William Denning, (1737-1830) American Revolution veteran for whom the park is named, was never a Colonel but he is deserving of a place in history for his manufacturing of wrought iron cannons. William Denning served his country as a sergeant from March 1778 to April 1780 in Nathaniel Irish's Company of Artillery Artificers in Benjamin Flower's Regiment. Denning was stationed just outside of Carlisle, PA at Washingtonburg Forge, now Carlisle Barracks. The forge provided armaments for the Continental Army, including cannons. It is at this forge that William Denning made wrought iron cannons in a process of welding gads (strips) of wrought iron in successive layers to produce a cannon lighter and better able to resist failure during firing than cast iron cannons.
Unfortunately, none of Denning's cannons survive today. Historical documents help us imagine what Denning's cannons looked like. It is also not known when, or who added the "Colonel" to Sergeant William Denning's name. After the Revolution, William Denning lived out his life near Newville, PA and is interred with his only son and daughter in the Big Spring Presbyterian Church cemetery in Newville. His monument reads "Blacksmith and Forger of Wrought Iron Cannon."
Pennyslvania named a state park after him, Colonel Denning State Park in Doubling Gap, PA.The park became a state recreational area about 1930, under the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and was developed formally in 1936 through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-111 in Perry County.
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Died, on Sunday, the 19th ultimo, at his residence, in Maffin township, Cumberland C’y, Pennsylvania, William Denning, in the ninety fourth year of his age. The deceased was an Artificer in the army of the Revolution—he it was who, in the days of his coun...(Read more) -
Gravestone Recorder Added: Jul. 9, 2015