Born in Dalton Township, Wayne County on April 8, 1849, David Dennis was a noted science educator and administrator who was associated with Earlham College for much of his career. After completing his basic education in 1865, he taught in local schools in Randolph, Wayne and Henry Counties until 1870 when he entered Earlham College. After his graduation in 1873 he stayed on as a chemistry instructor until 1875. During the summer of 1875 he taught at a normal school at Bloomingdale, Indiana where he taught with a woman named Martha Ann Curl, who became his wife the following year.
In the fall of 1875 he taught natural science at Richmond High School, and later was named president of Wilmington College in Ohio and Bloomingdale Academy in Indiana. In 1884, he was offered a professorship at Earlham College, a position he held until his death.
As an educator, he was innovative and influential, and one of the first to advocate “modern” laboratory methods in both Chemistry and Biology. Earlham had one of the earliest laboratories in which each student had access to a microscope. As a tribute to his outstanding career, the first Junior High School in the city was named the David Worth Dennis Junior High School and dedicated in 1922.
His wife, Mattie Curl Dennis, died in 1897, and in 1900 he married Emma Zeller. His son, William Cullen Dennis, became President of Earlham College, and his grandson, David W. Dennis, became a lawyer and U. S. Congressman.