History of Bennett, Lancaster County, Nebraska
From: Lincoln the Capitol City and
Lancaster County, Nebraska
BY: Andrew J. Sawyer
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1916


On section ten, Nemaha Precinct, about seventeen miles east of Lincoln, is located the Town of Bennett, a thriving little community, representative of the better communities in the eastern part of Nebraska. The town site was formerly owned by William Roggenkamp and was laid out by him. in company with Joel N. Converse, and the plat filed for record July 29, 1871. The town was laid out at the time the Midland Pacific Railroad was brought through, and the new cornmunity took its name from one of the officials of the road, John Bennett. In the early days the Town of Bennett won considerable reputation on account of the quarries adjacent to the village. The stone strata proved in later years, however, to be of insufficient extent to promote a growing business. Nemaha Branch, a creek a few miles below town, was at one time exploited on account of water power derived therefrom and the strip of timber which bordered its edge supplied plenty of box elder, ash, red and white elm, oak and walnut for building purposes, quite an advantage to the early settlers of the community. Bennett early became noted as an agricultural station, in 1881 about three hundred cars of grain having been shipped from the station here. The first elevator was the Nebraska City Elevator Company's plant, built in 1875, and having a capacity of about twenty thousand bushels. George Eggleston also operated a small elevator at an early day. The flouring mill of D. H. Harris was erected by A. L. Strang & Company in 1875-6 and bought by Harris in 1881; it had a capacity of 200 bushels of wheat and 250 bushels of corn per day, and had three runs of stone, two for wheat and one for corn. The plant was known as the Altamaha Mills. The first lumber yard in Bennett was operated by J. E. Vanderlip. Mr. A. Gribling was the first harness and saddlery man in Bennett, moving to the town in 1872, having settled four years previously about four miles north of the town. He was a native of New York.

Dr. Stephen A. Mecham, a native of New York State, was one of the first settlers in the vicinity of Bennett, locating on the Nemaha Branch in 1858, accompanied by his family in a wagon. He was obliged to do his milling at Coonville on Plum Creek, the round trip requiring about two weeks' time. He had to build bridges going and frequently had to rebuild them upon his return trip. He also made some little money by gathering salt along Salt Creek, hauling it to Iowa with cattle, and there selling it. His claim consisted of 360 acres. He hired fifty acres of this broken, at a cost of $5 per acre. His medical knowledge was soon called into use, and he was probably the first practitioner in what was known as Lincoln district. He also secured the first school in that vicinity. Another of the first settlers of the precinct was James N. Miner, who came in 1869, a native of Ohio, and a veteran of the war. Dr. E. T. Piper was another pioneer physician of the county, settling in Stockton Precinct in 1868 and opened a farm. At the time he was the only physician between Lincoln and Nebraska City and his services were constantly in demand.

William Roggenkamp was born in Prussia in 1832 and crossed to the States when he was in his nineteenth year. After living in New Jersey, Indiana, and Illinois. he came to Nebraska, arriving at Nebraska City by steamboat. This was in the spring of 186o. He left his family there and walked out to where Bennett is now located. His first body of land consisted of no acres, which he afterwards increased greatly. His first residence was a very small log house, the material for which he hauled from Nebraska City. Afterwards he erected a large log house and it was destroyed by fire in 1871; then he built a new home, far better than the former ones.

James G. Southwick erected, at that time, the most imposing business house in Bennett, in 1878. Samuel Tilton and J. A. Whitlock were other prominent men in the precinct who came at an early day.

Thomas Elrod erected the first house in the town in 1871. It was used both as a dwelling and a store. During the next year H. R. Kemper built a hotel, which was first run by Thomas Price. During the year 1872, also, Walter Scott started a store.

Bennett was incorporated as a town on December I, 1881. The first town board consisted of James G. Southwick, F. A. Sidles, J. E. Vanderlip, A. Gribling and J. P. Bratt. W. K. Purvis was the town clerk.

The Citizens Bank of Bennett was organized in 1886, being incorporated on April 3d of that year by J. E. Vanderlip, G. W. Eggleston, C. W. Pierce, J. H. McClay, W. F. Torbitt, W. M. Seely, M. B. Deck and T. J. Pierson, with a capital stock of $50,000.00. The bank is still in existence and is officered by the following at the present day: G. W. Eggleston, president; John P. Bratt, vice president; H. H. Bratt, cashier; Charles P. Bratt, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $25,000.00; the surplus, $13,000.00; and the deposits amount to $213,000.00.

The Farmers Bank was organized in 1905 and has had a steady growth since that date. Elmer W. Jones is the president of this institution; O. R. Springer is the vice president; and Harry Honnor is the cashier. The Farmers Bank carries a capital stock of $12,000.00, a surplus of $3,000.00 and deposits amounting to $125,000.00.

The Bank of Bennett was an institution which was started in June, 1891, with a capital stock of $50,000.00, but which later passed out of existence.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Bennett was organized in the spring of 1879. The first church building was erected the next year, costing $1,500.00. The church now has a strong membership, a commodious house of worship, and is one of the leading churches in the township. The Danish Lutheran Church was organized in the late '70s. The Norwegian Lutheran Church was organized in December, 1874, with the following members: T. Hanson, W. Nelson, J. C. Johnson, Ole Nelson, Henry Bolt, L. Rasperson, O. Anderson, H. Peterson, C. Olson, S. Monk, J. Michilson, and others. The first services were held in a school house in 1878, Rev. C. Jansen of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in charge. After a few years the Danish membership withdrew and formed a church of their own, mentioned above, whereupon the Norwegian church was reorganized. The Church of Christ of Bennett was first incorporated in July, 1883, by R. N. Stall, C. B. Camp, John and Henry Diehl. It was reincorporated in June, 1884, by J. Z. Briscoe, Charles B. Camp, Branson J. Smith, R. N. Stall, T L. Turner, Julia Stall, Elizabeth Harper, Mary M. Barnes, John, William S., Henry G., Elizabeth and Charles Diehl.

The Bennett Gas Company was incorporated October 28, 1910 by A. W. Dorland, J. B. Varney and Joseph Lingle.

The Bennett Sun, a weekly local publication, was established in 1911. J. H. Bratty is the editor. The circulation is about two hundred and fifty.

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