Women of Our History: Emily Inez Denny

Emily Inez Denny

Emily Inez Denny

Emily Inez Denny, who was known by her middle name, was the eldest child of Seattle pioneers David and Louisa Denny. Born on December 23, 1853, in the cabin her father built where Denny Way meets the bay, she was the second White female to be born in Seattle. During the Indian Wars, her father, by then a Corporal, was stationed at nearby Fort Decatur when 2-year-old Inez and her pregnant mother were forced to flee their home. When they reached the fort, Inez’s father happened to be on guard and helped them escape the warring native tribes. Inez’s sister Madge was born at Fort Decatur on March 16, 1856.

While growing up, Inez became fond of wildlife, hunting, camping, and mountain climbing. As an adult, she turned her love of the outdoors into landscape paintings of local areas. Some of her paintings have become iconic representations of early Seattle’s pioneer days. The Museum of Natural History and Industry in Seattle, which holds the largest collection of her work, valued one of her untitled paintings, dated 1888, at $42,500 in July 2008. In 1899, Inez wrote, “Blazing the Way,” an autobiographical sketch of her pioneer parents and early events in Seattle. Of our area’s early pioneer families, she aptly wrote, “By thrift and enterprise they attained independence, and… helped to lay the foundations of many institutions and enterprises of which the commonwealth is now justly proud.”

We invite you to read more about the lives of the women in our care, and share your stories about women who made history.

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