12 Wilton Bennett

Wilton Bennett, Grandson, From Farming to Banking

Story told by Wilton Bennett-1987

In the late 1920's Grandad Andrew moved into the big house (built in 1892) with his family. I presume his mother lived with them until her death.

About this time my Dad (Joseph Curtis Bennett) and Aunt Jessie went to college in Maryville and Aunt Dorothy went to nurses training in St. Joseph.

The depression hit hard and by 1933 Grandad could no longer afford to keep his hired hands. My parents were married along about that time and both were teaching school. Because unemployment was so high, married women were not allowed to work, and wages were low for those who had jobs. Sometime between 1933 and 1935 Dad quit teaching and returned to the farm where he and Grandad did the work. My parents lived in grandads house and I was born there in 1936.

A year or so later my folks moved to the Inglis's place (Flora Bennetts parents farm, Flora and a sister in California had inherited it). About that time Grandad bought the first tractor, a Model B John Deere(1938) and Dad bought the Farmall Model A in 1940. They still relied a lot on work horses for some of the work.

John was born on the Ingles place in 1939 and we lived there until 1942 when Dad bought the McAlester place, 80 acres from Mr. Batoff.

Grandad bought the 40 acres across the road south and had previously bought his sisters 40 acres. This gave grandad 240 acres and Dad 80 totaling 320 acres which they farmed together.


I went to Garfield school for a couple of years, but since we lived in Gentry county and in the Prairie Flower School District we started to Prairie Flower where John started the first grade. I can recall a few times in the spring when the mud was very bad, when I was in the first grade, Grandad drove the team and buggy to school to pick me up because the clay mud was so bad on the hill by Carl Johnsons house.

It was also first grade when I first experienced human blood. The school house had a well and a hand pump for drinking water. After recess, everyone who was thirsty took their cup to the pump and take their turn in line. A class mate, Jerry Pucket, antagonized me while at the pump and I took a poke at him, caught him on the nose and couldn't believe the profusion of blood. I don't recall anymore of the fight but I suppose it was all over then.

When I was in the third grade Ora Brook, an older boy who walked the same way to school, gave me a puppy which I took home and named him Rusty. I thought he was a great dog ,even though he liked to chase cars. George Christy had a model A coupe with an exhaust cutout. George would come over the hill from the west about 40 miles an hour, and throw the spark lever up. It caused a backfire you could hear a mile away. Rusty couldn't stand that. In the end Rusty died chasing somebody's car.

About 1945 Dad went to a farm sale and bought a gentle pony for us boys to ride to school. Mom told me about the pony and I went out to see him. Dad came and found me squatting behind the horse brushing the mud out of his fetlocks.

I was always around animals. When I was about 3 I wandered into the hog lot where there were sows with little pigs. Grandad remembers taking me back to the house.

One time I got into trouble teaching an old hen how to swim in the stock tank.

John had a pet sheep, an orphan, named Fluffy. She was fed on a powdered milk substitute out of a Pepsi bottle with a nipple on it. After feeding the lamb, Fluffy always wanted more, so again I got into trouble watching John refill the bottle with water to see how much a sheep could hold. Mom caught up to us on bottle number 12. She didn't expect Fluffy to live, though she did.

Mel Gibson and I liked western movies like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. We taught our horse, Foxie, to let us mount from the rear and on the run, like in the movies. Mel and I would take the ponies to the timber and play Cowboys and Indians. When we got big enough to use real guns, I thought I'd teach our old horse to let me shoot off of him. I was mounted in the lot with the rifle shooting at a target straight ahead. Well, the gun went off between Foxie's ears and I went off over his rump. Foxie never let me on with a gun again.

Foxie was gentle but smarter than any kid. When he didn't want to move, he didn't. I usually rode bare-back. If you'd tried to saddle him he would swell his stomach while you tightened the girth. Then after you were on he'd suck the wind in and let you and the saddle slide off.

Foxie would also pretend to be afraid to cross wooden bridges. I never had much trouble but he had more bluff on John. I've also seen Foxie walk under a tree limb if he didn't want you on his back. Foxie got to the point where you couldn't catch him so Dad rigged up a chain about 30 feet long which we attached to the halter. If you could get close enough to the chain you caught him, otherwise he'd run in large circles holding his head to one side so the chain wasn't under his feet.

One time John got into trouble, without my help. John was about 12 years old when Mom caught him smoking a cigarette. As punishment, she made him sit on the back porch and smoke the entire pack to make him sick. He never did.

I was 14 years old when I had my first automobile wreck. Dad had a new 1950 Studebaker pickup and I was hauling gates from Milt Atkins place to the church for a fall saleabration (Lords Acres Sale). I was returning empty, jumped a rut, hit the breaks and skidded through a fence. I thought I had ruined the truck. It cost $35.00 to repair the fender but I didn't scratch another car for over 20 years.

In the 1950's we were still storing hay in the hay loft of the big red barn. There was a monorail track in the top of the barn with a grappling hook to move the hay from the ground up three stories to the top of the barn, then back across the barn to wherever you wanted to drop the bale. Sparrows or pigeons had built nests in the track and John and I were going to clean them out. John was on the floor of the hay loft and was suppose to be shooting the birds with the B.B. gun while I was in the top of the barn tearing out the nests. I'm not sure what the controversy was about, most likely John didn't appreciate my superior knowledge about how he was doing something, but he shot me in the rear with the B.B. gun. I started down from the top of the loft. John headed for the house calling for Mom to save his life. She heard us coming and held the door open for John. I was close enough behind him that if he'd had to open the door himself there was a good possibility that you'd would never have been sired.


The Tri-County News, Friday, April 12, 1957 Tri-County Are Well Represented by Students Attending School at M.U. and Christian College

Unlike a few years ago when this area was sparsely represented by students at the University of Missouri, there are now a large number. While they are training themselves in vocations, running the gamut from agriculture to music, they are letting the many people they associate with know there are such counties as Gentry, DeKalb, and Andrew.

This week the Tri--County News gives you the story of these area students--what they are doing, studying, and thinking.

Football player Merv Johnson probably is the best known King Citian at the university. An all-state football player when he attended KCHS, Merv played first-string left tackle for the Tigers last season. His play merited honorable mention on both the United Press and the Associated Press Big Seven teams.

Nearly a month of spring football practices has failed to mark Merv like the last Oklahoma-Missouri game. "Oklahoma was the toughest game," Merv said simply. (Note: After college, Merv spent many years as an Assistant Football Coach in Normal Oklahoma!)

"The biggest difference between high school and college football is the terrific amount of competition. The style of play is so much more aggressive."

Merv described new football mentor Frank Broyles as a good organizer and a swell guy, who works his players hard.

Merv will graduate in June, 1958, and receive a commission in the army. Although he is now majoring in agriculture, Merv has been considering going into physical education. First, of course he has a date with Uncle Sam. (Note--Merv went on to become Head Assistant Coach at the University of Oklahoma D.B. 12/15/91)

Dean Johnson is the other son of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Johnson of Empire Prairie attending the university. Like his brother, Dean is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho. He is a sophomore majoring agricultural engineering.

Because Dean is dually enrolled in the college of Agriculture and engineering he will not receive his diploma until 1960. When he does graduate he will receive two bachelor of science degrees--one in agriculture and one in engineering.

"College is harder than high school but's not so hard that I would discourage any high school student from entering," said Dean. (Note--Dean was one of the pall bearers at Wilton Bennett's funeral)

Bill Chambers is a first-year student in the university's school of veterinary medicine. The son of Mr. and Mrs. John Chambers of Empire Prairie, Bill's quick to admit this has been his toughest year in college.

Only a handful of students from a large number of applicants are admitted to the veterinary school each year. Classes take up to forty hours of time each week. The amount of outside studying required is tremendous, but Bill says he is interested in the work and added "It presents a challenge."

During last year's football games Bill hawked "peanut, popcorn and crackerjacks." The Vet Club has the concessions for the games and members are required to help sell the refreshments.

Wayne Colborn, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Colborn of Empire Prairie, is one of the busiest juniors on the university campus.

Wayne recently took a fling at politics and was elected treasurer of the Student Government association on the "Missouri Reform" ticket. He is also treasurer of his fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho, and a member of the Ag club, Block and Bridle club. He is assistant editor of Missouri College Farmer, the magazine published by the students in agriculture. He probably will be the editor next year.

Besides all this Wayne works 60 to 65 hours a month in the agriculture economics department and holds an assistantship in the botany department where he teaches botany laboratories.

Tom Danbury, the only journalist in the King City segment of the university, is a junior in the school of journalism. He is taking the weekly and small daily journalism sequence which includes courses in both news and advertising.

Tom's big time-taker this semester is reporting--a class which has a two hour laboratory six days a week. The lab actually is a two hour daily stint in the city room of the Columbia Missourian, daily newspaper published by students and faculty of the journalism school.

During his lab time Tom may be called on to cover a convention, rewrite and combine different stories about some local happening such as a fire or take the police news over the telephone.

Tom will be graduated in June, 1958. He worked last summer on the St. Joseph News-Press and has been offered the place there again this coming vacation.

A man on the go is Wilton Bennett, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Bennett of Empire Prairie. He is a junior majoring in agricultural economics.

Besides carrying a full study load, Bennett works twenty hours a week for the United States Agriculture office in Columbia.

All this isn't enough for Wilton. He is vice-president of the Mizzou 4-H club, president of the Agriculture Economics club, a member of the Ruf Nex, an agricultural honorary society, and a member of the cabinet of the Wesley Foundation, and secretary of the Farmhouse social fraternity.

A promising student in the field of agriculture, Bennett will graduate in February 1958. He is anxious to get a job in line with his major interest, but first there will be a stint in the army.


The Tri- County News Winter 1958-Article in the social events column


Miss Neva Rosbrugh and Wilton Bennett, students in the University of Missouri at Columbia, were married last Friday afternoon, Jan 31, in McMurry Chapel of the Missouri Methodist church in Columbia. The Reverend Wayne Hoehns of Attica, Iowa, brother-in-law of the bride, read the vows before an alter decorated in white gladioli and candelabra.

The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hermon Rosbrugh of Appleton City, Mo. The bridegroom is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Bennett, northwest of King City.

Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a floor length gown of white lace, satin and nylon tulle, which she made herself. The bodice was fashioned with long tapered sleeves and a sabrina scalloped neckline, dipping to a V in the back. The bouffant skirt of satin and tulle was accented with lace medallions. She wore a French illusion veil attached to a veil attached to a cascade bouquet of white carnations.

Mrs. Wayne Hoehns, sister of the bride, was matron of honor, and the brides maids were Miss Betty Sue Kincade, the bride's roommate, and another sister, Miss Leta Rosbrugh. Kristen Hoehns, a niece of the bride, was flower girl and Wesley Roemer carried the rings on a white satin pillow.

Robert Williamson of Lathrop was best man. John Bennett, brother of the bridegroom, and Galen Hart of Urick, Mo., were groomsmen. Ushers were Byron Rosbrugh, brother of the bride, and Mervin Johnson of King City.

Guests at the wedding from the King City area were Melvin Gibson, Mervin and Dean Johnson, Bill and Edwin Chambers, Wayne Colborn, Tom Danbury, Helen Gossett, John Bennett, Andrew Bennett and Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Bennett.


Epilogue: Wilton was killed in Houston Texas on April 3, 1991.