. The Dr. would not blister her side, said he did not like to blister old persons as their flesh was so tender, but had her side constantly bathed with Turpentine, etc. and wrapped in flannel. She took the medicine until about midnight on the 9th of Jan. when she became unable to speak or swallow, and could never open her eyes from that time until she died the next morning, Jan 10th 1888. Death has taken three of our nearest and dearest loved ones within the past two years. Two years ago the 16th of last August my Father died after a long and painful illness. On the 9th of last Dec. just 1 month and 1 day before poor Tudy's death, my husband died, after many months of suffering, he was confined to his bed for eight weeks, and for many days before his death was unable to eat a morsel, or drink a drop. I was left with four little children, the oldest seven years & the youngest two years old, and little babe unborn. When we see our loved ones linger, and life grow weaker each day, it is heartbreaking, but still we must then realize that they are leaving us. But Tudy's death was so sudden and unexpected to us all, that even now, it seems almost impossible that she is dead.
Although I mourn the loss of Father and husband until it seems to me life is all sorrow and loneliness, still we ought all to feel blessed in having such a good brother as we have. After my Father's death my Brother James was elected to fill my father's position as a city officer, he is still filling that position, and has faithfully filled both the place of father and brother to the family. And dear old Tudy was so proud of him, she always talked about him as her boy and if he had been her boy, he could not have been more tender and attentive to her than he was, especially during her last illness and death. Tudy had all the care and attention that Dr. and friends could give her. My mother's family nursed her night and day. My brother had her buried in the finest casket he could get in Huntsville, her funeral preached from the Methodist church, and she was buried beside her Father and Mother. If she had lived six days longer she would have been 72 years old, but at the time she was taken sick, she looked as well as she did when I first remember, and I can remember her as soon as I can my own mother. My little babe is a boy six months old, and I cannot help grieving when I think there is no Papa and no dear old Tudy here to love and caress him. My oldest boy and girl are going to school. The oldest and youngest children are boys, Bernard Richardson and John Madison. The three little girls are Pauline, Gertrude and Mary. My mother is in poor health, she sends her best regards to you. I hope you and family are all in good health. And also hoping this may reach you without delay.
I remain yours sincerely,
Mary S. Radford
The O'Reillys did apparently communicate the death to Alice Denty Dean, but Mary's claim of messages sent earlier to Rebecca Denty Abernathy is doubtful at best. As Susan died intestate, a prolonged battle commenced over her worldly goods. Having been granted administration of the estate, James B. O'Reilly entered large claims against it on behalf of the O'Reillys, consistently underestimated its value to Susan's surviving relatives, and seemed to make every effort to keep those relatives uninformed. After a lengthy probate, during which Susan J. O'Reilly (Mary's mother) was allowed to purchase Susan's house for a fraction of it's value and the Dentys twice took their appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court, the estate was finally distributed to the latter on 1 Aug 1893. But that is the story of the heirs, not Susan.
One other postscript to Susan's life had a happier ending. The Abernathys requested, and apparently were given, an "old trunk" containing personal items belonging to the deceased. Whatever else the trunk might have held, it almost undoubtedly contained the letters written by Jonathan Denty and Thomas Jefferson Denty.
According to Mary Reilly Radford, "If she had lived 6 days longer she would have been 72 years old", i.e. 16 Jan 1816; but she was described in probate proceedings as "age 74" which would put birth year at 1814. [Mary O'Reilly Radford, 26 Sep 1888: Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith, The Descendants of Thomas Jefferson Denty and Elizabeth Abernathy Denty; Madison Probate Record, Vol. 38, p. 74]
14 Aug 1845: "Susan Denty" purchased 2.18 acres near Huntsville "on which John Denty and his family are now residing . . . on the road leading to Triana" near Huntsville from Joseph and Mary Ann Carothers for $320. (While this may have been Susan Senior, it was most probably daughter Susan.) [Book W, p. 378: Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith]
31 Oct 1850 CENSUS, Madison Co, AL (District 36): Residing with mother Susan; no occupation given for either woman. [Pg 419]
11 Jun 1860 CENSUS, Madison Co, AL (P.O. Madison Station): "Susan K. Denty" age 44, born AL, no occupation with real and personal property worth $1,550 and $320 respectively; carpenter Harrison Patton, wife Jane, and their 3 children. [Pg 20]
In 1860 "Susan R. Denty" supposedly obtained a land grant in Madison County. [1860 Federal Land Grant Index, Madison Co, AL)
Seems to have usually had boarders after the death of her mother, but she also always had at least two cows; and in 1878 had 10 hogs in the spring and 18 in the summer.
22 Aug 1870 CENSUS, Madison Co, AL (Ward 4): "Susan Dente" age 58 with real property valued at $1,000; Susan Roach and children; James and Susan "Reilly" and children. [Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith]
B.R. Abernathy, 13 Oct 1870: "She is very tired of the tyranny of the man O'Reilly and is anxious to get him off her place, but is afraid to do anything herself. She was opposed to troubling anyone about the matter, but I overpersuaded her. She was afraid to write, knowing O'Reilly's curiosity would make him troublesome, and so I proffered to write for her." [Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith]
2 Jun 1880 CENSUS, Huntsville, Madison Co, AL: "Susan K. Denty" age 64, "Keeping House" on Leemon's Ferry Road; J.M. and Mary [O'Reilly] Radford; Benjamin and Catherine Hancock. (The family of James O'Reilly is enumerated next door.)
Marie Denty Nesbit, 20 Jul 1885: Aunt Susan "wrote me she hadn't heard from you since before Christmas. She is not in very good health, been having chills. Not long since she was bitten by some poisonous insect of spider which gives her great pain." [Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith]
Death Date: 10 Jan 1888. Deposition, Elizabeth Abernathy Denty, 7 Jun 1889; Mary O'Reilly Radford, 26 Sep 1888; M.C. Baldridge, 22 Sep 1888: Copies appearing in Abernathy and Smith
Cause of Death: Pneumonia. Attending Physician: T.L. Bronylette. Mary O'Reilly Radford wrote on 26 Sep 1888 that "She was taken sick the 1st day of the New Year with a chill and a severe pain in her side . . . She was in great pain all the time with her side." [Dr. M.C. Baldridge, 22 Sep 1888: Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith]
Memorial Services held in Huntsville Methodist Episcopal Church on 11 Jan 1888 with Rev. Newman presiding. Buried next to parents in Sec 2, Lot 11, Maple Hill Cemetery. [Rebecca Denty Abernathy]
Died intestate. Adms: James B. O'Reilly; and he was also one of the three appraisers. The appraisement of her estate included, among others items, the following: one lounge, five beds (two of which were feather beds), a wardrobe, four pictures, four tables, a sewing machine, two sideboards, eleven chairs, a bureau, and two trunks with contents. [Probate Record, p. 411]
Her initial fears re the O'Reillys were seem well-founded. Their actions pertaining to her estate were, to say the least, questionable, entering their own large claims against the estate, possibly underestimating its value to Susan's surviving relatives, and attempting throughout to keep the latter as much in the dark as possible. At least, that was the impression of her heirs. [Probate Record, p. 411-412, 525-525, 542-543, 74-75, 89, 271]
However, in 1889 estate administrator James B. O'Reilly sold the Triana Road property to Susan J. O'Reilly for $500. When it was sold to her again in 1891 by the admns de benis non John Sheffey the price was only $405, "an amount not greatly less than its real value". [Index/Orig: Book RRR, p. 626; Book VVV, p. 189]
After a complicated and lengthy probate, which saw two appeals by Susan's heirs reach the Alabama Supreme Court, the estate was distributed among her heirs on 1 Aug 1893; but it was undoubtedly only a fraction of its original worth. (Her heirs were: Rebecca Denty Abernathy $75.18; Alice Denty Dean $25.06; Carrie Cooper Lewis $25.06; William, Ollie, and Laura C. Cooper $8.35 each; N.W. Denty $37.59; and William T. Nesbit $37.59.)
Susan Denty is the best possible candidate to be the Denty family member who saved the letters of Thomas Jefferson Denty, along with the letter from Jonathan to John Denty. After her death, the Abernathys requested, and apparently rec'd, an "old trunk" containing personal items that had belonged to Susan.
 Deed Book W, p. 378: Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith.
 Susan may have owned more acreage than just the two and one-half acres on Triana Road. She apparently obtained a land patent in Madison County in 1860.
 James Abernathy, Rebecca's husband.
 William Harrison Denty.
 Presumably Mary J. O'Reilly, daughter of Susan’s boarders.
 Susan is obviously referring to two different Mollies here since the O'Reilly's daughter Mollie was age ten that year.
 Mary Hardaway Abernathy, Rebecca's daughter.
 Elizabeth Denty Abernathy, Rebecca's daughter.
 This was almost certainly a reference to Marie Denty Nesbit.
 The O'Reilly's daughters.
 Terrence, the O'Reilly's youngest child.
 Adelia Boisseau Abernathy, Rebecca's daughter.
 This was apparently a game played between Susan Kent Denty, the Abernathys and the O'Reillys.
 The O'Reillys were Catholic and apparently the Abernathy's had sent Margaret Ann O'Reilly a doll.
 Susan's namesake, Rebecca's daughter Susan Kent Abernathy.
 Rebecca Denty Abernathy, 7 Aug 1879: Copy appearing in Abernathy and Smith.
[16a] Transcribed by Nancy Breidenthal from original contributed by Kevin Kennedy
 The distribution was as follows: Rebecca Denty Abernathy, $75.18; Alice Denty Dean $25.06; Carrie Cooper Lewis $25.06; William, Ollie, and Laura C. Cooper $8.35 each; Nathaniel W. Denty $37.59; William T. Nesbit, husband of Marie Denty Nesbit, $37.59. Total: $225.53.
Top of Page