El Dorado County
MARCUS P. BENNETT
MARCUS P. BENNETT.--The history of the bench and bar of northern California contains no more creditable record than that of the late Judge Marcus P. Bennett, who, as lawyer, jurist and citizen, left a deep impress on the community in which he lived. An able and trust-worthy attorney, a judge whose decisions were never reversed by higher courts and a citizen of the highest ideals, he was an honor to his section of the state and commanded the respect of the people to an unusual degree. He was born at Peabody, Essex county, Massachusetts, on the 22nd of July, 1854, and received liberal education training, having attended Chauncey Hall, in Boston, and Harvard University, from which he was graduated in 1876. In July of that year, following the advice of Horace Greeley, he came west, locating in Placerville, Eldorado county, where he took up the study of law. On June 22, 1878, he was admitted to practice in the courts of California, and in the following year was granted the same right in the supreme court. In 1887 he became a member of the bar of the United States circuit court of the ninth district. In 1886 he was elected district attorney of Eldorado county, in which office he served three terms. During that period he prosecuted the famous Cowell case, the outcome of which was the hanging of three murderers. Judge Bennett also brought suit against the owners of toll roads and succeeded, after a strenuous legal fight, in having them opened to the free use of the public. In 1891 he was elected to the bench of the superior court of Eldorado county, serving until 1904, when he retired with the reputation of being one of the ablest and fairest judges who had ever occupied that position in this state. He resumed the private practice of law, in which he was very successful, continuing his professional work until his death, which occurred January 14, 1925.
In 1881 Judge Bennett was united in marriage to Miss Mary Anderson, whose father, J.M. Anderson, was a former sheriff of Eldorado county and well known throughout this section of the state. Judge Bennett and his wife presented to Placerville the Marcus P. Bennett, Jr., park, in memory of their son, who had died at the age of three years. To Judge and Mrs. Bennett were born the following children besides the son referred to: Helen, the wife of P.W. King; Juliet, the wife of R. G. Risser; Edith, the wife of Max Baer; Georgie, the wife of F. B. Herbert; and Gladys, the wife of Major E. W. Kelly. There are also seven grandchildren. Mrs. Bennett, who still resides in the beautiful family home in Placerville, takes an active interest in the civic affairs of her community and is well known in local club circles.
Judge Bennett was an ardent supporter of the republican party and was a member of the Eldorado County Bar Association, the California State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He established the first circulating library in this district, and though a busy man professionally, he gave freely of his time and efforts to the advancement of the community interests and was never lacking in his support of those things which made for the good of society. He was kindly and cordial in manner, easily made friends and throughout this section of the state was held in the highest measure of esteem.
Transcribed by Rhonda Ruick O'Brien.
© 2010 Rhonda Ruick O'Brien.