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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The Life And Times Of Pioneer Timothy Bennet

Dallas Bogan on 19 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

As I have written many times previous, pioneers of the past faced many hazards. One of these innovators was from New Jersey, and became a very prominent man in what is now Clinton County. His name is Timothy Bennet.
He came to what is now Ohio in the year 1800 and moved to his home, about one and one-half miles northeast of current Wilmington, in the middle of March 1801. His early history is unknown but he was born near Philadelphia on January 27, 1763. He was raised on a farm and, like most other youths of his time, he pursued the agriculture field.
Sometime later he moved to New Jersey and at manhood he left and took up residence in Westmoreland County, Pa. He was married early in 1789 to Elizabeth Hoblitt, daughter of Michael Hoblitt who was of German descent.
Accompanied by his wife's father and family, he descended in the fall of the same year down the Ohio River in boats to Limestone, now Maysville, Kentucky. The Indians were exceptionally annoying on the river at this time with few boats allowed to pass in safety.
The party was quite lucky except for one boat, which had lagged quite a distance behind. The Indians furiously attacked it with two casualties being taken. However, it caught up to the main party and all proceeded on. After landing at Limestone the emigrants proceeded into the interior of Kentucky, following the Blue Licks to Lexington. After several weeks and an exhaustive exploration they settled in what is now Woodford County, near the present site of Versailles. Bennet and his family resided here for about ten years.
In the fall of 1799, our subject purchased about 200 acres of land from a Kentucky neighbor, William S. Hawkins. It was located between the Little Miami and the Scioto rivers in Survey No. 2690 of the Virginia Military District. Bennet was told that the land was located between the Little Miami and Caesar's Creek, certainly an error.
In 1800, Timothy Bennet, now the father of two sons and four daughters, attempted to find his new lands. The family packed their household goods, gathered their cattle, hogs and the like, and set out from their home in Kentucky to points north.
They traveled by way of the Dry Ridge Road to Cincinnati and from there followed Harmer's Trace to a point where Lebanon now stands. Still following a northerly course, they arrived near where Centerville is now located. Here they met with some of their old Kentucky neighbors, the Nutts, Robbins, Becks and Archers.
Bennet had expected some of his old neighbors to direct him to his lands. But they unfortunately had been there but just a short time and were involved in building cabins for themselves or neighbors, or planting the small clearings for their own families. Certainly no one had heard of the Hawkins Survey.
Survey records in that day and time were kept in the Surveyor's office in Louisville, Ky. Impatiently awaiting word as to the exact location of his land, Bennet had a stroke of good luck learning of a Mr. McFarland who lived near the mouth of Todd's Fork on the Little Miami. Word was that Mr. McFarland could give accurate information as to where Bennet's land was located.
Mr. McFarland led the new land owner up Todd's Fork, by way of William Smalley's land (situated near present Clarksville), to a landmark named the Deserted Camp corner, a well known point in early times. From this juncture ran the line of a former survey that led them to the corner of our subject's land.
As was noted earlier in this text, the land was located about one and one-half miles northeast of the present town of Wilmington. His holdings were part of a significant tract of woodland, which was covered, with large forest trees of almost every kind. Because of the dense forests much of the land was swamp laden, the immense trees having blocked out the sunlight. Bennet's closest neighbor was William Smalley, who lived about 10 miles away.
Mr. McFarland, after the land was located, returned back home. Soon after Bennet hired an Indian to guide him to Waynesville, blazing the trail behind him.
Our subject, in the summer of 1800, raised a fine crop in the Centerville area.
The Bennet's daughter, Amy, was born on January 30, 1801. A few days later, Bennet, along with four of his children and brother-in-law, John Hoblitt, arrived at his new wilderness lands near Wilmington, taking with them with all their cooking utensils, farming tools and necessary provisions. Small trees were chosen for their house construction, which were cut to precise lengths so the two men could place them properly in the walls. Boards were cut for the roof and doorways, and puncheons were installed in the floor.
After the dwelling was constructed, Mr. Bennet left the family and proceeded back to the Centerville neighborhood for Mrs. Bennet. Arrangements being finalized, the couple set out for their new home.
To their surprise they found the Little Miami out of its banks. In this day and time there were neither bridges nor boats on the river. Swimming their horses was the only way to cross the swollen stream. Timothy Bennet led the way carrying the infant Amy in his arms. Mrs. Bennet immediately followed, riding in a most heroic fashion. Other swollen streams stood in their way, but are not known whether they had to cross them in the same manner. After a ride of about 25 miles, not seeing a house for the last 15 miles, Mrs. Bennet was thrilled to see for the first time their little house in the woods.
The Bennet family had a busy spring and summer in 1801. The giant trees had to be removed and the land had to be prepared for a crop. Mr. Bennet could not possibly remove all the trees for the plantings and so he immediately began cutting away the small growth of trees, grubbed up the spice bushes, and girdled the larger trees. He removed the downed trees and brush by cutting and burning.
Seed was planted in the rather loose, rich ground without plowing; the crops were cultivated by hand and with the hoe. The ever-present pests, the squirrel by day and the raccoon by night, kept the family busy, but all in all, enough crops were saved to feed all.
Bennet had lived in the area for several years when the Indians began camping on his ground. (This area was a stopover for their annual fall hunt.) They were generally divided into bands numbering from three to fifty, the larger numbers accompanied by the women, children, and domestic animals. At the first sign of winter they nearly always traveled back to their homes in the North. A few stayed through the winter to trap. The tribes were made up mostly of Shawnee and Wyandottes, with a few Delaware's.
The fall of 1811 found the Indians in a rather unfriendly state. About the first of November all the young men disappeared with no given notice. They were gone about three weeks when they were detected as having returned; they had fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Results of the battle were several days in advance of the area newspapers.
Bennet was quite a hunter, killing many deer on what is now the original plat of Wilmington. His oldest son, at the age of 12 years, was said to have killed a large bear in the same location.
He was a Clinton County Commissioner from 1810 to 1815.
Timothy Bennet died in early 1827 after an extended illness.

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This page created 19 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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