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Building A Bennett Life

I started with Owen 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

PART 4: 

Owen Evans Bennett


born: 08 Oct 1822, Stokes County, North Carolina, USA


married: 10 Mar 1844 to Elizabeth Parham in Monroe County, Indiana, USA

married: 01 Oct 1863 to Louisa Ainsworth in Greene County, Indiana, USA


died: 29 Mar 1865, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana, USA 


Owen's father was James Joshua Bennett, b. 1785, Stokes County, North Carolina  - d. 11 May 1814

Owen's mother was Mary Elizabeth Evans, b. 1784, Rowan, Forsyth County, North Carolina  - d. 1840

     
Owen Evans Bennett was born and raised in Stokes County, North Carolina, up on the Virginia border.  Owen was a man of the earth, a farmer, and was one of eight children.  Owen was between 18 and 21 years old when he and his older brother William (b. 27 Mar 1821) moved from North Carolina to Indian Creek Township in Monroe County, Indiana.


William and Owen Bennett must have felt they hit the jackpot when they met the Tennessee-born Parham sisters, Henrietta and Elizabeth.  The older and wiser William Bennett married Henrietta Parham first (m. 2 Feb 1843) and, a year later, Owen Bennett married Elizabeth Parham (m. 10 Mar 1844) and moved her to his farm in Monroe County to start a better life.
Owen and Elizabeth started having babies in rapid succession and with each of her first five pregnancies, Owen would take Elizabeth over to her sister’s home in Greene County to have her babies so that she could stay with her sisters.  However, their last three children were all born at home in Monroe County.

Owen had worked many jobs, including work as a blacksmith and had owned his land with a value of $150 (1850 census).  In 1851, just seven years after they married, Owen and Elizabeth bought a 100 foot x 120 foot plot of land (less than a quarter acre) in the “town” of Buena Vista in south Monroe County, from Jess and Eliza East for $42.50.



 For and in consideration of Forty Two Dollars and Fifty Cents in hand paid to Jess W. East and Eliza his wife by Owen Bennett, they do grant, bargain and sell unto the said Owen E. Bennett and his heirs forever in free all that lot or parcel of land known as follows (viz)  Commencing 90 feet from the corner of lot No. 6 as known on said plat in the Town of Buena Vista thence S E 120 feet S W 100 feet N W 120 feet thence N E 100 feet to the beginning in section No. 20 Township No 7 N of R No. 2 W, situate in the County of Monro(e) & State of Indiana & I the sails Jesse W East do covenant with the said Owen E Bennett that I am lawfully seized & possessed in fee, that the said Owen E Bennett his heirs shall forever quietly enjoy the same, that the same are free from all incumberances, that I will forever Warrant & defend the title to the same to the said Owen E Bennett whether in law or equity & I, the said Eliza East doth hereby relinquish to the said Owen E Bennett & his heirs all right to dower in said premises.   Witness our hands and seals, this the 5th day of May 1851.                                 J W East.                  Her.            Eliza x East. Mark (Seal)   



 Large families were common in those days and Owen and Elizabeth needed a large family to sustain their farm in southern Monroe County, Indiana.  Elizabeth wasn’t happy unless children were underfoot and had herself come from a rather large family. 
Elizabeth’s mother wasn’t around to help anymore because 40 year-old Lucia “Lucy” had died giving birth to her fifteenth child back in ’48 (d. 15 Apr 1848).   The family decided to name the newborn little girl, Lucy, to continue on momma’s name and her life (Lucy Parham, b. 15 Apr 1848).
On 17 Sep 1850, John McSluss made his rounds in Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana as the Census Taker or 'Enumerator' as they were known. He recorded the following: * Owen E. Bennett, 27 years, Male, Blacksmith, b. North Carolina
* Elizabeth, 24 years old, b. Tennessee
* James R(iley Bennett), 5 years, b. Indiana * Mariah M(elvina Bennett), 4 years, b. Indiana
* William T., 1 year, b. Indiana.
The value of their Real Estate was $150

Owen Evans Bennett got his middle name from his mother's maiden name; his mother was Mary Elizabeth Evans (b. 1784, Rowan, Forsyth County, North Carolina). Owen was a respected member of Indian Creek Township and was even sworn in as a U.S. Postmaster at the local Post Office on June 2, 1852.
Short lives seem to run in the Parham family because Elizabeth also died young at the age of 33 leaving behind 8 children ranging from 15 year-old Riley to 1 year old Frank.  All the Bennett kids pitched in to keep the family together after momma Elizabeth died but papa Owen was the bread-winner and, as a farmer, had to be away most of the day.  Now he needed to stay closer to home and spent his day farming the land which he no longer owned according to the 1860 Census.  The eldest daughter, Mariah, was able to take care of one of the young children but not all of them.  Some of the neighbors helped by taking a couple of the littlest ones in but there were still a lot of little Bennett mouths to feed.

THE 1860 CENSUS:
The heat and humidity on an Indiana summer can be pretty imposing and one doesn’t want to be on horseback in Indiana on the 4th of August for very long but that was where Assistant Marshal James W. Cookerly found himself in 1860. 


It was a Saturday and he would be home tomorrow for church and supper with the family but first he needed to record these farms for the census.  Cookerly loved doing the census.  It seemed like a lifetime ago when he was a law student at Indiana University in Bloomington and they had posted a notice that law students were needed to help with the census.  They paid cash money and he already knew the area like the back of his hand.  Cookerly had to drop out of Law School back in 1838 (Wylie, 1890b) but he could at least use his credentials to help with the census and earn a little more money. In this part of Indiana, census-takers were referred to as Assistant Marshals and were probably deputized to do their Federal Census duties.  On this day, Mr. Cookerly was working on Census Records for Monroe County out of the Post Office in Harrodsburg, Indiana, south of Bloomington.  Monroe County was broken into nine townships and today’s census work would be west into Indian Creek Township which was the township in the extreme southwest part of the county.  Cookerly took a drink of water from his canteen as he spurred his horse west down the road as he went from farm to farm performing his duties.  

     Unlike other, more interesting places, Indian Creek Township had no big towns to speak of and consisted mostly of farms; the nearest collection of houses that could be considered a town were Kirkville and Buenavista, Spanish for “beautiful view”; without a doubt, this was pretty country. 


     Cookerly had already completed a few farms that day around Buenavista; he checked the date as 4 August 1860 and he then checked the Post Office records from Harrodsburg from his saddlebag.  The record said the next home belonged to the Bennett family.  It seems Mr. Bennett just lost his wife, Elizabeth, just five months ago (d. 4 Mar 1860).

     Cookerly rode up to the Bennett farm and called out to the house as was common. It is possible he would call out, "Hoosier?!" (who's there?).  A young man named James Riley Bennett came out of the house and 40-some-odd year old Cookerly identified himself as a marshal from the Post Office and asked if Riley’s pa was home.  

15 year-old Riley promptly said, “Yes, sir” to the official looking man on horseback who was older than his own pa.  Riley ran over to an adjacent field and came back out on the heels of his father, 36 year-old Owen Evans Bennett.  The elder Bennett nodded toward Riley and said, “Get the horse, boy…”  Having worked as a blacksmith and a farmer, Owen had handled many a horse and ensured all his children knew their way around horses as well.      Riley took the reins as Cookerly dismounted the horse and followed Owen into the farmhouse.  Riley led the horse to a tree and wrapped the reins on a low branch and then went to get a bucket of water for the horse and perhaps an apple if there was one in the kitchen.      Cookerly pulled out his Census book and set it on the kitchen table and began recording. Cookerly began writing… Owen Bennett was, of course, a farmer as were most folks in the area.  “Mr. Bennett, I understand you lost your wife earlier this year?” Cookerly asked softly.  Owen’s hard face softened a bit when he confirmed that he had recently lost his beloved Elizabeth last March.  She had only been 33 years old when she went to be with the Lord.  Cookerly wrote a small “(w.)” after Owen’s name to indicate he was a widower as he paid his respects by saying, “I sure am sorry for your loss, Mr. Bennett...”  Owen was sure sorry as well; he had a houseful of kids and no Elizabeth to care for them. Cookerly continued to record that Owen had come to Indiana from his birth state of North Carolina as well as the names of the children. Owen listed off the children by what he called them rather than their given names. 

* 15 year old James Riley (b. 26 May 1845) was recorded as Riley.
* 13 year old Mariah Melvina (b. 26 Feb 1846) was listed as Maria.
* 11 year old Thomas William (b. 18 Feb 1849) was listed as simply Thomas.
​* 9 year old Calvin Howard Bennett (b. 14 Jun 1851) was recorded as Calvin.
* 7 year old John Walter (b. 18 Mar 1853) was listed as John, and
* 2 year old Wesley (b. Jan 1858) was recorded as Wesley.       Cookerly asked Owen where all the kids were born and asked if all the children were in school.  He marked them all as Hoosiers and that they all were indeed in school except for little Wesley.  Missing from the household was 4 year old Kelley Dean Bennett (b. 06 Apr 1856) and 15-month old Franklin Evan Bennett (b. 28 Nov 1858) who were probably at a neighbor’s home being cared for by kindly folks which allowed the Bennett kids to attend school and Owen to work.  Owen didn’t offer any of this information because, well, they didn’t actually live here much anymore. Cookerly shook Owen’s hand and thanked him for the hospitality and for answering the questions.  It never really occurred to Owen that he wouldn’t answer this man’s questions.  He was from the gub’ment doing his official duty and all law-abiding citizens cooperated with these postal officials, the sheriff, and other gub’ment officials. That’s just how things worked. Cookerly refilled his canteen on his way out the door. Cookerly got back on his horse and crisscrossed the countryside continuing his census work as he cursed the mud farm roads that often caused his horse to stumble.  If it rained, these roads would become muddy and impassable or simply wash out altogether.  Cookerly found himself one with the land, the roads, and the countryside as he realized he knew every path, trail, and road in these parts.  These roads were certainly a mess; someone should do something about them.  In 1882, James Cookerly decided he had had enough and ran for the elected position of Road Superintendent for Monroe County, Indiana (Bloomington, 1882). The next few years were tough on the Bennett clan without momma Elizabeth but life goes on, as they say.  After 1860, the family left their farm in Indian Creek Township in Monroe County and moved on over near Bloomfield in Greene County to be closer to Elizabeth’s family. 

James Riley (b. 26 May 1845, Greene County, IN) was caught up in the War between the north and the south and kept asking his father if he could join.  The minimum age to join the Army was 18 years old but the local Indiana 43rd Infantry Regiment was recruiting and 16 year-old James wanted in.  He may have lied about his age but James [Riley] Bennet(t) from Green(e) County, Indiana mustered with a hundred other Greene County farmers on 27 Sep 1861 (Civil War Index, 1861) and was assigned to Charlie Company and they marched off to Kentucky for a series of campaigns.       James Riley’s Company was almost all Greene County, Indiana Volunteers and they were in a fair amount of action in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas where they fought for three years; in 1864, the unit was disbanded.  During the war, the entire Regiment lost 2 officers and 41 enlisted men in battle as well as 5 officers and 200 enlisted men who died by disease but Riley survived the fighting. Bennett men don’t like being alone and Daddy Owen was no exception.  In 1863, Owen was 41 years old and still had a houseful of kids with the exception of James Riley who was still off to war.  Maria Melvina was 17 years old and it wasn’t fair that she had to act as a mother to all these babies.  Owen’s beloved Elizabeth had gone on to be with the Lord three years ago and Ms. Louisa Ainsworth was willing to marry him.  Owen Bennett of Greene County, Indiana married Louisa Ainsworth on 1 Oct 1863 in Greene County (Greene, 1863). When James Riley got back home in 1864, he was 19 years old and met his new step-mother Louisa for the first time.  Love was still in the air as James Riley went on to marry his sweetheart, 20 year old Sarah Jane Laffoon on 06 Nov 1864 in Worthington, Greene County, Indiana.  James Riley had left the family to go to war but now he was home like a prodigal son and getting married and, of course, all the family came to the wedding.  After many years of sadness, they needed this brief reprieve. Four months after Riley got married, daddy Owen and Louisa sat and read a newspaper that announced that President Lincoln had been re-elected; the simple second-term inauguration was held on the 4th of March. Owen silently thanked God for his new wife and for bringing James Riley home and prayed that Mr. Lincoln would end the war soon.      25 days later, after Old Abe’s re-inauguration, 42 year old Owen Evans Bennett died (d. 29 Mar 1865) leaving his new bride and a houseful of kids, including little 7 year old Frank, in her care.  16 days after papa Owen died, President Lincoln was shot in the head and died the next day (d. 15 April 1865), but the Bennett children had a lot more on their mind than a far-away President and Mariah was left to help run the family.

The 1870 Census shows that one of the children, 13 year old Kelly Dean Bennett, was placed with the Miller family. The Millers were in their 60's and there were only 2 of them and they opened their home to young Kelly Dean Bennett. Kelly Dean's youngest brother Franklin Evans Bennett would later name his son Kelly Carlyle Bennett, after Frank's big brother Kelly.      We don’t know if Louisa stayed or left but we know that Melvina Mariah Bennett (b. 1846) was the oldest daughter and the 19 year old farm girl gave in and accepted the marriage proposal of 23 year-old John Buckner (b. 1843).  They married over in Greene County, Indiana just after daddy Owen died but in time for Thanksgiving on 23 Nov 1865. The story continues with Franklin Evan Bennett.


Owen's father was James Joshua Bennett, b. 1785, Stokes County, North Carolina  - d. 11 May 1814

Owen's mother was Mary Elizabeth Evans, b. 1784, Rowan, Forsyth County, North Carolina  - d. 1840

Children were:

1. Anne Frances Bennett, b. 1 Feb 1815, NC, d. 22 Dec 1894, Crockett, TN

2. Clarissa Strude Bennett, b. 19 Dec 1815, Stokes County, NC, d. 1841

3. Lucy Ellen Bennett, b. 25 May 1817, Stokes County, NC, d. 14 Feb 1872, Norwood, Lucas, IA

4. Hannah Walker Bennett, b. 11 Dec 1820, Stokes County, NC, d. 1840, IN

5. William Harlan Bennett, 27 Mat 1821, Stokes County, NC, d. 6 Jan 1849, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, IN

6. Owen Evans Bennett, 8 Oct 1822, Stokes County, NC, d. 29 Mar 1865, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, IN

7. Walter Alvis Bennett, b. 24 Dec 1824, Stokes County, NC, d. 26 Oct 1877, Livonia, Putnam, Missouri, Livonia Liberty Cemetery

8. Aaron Greene Bennett, b. 14 May 1827, Stokes County, NC, d. 12 Dec 1886, Monroe County, IN



6. Owen Evans Bennett, 8 Oct 1822, Stokes County, NC, d. 29 Mar 1865, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, IN

Owen married: 10 Mar 1844 to Elizabeth Parham in Monroe County, Indiana, USA

​a. James Riley Bennett, b. 26 May 1845, d. 6 Apr 1913, Worthington, Greene, IN, age 68 from shock, from accidental fall due to a sciatic nerve, Worthington Cemetery

b. Mariah Melvina Bennett, b. 26 Feb 1846, d. 16 Mar 1900, Worthington, Greene, IN, age 54.

c. Thomas William Bennett, b. 18 Feb 1849, d. 22 Sep 1919, Worthington, Greene, IN, age 70.

d. Calvin Howard Bennett, b. 14 Jun 1851, d. 23 Sep 1911, Worthington, Greene, IN, age 60
e. John Walter Bennett, b. 18 Mar 1853, d. 12 Apr 1928, Indiana, age 75.
f. Kelly Dean Bennett, b. 6 Apr 1856,
Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, IN, d. Lawrence, Alabama. In 1870, we see 13 year old Kelly Dean Bennett living with the 60 year old Miller family.
g. Wesley Bennett, b. Jan 1858,
Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, IN, d. bef 1879

h. Franklin Evan Bennett, b. 28 Nov 1858, Indian Creek Township, Monroe County, IN, d. 1 Aug 1935, Newark, Beech Creek Township, Greene, IN, near Solsberry, age 77.


Owen married: 01 Oct 1863 to Louisa Ainsworth in Greene County, Indiana, USA

- No children