Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

JOHN McPHERSON DENNIS, 1866-1936

State Treasurer, 1916-1918 and 1920-1935
Portrait by DeNyse Perrine (1927)
MSA SC 1545-1164

John McPherson Dennis was born on February 23, 1866, in Frederick, Frederick County, the son of George Robertson (1827-1902) and Fanny (McPherson) Dennis (1837-?). His family had been prominent in Maryland for many years. His father was a farmer, president of the Central National Bank of Frederick, and a director of the B & O Railroad. On his father's side John McPherson Dennis was a direct descendant of Dannock Dennis, who emigrated to Maryland from Virginia in 1664, and of Littleton Dennis, a judge of the Court of Appeals from 1801 to 1806. On his mother's side he was a descendant of Governor Thomas Johnson.

Dennis was educated in the public school of Frederick County and attended Milton Academy in Baltimore County. At the age of 16 he took a position with the Cincinnati, Washington and Baltimore Railroad Company in its Cincinnati freight office. He later held a position with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company's freight department. In June 1890 he returned to Maryland to become a partner in the Baltimore grain exporting firm of Tate, Muller and Company which later became the firm of Louis Muller and Company. Dennis served as its president from 1891 until 1914. In 1914 he retired from the grain business to become president of the Union Trust Company, a position he held until 1933.

Dennis's political, business and social interests were varied. He was vice president of the Belvedere Hotel Company and helped to organize the Claiborne-Annapolis Ferry Company, a ferry being named in his honor. He sat as a director of various companies, including the Davis Coal and Coke Company, U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty Company, the Western Maryland Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Eastern Rolling Mills, and the Metropolitan Savings Bank of Baltimore. He belonged to numerous civic organizations and social clubs.

A democrat, Dennis served as Treasurer of the State of Maryland from 1916-1918 and from 1920-1935. He was also treasurer and member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland and treasurer and chairman of the Teachers Retirement System of the State of Maryland.

In June 1899 John McPherson Dennis married Mary Carr Chiles of Independence, Missouri. They had two children, John M. Dennis, Jr. and Mary Frances Dennis, who married Theodore Gould.

Dennis lived on a farm near Riderwood, Baltimore County, which he named "Essex" in honor of his ancestral birthplace in Somerset County.

He died at "Essex" on October 17, 1936, and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Frederick.


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