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Calaveras County

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JAMES F. BENNETT

 

 

††††††††††† James Frederick Bennett was born in Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, on the 15th of September, 1837, and is descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry, who located on the Susquehanna River, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, at an early period in the history of that portion of the state.The founder of the family in the new world was James Bennett, who crossed the Atlantic and became one of the prominent citizens of Lycoming County.The old family homestead there is still in the possession of his descendants.George Bennett, the father of our subject, was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on the old home farm which had been the property of his ancestors, his natal day being the 28th of August, 1808.He married Miss Amanda Fisk, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and a daughter of Nathan Fisk.In 1852, with his wife and two children, he crossed the plains to California, making the journey with oxen.His sons, William Henry Harrison and James Frederick, the latter then fifteen years of age, were of great assistance to him on the journey.There were three other families in the company, and seven teams in all.They left Galena on the 4th of March, and although this was the terrible cholera year their early start enabled them to escape the plague which carried off many of the emigrants.Neither did they have trouble with the Indians, for they arrived safely at Downieville, Sierra County, on the 24th of August, 1852, completing the journey after five months and twenty days spent upon the road.

††††††††††† Mr. Bennett and his family made their way direct to Angelís Camp, where he engaged in mining on the Calaveras River, after which he secured a claim, turning his attention to agricultural pursuits.From time to time he added to his realty possessions until his land aggregated ten hundred and eighty acres.He raised stock, grain and hay and his crops brought him a good return.In 1859 he sold his farm for nine thousand dollars and returned to his native state, where he remained for six months, but California had become dear to him and on the expiration of that period he again started for the Golden state, making the voyage in the Jenny Lind.He located in Sonoma County, and was engaged in lumbering.He also purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres upon which he resided for five years, when he sold that property and returned to Angelís Camp, there spending his remaining days.His death occurred in 1870, when he was in the sixty-eighth year of his age.His good wife afterward started on a visit to her people in Mount Carroll, Illinois, but died in New York City, about a year after her husbandís death, in the fifty-fourth year of her age.They were both highly esteemed people who gained and retained friends by their many excellent qualities.Mr. Bennett was a man of temperate habits, industrious, energetic, and always true to the duties of citizenship, while his wife was to him a faithful helpmate and was a loving and devoted mother.

††††††††††† James Frederick Bennett is now the only survivor of the family.He attended the schools at Angelís Camp, but his opportunities in that direction were limited and he is largely self-educated.He is now recognized as a man of intelligence and ability, and through reading, observation and experience has broadened his knowledge and made it of a practical character.Throughout the greater part of his business career he has followed mining.He engaged in placer mining at Jenny Lind, where he obtained from a third of an ounce to an ounce each day.There he continued for about five years, after which he went to Sonoma County, where he engaged in clerking in a store for two years, after which he removed to Austin, Nevada, where for four years he made his home, successfully engaged in silver mining.On the expiration of that period he returned to Angelís Camp and followed quartz mining with arrastras which he built.At one time he was interested in eleven of these, finding it a cheap way of obtaining gold by men who had a limited capital.He prospered year by year, his possessions steadily increasing, and in 1898 he purchased a five-stamp mill, in partnership with Robert Leeper.His mine is known as the Pilot Knob and is being successfully worked.

††††††††††† On the 6th of October, 1871, Mr. Bennett was united in marriage to Miss Ann Elizabeth Rasberry, a native of Angelís Camp and a daughter of Bennager Rasberry, who was born in Georgia and married Miss Maria Bowes, a native of England. They were married in the east and in 1852 crossed the plains to California from Wisconsin.One of their children died on the journey and his wife suffered with the cholera, but ultimately recovered.Theirs was a most trying trip, but eventually they reached California and for a short time the father was engaged in mining at Volcano, and later at Angelís Camp.He then turned his attention to horticultural pursuits and planted and became the owner of the first orchard in the mountains.He departed this life on the 4th of September, 1893, at the age of seventy-five years, and his wife still survives him, in the sixty-seventh year of her age.Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bennett have been born two children, a son and a daughter, George Bennager, who is now working in a mine; and Maria Amanda, who became the wife of D. Rolleri, and shortly afterward was taken ill with typhoid fever which terminated her life.She was a lovable daughter and young wife, and her death was the occasion of great grief to her parents and her husband and the entire community.She passed away in her eighteenth year.

††††††††††† Mr. Bennett has been a lifelong Democrat, unswerving in his loyalty to the party.He formerly belonged to the lodge of the Knights of the Golden Eagle, but the organization has given up its charter.He and his wife are independent in their religious views, but their lives are upright and honorable, commanding the confidence and good will of all.They have a cozy home at Angelís Camp, surrounded by shade and fruit trees, and there they are spending the evening of life surrounded by many comforts in the midst of friends who entertain for them a high regard.Great changes have occurred since their arrival in the west.In the winter of 1852 it required two months with an ox team to go to Stockton to bring back a load of provisions, which incident indicates in a slight measure the difficulties that the first settlers had to undergo.With Mr. Bennett success in life has been reached by sterling qualities of the mind and a heart true to every manly principle.In his varied business interests his reputation has been unassailable, his name being synonymous with honorable dealings.

 

 

Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: ďA Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern CaliforniaĒ, Pages 339-341. Chicago Standard GenealogicalPublishing Co. 1901.

© 2010Gerald Iaquinta.

 

 

 

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