03 Charles Bennett

Charles Bennett Westward to Homestead - Andrew County Mo.





THE HISTORY OF NORTHWEST MISSOURI vol. III, pages 1889-1890, printed 1915.

Charles Bennett is a native of Canada, born in the province of Quebec on 17 October, 1838. Charles was the third of thirteen children born to Andrew and Ann (Abbott) Bennett. All children grew to maturity. Charles Bennett grew up on a Canadian farm, and as his parents were poor and burdened with the responsibilities of a large household, his educational advantages were somewhat neglected. During his adult life he has acquired most of his learning by close and attentive reading and observation. For several years after coming to Andrew County, he and his brother Andrew worked and engaged in farming on a partnership basis. Mr. Bennett now owns a well improved farm of 250 acres in Platte Township. But at one time his possessions amounted to 500 acres, part of which he has distributed among his children. On October 1, 1912, he suffered a heavy loss by fire which destroyed a fine barn 169 by 42 feet, with a hundred ton of hay and all the farming implements. He carried $1,500 worth of insurance, but the total loss was more than $6,000. Mr. Bennett is an interesting talker, a man of broad views gained by practical acquaintances with the world and men, and possess a philosophical turn of mind. As a result of an accident and advancing years he has almost lost his eyesight, and now has to see the printed page through the eyes of other members of the house hold. In 1881, Mr. Bennett married Mrs. Susanna H. (Nugent) McComb. She brought one son by a former marriage, Thomas Leroy McComb, who is now in the grocery business in Kansas City. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett have four children of their own: Andrew, a farmer in Gentry County, he married Flora Inglis and has three children; Anna, who is the wife of Frank Troupe and has four children; Joseph, who married Ada Van Natta and has two sons; and Winnie living at home. Long life and prosperity have been given to Charles Bennett, who has already passed the seventy-fifth milestone of life's journey, and on the way has accumulated more than an average share of this worlds goods. His home has been in one locality since the spring of 1867, and in all these years he has succeeded not only in living peaceably with his neighbors but in making himself a positive factor for good to others as well as his own family, from whom he enjoys all the honors of old age.

________________________________________________________________________ [This is a copy of a letter written by Charles Bennett that Andrew Weaver, son of Ann Bennett Weaver, had in his possession. Andrew said that he kept to the text as best he could but Charles Bennett was not consistent in several ways.]

Sussex March 10 1867

Dear Sir:

We landed here last night and I am going to let you know how we got along on our journey. We got into Montreal that evening about dark and to our lodgings at Greens. Thomas and I went up the town and called on Margaret McKench who came down with us to the Greens, we also called on Annabella but she was not in. Next morning we called again and Annabella was very glad to see us all and to here from her sisters. Went thear to find Charlotte Bennett and her cousin but we did not find them out, but called on Mary Jane, then came down to our lodgings, got our money and went up thriugh town, called on several brokers and exchanged it in William Wiers St. Francis Wavier St. the paper for 35 and the silver for 30 percent in green backs leaving $100 to pay out the passage which we took at M. O'Briens up at the French Square for $100.80c paying the family for the tickets to Milwaukee. We had all the girls down to see us that night, they seen us aboard the cars which started at 9.25 for the west. We saw none of the country untill day light, next morning when we were passing Kingston which is a rough stoney country but gets better as you go west, we landed at Toronto at 1.30 P.M. The train from Montreal dose not go any further and we would have remained untill 1 A.M. to take the regular train for Sarnia but we went on the mail cars to Stratford whear we landed at 8.20 P.M. and staid over night. Took the train for Sarnia at 6 A.M. and traveled through some nice rolling lands untill we got half way to Sarnia where the country becomes more level and lightered timbered. We landed at Port Huron at 10 A.M. From their to Detroit is very level country aparently good land but very wet. Left Detroit at 12.15 for Chicago whear we should have reached a little before 12 but did not get thear untill 2.30 A.M. on account of a collision with an eastwardly train about twenty miles before reaching Chicago which caused us to miss the train to Milwaukee and to remain untill 9 the next morning when we started for Milwaukee from thear to Pewaukee where we hired a team for $2.50 to drive us here and got landed at the darkening last night and found John, his mistress, and Dorothy all well and in good spirits. The little ones and mother were very sick the first day and a little the second, but the third they were all in good spirits. I will likely start for Ioah and Missourie very soon so that you will not hear from me for some time. Mother and the little ones will stay here and the rest go out to service. This is a very hilly part of the country, has been pretty well wooded and sells from $20 to $60 per acre. On the Michigan Central route the soil is gravelly, the surface rolling the ice off the rivers and the snow is almost gone. There are many fine towns along the railroad and you cannot get a meal along the route for less than a dollar. Chicago is about twice as large as Montreal is. It is regularly laid out with fine wide streets and almost all are splendid buildings, the river is covered with masts and steamers for miles. There are railroads and depots in all directions through it. The price of flower and pork is about on par with Montreal. It cost us altogether in coming here about $137 in gold. The snow here is almost all gone but the ice is strong on the little lakes yet. You may let Mrs. McEwen know the particulars of this letter and tell Mary Ellen to write so that we may hear how her mother is. John will enclose a letter in this for Uncle William. No more at the present, but remain your affectionate friend

Charles Bennett

Please give this address to Mary Ellen McEwen Mrs Bennett care of Rev. John Bennett Sussex Waukesha Co. Wisconsin U.S.

________________________________________________________________________ This is copied as it was published in the October 1955 edition of the MISSOURI HISTORICAL REVIEW, with no changes in punctuation or grammar.] --{This same letter was again reprinted in the TRI-COUNTY paper in King City on April 20, 1956 with the following introduction from the MISSOURI HISTORICAL REVIEW:

Empire Prairie land was high at $7 an acre in 1867 in the opinion of Charles Bennett, a Canadian who emigrated to this country at the close of the Civil War and lived here until his death in 1920. By permission of Floyd C. Shoemaker of Columbia Mo., editor of the Review and secretary of the Historical society , Mr. Bennett's letter and the review's introductory explanation of it are reprinted herewith in full. In connection with the introduction the Review quoted Andrew Thomas Weaver and John Carrier Weaver, and are in a footnote explained: "Andrew Thomas Weaver, professor of speech at the University of Wisconsin was the son of Ann Bennett Weaver, the sister of Charles Bennett. She was one of the children who had come west to Wisconsin and Missouri with the family in 1867. John Carrier Weaver is the son of Andrew Thomas Weaver and is a professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota.

"Here is the introduction, followed by the letter:

INTRODUCTION

This letter was written by Charles Bennett to William Black, a friend and former neighbor of the Bennett family in Eastern Canada. Although discontinued about 1890, there was a United States Post Office at that time in the home of David Bonham at "Empire Prairie".....The original letter was preserved by Alex Black, the son of William to whom it was addressed. Alex Black now resides on the farm directly across the road from the Bennett ancestral home, seven miles northeast of Ormstown in the Province of Quebec.13 ON 50 ACRES. Andrew Bennett, father of thirteen, died in 1865 and is buried in the church yard of St. James' Anglican church in Ormstown. Two years later his widow sold the Quebec farm of some fifty acres. This parcel of only modestly productive land could hardly be called upon to support the future of so large a family, and in the tradition of the day the broadening horizons of new land to the west were a persuasive lure.}

Empire Prairie Aug. 12th 1867

Dear friend

I have no dout by this time you have been thinking that I have forgotten you but it is not so for I some times think of oald friends and acquaintances(.)hoaping you will excuse my neglance I western country and how we have been making our way through it after first thanking you for the copies of the Gleaner (1) hopeing it may triumph over its enemies(.) After I wrote to you before I went to Iowa taking the cars to Dubuque which is on the Illinois side of the river to Dubuque(.) in crossing the river on foot which is a half a mile wide in width at this place I was astonished to find the ise so strong where the wind had bloun off it seamed to be as thick as ever I have seen it on the Shataquay(Chataquay)(2). At Dubuque there were three passenger trains all of which were crouded with emigrants intending to settle in Iowa. here I took my passage to Waterloo and remained a day with Thomas Bryson(3) then went up to Waverly Brmr(Bremer) Co. struck out from there across the prairie to go to Clarkesville Buttler Co. but returned before reaching that place. Nearly every farmer I met with wanted to sell me his farm(.) the greater part of them seamed to be in straightened circumstances(.) there houses are so small and coald these are made by standing posts in the ground and building them up with rails and straw(.) at that season of the year they were pretty scarce of covering and it being an unusual coald season maney of their cattle were deying from exposer and want of proper nourishment(.) When I got back to Waverly I left most of my companion emigrants on the cars leaving for some warmer climate(.) I having taken the address of some parties here who formerly lived in Wisconsin and whom John(4) was a little aquainted with I took my passage for this place(.) the rivers not being oapen I had to go back in Illinois untill I met the Chicago Bulington and Quincy road which made it a pretty long journey and gave me a chance of seeing a good deal of Illinois which seams to be a pretty prairie country(.) the prairies there are not very roaling(.) here in the most of places thay roal almost to quick (but) in Iowa they are a little more level(.) after remaining here two weeks Mother and the other family that are here came to me(.) Elizabeth came here and Faney went to Janesville (Wisconsin) Ann staid with John(.) we had a letter from them last week(.) they are all well with the exception for Dorothy who has a younger son which makes me think that I am getting oald seeing that I am an uncle. Missouri is not the fine country that you would be led to believe it(.) my opinion is that Wisconsin is equal to this(.) they cannot raise stock as cheap as we can do and they cannot grow fencing but they can sell in better and buy in cheaper markets than we can do(.) Iowa has the advantage over this country in wheat(.) we can raise equally as good Barley much better oats and twice the amount of Corn(.) almost every kind of fruit does well here while in Iowa they cannot grow aney or grow aney fencing(.) Potatoes and other vegitables do pretty well in this country(.) A hedge fense will grow here in about four years from seed so that no animal can get through it(.) they look very pretty(.) the soil here is a black loam and grows the greatest corn I have ever seen(;) it averages between 11 and 12 feet high(.) small grains grow short in the straw(.) the oats here in this season will average from 40 to 50 bus. per acre and is of very good quality(.) the Barley were sowen early and on land that hase not been croped past 4 or 5 years will go about 30 while in other places where oald ground or sowen late will not go past 10 or 12(.) the wheat seams to go with the Barley(;) some will only have 10 while others will have 20 bus. per acre harvest is all cut but hase to be stacked yet, for barnes their is none in these western countrys(.) Tame hay their is very little raised but what is growes very heavy. It is a mistake to think that the prairies is so hard to break up(.) the Missourians take 5 yoke of cattle with a big plough which runs on two wheels and has a lever to keep it to the depth(.) this is probably the reason why the prairies got the name of been so hard to break up but the northern people can plow an acre a day with a plow that turns a sod 12 inches wide and a team that is not heavyer than yours. The prairie fires can be very grand here in the spring when they burn all the oald grass(.) the fires will spread in a long streak 8 or 10 feet high and travel just as fast as the wind blows.- We have just bought 10 acres of bushland(5) at $30 and 160 of prairie(6) at $4.50 per acre(.) they are about 7 miles apart(.) this is the average price for prairie(.) I could not buy it of aney person who is living here for less than $7 but the man who owns ours lives in Virginia and did not know the real value of land here. The timber in these prairies is but a very poor affair(.) I am building a house 16 feet wide by 21 long, 12 feet high on the sides so that we can have comfortable rooms upstairs(.) I had to pay $30 per thousand feet for studing, 35 for siding, 45 for flooring, 6.50 for shingles and so on which makes it cost a good deal to build aneything of a house here(.) I bought a team in the spring one of which has a nice coalt(.) The other is a horse(.) We have 2 cows and 2 calves(.) We put in about 40 acres of crops on the shares(.) 15 of this we sowed to small grain which is not much past half a crop on account of been sowen late but the corn looks good and I expect will yield about 60 bushels per acre(.) We put in an acre of potatoes and half an acre of can both of which are good. -Our land in all cost us $1,020(.) it could have been bought three years ago for $200(.) there was a lot of rebbel farms sold around here three years ago with good buildings on them for 9 and 10 hundred dollars which you could not buy now for 5 and 6 thousand(.) it would have been better for us to have sold our movables if we could not have sold our place and came here but then perhaps it is better late than never although I would not advise aney poor man with a family to come here now(.) everything costs so much that he never would be able to put himself into a farm but a man with a growen family and fair means could do pretty well for he could raise aney amount of cattle and hogs if he had the help to cut the grass and make the corn for them(.) some of the farmers here have over a hundred hogs 50 or 60 head of cattle two and three hundred sheep and so on(.) There is limestone to be got convienant almost everywhear and plenty of good stock water but we have to dig between 30 and 40 feet to have a good well. It cost us in all about $300 to come here but we might have come for 200 if we had come streight from Monteal to St. Joseph(.) we received Mrs. McEwens(7) letter yesterday and was sorey to here that she is getting no better also of William Drisdales death. Your ever true friend- Charles Bennett let me know in your letter where George Howden is

FOOTNOTES

1. THE HUNTINGTON GLEANER, a newspaper still being published in Huntington, Quebec.

2. The Chateauguay River, a tributary emptying into the St. Lawrence near the S.W. edge of the Bennett homestead in the 3rd Concession, 7 miles N.E. of Ornstown, Quebec.

3. Thomas Bryson evidently an evidently an emigrant from the 3rd Concession to Iowa.

4. Brother of the writer, Rector at St. Albans Episcopal Church, Sussex Wisconsin.

5. Adjoining Flag Springs. Purchased as a source of timber for fencing and building.

6. S.W.W.O.B Platte Township 61-Range 33-Section 15-4.5 west and 2 miles north of King City.

7. Wife of Dugald Sr.

Charles Bennett's obituary was written by his brother Andrew:

________________________________________________________________________ OBITUARY--CHARLES BENNETT Charles Bennett was born in Beauharnois County, Province of Canada, October 17, 1838; died at his home in King City, May 20, 1920. He was the third member of a family of thirteen children, all of which grew to manhood and womanhood before a death occurred in the family. The father died in Canada in the year 1865. The family moved to Missouri in the spring of 1867. The mother lived to the ripe old age of 93 1/2 years. Eight of the family are still living. The older brother lives in Kansas City, Kansas; two sisters are in Wisconsin; one sister is in St. Joseph; one brother in Stanberry, and two sisters and one brother in King City.

Charles Bennett was married on Empire Prairie, MO, January, 1881, to Mrs. Susie McComb, (nee Susie Nugent), who brought to the home a son by a former marriage, Thomas Leroy McComb, now a resident of Kansas City, Mo. To this union were born four children, three of whom survive him. Andrew, who lives on the old homestead; Anna Troup, who lives at Maysville, Mo., and Mrs. Winnie Spiking of King City. Joseph preceded him to the great beyond, February 21, 1918. He is also survived by a host of friends who will miss his genial spirit of friendship. Mr. Bennett was baptized in infancy in the Roman Catholic church, of which his parents were members. But coming to Missouri when the country was new and churches far apart, he never identified himself with any church, but lived a clean, christian life, and to the knowledge of the writer who knew him as well as one man can know another, an unchaste or covetous thought was never retained in his mind, and if he had any debt to pay in the future it will be for the sin of omission and not that of commission. He never doubted the future, believing that he was going into the hands of a God of justice who knew him as he really was.

The funeral was held at the Star Chapel church on Empire Prairie, Sunday, May 23, 1920, at 11 a.m., and the internment was in the cemetery there.

______________ We desire to thank our many friends and neighbors for their many acts of kindness, helpfulness and sympathy during the long affliction and at the time of death of our dear husband and father. Your every kindness will ever be remembered. MRS. CHARLES BENNETT AND CHILDREN


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