A Personal History of the Family
John and Martha (Bradley) Bennett
Elmer E. Bennett
Dedicated to my father,
Edward Thomas Bennett
No one realizes more than I how unqualified I am to write a history of my father's family. But an imperfect history is, I believe, better than no history at all. My grandparents died before I was born and I was not fortunate enough to meet all my Aunts nor even all my first cousins. But my life has been enriched by those I did meet . It is, of course, impossible to treat the lives of those I have never met in the same manner as those I have been privileged to know. I am sure their lives were just as interesting and just as important to their decedents. The decedents of John and Martha Bennett that I know of now number over 200 and are scattered from Coast to coast, from Maryland to California and from Florida to Washington State. To cover all of them is beyond the scope of this project. It was my intent when I began (in 1974) to write what I could of the lives of my grandparents, their children and their grandchildren. I have tried my best to be accurate but I am quite certain that despite numerous rewrittings some errors will remain. For these I apologize.
I am deeply indebted to the many who have provided information. I wish to acknowledge in particular the debt of gratitude I owe to two wonderful people: Mrs. Faith Baldwin and Mrs. Will Bennett, for their wealth of information and for their support and encouragement from the beginning of this work. And I am grateful to my late brother, R. Floyd Bennett, who contributed to the cost of the photo copies.
Elmer E. Bennett
May 15, 1981
Benjamin and Mary Bennett, my great grandparents, were born in Radnorshire Wales, he in 1800 and Mary, whose maiden name was Lewis, probably around 1807. They were married in 1821 and began life as farmers. They were the parents of 5 sons and 4 daughters. John Bennett, my grandfather was the first born. He was born June 12, 1822, probably in the vicinity of Abbey Cwmhir, a few miles north of Llandrindod? Wells, Radnorshire. I remember the names of 2 of his brothers that I learned from my father: Edward and Benjamin. I recently learned another brother was named Valentine, having been born on St. Valentine's Day. This brother was a composer of hymns. Benjamin Bennett, my great grandfather, was a conductor and leader of music and singing in the Baptist church. All the Bennett family were "musically inclined." 1 One of my grandfather's sisters, Sarah, was born in 1831. She married Evan Rees who was born in 1833. Two of their sons, John and Benjamin, came to Illinois in the 1880s where their name was spelled "Reese."2
Benjamin and Mary, both members of the Baptist Church, spent their lives in Radnorshire, Benjamin dying in 1877 at age 77 and Mary a few years later at the age of 71.
John Bennett attended school only a short while. The only book used was the Holy Bible. From this the children were taught to read and to print their letters. Each pupil carried a slate to use in practicing his printing and his ciphers. My grandfather didn't attend school long enough to learn to write as he had to quit and help his father on the farm. He was, however, very rapid at mental calculation of common arithmetic.
I recall only 2 stories of the old country that my father heard and passed on to me. One concerned the fact that commoners were forbidden to kill any wild game. In spite of this ruling, young John Bennett and his brothers, armed with cudgels, would take their dog and go hunting. If they were fortunate enough to bag a hare it would be carried home under their coat. The other tale was about one of John Bennett's brothers who had quite a reputation as a boxer. This was in the days of bare knuckle fisticuffs. This brother was attending a local fair when a number of his acquaintances began urging him to fight the champ from the neighboring village. He had married and settled down and wasn't interested in fighting. However, after continued urging by. his "friends" and repeated taunts from the others, he finally agreed to fight. As the bout progressed, his opponent, getting the worst of it, hit Bennett a downward chopping blow just above the wrist and broke his arm. With this advantage he should have won easily. However, this so infuriated my grandfather's brother that with one hand he beat the other fellow blind. When I first heard this story as a small boy I was horrified, thinking the man had been permanently blinded. Actually, he had beaten the man until his eyes were swollen shut.
Sometime in 1844 John Bennett, 22, decided to seek his fortune in what is now the mid western United States. In 1844 it was the western frontier of this young Nation. The only States west of the Mississippi river were Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. (Texas didn't Join the Union' until Dec., 1845.). There seemed little opportunity for him to better himself in Wales. This was the year of the great potato famine in Ireland when thousands literally starved to death. It was also in 1844 (in June) that one of the Mississippi's greatest floods occurred. With a friend named Paddock, John Bennett sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Frank Field", a sailing ship, and arrived at New Orleans 7 weeks later. Another week was spent traveling up the Mississippi by steamboat to Alton, Illinois, a town some 20 miles up river from St. Louis. My father said they got off at Alton as a result of the glowing description of the area fertile farmland given to them by a member of the boat's crew. It is possible that they had heard of this locality before they left home. One Thomas Jones from Radnorshire, Wales had settled in Brighton Township in 1833.3
From Alton John Bennett made his way to the settlement of Brighton, about 12 miles north of Alton. This was up out of the flooded river valley on the fertile Illinois prairie. Brighton had been settled only 18 years before and wouldn't be organized as a town until 1869. It was incorporated as a village in April, 1886. John Bennett arrived in Brighton with cash assets of $5.00. He found employment with a prosperous farmer and early pioneer of the locality, Amos Avery Hilliard, who owned a large farm a mile east of Brighton. Mr. Hilliard and his neighbor, Taylor Chase, had both come from Cornish, N.H. Mr. Chase had traveled to Minnesota, purchased lumber for a house, then rafted it down the Mississippi to Alton. He was a relative of Salmon Chase, a member of President Lincoln's cabinet.
John Bennett was paid a starting wage of $6 a month plus room and board. His employer had planted one of the first orchards in this area. In the year 1849 he was hauling 18 to 20 bushels of peaches daily to Alton. They were shipped by steamboat to St. Louis where they brought $2 a bushel. Later Mr. Hilliard changed to growing early apples and selling cider and vinegar.
After working for Mr. Hilliard for 9 years, John Bennett had saved enough to purchase 40 acres of Hilliard land. This land, at that time all wild and unimproved, was located on section 17, Brighton Township, adjacent to the Hilliard farm. It was west of Hilliard's and south of Chase's farm. Earlier, on Nov. 21, 1852, he was married to Martha Bradley, daughter of Thomas and Lucy Bradley. She and her twin sister, Maria, were born in or near Manchester, England on June 14, 1835. (John was 30 and Martha 17). Her parents had come to this country with their 4 sons and 3 daughters. (I have never learned the year they arrived nor Lucy Bradley's maiden name.) Martha's sister, Emma, married James Jones, a native of Radnorshire. He worked for John Bennett his first year here: 1859. James and Emma had 4 children, 2 of whom died very young. An account published in 1891 states that a son, Charles Jones, was then farming in Colorado, and a daughter, Mary A., was the wife of Josiah Morris, a resident farmer of Kansas. (I learned recently that the Morris' lived in Franklin County, Kan. near Princeton and were neighbors of my relatives.) Emma died at age 24. James Jones remarried and was the father of 5 children by his second wife. My father and his brothers and sisters always regarded these children as their cousins. I recall meeting "Cousin Emma Jones" when she called on my Aunt Lide while I was visiting there.
My grandmother's twin sister, Maria, married Richard Longstaff who had also come from the British Isles. They both died in Brighton Township, neither having reached old age. Their daughter, Abigail Longstaff, married Daniel Combes. Their only child was Isaac Combes.
My grandmother's 4 brothers were Henry, Elijah, Jim, and Robert. Her father, Thomas Bradley, was the first person to be buried in the churchyard at Piasa, Ill., a few miles above Brighton. The grave marker of wood rotted away and the exact location of the grave was lost. For this reason when Lucy Bradley died years later she was buried in the Bennett lot in what is now Brighton Cemetery.
The only one of the 4 brothers I ever met was my Great Uncle Jim Bradley. He and his brother went to Oklahoma to homestead. Years later oil was found on Uncle Jim's land. In 1925, when I was 10, he came back to Illinois for a visit. He was quite a character and must have been a strong man in his prime. I remember his white hair, white bushy eyebrows and handle bar moustache. He wore dentures that he removed before mealtime, eyeglasses that he removed when he read the newspaper. He had secret pockets sewn inside his coats and vests from which he'd remove coins or sticks of gum to give to us children. I remember sitting on the floor of the front porch in the evening listening to him and my father visiting. And being spellbound by his tales of his early days in Oklahoma. I know very little of his family. His son, Charles Bradley, was farming north of Cushing, Okla. in 1932. At that time, Uncle Jim, broken in health and his money gone, was living with his daughter at Bluejacket in the northeastern corner of Okla.3A I have no knowledge of the date of his death. Henry Bradley, who also homesteaded, married an Indian. As a boy I remember hearing about this Indian wife who sat down outside the cabin after an argument and froze to death. In recent years I heard a different version of this story from Kate Chowning, my Cousin Jack's widow.4
I know nothing of Elijah Bradley. My father called him Uncle Lige. All that I know of the fourth son, Robert, is that he had a daughter named Annie who married a man named Coffee. My father and his family always referred to her as "Cousin Annie Coffee." (More about her later.)
John and Martha Bennett started out married life living in a small 2 room house. It was here the first 3 or 4 children were born. About the time of the Civil War John Bennett contracted with a Brighton carpenter to build a larger house. This dwelling had 4 rooms downstairs and 4 up, divided on each floor by a central hallway running from front to back. The kitchen was in a wing that projected from the rear, giving the house the shape of a "T". There was a porch on the front which faced .west and a porch on the south side of the kitchen. A stairway was located in the hallway. Much of the mill work was done by the carpenter in his shop in Brighton. Items such as window sash, window frames, porch and staircase bannisters he mad himself. This house was well built and is still occupied today. (1977). It has always been lived in and kept in a fair state of repair. When I first visited this farm as a teenager my father pointed out the large beams that made up the frame work of the barn. These had been finished by hand with an adz and the entire frame work of huge beams were fastened together with wooden dowels, The barn has recently been torn down and replaced with a modern metal building. The front porch of the home has been removed and the house covered with aluminum siding.
John Bennett continued to acquire additional land until his farm consisted of 177 acres of highly improved land, most of it under cultivation. He also planted two fine orchards. I recall Aunt Angie telling me that her father purchased a fine closed carriage from a man who had been an officer in the Civil War. It had glass windows that could be raised or lowered and was equipped with upholstered seats. The driver's seat was up front in the open. She told me how proud she and her sisters were of this carriage when their brother Johnnie drove them to Church on Sunday mornings.
The Bennett's closest neighbors were the Hilliards and the Chases. Taylor Chase's daughter, Celia, married Amos Hilliard's son, George. Oscar Chase, Taylor's son, became a dry goods merchant in Brighton (Merrill and Chase). He built a 16 room house on the Chase farm. Then George Hilliard built a 3 story house with 20 rooms. Oscar's son, Wallace Chase (Wally) and my father were the same age and very close friends. Mother told me of going over to the Chases to tell them goodbye before leaving for Colorado when he was 21. Grandma Chase (Taylor's widow) gave him a silver napkin ring "to remember her by." He still had this gift when he died 65 years later.
Some years before his death I drove my father out to his birthplace and he pointed out the bedroom over the kitchen as the place he slept from the time he was a small boy. We drove on over to the Hilliard place. My father recalled walking over here to see the Hilliards one time when he was home from Colorado for a visit. It was sad to stand there looking at this neglected old house and hear my father describe how it looked then, some 50 or 60 years before. He said the house and other buildings were always well painted, the large front lawn was kept trimmed and bordered with shrubs and flowers. On that day he found Mr. George Hilliard seated on the veranda. (Amos, his father, died in 1876.) After welcoming my father, Mr. Hilliard sent one of the children to the cellar for a pitcher of cool apple cider. How strange it is the way things turn out! The Chases and the Hilliards were both much more wealthy than the Bennett family and both men were more highly educated than John Bennett. Their homes were certainly much larger and more elaborate. Yet today the Chase home is gone. It fell into ruin and was finally torn down some years ago. The Hilliard home with its walnut paneled bedrooms, ornate fireplaces, long verandas, and the only carriage porch in the area, has stood empty since the death of Charlie Hilliard in 1950. He was the son of George and the grandson of Amos. The grand old place has fallen into ruin. Meanwhile the Bennett farmhouse is occupied as it has been for well over a century and lights still shine from its windows at night.
John and Martha (Bradley) Bennett were the parents of 5 sons and 6 daughters. 1. Mary Ann b. Dec. 9, 1853 7. Frank b. June 27, 1867 2. Eliza b. Feb. 13, 1856 8. Mark* b. Dec. 12, 1870 3. John R. b. Jan. 7, 1858 9. May Lucy b. May 22, 1872 4. Emma b. July 20, 1860 10. Edward Thomas b. July 16, 1875 5. Sarah Nora b. Sept. 16, 1862 11. Ross Daniel b. Dec 23, 1878 6. Angeline b. Sept. 10, 1865 *Mark died March 4, 1871.
Around 1873 or 74 when Eliza (Lide) was 17 or 18, she went to Texas with her first cousin, Annie (Bradley) Coffee and her husband. The Coffees were going to farm land that had been homesteaded by Annie's father-in-law. It was located in Wilbarger County, just across the Red River from Indian Territory, now the State of Oklahoma.4A
On Christmas Day, 1875 (my father, Edward, was 5 mos. Old.) Annie (Mary Ann) Bennett (22) was married to William Yarham (29). Their first child, Hessie Bell, was born July 12, 1876 and lived only 4 months. Their next child, Oliver Darwin Yarham, was born Nov. 21, 1877. As far as I can determine, Annie and William lived in the tenant house on the Bennett farm from the time they were married until sometime in 1884.
On Aug. 4, 1878, Johnnie Bennett (20) was married in Brighton to Flora Mason (19), daughter of William and Nancy (Hoyt) Mason. Mr. Mason was a prosperous farmer in the Brighton area, specializing in the breeding of Marino sheep on his 320 acre farm. I am not certain where Johnnie and Flora began married life except that it was in the Brighton area. Their first child, Herbert, was born Feb. 28, 1879 and died at birth. Sometime before the birth of their second child, Elbert, on Aug. 12, 1880, they had moved to a farm west of Princeton in Franklin County, Kansas.
On Dec. 23, 1878, Ross Daniel, the last child of John and Martha Bennett was born. In later years it was a source of amusement between them that Ross insisted that Oliver address him as "Uncle" even though Oliver was 13 months older.
John Bennett received word in 1877 of the death of his father in Wales. Sometime in 1879 or 80 he journeyed back to Wales for the settling of his father's small estate. Since he felt certain he would never see his mother again, he spent most of his share of the estate on her before he started home. She died a few years later at age 7?.
On Dec. 22, 1880, Annie's second son, Clayton, was born. In the early spring of 1881, Oliver (just over 3) and Clayton (only 3 months old) both fell ill. Grandmother Bennett made many trips back and forth between the houses, helping to care for her sick grandsons.5 She took pneumonia and died April 8, 1881, two months short of her 46th birthday. John Bennett was left a widower at age 59 with 7 children still at home: Emma almost 21, Sarah 18, Angeline 15, Frank 13, May 9, Edward 5 years, 9 mo., and Ross who was just 2 months past his 2nd birthday.
After their mother's death, the oldest girls kept house and took care of the younger children. On Nov. 1, 1881, Emma was married to Richard Kitchell of the Brighton area. This left 19 year old Sarah (or Sade, as she was called) the oldest child at home. She acted as housekeeper and foster mother to her brothers and 9 year old May, with help from 15 year old Angie. Frank died of an illness June 5, 1882, just 14 months after his mother's death and 3 weeks short of his 15 birthday. My father's most vivid recollection of his brother Frank was playing ball with him in the front yard while Emma and Dick were being married in the Bennett home. The older ones had decided that 6 year old Eddie was to fidgety to sit through the wedding ceremony. This was just 7 months before Frank died.
Aunt Sade's oldest child, Mrs. Faith Baldwin of Spokane, Wash., recalls her mother often commenting that she "practically raised Ed and Ross".
Aunt Angie's daughter, Della, (the late Mrs. Cecil Wilson of Decatur, Il) wrote to me shortly before her death Sept. 16, 1975. She recalled her mother telling how she used to sleep in the children's room on an ironing board when they were ill. She did this so she wouldn't sleep very soundly and would hear the little ones if they needed anything during the night.
Sometime in 1884 William and Annie Yarham, with 6 year old Ollie and 3 year old Clate, moved to Franklin County, Kansas. They settled on a farm west of Princeton near her brother Johnnie.
Shortly after the Yarhams moved to Kansas, Dick and Emma Kitchell moved into the tenant house on the Bennett farm. At that time what is now the lane stopping at the farm house, was a road that continued straight south to Brown Road. The tenant house was on this road just a little south of the Bennett farm house. I am not certain whether or not they were already living here when their daughter, Della, was born Aug. 6, 1884.
On June 28, 1888, Lide Bennett was married to Timothy Chowning in Vernon, Wilbarger County, Texas. His family had come from Tennessee. At one time the Chownings owned much of the land where the city of Vernon now stands. Tim Chowning had a brother who was somewhat "wild". He apparently had the merchants in this little frontier town pretty well "buffaloed". He would walk into a store, help himself to what he wanted and walk out without bothering to pay for it.6
Sade Bennett kept house for her father and reared the younger children until 1889. By then Angie was 24, May was 17, Edward was 14 and Ross was almost 11. On Sept. 19, 1889, Sade was married at Brighton to Albert Keas. They were both 27, Albert being just 3 days older than Sade.
Bert Keas ran the 1st creamery in Brighton. It was located on "The Beech" (now Vine St.). He came from 2 early families of Brighton, his mother was a Boulter.7 He got out of the creamery business after a short while and moved to a farm at the north edge of town. He and Sade were the parents of the following children, all born at Brighton:
1. Faith b. Jan. 14, 1891 5. Almeda b. Jan. 24, 1896 2. Ruth b. Oct. 9, 1892 6. Issac b. Apr. 9, 1898 3. Grace b. Dec. 26, 1892 7. Mary b. Aug. 15, 1899 4. Dwight Moody b. Jan. 24, 1895
The land that Aunt Lide and Uncle Tim Chowning farmed was somewhere between Vernon and the Red River in the vicinity of Doan's Crossing. Many thousands of Texas Longhorns crossed the river here in the days of the great cattle drives to the railroads at Abilene and Dodge City. It must have been a lonely life in a country where the summers can be scorching hot and dry, and in the winter a "Blue Norther" can sweep down across the Panhandle, turning a fair winter day into a howling blizzard in a matter of hours. There were still Indians roaming this area and Indian Territory was just across the river. Timothy Chowning was a personal friend of Quanah Parker, a chief of the Kwahadis who were a branch of the Comanches. It must have been a comfort to Lide Chowning that the fact of this friendship was known to the bands of Indians that occasionally passed that way. Quanah Parker visited them quite often and on several occasions had dinner there.8
Sometime around 1895 or '96 Tim and Lide gave up trying to farm this land. They had suffered repeated crop failures due to droughts and Lide's father was wanting them to come back to Illinois and help him operate the farm. By this time Tim and Lide were the parents of three boys and Lide was pregnant with her fourth child. Bee was born Aug. 23, 1890; John (Jack) on Apr. 16, 1892; and Ross (Duke) on Jan. 5, 1894. When they rode the train to Illinois, Bee was only 5 or 6. Jack remembered his mother having him "scrootch" down in his seat when the conductor came through so he'd appear small enough to ride free.
After their return their fourth child was born. This daughter, Lea, died when very young. Aunt Lide's last child was a daughter: Chat, born at the Bennett home place April 6, 1897. Chat told me she was her grandfather's "pet." He'd had' two strokes and may have become a little childish in his later years. Chat recalled him coming back from town and sharing a sack of candy with her without her brothers knowing anything about it. The Chowning boys were healthy, active youngsters who were always playing pranks or getting into mischief of some kind. Once they set fire to a haystack which in turn caught the barn lot fence on fire. Grandfather Bennett was nearly exhausted by the time he got the fire put out. I imagine such antics did little to put the boys very high on their grandfathers "candy list."
Aunt May's eldest son Elmer Darlington of' Lander, Wyo., remembers seeing Grandfather Bennett load peaches into a spring wagon and drive into Brighton to the school yard. He'd let the children eat what they wanted and fill their lunch boxes. Elmer says he can still picture his Grandpa in the tall stovepipe hat he always wore when he went into town. Grandpa Bennett was a teetotaler. After his second stroke he was somewhat unsteady on his feet and sometimes staggered slightly when he walked. This was embarrassing to him: he wondered if people might think he had been drinking. My father said Grandpa would never sit down to eat until his livestock had been fed and cared for. When Moses Payne, an ex-slave, worked on the Bennett farm, Grandpa always insisted he eat at the table with the family. His feeling was that a man good enough to work for him was good enough to eat with him.
It was from my cousin Chat that I learned how her father died. In the summer of 1898 Tim Chowning was recovering from pneumonia and not yet strong enough to resume his work on the farm. Grandpa Bennett was getting stock ready to send to market and some of them got loose. He came to the house and asked Uncle Tim if he could help him round them up. Uncle Tim evidently over exerted himself, suffered a relapse, and 3 days later on the 5th of July he died. He was only 42 years of age.
After Tim Chowning's death, Aunt Lide continued to keep house for her father while rearing 3 of her 4 children. Her sister, Annie, had taken Jack (then 6 years old) back to Kansas with her after Uncle Tim's funeral. Jack lived with the Yarhams on their farm near Princeton until he completed the 8th grade.
The last decade of the 19th Century saw quite an increase in the size of the Bennett clan. John Bennett became a grandfather 19 times more during these 10 years. Clara, Nellie, Ethel, and Ruth were born to Johnnie and Flora Bennett. Bee, Jack, Duke, Lea, and Chat were born to Tim and Lide Chowning. Faith, Ruth, Grace, Dwight, Almeda, Isaac, and Mary were born to Bert and Sade Keas. Elmer was born to Geo. And May Darlington and Della was born to Harry and Angie Tullis.
On Dec. 14, 1898, Ross Bennett was married to Mary Miller, daughter of Christian and Phillipina Miller of the Brighton area. Mr. Miller came from Germany and Mrs. Miller (whose maiden name was also Miller) was born in Alton, Ill. Ross and Mary were living in a tenant house on the Hilliard farm when their son, Lloyd, was born July 23, 1899. This premature baby was tiny enough to be placed in a bed made in a shoe box.
As the 19th Century came to a close, all the children of John and Martha Bennett were married with the exception of Edward. He was employed on a farm north of Longmont, Colo. where he had gone in 1896 when he was 21. Sometime in the late 1890's Geo. And May Darlington and their son, Elmer, had also moved to northeastern Colorado. They were farming in the same locality, known as Liberty Hall, when their second son, Victor, was born Feb. 22, 1900.
Aunt Lide and her children were living with Grandpa Bennett. Billie and Annie Yarham with their 2 sons and nephew, Jack, were farming west of Princeton. Johnnie and Flora Bennett on a neighboring farm were by then the parents of 7 children. Their oldest daughter, Stella, was married Feb. 14, 1900 to Frank King. They were both 19. Emma and Dick Kitchell and 15 year old Della were living in the tenant house on the Bennett farm. Angie and Harry Tullis and 3 year old Della were living on the northeast corner of Cross and Center Streets in Brighton.
Bert and Sade Keas were living at the north edge of Brighton. This was a very sorrowful time for them. In June, 1898, they lost their 2 month old son, Isaac. In Nov., 1899, their 3 month old daughter, Mary, died. Then only 2 months later on Jan. 18, 1900 their second child, Ruth, passed away at the age of 7.
On Aug. 21, 1901, Elbert Bennett (21) was married in Ottawa Kan. to Myrta Reed (20). Less than 6 months later on Jan. 22, 1902, Flora Bennett died. Johnnie Bennett, then 44, was left with 5 children still at home, ranging in age from Will, 16, to Ruth who was only 6.
On Feb. 15, 1903, a daughter, Ethel was born to Ross and Mary Bennett who by that time had moved to Miles Station, a short distance up the Chicago and Alton RR from Brighton.
In the summer of 1903 Grandfather Bennett suffered a third stroke. When it appeared unlikely he would recover, word was sent to Annie and Johnnie in Kansas and to May and Ed in Colorado. The evening May arrived her father was so happy to see her he looked better than he had in days. After she visited with him awhile May decided she shouldn't risk overtiring him. She told him he'd better get some sleep and they'd visit again in the morning. Sometime during the night he died peacefully in his sleep. The date was Aug. 6, 1903. His tombstone reads: "81 Ys 1 Mo 25 Ds"
When the sons and daughters of John Bennett gathered in Brighton for his funeral, it was, I believe, the last time they were all together. A few days after the funeral they went to a photographer's studio for a group picture. 9
Since none of the children were interested in buying the home place, or, more probably because none of them were in a position to buy out the other heirs, the farm was sold and the proceeds divided among the children.
John Bennett spent his life from age 22 until his death 59 years later on that farm on section 17, east of Brighton. He made at least 2 trips to Franklin County, Kan. to visit Annie and Johnnie. I learned recently from Cousin Lloyd Bennett that on one trip to Kansas Grandpa Bennett took his son, Ross, and his granddaughter, Della Kitchell. She was but 5 years younger than Ross. In 1975, Cousin Will Bennett (then 89) recalled his grandfather's visit and said he thought Della was about the prettiest thing he had ever seen.
Annie (Bennett) Yarham
The first child of John and Martha Bennett, Mary Ann, was always called "Annie." As mentioned previously, she was married to William Yarham at Brighton on Christmas Day, 1875. William was 29 and Annie, 22. He was born in the Brighton area in 1846, the son of Samuel and Mary F. Yarham who were both born in England. A brother, Samuel, served in the Union Army in the Civil War. I learned recently from my 2nd cousin, Della Yarham of Princeton, Kan., of the unusual circumstances under which her great grandparents met. Samuel and Mary arrived with her father. Apparently her mother was dead and she was an only child. As they were going through Customs, Mary's father picked up someone else's suitcase by mistake and started to walk away with it. One of the guards shot and killed him! Samuel Yarham witnessed this terrible thing and befriended the orphaned girl. They were later married and spent the remainder of their lives at Brighton. Mary F. Yarham died April 21, 1905 at age 92. It seems to me it was Samuel Yarham that my father told of walking to the post office for his mail when he was past 100.
William and Annie's first child, Hessie Bell, was born at Brighton July 12, 1876. She died 4 months later on Nov. 17th. Their next child, Oliver Darwin, was born Nov. 21, 1877 and their 3rd child, Clayton, was born December 22, 1880.
Sometime in 1884 the William Yarham family moved to a farm just west of Princeton in Franklin County, Kan. where they were neighbors to Annie's brother, Johnnie. William and Annie lived the rest of their lives on this farm. He died in 1914 at age 68. Annie and her bachelor son, Clate, stayed on at the farm. She died Jan. 28, 1928 at age 74 after being in failing health the past few years. In early October, 1927, Aunt Angie, Uncle Ross, and my father rode the bus to Kansas to visit Aunt Annie. I remember my father describing the terrible damage they saw in St. Louis caused by the tornado which struck Sept. 29, killing 76 people. This was the last time any of the three saw their sister alive.
After his mother's death, Clate lived alone on the farm with his coon dogs for company. He was living there alone when I first met him in 1931 when he was 50. In later years when his health failed he moved in with his cousin, Grace and her husband, Garrett Harms, who lived in Princeton. He spent some time in a nursing home before his death Dec. 13, 1951 at age 71.
Annie's eldest son, Oliver (Ollie) became a railway mail clerk. He was married Nov. 28, 1903 at Richmond, Kan. To Bertha ( ). She was born at Harris, Kansas, May 30, 1885. Ollie and Bertha were the parents of two daughters and one son, all of whom are living at the present time. (1978).
I first met Ollie in 1931 when I was 16 and he was nearly 54. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was the first grandson of John Bennett and I was the last. The Oliver Yarham family lived in a nice 2 story house on the edge of Ottawa, Kan., built on the site of their previous home that had burned. Ollie had about 10 acres of pasture and was milking 6 cows and feeding a number of calves when I first visited him. He was still working as a railway mail clerk but was usually home every night. Occasionally a longer run would keep him away one night. They had a sorrel mare that was said to be a descendant of the great "Danpatch." The only work she ever did was pull the plow each Spring when Ollie tilled the garden. They had a saddle that had been damaged when the house burned. This didn't bother me any and I really looked forward to each time I got a chance to ride her. I decided this would be an ideal place to live, - a nice size town, a nice home, a riding horse, a pick up truck that I got to drive occasionally. (I failed to tell them I had driven only a few times in my life.) This was during the Depression and I painted such a dismal picture of my chances of getting to go to high school at home that Ollie and Bertha invited me to stay with them for the winter. They said I could share a room with Leon and help with the farm chores. I am still ashamed of this deception. The truth was that I could very well have gone to school if I had gone home. My father was fortunate to have steady work during these lean years. I lived with the Yarhams from the summer of 1931 until midterm in Jan. or Feb. and attended Ottawa High School. By then the novelty of living on a farm had begun to wear off. Milking cows every morning and evening, delivering milk to the grocers on the way to school, and going down to Ollie's farm at Princeton to cut hedge on Saturdays soon became work. And my first Christmas away from home left me really homesick. My father rode out with my brother, Floyd, at midterm and brought me home. I remember Floyd telling me on the way back about a singer who was becoming very popular by the name of Bing Crosby. And about 4 negro brothers who were making quite a hit on radio by imitating the sound of various musical instruments: - the Mills Brothers.
At the time I stayed with the Yarhams all 3 of the children, Della, Ethel, and Leon were still at home. After I left, Ethel married Floyd Dudding and moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked in Civil Service until her retirement. She is widowed and lives in Ottawa. Leon, the father of 3 daughters, lives in Oak Forest, Ill. And retired in 1977.
After his retirement, Ollie, Bertha, and Della moved to the farm near Princeton where Ollie spent the remainder of his life. He died Nov. 1, 1947 just 20 days short of his 70th birthday. I last saw him in July, 1940, when I took my father to Kansas for a visit. Bertha and Della stayed on at the farm. In late 1974 Bertha fell and broke a hip. March 25, 1975, she died during corrective surgery at a Kansas City hospital. She would have been 90 the following May 30th. Della is still living alone on the farm. (1978)
Eliza (Lide) Bennett Chowning
Probably due to the fact that she was 20 years older than my father, my Aunt Lide always seemed more like a grandmother than an aunt. My earliest memories of her are when I was still in grade school. My parents would let me ride the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy passenger train (we called it the "Q") from the Alton State Hospital flag stop to Brighton. From the depot it was a walk of only 200 ft or so down the lane to that little house where she lived. She loved flowers and there were flower beds all around the edge of the yard and around the house. She always had a vegetable garden and usually kept a few chickens. I have no idea how old this house is. I learned recently from my Cousin Lloyd that his family lived in this house when he was a child. He was born in 1899. It was apparently the style at the time to build split level houses. The houses of Aunt Lide, Aunt Emma, and Aunt Angie all had this feature in common. And this in spite of the fact that Brighton is located on land that is "flat as a pancake." In Aunt Lide's house there was a step between the kitchen and the living, or "sitting", room. From her living room there was another step up to her bedroom. Attached to her big kitchen was a smaller summer kitchen. Here there was a small pump mounted on the counter and soft water, from the cistern could be pumped directly into the sink. A door in the floor covered the stairway to the fruit cellar. She had a folding bed in the living room that looked like a chest, of drawers when it was closed. This is where I slept when I stayed overnight. I still remember sinking down into that feather bed and falling to Sleep to the tick-tock of Grandpa Bennett's Seth Thomas clock,- and being jarred awake every half hour when it chimed. Two of Aunt Lide's sons, Bee and Jack, were railroad men and Aunt Lide had a pass to ride the trains. She was one of the first sales women or "drummers" employed by Mr. Sayman of St. Louis. She sold Sayman's Products door to door in Brighton, Piasa, Miles Station, Madora, Shipman, and such nearby towns as were on the railroad. Two of Sayman's most successful products were his soap and his liniment. I think Aunt Lide truly believed that Sayman's liniment was good for just about anything you had wrong with you. She was a wonderful person and I have some beautiful memories of the enjoyable times we hd together. I never knew anyone who had a happier disposition or who more enjoyed a laugh. This is all the more remarkable considering the fact the she was widowed so young and left with 4 children to rear. And that she lived alone after her children were grown and married. I am reminded of the remark: "When I was a child we were poor but fortunately I didn't know it." Aunt Lide had little in the way of "worldly goods" but I never once thought of her as "poor."
In her lateryears Aunt Lide spent several winters with Bee and Mildred in White Hall,Ill., and as Mildred said recently, she was always anxious to get back home in the Spring. Later, she spent the winters with her daughter, Chat, in Council Grove, Kan. I am not certain of the date I last saw Aunt Lide. It was a few years before her death. My wife and I had driven up to Brighton in the fall to see her before she left for Kansas for tho winter. As we were leaving, Aunt Lide told me goodbye in such a way that I realized she was bidding me a final farewell. There was no self pity or melodramatics about it. She was apparently just convinced that she wouldn't be coming back. I tried tolaugh it off and told her shed be back in the Spring itching to get a spade in her garden. She smiled, and kissing me goodbye said, "No, I don't think so." I never saw her again. She remained at Chat's until her death, May 22, 1944. Aunt Lide, who was 88, is buried beside Uncle Tim on Grandpa Bennett's lot in Brighton Cemetery.
Bee F. Chowning was born near Vernon, Texas, August 23, 1890. With his parents he came to Brighton at age 5 or 6 and grew up on the Bennett home place. He served in the Army in World War I and was wounded fighting in France. After discharge from a Veteran's hosp. near Chicago, Bee was employed by the CB&Q RR where he became foreman of a section gang. He was married Feb. 28, 1922 to Mildred Jeanes of Brighton. At one time Bee and Mildred lived in the railroad cars that housed the track maintenance crews and Mildred was employed as a cook. In 1927 they bought a farm on the south edge of Brighton and began raising squabs for the St. Louis market. The summer of 1928, when I was 13, I helped Mildred care for the 500 pair of White King Pigeons. Bee was still working for the RR and got home only on weekends. It was quite an experience for me and I felt quite well acquainted in the Village of Brighton by summer's end.
Bee later bought a home in White Hall where he lived the remainder of his life. I last saw him in the fall of '41 when he was dying of abdominal cancer and was only a shell of the former self. He died Feb. 22, 1942 at the same Veteran's hosp. near Chicago. He was 52. Mildred, who has been widowed 3 times, still resides in White Hall. (1981)
John Chowning, nicknamed Jack, was the first of the children to marry. He was married to Katherine Boker of Brighton, May 19, 1914. Jack and Kate had one child: a daughter, Zora, who was born in 1919. They lived for a number of years in a suburb of Kansas City where Jack worked for the Missouri Pacific RR. He was foreman of a crew that maintained electric railway signals. He was transferred to Monroe, La. where he lived 'til he retired. Jack and Kate moved back to Brighton where Jack spent the remainder of his life, dying of a heart attack 1967. Zora, (Mrs. John Miller II) lives in Columbus, GA. and is the mother of a married son. Kate, who had a heart condition, suffered a stroke in Feb., 1976 which left her in a coma. Zora had her flown to Columbus and placed in a nursing home. Kate died July 8, 1976 without regaining consciousness. Jack and Kate are buried in Brighton.
Ross Chowning (Duke), left Brighton as a teenager and went to work on a farm near Fargo, N.D. for a family named Vogel. He served in the Army from Aug. 27, 1918 to Feb. 20, 1919. After being released from a hospital near Washington, D.C.- where he nearly died of the flu,- he stopped off to visit his mother. It was, I think, his last time in Brighton. In Fargo he met Edith Knight whom he married Sept. 5, 1922. They had 2 sons and 6 daughters. Their first child, Ross, was killed in an automobile accidentin Seattle,Wash. in May, 1946 at the age of 23, leaving a widow and 2 children. Duke worked 34 years as a fireman in the power house of Northen States Power co. at Fargo, N.D., retiring in 1959 at age 65. In 1965 he and Edith moved to Manchester, Calif. on the coast above San Francisco. Three daughters and a son already lived in this area. Duke Chowning died of a heart attack April 1, 1973. Edith still lives at Manchester. (1978)
The children of Duke and Edith Chowning: Ross Duke Born, July 6, 1923 died, May, 1946 Edith Adele " July , 1924 (Mrs. Carl Bell) Bernice " Mar. 26, 1926 (Mrs. Paul Deal) Betty " May 1, 1927 (Mrs. Oscar Fog) Patsy " Dec. 14, 1931 (Mrs. Earl Neistadt) Mary Lou " Mar. 9, 1933 (Mrs. Dick Treichel) Grace " Jan 17, 1935 (Mrs. Bill Craig) John Ross Chowning born, Sept. 18, 1940.
Chat Chowning married Ray Royer who came from Griggsvllle in Pike Cty., Ill. some 60 miles above Brighton. They met when Ray came to Brighton to pick apples in Harold's big orchard. With Jack's help Ray landed a job on the railroad. At one time he and Chat, like Bee and Mildred, lived in the railroad cars and Chat worked as a cook. They lived for a number of years in Council Grove Kan. After Ray's death in 1957, .Chat moved to Princeton where she lived with her cousin, Grace and Garrett Harms, and was the telephone operator there for a number of years. On Dec. 4, 1974, after retiring to her room for the night she died apparently of a heart attack. Grace found her the next morning seated in a chair in front of her television set. Chat, who was 77 on April 6, 1974, is buried beside Ray at Council Grove.
John A. Bennett
Johnnie, as he was called, was married at Brighton, Aug 4, 1878, to Flora Mason. Flora, born Jan. 1, 1859 was the daughter of William and Nancy (Hoyt) Mason of Brighton Township. Mr. Mason was originally from Potsdam, N.Y. and Mrs. Mason came from New Haven, Vermont. At the time of their marriage Johnnie was 20 and Flora was 19. There first child, Herbert, died at birt. They had moved to a farm west of Princeton in Franklin County, Kansas by the time their second child was born. He was named Elbert Raymond and was born Aug, 12, 1880.
Here are the names of the Children of Johnnie and Flora Bennett with their birth dates as they appear in the family Bible:
1. Herbert (no birth date given) died, Feb. 28, 1879. 2. Elbert Raymond born, Aug. 12, 1880 3. Stella M. " Oct. 4, 1881 4. Lucy H. " 1883, died April, 1887 5. John William " Nov. 27, 1885 6. Clara M. " Apr. 17, 1890 7. Nellie M. " June 24, 1891 8. Ethel M. " Nov. 14, 1893 9. Ruth M. " July 14, 1895
Stella Bennett was married Feb. 14, 1900 to Frank King. They were both 18 years of age. Elbert Bennett was married to Myrta Reed of, Ottawa on the 28th of Aug., 1901. The following year, Jan. 28, 1902 Flora Bennett died. The Oldest child at home was Will who was 16. The youngest, Ruth, was 6.
Uncle Johnnie was remarried May 2, 1904, to Mamie Tracy. She died in childbirth Jan 13?, 1905, and the baby also died.
Johnnie Bennett was married a third time, Jan. 16, 1909 to Kate Rable. When I first met them in the summer of 1931, they were operating a dairy farm near Richter, Kan. west of Ottawa. He was 73 and Aunt Kate was probably around 65. This would've made her around 43 when she was first married in 1909. They shared the milking (by hand) of a herd of Holsteins and sold the separated cream.
Uncle Johnnie was quite a person. He was in remarkable physical condition for his age and was justly proud of it. We went swimming together in the river and he took me jackrabbit hunting. He provided me with a little .410 gauge shotgun while he used a double barreled 10 gauge. He drove a high stepping spirited team of horses and I think he took a secret delight in the fact that his children were worried the team would run away with him. On Saturdays when the 3 of us would go into Ottawa he would sometimes let me drive the Model T touring. He'd sit in front with me while Aunt Kate sat in the back, steadying a crate of eggs on the seat beside her, She didn't like to ride fast and Uncle Johnnie knew she'd be reluctant to say anything to me about it. Sometimes I would drive too slowly to suit him. He'd be innocently looking about at the passing countryside while his left shoe was on my right foot, helping me press down on the gas pedal. We usually made pretty good time to Ottawa and back.
I loved to listen to uncle Johnnie's stories of his experiences. At first I thought it was highly unusual for a man his age to engage in fist fights. I soon came to realize the fight he was telling me about had taken place not last month, but perhaps forty years ago. He didn't pretend it had happened recently. It was just that his manner of telling it made it seem like an event that had just taken place. I shall never forget him. I never had the good fortune to know either of my grandfathers. They died long before I was born. Uncle Johnnie, seemed to me what I imagined a grandfather would be like to a 17 year old, and I couldn't have asked for a better one. He would certainly be one of my choices for "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met."
In July of 1940 I took my father to Kansas for a visit. He had last been out there in 1931. My nephew, Johnnie Young, went with us. My wife and I l had been married 2 years but were unable to get our vacations at the same time. Before we got to Kansas Uncle Johnnie suffered a stroke which left him completely paralyzed. He was fully conscious and knew us but was unable to utter a word. It was such a pity that they missed out on a delightful visit with each other by a matter of a few days. Uncle Johnnie Bennett died July 22, 1940, 6 months past his 82nd birthday. 10
Elbert Bennett, Uncle Johnnie's son, worked as a farmer, a machinist,mechanic, and inventor. He was working as a machinist apprentice in the railroad shops in Kansas City when his only child, Gordon Raymond Bennett was born in 1906. Later he operated a machine shop in Ottawa, Kan, He moved his family to Oakland, Cal. in 1915 where he became shop foreman at the Don Lee Cadillac Agency. In World War I ne worked for an aircraft company, turning out some of the first crankshafts for airplanes. In 1921 he settled on 20 acres near Delhi in the San Joaquin valley where he planted grapes, peaches, and walnuts. He farmed until 1946 when he invented a farm implement he sold under the name, "The Bennett Gap Closer," This was a device which was attached to a tractor and used to dig irrigation laterals and close the gaps as required by merely pulling a trip lever. This was a great time saver as the gap closing was ordinarily done on foot, using a shovel. Elbert opened a machine shop in Delhi where he and his son, Gordon, manufactured this implement until 1952. Elbert's wife, Myrta, died Dec. 2, 1952, and after her death he closed the shop. After living alone on the ranch for a few years, he entered a rest home in Turlock, Cal. where he spent the remainder of his life. Elbert Bennett died, March 17, 1972 at the age of 91. His son, Gordon Raymond Bennett, is retired and lives in Turlock. His wife died in 1965. Gordon's son, Jim Bennett, and daughter, Mrs. Patricia Watts also live in Turlock.
Frank and Stella (Bennett) King settled on a farm near Duncan, 0kla. They had no children but adopted and reared 2 sons. I met Stella once in '31 or 32 when she came up to Franklin County, Kan. while I happened to be there. Stella and Frank lived to see their 72nd wedding anniversary! Stella died in Sept., 1972 at the age of 91 in a nursing home in Lawton, Okla. Frank King and Herbert King lived in or near Lawton. (1978)
Clara Bennett married Carl Hay in 1907 and they too settled in Okla. Their 5 children were Elton, Vivian, Gelene, Almeda, and Edyth. Clara died of cancer in 1939. Carl Hay was found dead of a heart attack in 1963. All the children with the exception of Almeda are living at the present time. (1978) Elton Hay lives near Duncan, Okla., Vivian (Buchwald) is widowed and lives near Faxon, Okla., Gelene (Mrs. J.G. Davis Jr.) lives at Rosamond, Cal., and Edyth (Mrs. Ray Johnson) lives in Hammond, Ind. I never met my cousin, Clara, and Vivian is the only one of the children I ever knew. She lived in Ottawa, Kan. in 1931 at the time I was attending Ottawa High School.
Nellie Bennett was married to William Talley on Feb. 5, 1913. They farmed north of Ottawa and had only one child: Glenn Talley, who was born Dec. 30, 1916. Nellie died of T.B. in Colorado Sept. 24, 1924, at the age of 33. I do not know what year William Talley died. I believe they are buried at Pomona, Kansas. Glenn Talley lives in Anchorage, Alaska. (1978)
Ethel Bennett was married to Oscar Davis June 16, 1919. They were the parents of 2 sons, Ralph and Lawrence, and a daughter, Vilo. At the time of Uncle Johnnie's death in 1940 the Davis' were farming in the southwest corner of Missouri, near Branson. According to his brother-in-law, Will Bennett, Oscar Davis was "an inventor of sorts." At the outbreak of World War II he moved his family to Wichita, Kan. where he worked in an aircraft plant for awhile. Then he went into business for himself, manufacturing an item of aircraft hardware he had invented. Ethel died in Sept. of 1961. Oscar later re-married and he is also dead. All 3 of the children are living. (1978) Vilo and her husband operate a restaurant somewhere back East. Lawrence resides in Wichita. I have no information on Ralph Davis' present whereabouts. I never met my cousin Ethel or any of her family.
Ruth Bennett, the youngest of Johnnie and Flora's children, was married to Harvey Staadt, Feb. 24, 1915. They farmed all their married life in the Ottawa area. Ruth and Harvey were the parents of three children: Robert Staadt lives in Aurora, Colo., Ernest Staadt lives in Wichita, Kan., Phyllis (Mrs. Robert Curtis) lived for years in the Kansas City area but now she and her husband also live in Aurora. I last saw these second cousins in the Summer of 1940.
When I first met Ruth and Harvey they were living on a farm west of Ottawa. This was in 1931 and all 3 children, of course, were still at home. I had some very happy times there. Their farm was on the west bank of the Marais des Cygnes River which flows through Ottawa. A dam downstream from the Staadt farm backed up the river for miles. Harvey often took us swimming and fishing. We'd set trout lines in the evening and run them the next morning. I got my first chance to row a boat that summer.
My first Christmas away from home was in 1931 and I spent Christmas Day at Ruth and Harvey's. Will and Lena Bennett and 6 of their children were there and another family whose name I can't recall. I do remember their beautiful, black haired daughter. Ruth had a player piano and in my memory I can still hear the strains of "My Silver Bell" and "Redwing" that we played over and over. I missed being home but I did have an enjoyable day. I always felt at home around Ruth and Harvey.
Ruth was in poor health in later years due to hardening of the arteries. Her condition worsened and she was finally placed in a nursing home. On Jan. 2nd, 1973, while she was out riding with Harvey, they were struck by another automobile and Ruth was killed. Harvey, seriously injured, was hospitalized for months but eventually made a complete recovery.
Of Johnnie and Flora's 7 children who reached maturity, Will Bennett is the only one left at the time this is written. (December, 1978) John William Bennett (who has always been called "Will) has been a farmer all his life. In 1905 as a young man of 20 he accompanied his brother-in-law, Frank King, to the Oklahoma Territory to place bids on various parcels of land being offered for sale by the U.S. Government. Frank King was fortunate in acquiring land but Will was outbid each time. I think he finally got some land in the Vicinity of Lawton. Three years later he sent word back to Kan. for Kate Vick to Join him. They were married in Okla., Sept. 5, 1908. Their first child, Glades was born near Faxon, May 26, 1909. They later moved to a farm near Renfrow, Okla., just below the Kansas line where their 2nd child Alice was born, Feb. 17, 1912. The Will Bennetts moved back to Franklin County, Kan. in 1913, and their son, Harold Ross Bennett, was born east of Ottawa October 14, 1914.
Will Bennett was married a second time, October 30, 1925 to Lena (Wells) Brown, mother of 2 by her previous marriage. Raymond Glenn Brown was born Dec. 30, 1917 and Glades Merle Brown was born June 11, 1920.
Will and Lena became the parents of 2 children: Francis William Bennett was born Dec. 25, 1926 and Lucille Bennett was born October 30, 1928.
After Will Bennett's return to Kansas in 1913 he farmed in various locations in Franklin County. He was operating a dairy farm west of Ottawa when I first met him in 1931. They were farming near Baldwin when I visited them in 1940. Will retired from dairy farming in 1960 at age 75. At that time he and Lena were farming just north of Williamsburg,- Lena's "home town" as a girl. They moved into a new home on 16 acres just within the city limits of Williamsburg on the north west edge of town. Their home is within sight of Interstate 35.
Will and Lena's children, most of them now grandparents themselves, are scattered from coast to coast. Gladys (Mrs. John Devlin) resides in Chevy Chase, Md. and is retired from Civil Service in Wash., D.C. She is the mother of 2 married daughters by her first husband, Addison Burrows, now deceased.
Alice (Mrs. Otis Kilgore) and her husband are living in Carlsbad, Calif. They have a married daughter.
Harold retired a few years ago from the Kansas State Highway Patrol and with his wife, Julia, makes his home in Ottawa. They are the parents of a married daughter.
Raymond retired in the Spring of 1978 after operating an automobile agency in Ottawa for a number of years. He and his wife, Mary, live in Ottawa and are the parents of a married son, 3 married daughters, and one daughter at home.
Gladys Merle is now Mrs. Herbert Viertel but I remember her as Peggy. She and her husband operated a marina in Florida until their retirement a few years ago. In 1976 they built a home near Paradise, Mont. where they presently reside. (1981) Their married son lives at Tampa, Florida.
Francis Bennett is an Agricultural Engineer whose work has taken him to Africa twice, to India twice, and to an assignment in Ceylon. He and his wife, Eloise and their 4 sons returned in early 1978 from a 2 year project in Nairobi, Kenya. Francis is associated with an Engineering firm in Des Moines, Iowa and he and Eloise reside at Waukee, a suburb of Des Moines. Their eldest son is married and the other three are attending college.
Lucille, who recently completed her graduate work in Nursing, is the wife of Edward Ames II and lives in Irving, Texas. They are the parents of a married daughter and a teenage son.
Will Bennett was 93 on November 27, 1978 and Lena was 86 on April 22, 1975. I visited this remarkable couple in ' 75, '76, and '77. I first met Will and Lena more than 47 years ago and my admiration and affection for them has grown with the years. They celebrated their Golden Wedding in Oct. of 1975. Will and Lena have a total of 34 children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Will Bennett. entered Cedar House Nursing Home in Ottawa, Kansas in January of 1980. I visited him there, almost daily during my week in Ottawa in August, 1980. He is still a much better checker player than I and won nearly every game.
Shortly after my visit with Lena last August she suffered a stroke at her home in Ottawa where she lived alone. She is also a resident of Cedar House where she recently suffered a broken hip.
E.E.B. May 17, 1981
Emma (Bennett) Kitchell
Emma, the 4th child of John and Martha Bennett, spent her entire life in the Brighton area. She was married Nov. 1, 1881, to Richard Kitchell who was born Feb. 25, 1857, in Brighton Township. They lived for a number of years in the tenant house on the Bennett farm where Dick worked for his father-in-law. Emma's sister, Annie and William Yarham had occupied this house until 1884 when they moved to Kansas. I am not certain whether or not Dick and Emma were living here at the time of the birth of their daughter, Della, which occurred Aug. 16, 1884. They may have resided here until Grandfather Bennett's death in 1903. They eventually moved to a house that, like Aunt Lide's, was on the east side of the CB&Q tracks. This white frame house sat in a large yard shaded by enormous elms. They had many fruit trees, a good stand of grapes, and a large garden. They kept a cow (always a Jersey, as I remember.) And they owned the pasture between them and Aunt Lide's. Neither the Kitchells nor Aunt Lide had a telephone. After Aunt Lide lived alone, she and Aunt Emma worked out a signal arrangement: In the morning Aunt Lide would hang a tea towel on the rose trellis on her porch to let Emma know she was up and OK. If they saw no towel they'd go see if Aunt Lide was ill.
Dick and Emma's only child, Della, married Wesley Neutzman, a railroad telegrapher and station agent. As far back as I can remember they lived in White Hall, Ill. Wesley was from a Brighton family. They were the parents of a son, Donald Neutzman, and 2 daughters, Ruth and Gladys.
Aunt Emma died March 20, 1931, after an illness of several months. She was nearly 71. After her death Uncle Dick moved to White Hall. 3-1/2 years later while visiting with Della he dropped dead of a heart attack. The date was Nov, 19, 1934 and he was 3 months short of his 78th birthday.
Della's husband, Wesley, died April 8, 1941, at the age of 57. I never saw him when he was anything but pleasant and in a good mood. He was a large, bald, heavy set individual and I always picture him smoking a cigar.
Della lived to be 88, dying Feb. 24, 1972. I last saw her at the Brighton cemetery in August of 1969 at the double funeral of Uncle Ross and Aunt Tillie. She was still a very nice looking lady at 85. My father, who was just 9 years older then Della, often spoke of what a beautiful young woman she was.
Sarah (Bennett) Keas
Bert and Sarah Keas and their 4 surviving children moved to Franklin County, Kan. In the fall of 1906. They lived in Princeton until Feb., 1907 when they moved to a farm west of Princeton. Their neighbors were Sarah's sister, Annie, and brother, Johnnie. The Keas family lived here until the children were grown and married: Grace in 1916, Dwight in 1917, and Faith and Almeda in 1918.
I first met Aunt Sade & Uncle Bert in the summer of 1931. I accompanied Uncle Ross' stepson, Wm. Goodell, as far as Kansas. (He went on to travel completely around the glove.) When we visited Aunt Sade and Uncle Bert they lived on a farm near Homewood, next to the Ransom Ranch. Aunt Sade was a kind, soft spoken person who reminded me of her sister, Aunt Emma. Uncle Bert was a quiet but friendly individual. They both made us feel right at home. I often look back on my visit there as one of the most relax full and restful periods in my life. I can remember lying on the grass in the front yard, being lulled to sleep by the sighing of the ever present wind in the trees above me and the squeak of a windmill in the pasture across the road. I used to ride one of Uncle Bert's horses to a water tank that was out of sight of the house. I would turn on the windmill and wait around until it pumped the tank full. This tank was located in just enough of a depression that there was nothing to see in any directing but Kansas prairie and the blue sky above. I felt like I was really "out West." Some years later Uncle Bert and Aunt Sade moved to Homewood where they lived until U. Bert's final illness. He spent his last days at Grace's where he died July 12, 1938. Aunt Sade was living along in Homewood when I took my father to visit her in 1940. My father had a great affection for all his brothers and sister, but I think he felt especially "close" to his sister Sade. She was, after all, the only mother he had known since the age of 5.
I remember Aunt Sade coming back to Illinois on several occasions. I have a snapshot of her with her sister Angia and brothers Ed and Ross, standing in front of the house where they were born. In 1952, when she was 90, her health failed and she moved to Grace's. She was bedfast until her death Nov. 6, 1954, almost 2 months beyond her 92nd birthday. Aunt Sade and Uncle Bert are buried in the cemetery at Princeton.
Their first child, Faith, was married Feb. 21, 1918 to Edgar Baldwin. Both 27, Faith was born Jan. 14 and Edgar, Apr. 18. They began married life as farmers and were the parents of 2 sons: Eugene Edgar Baldwin, born 5/4/19 and John Price Baldwin, born 2/25/22. Just 10 years after their marriage, Edgar Baldwin died on Apr. 17, 1928,- one day before his 37th birthday. Faith, widowed at 37 with sons 9 and 6, moved to Princeton from the farm near Richmond, Kan. She was able to support herself and her sons until they were old enough to go to work. At one time she sold Sayman's products (as her Aunt Lide had done.) And later she sold Avon products. Faith operated the switchboard for the telephone company in Princeton for over 12 years.
After Jack was grown he went to Spokane, Wash. He was later joined by his brother Gene. Both married and have lived in Spokane ever since. Faith remained in Princeton until 1964 when she moved to Spokane where she divides her time between her sons' homes. She is the grandmother of 3 and great grandmother of 5. I have enjoyed a wonderful correspondence with this dear lady since 1974 and in May, 1976 had a most enjoyable visit with her and her family.
Grace Keas was born Dec. 26, 1893. In June, 1911, at the age of 17 she went to work as a clerk in a store in Princeton. On 12/26/16 (her 23rd birthday) she was married to Garrett Harms, born Aug. 4, 1892. They have lived almost all their married life in Princeton. They began life as farmers but asthma and emphysema forced Garrett to give it up. They lived a short while in Whittier, Calif. And also in Nebraska but neither locality help Garrett's condition. Garrett has a wood working shop on the back of his property and before his retirement was for many years custodian of the school building. Grace and Garrett have no children but Grace's niece, Clementine Kivett, (now Mrs. Art Edwards) lived with them much of the time from the 8th grade until she complete high school. Her sister, Almeda, and her cousin, Chat Royer, both widowed the same year, made their home with Grace and Garrett from 1960 until Chat's death in 1974.
Garrett was 86 on Aug. 4, 1978 and Grace will be 85 December 26, 1978. This will also be their 62nd wedding anniversary.
I visited Grace and Garrett in 1978 and spent a most enjoyable afternoon visiting with Grace in August, 1980. Garrett had been almost bedfast for some time and did not recognize me. Both were hospitalized around Christmas time and later moved to a nursing home in Richmond, Kansas where Grace presently resides. Garrett died / /81 and is buried at Princeton.
Dwight Moody Keas, Uncle Bert and Aunt Sade's only son, was born Jan. 24, 1895. I first met him in 1931 when he was 36 and I was 16. Dwight, his wife, Alice, and their 10 year old daughter, Maxine, were living in Ottawa, Kansas. He worked in power plants in various parts of the country and he became a Civil Engineer. Dwight and Alice (whose maiden name was Foushee) were married Sept. 17, 1917. Alice's birth date was April 18, 1897. In 1964 they moved to Irving, Texas where Alice died July 7, 1966. Maxine, now Mrs. Albert Guenther, still lives in Irving. Her daughter, Patricia, was killed in an automobile accident in 1971 at the age of 29, leaving 4 children, the oldest only 7. These children make their home with their grandparents, Arthus and Maxine Guenther. Patricia's husband's name is Joswan Singh Guram. Maxine and Arthur's son, Gary Allen Guenther is 32, married and the father of one child. (1976)
Dwight Keas was fund dead in bed October 26, 1975. He had lived alone after his wife's death and had a history of heart trouble. His obituary states that he was a Civil Engineer and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post no. 1634. Besides his daughter and three sisters, he is survived by 1 grandson and 5 great grandchildren. Dwight would have been 81 on January 24, 1976.
Almeda Frances Keas was born Jan. 24, 1896, - on her brother's birthday. She was married Aug 24, 1819 to Clement Kivett and they were the parents of 2 sons and 1 daughter. Clement Kivett died Feb. 17, 1957. Almeda made her home with her sister, Grace for about 14 years from 1960 to 1974. She now lives with her daughter, Clementine and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Edwards of Yates Center, Kansas. I met Almeda at Grace's in 1976. Her first child, Rex M. Kivett (57) is the father of 2 married daughters and makes his home in Kansas City. Clementine, Almeda's 2nd child, is the mother of 1 son and 4 daughters, all married with the exception of the youngest. Almeda's son, Richard Kivett (43) resides in St. Louis, MO. And is the father of 2 children.
Angeline (Bennett) Tullis
"Angle", as she was called', was the 5th child of John and Martha Bennett and was born Sept. 10, 1856 on the Bennett home place. She was a few months past her 15th birthday when her mother died. Angle was married / / to Harry Tullis, son of an old Brighton family and was born 1875. Harry and Angle were the parents of one child, a daughter, Della, born Dec. 19, 1896. As far as I have been able to determine, they lived all their married life in a white frame house on the north east corner of Cross and Center Streets in Brighton. There lot was large and there was a barn and barn lot on the east part of it. Uncle Harry was a teamster and besides regular hauling, he used his black team to pull the hearse for the local undertaker. Aunt Angle and uncle Harry kept a cow and sold milk to a few of their neighbors. I can still picture Aunt Angie, a covered pail of milk in each hand, hurrying up Center Street like she was going to a fire.
I always enjoyed my visits with Aunt Angle. She was pleasant to talk to and we got along fine despite the 50 years difference in our ages. She joked with me a lot and we had many a laugh together. A brick walk led up to her house from Center St. I remember the steady hum of the swarm of bees that made their home for years in one of the trees near this walk. Uncle Harry didn't want to ruin a nice shade tree to get at the honey so the bees were not disturbed. There vas a small porch at the front door and a larger porch with a swing just outside the kitchen. Both the porches were on the south side of the house facing Center St. I can't recall ever seeing anyone enter or leave by the front door. Everyone seemed to come to the larger porch and the door that opened into the large and cheerful kitchen. Just inside the kitchen you could turn left and seep into the "sitting" room. On
the west side of the room, on the Cross St. side of the house, was Aunt Angie's parlor. The door to this, as I remember was kept closed. One time Aunt Angie allowed me to look into this rather small room. I don't know if it was ever used or not. I recall a feeling of awe as though I had been permitted a glimpse into the "Holy of Holies."
My cousin, Della, attended Brighton schools and later clerked in some of the Brighton stores. She was employed at Dickerson's until the store was destroyed by fire one night. My earliest memories of her are when she was clerking in Farrel's store. She was approx. 10 years older then my sister, Martha, and they were good friends.
It was at Aunt Angie's and uncle Harry's that the relatives usually congregated when they came back from the cemetery on Decoration Day. I remember that it was here that the Bennett reunion was held the year Uncle Johnson Bennett came back to Illinois for a visit.
In 1937 Uncle Harry Tullis developed an infection in a cut on a finger of his right arm. It turned into blood poisoning and his enter arm was infected. I sat with him all one day and I can still picture one enormous man's ward there at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Alton. Uncle Harry would not consent to having his arm amputated and he died the day after I had sat with him.
For the next 13 years Aunt Angie lived alone in the same house. On Dec. 19, 1950, she was. prepared to take the train to White Hall for a visit with her niece Della Neutzman. She first addressed a number of Christmas cards and started uptown to the post office with them.. The Chicago & Alton
(now the Gulf Central) has a straight stretch of track that passes directly through Brighton, cutting right through the intersection of Center and Main Streets. The "Ann Rutledge", a fast passenger train that didn't stop at Brighton, was speeding south as Aunt Angie approached the crossing. Apparently her eyes deceived her and she misjudged the speed and the nearness of the approaching train. She was struck and instantly killed.
With the tragic death of Aunt Angie, Brighton for the first time in 106 years had no living member of the Bennett family.
Della Tullis married Cecil Wilson and they settled in Decatur, Ill. where Cecil worked in the shops of the Wabash RR. They were the parents of 3 children: Dorothy (Mrs. Lowell Adkins), Glen Wilson, and Vern Wilson. All of them make there home in Decatur.
It was years ago that I last saw Della. In late 1974 I wrote to her regarding this family history. I mentioned I was copying a number of old photographs of our grandparents and other relatives and intended to send a set to each of my cousins along with this family history. I received a very interesting letter from her dated Jan. 18, 1975. I was sorry to learn that she was still suffering from' a heart condition and had experienced several serious heart attacks. Cecil was in poor health also. She added that she'd really appreciate it if I'd send her set of pictures now, that the history sounded like it might take quite some time to complete. With her heart condition being what it was, she said she wasn't sure she'd be around by the time it was finished. In July of 75 I received a short letter from her, written from the hospital. It was postmarked the 18th. She commented on how she had enjoyed the family photographs and her closing remark was that she was to be fitted with a pacemaker the following day. She had suffered another serious heart attack and had been hospitalized for several weeks.
Della died a couple of months later, September 16, 1975. She would have been 79 on December 19th.
May Lucy (Bennett) Darlington
May Lucy Bennett was born May 22, 1872 at the Bennett home place. She was the 9th child and the 6th daughter to be born to John and Martha Bennett. At the time of her birth the oldest child, Annie, was 18 and still single. May was 9 when her mother died in the Spring of 1881.
On March 1, 1893, when she was nearly 21, May was married to George Henry Darlington, a native of Macoupin County and the son of John William and Mary (Waggoner) Darlington. George was almost 21: his birth date was April 3, 1872. His father fought n many battles of the civil War including Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, and Gettysburg, serving most of the time under the command of Colonel Jonathan Miles in Company F, 27th Ill. Inf.
George and May's first child, (John) Elmer Darlington, was born in Brighton Township March 26, 1894. Sometime in 1898 George and May and 4 yr. Old Elmer moved to a locality 9 miles north of Longmont, Colo. Known as Liberty Hall. This is approx. 50 miles north of Denver. May's first cousins, John and Ben Reese, had settled here in the 1880's. They were from Radnorshire, Wales, the sons of her father's sister, Sarah. May's younger brother, Edd, had come out here 2 years earlier and gone to work for Ben Reese.
On Feb 22, 1900, a second, Victor Leroy Darlington, was born here north of Longmont. Two more sons were born: Clyde Holden Darlington, Dec. 25, 1901, and Courtney Darlington, August 31, 1905.
May Darlington died June 17, 1906 at the early age of 34, Elmer was 12 and Courtney was but 9-1/2 months old. Aunt May is buried in Longmont.
Some 4 or 5 years later George Darlington was remarried to Rose Agnes Powell who had a son, Clarence, by a previous marriage. By this second marriage George Darlington became the father of 2 more sons and a daughter: Don, Lloyd, and Alice.
Elmer Darlington was married Dec. 8, 1915 to Mary Elizabeth Schuluppe. Sometime before the end of World War I the families of George and Elmer moved to the vicinity of Lander, Wyoming where George's brother, Will, operated a billiard parlor. George and his family settled on a farm near Lander and Elmer found employment on a farm nearby. Courtney remembers the family driving into Lander to enjoy the celebration at the end of the War.
Elmer and Mary became the parents of 2 children: Leonard Elmer, born March 24, 1917; and Helen Margaret, born April 3, 1919. Helen's married name was Shaeffer. The Leonard Darlingtons and the Shaeffers operated a pharmacy in Lander for a number of years. Leonard is the father of 3 and Helen had 4 children. Helen was found dead in bed the morning of Sept. 4, 1976, having died in her sleep from a blood clot reaching her heart. She was 57.
Elmer operated a billiard parlor in Lander for years. That's what he was doing when I first met him in the Spring of 1938, a month or so before I was married. His marriage had broken up and he and Uncle George had driven back to Illinois to visit my parents, Elmer's Uncle Ed and Aunt Ada. He had spent a lot of time on their farm in Colorado and my parents always said he seemed more like their oldest son than their nephew. It was a happy reunion for them all. My father and Uncle George were not only brothers-in-law and neighbors in Colorado; they had been friends in their youth in Brighton. Uncle George died exactly one year later, Nov. 8, 1940 at Lander. He was buried Nov. 12th beside Aunt May at Longmont.
Elmer Darlington was remarried Nov. 4, 1941 to Ellen Nettle Wallace. She was born near .Wichita Falls, Kansas and came to Wyoming with her parents as a girl. I had a most enjoyable visit with Elmer and Ellen in April, 1976. Although we had kept in touch, I had not seen him since 1938 when he was 44 and I was 23. When we met again when he was 82 and I was nearly 61. At that time Elmer still enjoyed hunting and fishing. Ellen operated a beauty parlor. This gifted lady is interested' in a variety of arts and crafts and has won many ribbons,, including a State championship a few years ago.
While in Lander I met Elmer's daughter, Helen and her husband, Herbert Shaeffer. I was also introduced to Elmer's half brother, Don Darlington and his wife; his half sister, Alice and her husband, Orin Roper. Elmer's other half brother, Lloyd Darlington, resides in Santa Maria, Calif. Leonard. Darlington, Elmer's son, was out of town at the time of my visit.
I have never met my other three Darlington cousins, but for the past few years I have enjoyed a correspondence with. Courtney who is also interested in family history. I have also exchanged letters with Victor in Idaho.
Victor Darlington was married to (Alice) Edna Yost Feb. 20, 1929. Vic and Edna live in Bancroft, Idaho which is in the south eastern corner of the State. They have a farm 7 miles south of Bancroft which they rent out since Vic's retirement. Vic, like his father, worked as a cook for a number of years but spent much of his life farming. Victor and Edna celebrated their 52nd anniversary in February of 1981, just 2 days before Vic's 81st birthday. There son, Gregory Darlington, a chemist, recently moved from Denver to Vernal, Utah. He is the father of 2 sons and 2 daughters.
Clyde Holden Darlington was married in Lander to May M. Appleby. Their son, Clyde Gordon Darlington born Jan. 2, 1929, was married Sept, 5, 194 to Mary Margaret Emery. Clyde H. worked for a number of, years with the Bridge and Building crew of Northwestern Railroad and later in a cannery near San Francisco. For several years prior to his retirement he operated a number of motels in California. Clyde was re-married June 22, 1946 at San Pedro, Cal. To Violet Eula Salmon. She was born Jan. 7, 1907 in Clarette, Texas. Clyde, who was 80 on Christmas Day, 1981, and Violet make their home in Cucamonga, California.
Courtney Darlington was married May 29, 1931 to (Emily). Luciele Horne. They are the parents of 3 sons and a daughter: Courtney Maurice Darlington, born April 8, 1932. (George) Donald Darlington, born June 7, 1936 Richard Thomas Darlington, born June 3, 1940 Susan May Darlington, born Nov. 15, 1947, wife of Jaret Reinhardt E. S. Kranz.
Courtney, Luciele, and all 4 of their children are members of the Church of 4 Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -(Mormon)- and all live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Until his retirement, Courtney was a sheet metal worker. For a number of years he taught a class in sheet metal layout at a college in Salt Lake City. Courtney and Luciele will celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary May 29, 1981. I am planning to visit them and also Vic and Edna in June. Vic's family also belongs to the Mormon Church, as do some of Helen Shaeffer' s children.
E.E.B, May 14, 1981
My father, born on the Bennett home place July 16, 1875, was named for his father' s brother, Edward, and for his paternal grandfather, Thomas Bradley. He was less than 6 months old when the eldest of the Bennett children, Annie, was married on Christmas Day. Eddie, as he was called until he was 20, was 3-1/2 when him brother Ross was born and not yet 5 when their mother died. His 15 year old brother, Frank, died when Eddie was 7. His closest childhood friends were Ross and the neighbor boy, Wallace (Wally) Chawe. And his sister, May, who was 3 years older, and his nephew, Oliver Yarham, who was but 2 years younger.
Eddie attended the grade school which stood on the east side of north Hain St. in Brighton, where he completed the 8th grade. Sometime later he went to work for a Mr. Kitchell who farmed near Pines, and he also worked for the Chase family. For a short time he worked as a groom for a Mr. Beck in Alton. Hr. Beck lived in a large house at the top of Washington Ave. hill and operated a grain and feed store at the foot of t. he hill on the southwest corner of Washington and Boza St.
In Jan., 1897, .Ed, then 21, decided to see the West. He stopped in Franklin County, Kansas for a visit with the families of his sister, Annie Yarham, and his brother, Johnnie. He went by train, to Longmont, Colorado where he went to work on the farm of him cousin, Ben Reese. December 9, 1887 found him leaving for Illinois where he spent Christmas with his family.
Ed spent the next few years working as a farm hand north of Longmont. One year he traveled through the Pacific Northwest, working awhile and traveling on. He was never a hobo but rather always "rode the cushions" as a fare paying passenger. I recall him mentioning Ogden, Utah; Pocatallo, Idaho and Seattle, Wash. For a time he cut mine timbers for a man named Everett True who owned land on the shore of Puget Sound.
From time to time Ed would return to Brighton for a visit, usually stopping off at Princeton. On one of these trips home he met Ada May Cannedy, who lived with her widowed mother and younger sisters at Miles Station, a few miles north of Brighton. He and Ada kept up a correspondence after he returned to Colorado. In August, 1903 Ed came back to Brighton for his father's funeral. He remained in Illinois for the winter, boarding with Ross and Mary who lived at Miles Station, and resumed his courtship of Ada.
Ed and Ada were married March 7, 1905 at Shipman, Ill. by a Mr. Newcomb, Justice of the Peace, with Ada's 16 year old sister, Maude, and Maude's boy friend, Jim Graham, their attendants. Ed was 28 and Ada, 22, She was born Feb. 19, 1881, near Rockbridge, Ill., one of 8 children of James Franklin and Marth (Jones) Cannedy.
Tho newlyweds left for Longmont the following day, where Ed was to operate a farm for an ex-Bostonian, Harry Locke. This was in the Liberty Hall area, 9 miles north of Longmont, where the Reeses and Darlingtons were farming.
Ed and Ada's first child, Claude Cannedy Bennett, was born Dec. 24, 1904. Four months after' Ed's sister May died, Ada gave birth to a daughter Martha May Bennett, born Oct. 24, 1906. A third child Roscoe Floyd Bennett was born Feb. 24, 1908.
The Ed Bennett family moved back to Illinois around 1910. Grasshoppers had eaten their crops two years straight, but the real reason for their return was Ada's homesickness and loneliness, especially after May's death. I learned this from my father some years after my mother's death. My parents settled in East Alton, where Ada's mother, 2 brothers and 3 sisters were living. Ed worked at a Variety of Jobs: farm worker, well digger, powder mill employee. For a time he worked at the stockyards in East Alton which the British Government used as a shipping point for horses and mules purchased in the Midwest. In 1915 he wont to work for the Western Cartridge Co., working a 12 hour shift, 6 PM to 6 AM. I recall him saying he once worked 12 hours a night, 7 nights a week for one whole year without a night off.
Two more children were born to Ed and Ada after their move back to Ill.: The writhe Elmer Edward Bennett, born July 30, 1915, and Verna Irene Bennett, born Jan. 8, 1918. She is the last grandchild of John and Martha (Bradley) Bennett.
1919, Clayde died at age 15 of urinic poisoning, a complication of diabetes from which he had suffered for years. This gentle boy loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing, and had a wonderful talent for drawing and painting. Although I was but 4, I remember the day he died and the sense of loss and gloom in the household afterwards. Claude is buried on Grandfather Bennett's lot in Brighton Cemetery.
In 1921 the Ed Bennett family moved to what later became the eastern section of the city of Alson. They purchased a house on Fullerton Ave. That was their home for the remainder of their lives. My mother, Ada May Cannedy Bennett, died of a heart attack Nov. 7, 1939 at a reunion at the home of a brother in Alton.
In April, 1942 Ed Bennett married Maud (Clark) Reno, a widow formerly of Rockbridge, Ill. He retired in 1945 from Western C. Co. With 38 years of service. My father had been a carpenter for many years and a millwright and pipefitter before that.
Ed Bennett enjoyed remarkably good health until the last few years of his life when he developed hardening of the arteries. His mind and memory were unimpaired but he was unable to climb as he always had. He had done carpentry repair on my brother's properties for years and in 1949 did the majority of the work in helping my wife and me build a house. He was 74 at that time. Gardening was my father's hobby and he had gone out to his back yard garden on the morning of August 21, 1961 when he suffered a heart attack. Later that day he died quietly at Alton Memorial Hospital, 5 weeks post his 86th birthday. It was not until after his death that I realized my father was "an old man." He had never seemed old to me. Ed and Ada Bennett are buried in Brighton Cemetery.
Martha May Bennett attended schools in East Alton and Alton and later worked at the Western. She was married June 27, 1925 to John Murphy Young whose birth date was Sept. 23, 1903. Their first child, John Edward Young, was born Aug. 6, 1926. On July 1`3, 1929 they became the parents of twins: Paul Floyd and Pauline May Young.
Martha lived all her adult life in the Alton area with the exception of a half year or less in 1946 spent in Phoenix, where they had gone due to Johnnie's asthma. She died July 13, 1974 at Centerville, Iowa while on a camping trip with Johnnie and her daughter's family. Stricken at night with an attack of bronchial asthma, Martha died on the way to the hospital. My sister, who would have been 68 in October, is buried near her father and mother in Brighton Cemetery.
John Edward Young is a supervisor at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis. A veteran of WW II, during which he served in the U.S. Navy, John resides in Alton with his wife, Maybelle, and his son by a previous marriage, John Jr. He also has a daughter, Denise, who lives in Phoenix.
Pauline, now Mrs. Donald Newcome, is the mother of a married son, Kent, and 2 daughters: Noreen and Kaye. The Newcomes reside in Godfrey, a suburb of Alton, and Don is employed by Olin.
Paul, who also saw service in the Navy, was a graduate of Annapolis Naval Academy, Class of June, 1954. He became a Vice Pres. Of Anchor Hocking and with his wife, Dorothea, and their 4 children made his home in Lancaster, Ohio. Paul died in his sleep May 5, 1972 at age 42. Dotty and the children still reside in Lancaster. (May, 1978) Paul is buried in Springfield, Ohio.
Floyd Bennett, Ed and Ada's 3rd child, served a machinist apprenticeship at Western Cartridge Co. beginning in 1929. On Feb. 24, 1929 (his 21st birthday) he was married to Hazel May Harper, daughter of John and Grace (Elmore) Harper of Greenfield, Ill.
Floyd transferred to the Engineering Dept. where he worked as a draftsman. He later became a Production Foreman and rose to the position of Supt. of the Arms and Ammunition Division at both the Western and Winchester plants. He vas transferred to New Haven, Conn. to the Winchester plant where he and his family resided from 1953 to 1957 when he returned to the East Alton plant. Floyd was Factory Manager at the time of his retirement in 1964. In 1971 he and Hazel bought a home in Cape Coral, Florida on the Gulf Coast near Fort Meyer. Floyd, who had a heart condition for several years, suffered an attack April 25, 1980 and died a few hours later at a local hospital. He was 2 months past his 72nd birthday. Floyd is buried in Vahalla Cemetery near Alton, Ill.
Floyd and Hazel's son, Phillip Jeffries Bennett, was born Sept. 10, 1945. He was married April 17, 1971 to Patricia Miles of St. Louis. Phillip is an accountant for the Prince Gardner firm of St. Louis and he and Pat make their home in Alton. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
Elmer Edward Bennett was born in East Alton July 130, 1915. After graduating from Alton High School he served a machinist apprenticeship at the Western, 1934-38. He was married July 2, 1938 to Roberta Ellen Bohlmeyer, born Jan. 11, 1917, the daughter of Benjamin and Rosetta (Campbell) Bohlmeyer of Alton. Elmer was a General Foreman if Inspection at the Emerson Electric Mfg. Co., Turret Div. In St. Louis from 1941 until the end of WW II and resided in Ferguson, Missouri.
Elmer and Roberta's son, Stuart Edward Bennett, was born May 28. 1946 at St. Louis. They lived a short while in Los Angeles (1947-48) where Elmer worked in the Experimental Dept. of North American Aviation. He was an Inspection Foreman in the Electronics & Space Div, Emerson Electric Co. until 1964 when he went to Laclede Steel Co. in Alton as a machinist. Elmer retired Sept. 30, 1980.
Roberts Bennett died of a heart attack May. 18, 1974 at Alton. She is buried in Brighton Cemetery.
Stuart Edward Bennett received a B.S. in History from Southern Ill. U., Edwardsville and served 14 months in Viet Nam in the U.S. Army. After several years with the Ill. Terminal R.R., he is now employed by the State of Illinois. Stuart was married March 5, 1977 to Bonnie Lou Hill of Hardin, Ill. Stuart and Bonnie and their infant son reside in Godfrey, a suburb of Alton.
Verna Irene Bennett was born January 8, 1919 in East Alton, Ill. and is the youngest grandchild of John and Martha (Bradley) Bennett. She was married August 3, 1940 to Lester Wille.
1. This information was received from a distant relative, Joy Edwards of Hereford, England. She is a great granddaughter of Even and Sarah Rees.
2. John Reese, born 1857, came: to Brighton, Ill. in 1883 and went to work for his Uncle John Bennett. Benjamin Reese, born 1865, came over in 1884. My father, who was 9 at the time, remembered the reunion of Ben (19) with his 27 year old brother; how they hugged each other and wept with joy to see each other again. They stayed in Brighton until March, 1888 when they went west to settle in northeastern Colorado where they spent the remainder of their lives. John died in 1940 and Ben in 1944. I visited Ben Reese in 1932 when I was 17 and met his daughter, Frances and her husband, Bert Stevens of Longmont. I had a wonderful visit with them in 1976 and plan to see them again in June, 1981. I am indebted to Frances for the information on her father and uncle.
3. William Jones, son of Thomas, came to Brighton with his parents in 1833 at the age of 16. In 1849 he joined the first Illinois party to leave for the California gold fields. After working 1 year as a teamster he returned home with $4000 and purchased a 160 acre farm. At the time of his death he owned over 1000 acres and was known as "Squire Jones." (from There The Heart is) by Martha Bentley)
3A. This information was obtained from an old man I found sitting on a bench in front of a hotel in Cushing in the Fall of 1932. I was hitchhiking through Oklahoma after traveling through Kan., Colo., N. Max., and the Texas Panhandle.
4. According to the Story Kate heard from members of the Bradley family in Okla., Henry Bradley went into town in cold weather. He went into a saloon and left his wife in the wagon. It was against the law for an Indian to enter a saloon. By the time he finally came out, she had frozen to death.
4A. In 1948 while visiting in Vernon I met Dick Coffee. This elderly man owned a ranch near Vernon and also had an insurance agency. He was a relative of my wife's brother-in-law, Lockwood Coffee of Vernon. Annie Coffee's daughter, Texas, and Dick are both now dead.
5. I have no documented proof that the grandsons were Oliver and Clayton. However, my father said his mother died of pneumonia that she caught while caring for her grandchildren who living in the tenant house. In 1881 at the time of her death the only grandchildren she had in Ill. were Ollie and Clate.
6.This story was told to me by Kate Chowning who heard it from Dice Coffee in Vernon, Texas. He also told her he had run across the name Chowning numerous times on abstracts covering property in the City of Vernon.
7. Geo. A. Keas was Brighton's Postmaster from May 16, 1889 'til Sept. 23, 1893. Thomas Keas was a blacksmith. In partnership with Francis Stewart, he ran a wagon and carriage "manufactory and agricultural depot." Bert's uncle, William Boulter, married Almeda Van Arsdale who was a teacher at the grade school on Main St. and Vine. She is listed on the faculty for the year 1860. Their 3 daughters were Almeda Frances, Bertha, and Ruth. Almeda Frances attended Professor Nathaniel Hill's short lived Brighton Academy (1878-1881). In 1881 Brighton High School was organized with Prof. E.C. Hill as principal. The 3 in the first graduating class of May, 1883 were Miss Almeda Frances Boulter, Miss Bertha Boulter, and Miss Alberta Simmons. Ruth Boulter (whose married name was Kelsey) is Brighton's youngest high school graduate. She was graduated in May. 1887 two months before her 15th birthday. Almeda Frances also became a school teacher for years at Brighton. She never remarried and was known to everyone as "Miss Frankie." (from There The Heart Is).
8. Quanhah Parker was the half breed son of a Kwahadis chief and a white woman whose family name was Parker. She was abducted as a 9 year old child during an attack on their homestead in which her father was killed. She was reared by the Indians and when she reached womanhood became the wife of the chief. Quanah Parker was their second son; their first was named Pecos. Her full name was Cynthia Ann Parker. Their third child was a daughter, Topasannah. In 1860 while the daughter was still a nursing baby, her tribe was surprised by a detachment of Indian hunters. Her husband, Pete Nacona, and her two sons escaped but she and the baby girl were "captured" or ."rescued", depending on one's point of view. She was identified by her blue eyes and the fact that when she heard her name spoken, this 34 year old woman said "me Cynthia." She was never happy after her "rescue" and was never seen to smile. Four years afterwards, the daughter died of a fever. Separated from her husband and sons and overcome with grief at the death of her little girl, Cynthia Ann Parker starved herself to death. (from THE INDIANS, THE OLD WEST, published by Time-Life Books, 1973)
9. In this photograph seated in the front row, left to right are: Edward (27) the only one still single: Lide (47) widowed 5 years before; Annie (49); Ross (24). Back row: May (30) who would live less than 3 yrs more; Angie (38); Johnnie (45) widowed 1 yr. 7 mos. Before; Sade (40); and Emma (42).
10. After Uncle Johnnie's death, Aunt Kate went to Ohio to live with two of her nieces. Some years later a letter written to her by Ruth (Bennett) Staadt, her step daughter, was returned marked, ."DECEASED". It was the only notification the family ever received of Aunt Kate's death. Note: 1. Dates for living people have been left off. 2. All information is not verified and is only displayed as I found it. 2. If you know of any errors or have any additional information, please notify me.
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