Tour Guide Bob Mischak tells the history of Nathan Denison and the Wyoming Valley in the 1700s at the Denison House in Forty Fort.Fred Adams/For The Times Leader
FORTY FORT -- The Nathan Denison House opened its doors to the public Sunday with guided tours available as a memorial to the Battle of Wyoming, which will be commemorated with a ceremony at the Wyoming Monument today.
The home, built in 1790 by area Revolutionary War figure Nathan Denison, is kept up by the Denison Advocates, who have restored it to reflect the architecture and furnishings of the late 18th century in America.
Costumed guides led visitors through the historic house, sharing information, not only about the house itself, but about the history that surrounded it.
“This area was so attractive to settlers,” said Barbara Stevens, who volunteers for the Denison Advocates, “because it had everything that was needed. The river provided transportation and fish. The woods offered both wood for fire and game for food. And the soil itself was rich.”
Stevens added that in spite of the opportunity for prosperity, the Denison family had to work very hard to enjoy their standard of living. Many times women of the family had to get up before dawn to make bread or tend to the herb garden located in the backyard.
Bob Mischak, vice president of the Denison Advocates, said that usually several parcels of land were simultaneously held by a homeowner, with each parcel serving a different purpose. In addition to a homestead, for example, Denison also owned land as a source for wood and “low land” near the river for farming.
Denison was a colonel in the Continental Army who surrendered the Wyoming Valley to the British after the Battle of Wyoming on July 3, 1778. Mischak said the Battle of Wyoming slowed the growth of the area for almost two decades.
“However,” Mischak shared, “the good judgment and dependable character of Denison, made him an excellent leader and politician in the area during turbulent times.”
Denison did, in fact, dedicate the last years of his life to the community as a Luzerne County judge, with a reputation for fully hearing a matter before rendering judgment.
“This is really, really neat,” said a smiling Andrew Guarilia, a student volunteering as a requirement for a history class. “I didn’t even know the Dennison House was here.”
The Battle of Wyoming will be commemorated at the Wyoming Monument on Wyoming Avenue in Wyoming at 10 a.m. today.
Dennison House is open to the public every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.