Samuel Alexander Denny / Jennings Family Collection

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Van Zandt family portrait undated

Pictured: Seated left to right: K.M. Van Zandt Jr., Florence Van Zandt, Sidney, Mary Lou (Mamie), Margaret. Standing left to right: Alice, Edmund P., Virginia, Elias Beall, Ida, Richard (RL), Annie, Isaac, Frances (Fannie). 

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Summary: The Jennings family is one of the key families that helped to transition Fort Worth from a sleepy town to a bustling and culturally favored city with railroad service, parks and libraries following the decline associated with the Civil War era. The Jennings family also intermarried with other pioneer families, including the Bewley family, the Daggett family and the Van Zandt family. Material in this collection was passed down from Martha Bewley, wife of Edwin Bewley, and daughter of Hyde Jennings and Florence Van Zandt. Items associated with these families are also reflected in the collection. Items were donated by Samuel Alexander Denny Jr. (Alex), who was accompanied by his mother Gretchen Denny.

View the Samuel Alexander Denny / Jennings Family image gallery.

View related materials in the Harold B. Jennings Collection.

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  • Bible belonging to Sarah Hyde Gray Mason Jennings. Ink inscription on inside front cover: “L.S. Mason bro. of Gregg and Elliott (?) July 28, 1832” - “July 28, 1832” is also inked on the upper right corner of the title page. Published by Kimber and Sharpless (1823), Philadelphia, 1823. Within the bound Bible is a Family Record covering two pages in between the Apocrypha and the New Testament in several handwritings.
  • Inserted in the Bible were two personal items: One clipping of the Houston Telegraph newspaper dated August 3, 1864.  The second item found in the Bible at the time of accession was a letter dated September 12, 1877, Nacogdoches - refers to William F. Hyde – no signature – handwritten on both sides of single page, folded sheet appears to be a portion of a multi-page letter the remainder of which is not present. 
  • Diploma of Thomas Jefferson Jennings. Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Vellum, 15 by 19 inches.
  • Tin or alloy cylindrical carrying case. Case used to carry diploma of Thomas Jefferson Jennings described above. Each half is approximately 10 inches in length.
  • Law license of Thomas Jefferson Jennings. “U.S. District Court, District of Texas, Thomas J. Jennings Esq., License” Dated “seventy-eighth year of the United States” (1854), signed James Love, Clerk
  • Diary of Hyde Jennings – personal diary of Fort Worth attorney Hyde Jennings, son of Thomas Jefferson Jennings and Sarah Hyde Gray Mason Jennings; husband of Florence Van Zandt – donor Alex Denny’s great-great grandfather. Hardcover ledger measuring 9.5 by 14.5 inches; handwritten manuscript with handwritten index covers years 1899–1903; 372 pages. Note: “Diary of Hyde Jennings – husband of Florence Van Zandt – Alex’s (references donor Alex Denny’s) great-great grandfather.”
  • Reminiscences of My Life and Family by Laura A. Daggett, 1938; 59 numbered pages; hardbound, typed, homemade book with some hand lettering (6.5 by 8.5 inches) Note: Author Laura Daggett is the great-great grandmother of donor Alex Denny. She died in 1950 and is buried in Pioneer’s Rest Cemetery in Fort Worth. The author was assisted in writing this manuscript book by her daughter, Mary Daggett Lake (see also Tarrant County Archives Mary Daggett Lake Collection). Book covers Daggett family history from 1607 to 1935, with emphasis on Texas and Tarrant County family members, beginning with Ephraim Merrill Daggett and brother Charles Daggett.
  • Letter referencing land deeded to Sarah Hyde Jennings (scanned copy; original returned to donor). One-page letter from Lesbia Roberts (see also Tarrant County Archives Lesbia Word Roberts Collection) to Samuel A. Denny, father of donor -- dated February 13, 1993. Letter mentions author’s association with Woman’s Club, death of Edwin Bewley, author’s spouse William E. Roberts Jr. in addition to main topic regarding research author had performed in association with original Tarrant County land grant of Sarah Hyde Gray Mason Jennings.  Letter explains that her first husband, Lawrence Mason, served in the Mexican War and that is why land was granted by the State of Texas. (Note: Other sources say Lawrence Mason served in the Battle for Texas Independence against Mexico. The primary source of the family Bible quoted above indicates a date for his death consistent with the Texas Battle for Independence -- not the Mexican War.)
  • Envelope, letter-sized, upper left: “Return to Farmers and Mechanics Nat. Bank Fort Worth Tex. If not delivered within 10 days” Upper right: maroon embossed medallion “United States of America 1492-1892 Postage two cents”
  • Book: George Washington Arrington: Civil War Spy, Texas Ranger Sheriff and Rancher, by Jerry Sinise (hardback), 1979


  • Edwin Bewley Sr. – verso “Edwin Bewley Sr., brother of artist Murray P. Bewley,” 8.5 by 13 inches, black and white
  • Edwin Bewley Sr. with Edwin Bewley Jr. as a baby held on his arm, holding a small children’s book in other hand with both subjects looking at the book – verso “Uncle Edwin and Edwin Bewley Jr.” 8 by 10 inches black and white

    Note: Both appear to be studio portraits, but no markings identifying studio are seen.


  • Matchbook with “Bewley Mills Established 1882 Fort Worth Tex.” on cover; “Food for profit the BEWLEY WAY! BEWLEY’S Anchor Feeds – A Bewley Feed for Every Need – Poultry – Livestock – Rabbits – Dogs – Royal Flash Billboard Match” on interior; “Bewley’s Best Blue Ribbons Cream Meal is better too! – Universal Match Corp. Dallas” on verso; printed in red and blue ink on white card stock.

Map Plan Document

  • Evidence 15-A Plaintiff, Bewley, vs. City of Fort Worth, black ink on mylar 34 by 30.75 inches, rolled, copy of 1873 document. Samuel Alexander Denny Jr. (Alex) donated map plan document used in 1980 lawsuit.  Transcription made from original by Archives volunteer Cecelia Gilbreath: Follow link to view PDF transcription of Jennings Donation to the City of Hyde Park April 1873.

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Accessibility Notice: Due to the age and complexity of the original material, some items may be composed of scanned PDF images. If you need assistance accessing the content in one of the PDF documents on the Archives pages, please contact the Archives at 817-884-3272 or

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This page was last modified on May 15, 2023


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