03 John Bennett

John Bennett the Minister from Milwaukee to Andrew County Missouri to Southeast Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri


John Bennett was an Episcopal minister who wrote his life account out and bound it in book form.

John, the second child of Andrew Sr. and Ann Abbott Bennett, was born on the 1st day of November 1836 at St. Martins Parish, Beauharnois County, Quebec Canada, at his grandfathers residence. His father's place was near North Georgetown, about a mile from the Chataquay River. John grew up on the farm and attended the district school as much as the long distances from the school and the difficulties of the way would, in that country, permit. During his childhood he attended for a time the district school in the neighborhood of his grandfathers residence seven miles from home and was taken care of for this short time by his grandmother Abbott, a devout Roman Catholic. When he was but ten years old his father was deprived of health and upon him and his brother, Thomas two years older, came all the work on the small farm of fifty acres. This land was not yet cleared of all timber. The timber for a new log house and frame barn were gotten out by the boys and the buildings were mainly built by them. While Thomas plowed the stiff soil John sowed the seed, much of which was afterwards harvested by them and the younger brothers by the slow process of reaping with a hand sickle. In the summer of 1855 John took the position of clerk in the Royal Mail Steamboat Office in Montreal with Alex Malloy who was then agent for the line. An old schoolmate held the position of Freight Agent for the line, his name was Daniel Graham, a cousin of Mr. Malloy's.

In the Spring of 1856 Mr. Graham went to Wisconsin to take a position in his brothers bank at Whitewater, and young Bennett went with him to take a place on the construction of the railroad from Janesville to Monroe. The summer and following winter were spent at or near Oxfordville either in the capacity of teamster of track foreman or stable boss. A brother, William who was four years younger, worked with him here for part of the summer. William went away in the fall with Thomas to go into the lumber woods of Michigan.

In the spring of 1857 the railroad building became slack and young Bennett was sent to Whitewater to look after Mr. Graham's property there and do what he could until matters revived. The winter following found him on Mr. Grahams farm east of Whitewater to look after railroad stock placed there for the winter in the care of Mr. Scott, another cousin of the Grahams.

In the spring of 1858 he went in as clerk in a grocery at Janesville, started by J.C. Metcalf, the former chief clerk of Mr. Graham. Before going into the store, however, he spent two weeks in Beloit looking after railroad iron upon which Mr. Graham had a mortgage. In the harvest of 1858, there not being much to do in the store, and a farmer friend, Mr. Spears, being much in need of help, John took a hand in the harvest fields. Towards the end of the harvest he was working alone because the farmer and all of his help were sick. While standing up the last shears of wheat he got drenched by a sash of cold rain. From this he caught a cold and three days later was prostrated with typhoid fever which ran for two weeks. The fever might have proved fatal if had not been for the care of Dr. Palmer, afterwards a noted physician in the U.S. Army, and the care of Mr. and Mrs. Metcalf at whose house he was at These two weeks were a blank in Johns memory for the rest of his life. The Metcalfs watched over John as if he was their son, if fact he ever afterwards called them father and mother, and they not having any children of their own called him son. In the winter following, since he was not gaining his strength back, he went to the public school at Janesville and slept in Mr. Metcalfs store. Having renounced the Catholic faith at fifteen he gradually turned his attention to the faith of his fathers (in his early life) the Episcopal Church, and in the spring of 1859 had fully made up his mind to be confirmed and enter its ministry.

He sold fruit and ornamental trees in the city of Madison for a few weeks for an old friend, a nurseryman from Jonesville. In June he visited the Nashotah Theological Seminary where he spent St. Peters Day and made arrangements to enter the preparatory department of that institution in the fall. During the summer he took a subcontract with Robert Mark, a brother-in-law of Alex Graham, on the Northeastern railroad. The building was from Jonesville to Ton Dee Lae, running south three miles from Ft. Atkinson. Here he boarded for part of the time with Aaron Allen, a farmer living a mile and a half south of Ft. Atkinson. He became acquainted with Mr. Allens daughter, Ida, whom he afterwards married after an engagement of seven years.

On September 29th, 1859, John began his studies at Racine College in Racine Wisconsin. During summer vacation of 1860 John worked in the harvest field on Rock Prairie which resulted in a short but severe illness. The vacation of 1861 was spent at his home in Canada, making a tour of the lakes and the St. Lawrence River home, stopping on the way to see Niagara. In the fall after his return he was attacked with nervous headaches which were accompanied by chills almost proving fatal in two or three instances. The illness prevented him from studying from the first of December to the end of February 1862. While recovering he spent a few weeks in Janesville and Ft. Atkinson. He spent a day or two in the camp of the first Cavalry at Milwaukee, with Mr. Metcalf, who was then quartermaster with a lieutenants commission. In the spring of 1862 John passed his examinations for his freshman year.

During that summer vacation he was with friends in Jonesville and Ft. Atkinson. For a few days he was in charge of an exhibit at the state fair at Madison Wisconsin.

On his return in the fall he was again plagued with nervous chills and headaches, he did nothing in his studies in the winter. Dr. DeKoven, the warden of that school, gave him a home at the college and he canvassed Racine county for a medical works for Dr. Gunn. In the spring of 1863 his health was much worse, so he decided to try the effects of the Iowa prairies.

Some three months were spent by him in the sparsely settled counties of Buchanan and Black Hawk where he canvassed for the medical work already mentioned. Success attended his labors and his health was very much restored, except for the headaches. He sold over 70 copies of the work. In September it was determined by the faculty of Nashotah that instead of going back to Racine that he should begin at once his theological studies and take an extra year there. By the greatest of care in exercise in the open he avoided most of the headaches and passed the examinations for the Holy Orders in the spring of 1866. He spent the vacation of 1865 at home in Canada. His sister, Lucretia, came back with him and made her home in Janesville. Shortly after leaving home this time his father died. Andrew, his father restored to membership in the Episcopal Church lies in the parish churchyard at Deerham,(now Ormstown, Quebec) Canada.

On the 27th of May 1866-Trinity Sunday-John was ordained by Bishop Kemper to the Diconate at Nashotah and immediately took charge of St. Alban's Parish, Sussex, twelve mile from Nashotah. During his stay at Nashotah John kept up lay services and superintended a Sunday School, first in the village and then close by in Heartland, five miles from Nashotah, he walked to his work and back to Nashotah nearly every Sunday.

On September 4th he married Miss Ida Allen at her home in Ft. Atkinson by the Reverend A.D. Cole, D.D., president of Nashotah. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett took up their home in the Rectory at St. Albans.

In March 1867, his mother and the rest of the family, except for one brother moved to northwestern Missouri. On the 7th of April John was advanced to the Order of Priests by the Reverend Jackson Kemper, D.D.L.L.D., Bishop of Wisconsin. The parish that St. Alban was located was named in his care until the 1st of November 1874, when he resigned to take care of missionary work, near his mothers home in Missouri. It was thought the change might relieve him of some of his headaches. Four children were born to John while he was in charge of St. Alban: Andrew Allen, Frank Lucretia, Jackson Kemper, and John Albertus. John A. died while he was quite young and is buried at St. Alban. John also preached at Matthias Church, Waukesha, and held services somewhat regularly at Pewauhee, Heartland, North Lake, Rio, Wyocuna, and Kilborn City.

In November 1874 John moved to Savannah, the county seat of Andrew County Missouri. With this as his home base John did missionary work in northwestern Missouri at: Merryville, Bolkow, Amazonia, Albany, King City, and Plattsberg. After living in Savannah for three years, during which time Elizabeth Annie Lou was born, he moved his family to Cameron and began services there. He lived at Cameron for two an a half years officiating for two, building in the meantime a church in Plattsberg. The missionary work was anything but satisfactory for him.

In 1876 two of Johns sisters, Dorothy and Ann , went to the Centennial celebrations at Philadelphia. They went from there to the old home in Quebec where Ann was with typhoid fever. He went up to take care of her. They returned in the fall.

In the spring of 1880 he accepted a call to St. Pauls parish in Wyandotte, Kansas. This parish was in very feeble condition when John came to it, but it did have a church and a rectory.

In the spring of 1882 the church was sold and an effort was made to build a new and better church. John went east during the summer and fall in order to raise money for the new building. He succeeded in raising only a few hundred dollars. The foundation was laid but nothing more was done that season. While John was absent as a delegate to the General Convention in Philadelphia (fall of 1883), the basement of the church was roofed over and made ready for services. John raised a small sum of money during his stay in Philadelphia. Early in November 1883 the "Dug out" or "Cyclone cellar" as it was then called, was open for worship. John held services in this building until June of 1890.

During the early part of 1890 John was taken with the "Gripe". There was a desire among his parishioners for a change in the Rectorate so he resigned early in June. On the advice of his bishop he took up no work for the summer of 1890. Early in the fall John became general missionary in southeastern Kansas. He officiated in the parish of Ft. Scott as well as other places. For about a year he spent one Sunday at Chanute in the morning, Iola in the afternoon, and Ft. Scott at night. The next Sunday he would mix up the order of attendance.

In the early part of 1891, by the urgent advice of his Bishop, he became rector of St. Andres in Ft. Scott with the parishes at Galena and Baxter Springs attached. In the fall of 1891 John moved to Ft. Scott from Kansas City, Kansas. In 1893 he took charge of the parish at Girard Kansas in connection with Ft. Scott giving up the regular services at Galena and Baxter Springs.

In the summer of 1894 John did a little work for the University State Geological Survey.

John spent the summer of 1901 in the service of the U.S. Geological Survey in Indian Territory Kansas. Since then his summers were spent on Geological Surveys. In December 1901 John became the rector of St. Barnabas at Williamsberg. John resigned St. Barnabas in May 1915 and took charge of St. Peter's at Kansas City, Kansas and of the Good Shepherd Sunday School in Armordale. In December he had another attack of the "Gripe".

In 1916 he spent part of July and August in Wisconsin with two of his sisters, Lucretia and Ann, but did not benefit much from the change.

John Bennett died in 1924 a very traveled man. He had traveled to nearly every state between New York and California. His travels outside the U. S. took him to Canada, Mexico, and Australia where he was a delegate for the church sometime late in his life.