BENNETT, James Augustus & John H.
James Augustus BENNETT [brother of John H. BENNETT]
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 875-876
James Augustus BENNETT, of Belvidere, has for more than half a century resided in Boone County [IL], and is a worthy representative of one of its honored pioneer families. His grandfather was a farmer of Groton, Middlesex County, MA. His father was born in that locality, and resided in Groton until 1839, when in May he started Westward, accompanied by his wife and four children. They went by way of the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo, where they embarked on a steamer and in that way reached Chicago, where Mr. BENNETT purchased a team of horses and a pair of oxen, and, attaching them to wagons he had brought with him, made an overland journey to Boone County. At that time few improvements had been made, the few settlers lived in log cabins, and their homes were widely scattered. The family moved into a log house with another family, and there resided until fall, when Mr. BENNETT purchased a tract of land near Newburg [Macon County, IL], where they spent the winter. He suffered very much from ague during the winter, and in the spring concluded to leave that location, so purchased a tract of wild land on South Prairie, now included in Flora Township. Building a barn, the family occupied that as a place of residence during the summer, while the house was being moved from Newburg. Four years later, he purchased a farm on the north bank of the Kishwaukee River, a portion of which is now included within the city limits, and erected a commodious brick residence, frame barn and other buildings. He made it one of the desirable farms of the locality, and continued its cultivation until is death in 1868.
The maiden name of our subject's mother was Mary SHATTUCK. She was born in Groton, MA, and died in Jan 1892. She had a family of seven children, six of whom grew to mature years: James [p 876] Augustus; Samuel, now deceased; John H., a resident of Belvidere [his bio follows]; Sarah J., who is living in Bonus Township; George, of Coffey County, KS; and Charles, a resident of Flora Township. Since the death of Mrs. BENNETT, the farm has been sold to the Lincoln Avenue Land Company, and it is platted and known as Fair View, and the company have already sold a large number of lots.
The subject of this sketch was a lad of only nine years, when he came to IL with his parents. He well remembers many incidents of the long journey. He was reared amid the wild scenes of the frontier to habits of industry, and at an early age became inured to the hard labors of the farm. In the winter season he attended the schools of the neighborhood, while in the summer months he assisted his father in the cultivation of the land, remaining under the parental roof until he had attained his majority, when he started out in life for himself. Since June 1839 he has resided continuously in Boone County, and is numbered among its worthy pioneers. He had ever borne his share of its upbuilding and advancement, and is recognized as a public-spirited and progressive citizen of the community.
Biography of John H. BENNETT [brother of James Augustus BENNETT]
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 1151-1152
John H. BENNETT, an agriculturalist residing in Belvidere, claims the old Bay State [MA] as the place of his birth. He was born in Groton, Middlesex County, 07 Jul 1835. His grandfather was a lifelong farmer, and spent his last years in Groton. The father, James BENNETT, was born in Groton, where he acquired his education, and was reared to manhood. He wedded Mary SHATTUCK, also a native of Groton, where they resided until 1839, when with their four children they came to IL. The journey was made by way of the Erie Canal and Great Lakes to Chicago, and thence by teams to Boone County, which they found to be a sparsely settled region, almost on the borders of civilization. Mr. BENNETT purchased a tract of land near the locality known as Lone Tree, in Flora Township, built a house, and there made his home for four years, when he sold and purchased the farm on the north side of the river, a portion of which is now included within the city limits. There he carried on his chosen occupation until his death, which occurred [p 1152] in 1868. His wife long survived him, and passed away 23 Jan 1892. They had a family of six children: James Augustus, Samuel, John H., Sarah J., George S. and Charles. Samuel is now deceased.
John H. BENNETT was only four years old when he came to IL with his parents. He literally grew up with the country, and has been an eyewitness of its development and progress from almost the beginning. He has seen the growth of Belvidere from a hamlet to a city of five thousand, while some of the villages of importance had not yet sprung into existence when he came here. There were no free schools in those early days, and his father, determined to give his children an education, employed a teacher who taught two terms in his own home. John afterward attended a subscription school in the city. He aided in the arduous task of developing the wild land, and remained with his father until he attained his majority, but on his 21st birthday left the parental roof, and started out in life for himself. He found employment upon a farm, where he remained until fall, when he borrowed a sum of money, went to Chicago, and pursued a course in the commercial college of that city. In the spring he returned, and entered the employ of his father, and in July 1857 started for MN. After three months spent in that State, he returned home and engaged in chopping wood for his father through the winter, after which he was in the employ of his brother Samuel as a salesman for three years.
On 31 Oct 1862 Mr. BENNETT was united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Sarah Maria, daughter of George and Mary VICKERY, and a native of PA. They have two children living: Frank and Anna. The parents are both members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and in politics our subject is a Republican.
Mr. BENNETT made his first purchase of land in Caledonia Township. There was a water power on the place, and a sawmill, and he built a grist mill, which he operated in connection with the other, while at the same time engaged in raising stock. He there resided for about ten years, when he sold that farm and purchased land in Belvidere Township, which he operated until 1882, when he again sold and bought the farm he now owns and occupies, adjoining the city limits. He is an industrious and energetic agriculturalist, and the neat appearance of his place, with its many improvements, indicates his thrift and good management. He may well be termed a self-made man, for his success is due entirely to his own efforts.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.