Nathan Smith Bennett

Biography of Nathan Smith Bennett

BENNETT, NATHAN SMITH. Among the early settlers in the town of New Haven, Vt., was Daniel N. Bennett, who was a brother of John N., first town clerk of Bridport, Vt., who came from Connecticut with his family. He secured a farm in that town, and his son, Benjamin G. Bennett, on the 27th of November, 1805, married Lucy Smith, daughter of Nathan, born October 4, 1784, and granddaughter of Samuel, the Addison county pioneer.[For a further account of the Smith family, see biography of Sheldon Smith, in these pages.]

In the year 1814 Benjamin G. Bennett removed to the town of Bridport, where he continued his occupation as a farmer until his death in 1869, aged eighty-five years. His life was a quiet one (he assisted at the battle of Plattsburgh, N. Y., September, 1814), but its duties were so well performed that he gained the unqualified good-will and respect of all his townsmen. The children of Benjamin G. Bennett were: Candace, born November, 1807, who married George Murray, of Addison, and second, Nahor Wheelock, of Bridport, and is now a widow and with her daughter at Middlebury, Vt.; the second child was the subject of this sketch; the third was Hila, born June, 1815, who married Daniel Lewis, of Potsdam, N. Y.; the fourth was David A., born November, 1819, who is now a resident of Cleveland, Ohio.

Nathan S. Bennett was born in New Haven, Addison County, Vt., on the 5th of December, 1812, and was, consequently, two years old when his father removed to Bridport. His father first occupied land now owned by Hiram Barton, and at a later date built the house where O. S. Gibbs now lives. Nathan S. was given such educational advantages as were then accessible to the farmers’ sons of this locality. He attended the district schools and select schools a portion of each year until he was nineteen years old, and by his naturally studious habits acquired a fair English education. At the age of nineteen he started out in the world for himself, and began as a clerk in the store of his uncle, Allen Sinith, in Addison. After a short period there he took a similar position in the store of J. S. Strong in Bridport, on the site of Ira D. Fletcher’s present store. After two years of faithful service here he made a trip to the West of about eight months, working more or less as a clerk during his absence. Returning to Bridport he engaged in the store of Joseph Frost, at West Bridport, on the lake shore. He remained in Mr. Frost’s employ one year or more, which was followed by a period of similar service for A. A. Buck, in Bridport, for one year.

This brings Mr. Bennett’s career down to the year 1840, when he was twenty-eight years old. He had, during his labor in these various stores, acquired a knowledge of mercantile business. He now began business on his own account, beginning in a store on the corner opposite the present brick store of his son in Bridport. He was successful from the outset, and might have followed that business through his active life had his health permitted; but his physical strength gave way, and after ten years of active trade he sold out, and followed farming thereafter on a limited scale. This comprises the events in the private business life of Mr. Bennett – a career in which, whatever may have been the financial result, he won nothing but the universal good-will and esteem of those with whom he came in contact. This fact is clearly demonstrated by the fact that his townsmen have honored him with most of the offices in their gift. The minor positions in the town were nearly all filled by him many years ago, and in 1850 he was elected justice of the peace, which office he holds to this day. He was made town clerk in 1860, and still fills that responsible post; his books being models of neatness and his penmanship as clear and firm as if written when he was twenty, instead of seventy-three years of age. He represented the town in the Legislature in 1853-54, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1870. In all of these public offices he has shown unwavering devotion to the right, and discharged their duties with fidelity and ability.

In April, 1840, Mr. Bennett was married to Polly E., daughter of Benjamin Miner, jr., of Bridport. Benjamin Miner, sr., was a captain in the War of the Revolution. After its close he became one of the earliest settlers in Bridport, corning here in the spring of 1786. He located on the land now owned by E. Ladd Miner. Seven years later he removed to near South Mountain, where Charles E. Crane now resides, and there died at the age of nearly ninety-three.

He was born at Stonington, Conn., moving here from New Jersey with his children, who were Benjamin, jr., William, James, Joseph, and Clement; only the last named was born in this town. Benjamin Miner, jr., was born August, 1767 ; began on the farm, and after built the house now occupied by E. L. Miner, in 1791, and became one of the foremost men of the town; was elected to the Legislature in the first quarter of the century; was a member of one or more of the Constitutional Conventions; was selectman many years and held many other positions of responsibility; and in all of the relations of life is remembered and universally spoken of as one of the worthiest men of the town. He died in 1851, aged eighty-four years. He was married to Folly Hemenway, of Shrewsbury, Mass., February, 1793; she died in 1858, aged eighty-six years. Their children were Anna, who became the wife of Paris Fletcher, one of the foremost citizens of Bridport (she died in 1854) ; Champlin (died in 1823) ; Betsey (married Joseph Hayward, of Weybridge; died in 1848) ; Uriah, a farmer (died in this town in 1848); Daniel, long a merchant in company with Paris Fletcher (died in the West Indies in 1839); Frederick, a farmer (died in this town in 1872); and Folly E., the wife of N. S. Bennett, born in 1815.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett have been Lucy M., born September, 1841, died in her seventh year; Jennie M., born April, 1850, died in the eleventh year of her age; D. Herman, born May 18, 1853, now the leading merchant of Bridport; has held various town offices and is now town treasurer; was postmaster since the administration of President Hayes until 1885, and otherwise has received evidence of the confidence of the community. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett now enjoy the quiet of their pleasant home and the good-will of all.



Addison County VT,

Smith, H. P. History of Addison County Vermont: With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers. Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & co., 1886.

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