Joseph Dennen, the oldest and one of the most honored residents of Shirley, was born in Poland, Androscoggin County, Maine, March 17, 1813. He is a son of and Rebecca (Chickering) Dennen.
Simeon Dennen, who was born in Cumberland (now Androscoggin) County, was a farmer. After spending many years of his life in Poland, he settled in Shirley in 1828, being the fourth settler in the town district. In coming to the town he followed a trail marked by spotted trees, there being no roads within a circuit of ten miles. He located on land now occupied by his son Joseph, and built a log cabin to shelter his family, who came with him. His first clearings were made where Mr. Dennen’s buildings now stand. A hardworking pioneer, he had little time for rest or recreation. In politics he was a Democrat, in religious belief a Methodist. He died on the home farm in December, 1848. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. His wife, a native of Andover, Massachusetts, died in 1860. They had a family of twelve children; namely, Simeon, Peter, Frederick, John, Levi, Lyford, Eleanor, Rebecca (who died in childhood), Lydia, Joseph, Louisa, and Lois F. Besides Joseph, Otis H., residing in Washington State, is the only other survivor.
Joseph Dennen was fifteen years of age when his parents moved to Shirley. He acquired his education in the schools of Poland, there being no schools in Shirley at that time. From an early age he assisted his father in clearing the land, which, comprising two hundred acres, supplied the family with plenty of work. When his parents grew old and feeble, he was their stay and support. He was absent from this farm but one year before he finally parted with it, and he practically paid for the place. Succeeding his father, he continued to make improvements, and the present buildings were erected by him. He carried grist and potatoes to Monson in the early days, and he helped to spot the trees along the path from his house to Greenville. An active, industrious, and honest man, he enjoys the respect of his townsmen, for whom he has performed much important business. He has settled a number of estates and acted as attorney in different cases, always proving worthy of his trust. In business matters he was very successful.
On July 1, 1863, he was married to Elizabeth A., daughter of Jonathan and Sarah (Lowell) Brown. She was born in Farmington, Franklin County, Maine, November 15, 1830. Jonathan Brown, born in Farmington, May to, 1806, who had followed farming in Abbot, Maine, for years, went to California in search of gold, and died there on March 10, 1877. His wife, who was born in Farmington, January to, 1805, died in Shirley, June 3, 1889. Mr. Dennen has no children of his own. He has been a member of the Democratic party for a great many years; has served for several terms as Selectman; was Town Treasurer for over twenty-two years in succession; and has been Collector, Constable, Town Agent, and a member of the Board of Health. He was recently urged to accept town office again, but thought that he had done his part. Mrs. Dennen is a most estimable lady. No couple in Piscataquis County is more highly honored than Mr. and Mrs. Dennen. The landlord of the famous Kineo Hotel is Mr. Dennen’s nephew, and his wife is a sister of Mrs. Dennen. On December 17, 1897, Mr. Dennen disposed of the old farm on which he had resided for seventy years. Both he and his wife have since retired from active life, and are spending their time at the noted Mount Kineo.
Source: Biographical review: containing life sketches of leading citizens of Somerset, Piscataquis, Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties, Maine. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1898.