John H. Bennett was born on July 4, 1870 in New Harmony, Utah to Nancy M. Taylor and George Bennett. It is important to understand the circumstances under which he was born in order to appreciate who he was. I am not a member of the church of Ladder Day Saints and the only information that I knew was that my mother-law’s family were LDS but didn’t realize that my father in law’s ancestors were, too. John Harvey was Grandpa Bill’s father. We know that Grandpa Bill was born in Canada and retired in Utah.
I did not appreciate how closely his ancestors were tied to the beginnings of the LDS church. It is difficult to tell his story and leave out the church so I will include bits and pieces so we can make sense of his life. My children often say the people who lived a long time ago aren’t our family. However, without those ancestors, my children would not exist. That is huge to me. There is an Ancestry.com card that says “If you don’t know your history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”
Okay, lecture over.
John H. Bennett’s story really begins with his parents. His mother Nancy M. Taylor and father George Bennett were born in Leyland, Lancashire, England. His father was born October 10, 1810. They first heard of the Mormon Church after the first missionaries arrived in England and they made plans to join the Saints in Zion. They left England in 1841 to many trials and tribulations. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 10, 1852, five months after the arrival of Brigham Young.
John H. was the fifth child born to his parents. His father had been called to assist in opening a town called New Harmony. While living in a log house with dirt floors, a dirt and straw roof and no windows, John was born. When he was six, the family moved back to Kaysville. Interesting to note that George Bennett had more than one wife. His second wife was Sarah Bennett.
When he was a boy, John was expected to work in the fields and help with the stock. At nine years old, he was left in charge of a large flock of sheep and lived in a camp wagon, moving the heard to greener pastures, as necessary. It was a lonely life for a boy but he accepted the responsibility. He made decisions which he acted upon and was a lesson that he used throughout his life.
I feel a kindred spirit from my family to Paul’s family. My family were sheep herders too. Must have been a lot of sheep.
John was a lover of horses and worked with a team and wagon. When he was sixteen, he left Kaysville and went to Hooper, living with his brother George and sister in law Mary Ann. While living there, he met a friend by the name of Adam Russell. They worked together on a horse power threshing machine for three harvest seasons. One time, they went to Ogden the day before Christmas and got a “little teed up.” Now, I will assume that means they were drunk. Ha! He was a fun Mormon. “They returned to Hooper and went to Grandma Parker’s home and she gave them strong coffee so they would be in shape to go to the dance that night. This was when he was courting Lyd”.
Dancing was about the only amusement they had and a dance was held every Friday night. John was a good dancer and very popular on the dance floor. Music consisted of violin, mouth-organ or accordion and sometimes they used a jaws harp and a pitch fork.
John was a lover of sports, too. Adam Russell said of him, “He loved sports and liked to run foot races and horse races and play baseball. He was very popular and liked by everyone. In fact, he was a great leader and everyone respected his opinions.”
It was during this time that he lived in Hooper that he met Eliza Ann Parker. Her gracious charm and kindness to everyone appealed to him and he started dating her for dances, horseback rides and strolls in the evening after church. After a courtship which lasted about two years, they were married in Hooper, Utah. Eliza’s wedding dress was made by Mamie Williams of a tan, silky material.
The night after the wedding, they had a wedding dance (how apropos). Relatives and friends came to the dance to wish the couple well and they danced quadrilles, waltzes and two steps. Eliza’s sister Rye said of them, “They were very much in love and very happy together.”
Isn’t that wonderful? I can’t always say that about my ancestors. Not all were in wedded bliss. But it was apparent these two were in love. So sweet.
After they married, they lived with her mother and John ran the farm for his mother in law. His brother in law Adam Russell (yes, Adam married Eliza’s sister Maria) told John he had a stable that he could have in exchange for a few days work as payment. John and Eliza fixed this up for their first home. Their first baby was a girl they named Nancy.
The summer after they moved in, John and Adam went to Nevada to put up hay for a rancher. Adam said, “We got up one morning and John said to me, “Ad, our baby is dead”. Adam made fun of him a bit for making such a remark but two hours later, the postman came and John’s remark proved to be true. There was a letter from his wife telling him that baby Nancy had died.
About a year before he’d married Eliza, John had driven a herd of cattle from Utah to Canada.
The rolling hills, the fertile soil and lush grasses together with the beautiful Rocky Mountains to the west appealed to him. After they were married, John again thought of moving to Canada. Soon after the birth of their fourth child, Mabel, he asked Eliza if she would move with him and she said she would go anywhere he wanted to go.
They began making plans and started out in a covered wagon with Levi Wheeler. Levi was married to Lovisa, John’s sister. Lovisa was a very dear friend to Eliza. They left in September of 1898 and traveled to Camas, Idaho where they stayed for the winter with relatives. Early the next spring, they set out again over the long weary miles to the Canadian border. After their arrival in Cardston they took up homesteads on land southwest of Kimball.
John arrived in his wagon with his wife, family and $10 in his pocket. They lived in the covered wagon the first year while preparing the virgin sod for planting their crop of wheat.
That summer, they collected enough logs to build a one room home. The nearest center to purchase supplies was 14 miles away so trips were rare. Money was scarce so purchased items were done by exchange.
Soon they moved to the Kimball Valley, closer to a school and church. In June, 1900 their first Canadian child was born, Zelma and 1902 baby Marlin arrived. Then, 1904 was the arrival of baby William George, named for his grandfathers but the tragedy of Eliza’s death arrived as well.
After the death of Eliza, John had a difficult time. She was the love of his life and he was left with six children under the age of 9. Family and friends helped him until he was able to locate a woman to come in and help care for his family. Her name was Jane Powell Empey. She had two daughters from a previous marriage. They eventually married and had six more children.
John goes on to be a leading citizen of his town, well respected and profitable. William George comes to love his step-mother Jane and she treated him very well. That is comforting to me. He really loved her and while a step-parent has a difficult job, to know that Jane was able to come in and care for and love those children of Eliza’s is nice to think about. The fact that Grandpa Bill loved her so much shows her character too.
This is just the beginning of John’s story, but what a great legacy of John and Eliza’s love.
Paul’s Grandfather Bill not only kept written biographies of his ancestors, he also kept numerous photographs. We are so lucky we can weave his words and photographs to give a complex picture of his history. I, for one, am grateful my children will have such a significant amount of knowledge of their ancestors.
Paul’s grandfather, Bill Bennett, was such a nice man. He was genial, always in a good mood and he loved my dimples. My father in law Lloyd was very close to his father. He said he could remember being a boy living in England, and upon returning to their home, his father would pick him up and carry him in. He knew he was awake enough to walk into their home but the feelings of love were so wonderful, snuggled into his father’s arms, that he kept quiet and pretended to sleep.
Nowhere in his story will he tell you how much he loved music nor of his musical ability. No story is more touching than when Lloyd needed money for college and Bill sold his prized violin so that he son could afford college. Many years later, Lloyd never forgot that kindness and he and Maxine eventually replaced the violin with a new one. Bill enjoyed it then passed it along to Mary Jean. Bill could make friends with anyone and when he was older, he’d go to the mall and people watch.
He was at the end of his days when Taylor Bennett was born. I had my parents take us to my in-laws to see Grandpa Bennett with that baby girl, as soon as we were released from the hospital.
William George Bennett was born in Kimball, Alberta Canada on January 8, 1904.
He was named after his grandfathers, William Parker and George Bennett. His parents were John Harvey Bennett and Eliza Ann Parker Bennett.
His mother Eliza was born December 10, 1872 in Hooper, Utah. She was called “Lyd” by family and friends. She was the oldest in her family and had two sisters, Maria and Edith and one brother, William . She went to school in a little adobe school house in Hooper and went as far as the fourth reader. She was even-tempered and easy to get along with. Her sister Edith used to say, “I never knew Lyd to have any serious troubles with anyone” with the exception of two boys they grew up with in Hooper. Those two boys were very mean to them and they would roll the girls in a ditch and put sand burrs in their hair and called it “Mormon lice”.
Eliza Ann was a great lover of music and dancing. She sang many duets with her sister Rie (short for Maria) and she had many admirers. She dated lots of boys and at one time was engaged to a Charlie Whitehead but he wanted her to move to Mexico with him. She refused. It was at that time that she met a dashing young man from Kaysville who had moved to Hooper. With her charm, her wonderful sweet personality and radiant beauty and lovely long blond hair caught the attention of John Bennett. They went to together for two years and were married on February 15, 1893. They had one baby, Nancy, who died at the age of 8 months and is buried in Hooper.
She then had Leah and Mabel and baby Ira and soon decided to move to Canada. They set out in September of 1898 in a covered wagon for the North West Territories of Canada. She had seven babies and the birth of the last baby brought grief and tragedy to their family. Due to the lack of proper sanitation and sterilized equipment, his mother contracted blood poison and passed away just eleven days after her baby had been born. Before she passed away, she called her children to her bedside and asked them to always be good and said to her husband John, “Please keep the children together.” Eliza Ann Parker Bennett was 32 years old.
Bill was the seventh child. His father was left with six children under the age of 9 and no wife. Bill Bennett’s grandmother, Elizabeth Alexander Parker arrived from Utah for the funeral and to take charge of the infant. She returned to Utah and took Baby Bill with her.
It was pre-arranged that Bill would remain in Utah with his grandmother until he reached three years of age. When the time arrived, his father John Bennett made the trip from Cardston to Ogden by train to take him home. Grandpa Bill remembered that visit even though he was so young.
Grandpa Bill said that his dear Grandmother had become attached to him. He went everywhere with her. She tended to sick people. He was very close to his grandmother. He played with his Parker cousins and sometimes Bennett cousins but mostly, Bill played alone.
One of the games he liked to play the most was cemetery. He would build the cemetery complete with little sticks for posts and string for a wire. He would bury little chicks, birds, and mice that died. This was on the south slope of the hill below their tiny home beside his Uncle Anthony and Aunt Edith Stoddard’s home.
Grandma Parker convinced his father to leave him with her. He continued living with her until he was six. Then his father arrived with his step-mother, Jane Powell, and his brother Marlin and sister Zelma. It was time for Bill to return to Canada. He became acquainted with his sister and brother and it was going well until it was time to leave Hooper, Utah for Ogden to catch the train for Canada. Bill realized that he was leaving his grandmother and it was very hard for him to part from her, especially as he could see she was crying when he got on the train. He cried for hours after the train pulled out of the station. He said he’d left his early childhood and his grandmother, which had been his only link to his mother.
When Bill arrived in Canada, he found himself in a new world. There were lots of brothers and sisters he had never met, many cattle, horses, and chickens which seemed strange to him in such numbers. Everything seemed very big to him.
Because he was so new to the family, he was the center of attention. Everyone was kind to him but he felt bewildered as they all wanted him to play at the same time. It was difficult after growing up as an only child.
Bill soon found that he was expected to do his full share of chores which included bringing in kindling and coal for fires and drawing water from the well. He also learned to milk a cow. This was his chore, twice a day, for years to come.
As a teen, they played Hide and Seek, Run Sheep Run, Baseball, and horseback riding. He would roam the hills among the chokecherry groves and down by St. Mary river.
As he grew older he began to work in the fields, plowing, etc. to plant wheat. His father was considered the biggest and best thresher man in Alberta.
Bill was an eager student and he was the first in his family to earn an 8th-grade diploma. But working on the ranch came first and he was not able to finish his schooling.
The church was a big part of their lives. He received his mission and on February 19, 1925, took the train out of Cardston along with three other missionaries. His father and step-mother traveled with him as far as Sterling. Bill said he’d never forget his father hanging onto his hand as the train left, tears running down his cheeks and saying, “God bless and protect you son.” Bill felt sure his father must have been thinking how proud his mother would have been of him.
They were on the S.S. Montcalm for nine days before landing in Liverpool, England. Bill thought England was quaint and charming and he spent eight months in the Liverpool district. From there, he went to the Norwich district where he could meet up with one of his friends, Forest Wood.
His companion, Elder Murphy and he rode their bikes to Northampton and he met the Jackson family. Their eldest child was a beautiful 17-year-old Beatrice Mary. They had a wonderful weekend. Bill was released from his mission and on March 27, 1927, he set out to say his goodbyes to people he had met over the course of the previous two years, including the Jackson family. He then left England to make a trip across Europe including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France before returning to Canada. He returned home to his family and one day while out riding with his father, he told his father of meeting Beatrice. He told him of some of her talents and her beauty and her devotion to the gospel. He told his father that he’d like to make her his wife. His father said, “I suppose there are just as good and reliable girls in England as in Canada.” Bill got a job then made plans to make Beatrice his wife.
She joined him on April 12, 1928, and they were married one week later, on April 19th, which was also Beatrice’s birthday.
They had a three-week honeymoon to Salt Lake City, Utah, then returned to Canada. They lived with his parents for a short while and then moved into a third story apartment in the “Tolley House” which they dubbed “Seventh-Heaven”. William Lloyd Bennett was born on August 21, 1929.
They were happy in Canada until the depression came along in 1932. By then, Bill had no work and couldn’t find a job anywhere. He had walked miles looking for work and when he returned home, he found his wife and young son sitting in the dark. The electricity had been shut off for non-payment. His in-laws felt if they went to England, they could get work. They sold all their belongings and boarded an ocean liner, the C.P.R. and crossed the Atlantic to Tilsbury Docks, London where they took the train to Northampton.
They stayed with the Jackson family for a while and they both found employment. Soon, they were able to buy a home. They lived in a duplex next to friends and life was good there.
We have all of these amazing records and pictures since Grandpa Bennett was a good Mormon man. All of the information contained in this came from Grandpa’s Brief Life Sketch that he put together. But it’s not brief. That’s the only lie contained in it. What happens next, of course, is World War II. I am going to quote Grandpa Bennett now.
“A mad man, Adolph Hitler was at the helm of German politics and he believed he was a super power in the world. In England, air-raid shelters were built or prepared. Military action was stepped up and given No. 1 priority. Many were enrolled in Home Defense, including myself. I took a course in St. John’s Ambulance procedure along with many other men in Northampton. ”
Beatrice wrote to the Mormon Mission President to ask his advice. He felt sure the world was indeed headed to war. They decided to sell their home and return to Canada. They were lucky to sell their home quickly and their friend Irene joined them. They left Northampton and went to Southampton to catch their ocean liner. The ship they were to board was taken over by the Government as a ship for troops. They were assured that if they went to Liverpool, they should be able to get a ship from there.
Their ship left the dock side by side with another ocean liner. It was a great relief to be on board the ship but their problems were not over. They had a German submarine try to sink their ship but it was taken out. Then, the afternoon of the second day at sea, a plane flew overhead. The crew members mounted guns on it until it identified itself as English, out searching for German submarines. They stood on deck with gas masks and life jackets. To great relief, they finally arrived in Canada.
Now, they had to begin again, finding new employment and a place to live. They stayed with family then moved into an apartment in the big Marsden Home then to the Wolf home to be nearer their dream home as it was being built. It was a happy day when they moved into the basement of that home.
The urge to join the Army was great and thus Bill joined the Royal Canadian Armed Forces and he left his wife and son, along with daughter Darlene, and trained in Calgary. Then he went on to Lethbridge where he was asked to serve in the Quarter Master Stores where all of the clothing and personal items were kept. Their battery then joined the 6th Regiment. He then served in the 112th Battery. After several months, he was released to go home. Once there, he joined the Air Force Reserve as a 2nd Lieutenant to train new recruits.
Then Bill got a job at Cooper Transport, driving a truck. It was while he was driving truck that he learned of the troubles with the Bach family. Bill phoned the school and was told that Miriam certainly needed a home and some loving care. Bill called her father and asked if he’d like Bill and Bea to take Miriam and he said yes. Bill told him they would want to adopt her and her father said he couldn’t take care of all of his kids so it would be okay.
Then Bill went to work for the Cahoon Hotel and worked there for 9 years. He finally resigned on October 31st, 1956 and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.
He had to find new employment and soon had a job at the Salt Lake City School District as a Custodian then he went to work as a Building Engineer at the Salt Lake County Detention Center. His son Lloyd was his boss and Bill said he never had a better boss. He retired on July 30th, 1971.
He went back to Canada in 1971 to secure his right to the Canadian Old Age Pension. Bea was still in Salt Lake and he’d missed her very much. He lived with Miriam and her husband while he was in Canada then returned to Salt Lake.
After Christmas, he and Bea returned to Salt Lake, where their daughter Miriam was very ill and then passed away.
In retirement, Bill and Bea were able to travel to England and Europe, Canada and the United States. Bill ends his history by saying that “I’m very grateful for my training and was raised to believe in God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
At the end of his life, Bill and Bea moved to Stockton to live with Lloyd and Maxine. They were well cared for until Bill’s death on December 2nd, 1992, at the age of 88 years old. Bill died of heart failure.
This last photograph is one of Bill’s prized possessions, an autographed portrait of President Ronald Regan.