BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BENNETT
 

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF 
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE  CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903          P.  603

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BENNETT, well known in the town of Windham, Windham county, comes from an old family in Stonington, Conn., where several generations have lived. The old homestead, built during the Revolution, is still in possession of the family. Each generation has followed farming, and has been prominent and useful in the history of the town. Benjamin F. Bennett was born in Stonington, Conn., April 18, 1826, a son of Charles and Martha (Babcock) Bennett, and a grandson of Aaron Bennett.

Aaron Bennett was a son of Stephen Bennett, and made his home in Stonington, dying there at a good old age. He was twice married, his second wife, Abigail Smith, being the mother of Charles Bennett, mentioned below.

Charles Bennett, son of Aaron, followed farming all his life. He was a man of fine physique, well-proportioned and weighing about 225 pounds. His principles were high, and he exerted a good influence on the community, and was highly respected. He married Martha Babcock, daughter of Ichabod Babcock, who lived at Gales' Ferry, and served as post carrier between New London and Newport during the Revolutionary war. Of the fourteen children born to Charles Bennett and wife, all but one lived to marry, and seven are yet living: (1) Amanda is Mrs. Washington Chapman, of Ontario Center, N.Y.; (2) Benjamin F.; (3) Martha married Samuel W. Culver, a Baptist minister of Rochester, N.Y.; (4) Eliza married James Miner, of Northfield, Conn.; (5) Calvin, formerly a merchant, is now a grain dealer of Fort Scott, Kansas; (6) Alonzo was formerly a merchant in Nevada City, Mo.; and (7) Ellen is Mrs. Walter Cone, of Ontario Center, N.Y. Mr. Bennett lived to be seventy-four years old, and his wife attained the age of seventy-six. Both are buried at Mystic, Conn. Before Fort Sumter was fired upon Mr. Bennett was a Democrat, but after that was a stanch Republican. He served as selectman, and was many years a trial justice.

Benjamin F. Bennett began his education in the district school, where he soon ceased summer attendance, as his work was needed on the farm, but he continued to attend during the winters until he was eighteen years of age. He had made a rapid progress, and at that age he took charge of a school himself, proving in every respect a very desirable teacher. His first school was nine miles from home, and every Monday morning he was accustomed to walk this distance, build his fire, write his copies, and have the room in order before his pupils arrived. His compensation was thirteen dollars a month and "board round." In all he taught five terms in Stonington, and took his wages home to his parents. Mr. Bennett remained at home for six years after he was of age, and worked for his father. In 1854 he removed to Mansfield, where he bought a farm near the Coventry depot, engaging in farming and cattle dealing. In 1877 he removed to Windham town, a mile and a half northwest of Willimantic, where he followed general farming, owning an extensive tract of land, and in 1894 Mr. Bennett came to his present home on Ash street. He not only built his home, but put up three other houses, and this is one of the best tracts of suburban property in Willimantic. Mr. Bennett has been an extensive dealer in real estate, and now owns 800 acres of land in Mansfield, Windham, Ashford, Willimantic, and Columbia. He has built twenty-two houses in Willimantic, and still owns eight of them, and in this way has proved a decided benefit to the city. Always a man of energy and determination, he has made an extensive circle of acquaintances, the most of whom count him as a friend.

In early life Mr. Bennett was a Democrat, as his associations were all in that direction, but became a Free Soiler when the issues were more sharply defined between freedom and slavery, and later united with the Republican party, in which he has always been active. In the course of his long and useful life Mr. Bennett has held many public offices. In 1858 he was a representative in the General Assembly from the town of Mansfield. His services on the board of selectman and on the board of relief were creditable and useful, and as constable he was a faithful officer, as he was also when made collector. He was elected justice of the peace, but never qualified. Mr. Bennett is not an office-seeker, and was never at a caucus when his name was proposed.

On Oct. 27, 1852, Mr. Bennett was united in marriage at Preston, Conn., to Miss Mary Graves, who was born in Griswold, Conn., Aug. 10, 1828, a daughter of John and Mary (Pennaman) Graves. Two children blessed this union: (1) Walter, born April 23, 1855, in Mansfield, was an attorney-at-law, and died May 20, 1899, in Willimantic; he married Dora Monk, of Medfield, and had two children, Daisy and Walter E. (2) Clinton, born Aug. 21, 1863, in Mansfield, is shipping clerk for the Bradley Fertilizer Co., and lives in Boston; he married Etta Perkins, of Mansfield, and has three children, Clinton F., Cecil Raymond and Leslie. Mr. Bennet and his wife belong to the Baptist Church. He is a well posted and genial gentleman, exceptionally well preserved. Where usually appears on farm lands, "No hunting or fishing allowed," on his lands appeared this sign: "Hunt and fish all you wish; grub furnished free." As this sign indicated, Mr. Bennett is kind hearted and liberal. Out of his long and industrious life he has brought forward a comfortable competence, the result of his own economy and thrift.

Reproduced by:  Linda D. Pingel

 

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