John B. Denton
John B. Denton (July 28, 1806 – May 22, 1841, also shown in secondary references as John Bunard Denton and John Bunyan Denton) was a Methodist minister, lawyer, soldier, and political candidate for whom both Denton County, Texas and the city of Denton, Texas were named. He converted to Methodism soon after meeting his future wife, Mary Greenlee Stewart, who also taught him how to read and write. He later became a captain and was known for his battles against Native Americans. He died in 1841 after the Battle of Village Creek, an attack on a Keechi village in adjacent Tarrant County.
John Denton was born in Tennessee, in 1806. When he was 8, he and his brother were apprenticed to a blacksmith and Methodist Minister, Jacob Wells, and they moved to Clark County, Arkansas. By age 12, he worked as a deckhand on a river flatboat. In 1824, he returned to Clark County and married Mary Greenlee Stewart, who was 16 at the time. Stewart is credited for teaching John Denton how to read and write. In 1826, Denton worked as a local preacher in Clark County, and in 1833, joined the Missouri Conference of the Methodist Church, and became a circuit preacher in Arkansas and Southern Missouri for a year, before returning to Clark County and being a local preacher once more. In 1837, John Denton resumed life as a circuit preacher, this time in the Sulphur Fork Circuit, which included Red River and Lamar Counties in Texas. In the fall of 1837, he crossed the Red River into Texas along with fellow minister Littleton Fowler. His family remained in Hempstead County, Arkansas, but in 1838, the Dentons moved to Clarksville, Texas. Denton gained a reputation for being a skillful orator, although the job was hard as it paid very low and Denton was worked very long hours.
In 1838, Denton started to study law. He formed a partnership with John B. Craig, a part-time Methodist preacher, who stayed behind while Denton went and attended court cases. Denton and Craig "speculated in thousands of acres of land in the newly opened northeast territory." His skills as a preacher also helped him to present many cases. His traveling also permits him to preach, and he gave one of the first sermons ever in Fannin and Grayson Counties, in Old Warren on the county line. He was an active member of the Masonic Lodge at De Kalb and helped establish Constatine Lodge 13 at Fort Warren.
Military Career and Death
In 1839, Denton was called to be in a volunteer militia, and promptly replied to join. In 1841, the Fourth Brigade of the Texas Militia, led by Brig. Gen. Edward H. Tarrant was called upon to find an attack party of Native Americans that had previously killed the Ripley family that lived south of Clarksville. The group located and took the first two villages they found, which belonged to the Keechi Indians, but they found a third one and when they tried to take it, they were met with gunfire. Denton and Henry Stout, an aide of Tarrant, were going on two separate paths, each with a group of scouts when the paths converged. Stout stayed back, but Denton went forward and both were shot. Stout survived, but that shot that Denton had taken would kill him, and the brigade retreated and buried Denton in what would later be territory of Denton County.
Denton is now buried in his namesake county and city, on the southeast corner of the lawn of the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square.
- "John B. Denton the County's founding father - Denton County, Texas". dentoncounty.gov. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
- John B. Denton biography
- John B. Denton genealogy
- Captain John B. Denton, preacher, lawyer and soldier. His life and times in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas by Wm. Allen. Hosted by the Portal to Texas History
- The Official Account of the Death of John B. Denton
- John B. Denton on DentonWiki
- "Denton, John Bunyan," The Handbook of Texas, online edition.