I started with Owen Bennett and grabbed dates, newspaper articles, Enumerator names, and built a story that is about as factual as can be with the information provided. Using deduction and clues about the time, I introduce opinions and local history to create a fuller picture of the lives of my ancestors. I hope you enjoy my stories.
PART I: Owen Evans Bennett
PART 2: Franklin Evan Bennett
PART 3: Maude Lenore WIlliams
Franklin's father was Owen Evans Bennett, b. 08 Oct 1822, Stokes County, North Carolina - d. Apr 1865, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, USA
Franklin's mother was Elizabeth Parham, b. 03 Jan 1827, Cumberland County, Tennessee - d. 4 Mar 1860, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, USA
This story is a continuance of the Bennett saga which begins with Part I: Owen Evans Bennett
That Bennett Boy... Frank
Frank's big sister, Melvina Mariah Bennett (b. 1846), was the oldest daughter of Owen Evans Bennett and the 19 year old farm girl gave in and accepted the marriage proposal of 23 year old John Buckner (b. 1843) of Greene County. Perhaps daddy Owen would have approved or not, but he just died last March (29 Mar 1865) and momma Elizabeth (Parham) has been gone for the past 5 years.
Daddy Owen had gone and married Ms. Louisa Ainsworth a couple years ago (m. 01 Oct 1863) but none of the kids belonged to her so, now that he had passed on, she seems to have just moved away.
Mariah and John Buckner married over in Greene County, Indiana in time for Thanksgiving on 23 Nov 1865. Mariah was used to big families and hard work so when she moved in with her husband whose family was in Bloomfield (Richland Township) in Greene County, she brought two of her brothers into her new family which included 12 year old John Walter Bennett and little Franklin to give herself an instantly large family. She may have regretted that decision later because 10 months and 3 days after she married John Buckner, she gave birth to her first child, Harlin Buckner (b. 26 Sep 1866).
The young couple soon began having children as was common for farm folk. In addition to little Harlin, over the next 3 years came Walter H. and Samuel L.
A couple of month after Samuel was born, it happened to be census time in 1870. A Mr. C. Leavitt was an Assistant Marshall and census-taker out of the Bloomfield (Greene County, Indiana) Post Office and taking the census in Richland Township of Greene County, Indiana in 1870. When Mr. Leavitt came by the two Buckner farms on 9 June, 1870, he noted that the first farm would be young John Buckner’s farm and the next one would John’s mother’s place where John’s siblings lived. John’s daddy didn’t seem to live there anymore but Leavitt wasn’t responsible to determine marital status so he wouldn’t be asking about that. At the first house, Mr. Leavitt recorded the Buckner family as John and Maria(h) with their children: 3 year old Harlin (b. 1866), 2 year old Walter H. (b. 1868), 2 month old Samuel L. (b. March, 1870) and Mariah’s two brothers, 16 year old farm laborer John W. Bennet(t) (b. 1853) and 11 year old farm laborer Franklin E. Bennet(t) (b. 1858). The census taker marked that John was not attending school but Franklin was and that everyone in the home were Hoosiers. Finally, John said they owned about $400 is possessions and noted that the land didn’t belong to him; it belonged to his momma who lived next door who valued her land at $3,000.
But that was 8 years ago and now Frank was once again walking the 28 miles from the farm in Bloomfield to see his steady girl in Bloomington. At 20 years old, maybe it was time to ask Mandy to marry him but the big problem was that he really didn’t have anything to offer. His sister, Mariah, and her husband had basically raised him these past few years but he needed to prove himself a provider to be with sweet Mandy. Frank didn't mind the long walk because he knew everyone on every farm in Bloomfield and he would eventually hop on a wagon headed for Bloomington. Frank wished that his brother-in-law would let him use a horse to go over to Bloomington but Frank wasn't allowed to take the horses from the Buckner farm. Everyone knew the only thing going on for a farm-boy was to head over to Bloomington in Monroe County and see what's going on and these days, what was going on was sweet Ms. Mandy Worley. Frank thought of her often.
The beautiful and privileged Miss Amanda “Mandy” E. Worley lived under the watchful eye of her father, Big Daddy Moses Worley, in Bloomington. Frank, on the other hand, lived on a smelly ol' farm with his sister and her husband. Mandy rode in a wagon wherever she went but Frank usually walked.
The folks from Bloomington might sniff as they looked to their neighboring county to the west. Greene County was exclusively farm country with plenty of water for farming and a small village called Bloomfield as their county seat. And if Bloomfield was looked down upon, you can imagine what they thought of the little farm near Bloomfield where the Buckner’s and the Bennett boys lived.
Nope, there wasn’t much culture or sophistication coming from Greene County, at least not in the eyes of someone from an elegant family in Bloomington. As Frank walked to Bloomington, hoping for a passing horse-cart, he remembered talking to Mandy's daddy last time he went a'calling... Big Daddy Moses was a southerner and was pretty intimidating. Moses Worley pondered what to do about this troublesome Bennett boy. His little angel, Mandy, seemed smitten with the skinny farm kid and she just wouldn't listen to reason! Daddy Moses twitched his moustache as he stood on the porch in Bloomington smoking his cigar. Moses wasn't exactly sure where Mandy and the Bennett boy had met, that kind of conversation never came up. The two of them certainly went to different schools, Mandy in Bloomington, and Frank over in Bloomfield. And the Bennett boy had been out of school a few years back anyhow and the Bennett boy would probably show up later today.
Moses, a proud Virginian, pondered the situation: this hayseed Frank Bennett was from Greene County and, ironically, Greene County was named for General Nathanael Greene, a Yankee General, who commanded the southern forces in the Revolutionary War while the Virginian... the Great Virginian, General George Washington, General Greene’s superior, stayed up north. General Greene went on to push the British into a corner in Yorktown and General Washington had to eventually concede that it was Yorktown that really won the war in the end.
General Greene was a Yankee; Greene started off as an Army Private, the lowest rank; Greene was from peasant stock, and his father was a farmer. General Washington on the other hand, was a Virginian; Washington was a General, the highest rank; and Washington was from culture and class. It seems we’ve got another problem between a Yankee farmer and a true Virginian... just like Washington did!
Mandy was now a respectable 18 years old and young Mr. Bennett was 20 years old. But why would prosperous,
educated, and beautiful Amanda want to leave her home full of people to go and see simple Frank-from-the-farm?
Moses puffed his cigar and thought of where he had come from just to keep his family safe. Big Daddy Moses was Moses E. Worley who was born in old Virginny and, like most Virginians, was damned proud of being from the land of General George Washington, James Madison, and James Monroe. He thought of his previous home, back in Virginia, before he moved the family to Indiana.
Moses had often been to the capitol of Richmond, Virginia to the east as well as Lynchburg, Virginia and Roanoke, Virginia to the west. Beyond Roanoke, Virginia was the wild, wild, west which started at the Appalachian Mountains and on to the frontier beyond.
Moses had married the respectable Emilia S. Webb just before Christmas in 1851. “Emily” was a Virginia belle born in the heart of Virginia in Prince Edward County in 1830 and their life was one of respectability in the eyes of their friends and family. The next county to theirs was Appomattox County, Virginia which had had a lovely little brick courthouse that would gain quite a bit of fame as the place of surrender for the Confederate Army at the end of the Civil War; but that was not to happen for another 15 years.
Moses and Emilia loved their home state of Virginia but, soon after they married, their world began turning upside-down as talks of a War Between the States was on everyone’s tongue and the War of Northern Aggression would soon begin. This country was far too young to be in such a fight; Moses was proud that his granddaddy had been born around the time the country was born.
Moses had no quarrel with the Yankees and worried for the safety of his family who lived just 30 miles and right down the road from Richmond, Virginia, what would be the Capitol of the Confederacy. As a newly-married man, Moses had sat in his parlor in Virginia and drank his coffee and read the Richmond newspaper and saw that on October 16, 1859, the infamous abolitionist John Brown, led a group of 22 men on an attack of the Federal Arsenal up in the northern Virginia town of Harper's Ferry to protest slavery. Federal troops, led by General Robert E. Lee marched in and stopped the raid and captured Old John Brown. Two months later, John Brown was tried and executed by hanging in Charles Town (now West Virginia). They had had enough! 35 year-old Moses and 29 year-old Emilia packed up their belongings and their four children, 7-year old Barbara A. (b. 1852), 5-year old John W. (b. 1854), 3-year old Nancy Jane (b. 1856), and 1-year old Martha (b. 1858), who were all Virginia-born, and moved them out of the path of destruction, across the Appalachian Mountains to a little college town in Indiana named Bloomington in Monroe County. Moses smiled musing that perhaps this was a good omen as Monroe County was named after our 5th President - who was also a Virginian!
Once in Indiana, the family continued to be blessed because on the last day of the year in 1860, they had little Amanda “Mandy” E. Worley (b. 31 Dec). Two months later, seven states combined creating the Confederate States of America and another two months later (Feb 4, 1861), Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina (April 12, 1861). Moses and Emily had escaped Virginia just in the nick of time.
The following years in Bloomington, Indiana were fruitful for Daddy Moses and Emily as they added six more children to their home: Mellisia E. (b. 1862), William H. (b. 1864), Rhoda Ann (b. 1866), Mary Emma (b. 1870), Della Fern (b. 1872), and Isabell (b. 1874). Moses and Emily had been born and raised in the heart of the sophisticated south and they remained a stable, God-fearing, Christian family. Emilia sang in the church and may have played a harpsichord or a violin. She certainly sang to her children and taught her children to pray and sing. And then it happened... that Bennett boy started hanging around. Sometimes at church… sometimes at the market. Moses puffed his cigar; he had done everything he could do to protect his children and now there were rumors that his precious little Mandy, only 18 and a half years old, may have been involved in some hanky-panky. Mandy seemed infatuated with the Bennett boy... and Big Daddy Moses was not happy.
Momma Emily came out on the porch with Mandy a few steps behind her. Emily looked her husband with knowing eyes. Mandy looked deathly afraid as if daddy's wrath would come at any moment. Moses squinted his eyes and looked at Mandy and then took the cigar out of his mouth and muttered, "Damnation!"
Mandy and Frank went to the Courthouse on a hot summer Thursday and filed for a marriage license and then, on Saturday afternoon, Frank and Amanda got married (m. 16 Aug 1878). We can only picture Moses Worley (b. 05 Aug 1824, VA) and his missus, Emelia (b. 07 Feb 1830) giving their little princess away to this hay-seed Bennett boy with his big ol’ moustache a-twitching.
As it happened, Moses’ fears may have been justified as exactly nine months after they were married (m. 16 Aug 1878) later, Fred Bennett was born (b. May 1879). Frank and Amanda set up a home just over the Greene County line. Other bizarre things were happening around the country as well:
* Some fella named Thomas Edison incorporated the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878 and a store in Philadelphia converted from gas to electric light later that year.
* The White House installed a telephone for President Rutherford B. Hayes, the previous Governor of Ohio, who took office as President the previous year (4 Mar 1877).
* Someone attempted a “motion picture” by using 12 cameras to each take one picture to see if a horse’s hooves all actually left the ground at the same time. They do!
The 1880 CENSUS:
In 1880, we find ourselves back over in Greene County, Indiana but not all the way to Bloomfield where Mariah and John Buckner raised young Frank. The new Frank Bennett family set up their household in Center Township which was appropriately named because it was halfway between Frank’s family in Greene County and Mandy’s family in Monroe County.
The census taker, or Enumerator, was Thomas Cole and Thomas was in a bit of a hurry. It was 15 June 1880, a Tuesday, and he had a lot of homes to visit to be done at the end of the week. His penmanship was educated and clear when he wasn’t in such a rush. Most times, he marked with a slash as he was supposed to do. Other times he would make a check-mark but that often came out as an X. He noticed that he was making a few errors on his page but no one really read this stuff anyway; mostly they just calculated the numbers at the bottom of each sheet to get an accurate count. When he arrived at the Bennett home, Frank wasn’t home but then again, most of the men were out in the fields. Amanda came out on the porch with a baby in her arms and, of course, did not invite the stranger in the house. Thomas came down off his horse, tipped his hat, and introduced himself as the census-taker and said he would just take a moment of her time. He asked for her husband’s name and the educated and cultured Mandy responded very formally, “His name is Franklin E. Bennett”.
No man would call himself “Franklin”, Thomas thought, but this young lady was educated, had a squirming baby in her arms, and was being very formal and a bit short. Thomas wrote “Bennett E Franklin”, almost running out of room in the column; Frank was 21 years old; yes, they were married; he was a farmer; and Frank was born in Indiana. Thomas then asked Mandy where Frank’s parents were from. Well, she didn’t know. Frank's father, Owen, had died 15 years ago, long before she knew Frank, and Frank’s mother had died the year Mandy was born, almost twenty years ago, so she incorrectly answered “Indiana” to both. Frank was from Indiana so his folks must also be from Indiana. She told the census-taker that her name was Amanda, she was 20 years old, married, keeping house, and born in Indiana, but her parents had both been born in Virginia. Mandy rolled her eyes a bit when Thomas asked if she and Frank could read and write. Of course they could read; they weren’t some hayseed couple. The baby was little Fred and Fred was 1 year old, he was single, of course, and Thomas marked that little Fred was born in Indiana (as were his parents) and that 1 year old Fred could neither read nor write. Thomas thanked her for her answers, tipped his hat again, and made his way to the next home.
Frank and Mandy had Clarence Bennett in 1884 in Greene County, Indiana and then, had little Emma H. Bennett a couple years later (b. 16 Nov 1886) in Monroe County, Indiana. The next time we hear of Mandy is in 1890 when “people say” she died between the City of Hume and the City of Cherry Point (next to each other) in Edgar County, Illinois, USA. Edgar County is on the Illinois / Indiana border but is northwest of Terre Haute. I have no actual records of this move or this death and no idea why Amanda would go to this area. It is possible her parents or siblings moved here but I have her death as 1890, which makes her 30 years old. The next decade is a confusing time in our Bennett history. Of course, we all know that the 1890 Census burned in 1921 so we are left without those records. Adding to this is the fact that there is another Frank and Amanda Bennett out there. This Frank was born in Ohio in 1859 (our Frank was 28 Nov 1858). Ohio Frank’s wife is named Amanda and they were married in 1881. They had two children, Scott (b. 1882) and Daisey (b. 1883).
Frank is silent in the historical record until he marries again in 1896. He will marry a 30 year-old widow woman... Mrs. Maude Lenore (Williams) McBride.