[Written at top] - Excuse a short letter. Write soon. Hand this to some of Amos's1 folks.
January 1st 1866
O. P. Bennett
Sir, I will take tonight to write you a few lines to let you know how we are & what we are doing. We are all well at this time. We have not had any chills for some time. I [think] we are done with them.
We are all well satisfied with our new home in the brush. We have got a good well of water that I think will never go dry. We have as good a fire place as I ever sat by. It is brick. I built it myself. I've got three good hogs to kill, yet I have not killed one. I have got two of the best sows that runs in this flat. I have only 3 pigs but they are good ones & I am looking for some soon. I have two good cows & two steer calves, tom & brandy2.
George & Eck3 says they are going to have a yoke of oxen. I bought 4 sheep yesterday for $10. All my stock is good but my team is too old. Dick has bought 125 acres of land 1 mile east of me for $1,250, about 40 acres fenced, 200 young choice fruit trees, and a never failing spring. I think it a good bargain.
I have nothing worth writing or I would have wrote sooner. There is more game in these parts this Winter than has been for many years - deer & turkey. I don't hunt any so it does me no good. I have seen turkeys several times but I never have my gun.
Beathy4 has got most enough cotton spun for 12 yards of muslin. I am going to make us a loom this winter. I have got a draft of it. It will be 3 feet 7 inches wide, 4 feet 8 inches long, 2 feet 6 inches high. It won't take as much room as a bed stead.
I got a letter from William T. Beavers5 a week ago. I will write him soon.
J. J. Bennett
Contributed by: John Bennett who adds these notes:
1 - Jonathan Amos Beavers who married Polly Bennett. Amos was John J¹s brother-in-law and lived in Richland county near Oliver & Hannah.
2 - A contact who translates many of these 19th century letters says he has seen instances before where steers were given names. As there is no punctuation in the original, it is hard to tell.
3 - This could mean George & etc.
4 - John's wife Bethany Montgomery.
5 - This may have been John's nephew, as Amos & Polly had a son William.
[To] O. P. Bennett
Parke County Ind
If not called for in 10 days to be returned to Olney, Ills.
October 12th, 1868
Oliver, I will write one night sooner for fear they all go to town tomorrow & I will not get to send it down.
All are well but Dallus1, he has had no chill since you left but looks bad yet, but eats hearty. They got to go after their [or these] grapes. We will not get our molasses until tomorrow. Billy is getting along with the work very well. He is going to mill tomorrow. Manda² went to school today. She liked her teacher very well. We have had pretty weather ever since the day you left. I am not trading much for I have about sold out. The time seems lonesome to us while you are gone. I hear the chldren saying to one another every once in awhile I wish Pa would come.
I guess I've told you all that is worth telling for this time. When you get this write & tell us when you will be at home. It is late & I am tired, so no more for this time, but remain yours truly.
(contributed by: John Bennett, who adds: It appears to have been sent from Scott county Indiana, where Oliver & Hannah Bennett lived prior to moving to Richland county IL. If anyone knows the identity of either Jake McNeeley or "Buck" Bennett, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(1) James Dallas Bennett, son, b 10/5/1863
(2) Amanda Bennett, daughter, b 6/4/1861
From: Jake McNeeley
To: Buck Bennett, esq
Well Buck, I will write you a few lines. First I will inform you that I am in common health, [and am] hoping that these few scribbled lines may reach you and find you & family well.
Well Buck, I suppose you would like to know how the election went. Well, old Scott [county] went Democratic. They made a clean scoot on Scott.
Well Buck, I want you to send old Bets ([Betsy?] Higgins that big, wooly-headed valentine, for I can't get to see her. I will send a stamp in this letter. Don't mail it at Olney, for fear that she takes the hint.
Well, I will change the subject. I want to know if you will go partners with Harmen Nolto & me and buy a steam thrasher, and thash out there in your neighborhood? I think that we can get it on good terms. I think we can get it by paying one third down and the rest of it on 12 months time. I think that we can make it pay. We want you to be engineer if you are in. Just write and let us know. We are in good earnest about it. So write and let us know about it.
So excuse [my] bad writing and spelling for I am in a hurry. So, good by for this time.
[Contributed by: John Bennett]
The sixth annual Bennett reunion was held at the Mt. Vernon city park Sunday, Aug. 7. There were about ninety members present. After dinner a short business session was held. The following officers were elected: President, M. O. Bennett, Dundas, Ill.; vice president, Edward Bennett, Opdyke; secretary, Blossom Bennett, Dundas, Ill. Entertainment was furnished by Story brothers and other talented musicians. Those present from a distance were: Mr. and Mrs. Walter Barnes and daughter of Pearson, Okla., also Lucille Rideout, a friend; Mrs. W. L. Asher, Springfield, Mo.; Mrs Nell Rose and son of Chicago; W. G. Mitchell, Viknia, Ark., Mrs. Olive Bennett and son Floyd, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Estes, Venice, Ill; Mr. and Mrs. Perry Bennett, Ingraham, Ill.; Mr. and Mrs. Grover Beavers and family, Newton, Ill.; Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Bennett and family, Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer Bennett, Mr. and Mrs. Zina Riggs, M. O. Bennett and daughters Blossom and Ellen, Dundas, Ill.; Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Beavers and Mr. and Mrs. Lowell Seeley and sone, Olney.
The meeting for 1933 will be held at the Uncle Buck Bennett homestead, one and one-half miles west of Dundas, Ill. [Publication unknown, probably in Mt. Vernon Illinois, date published unknown but estimated as 1932 Contributed by: John Bennett]
[Text modernized for readability]
Lexington Ind, Nov 10 1860
It is with grate plesher I rite to you. I see[n] your Father today, and David. They was well and the rest are all well fer as I know.
I received a letter from Uncle Ephriam Tusday - even he said he did not know any of them nor they him. He said that some of the land looks natural. He said or wrote that the land was covered with pine trees. They are all well down east. I hope this will find you all enjoying good health and dewing well.
Dear Cusin Hannah, I am very thankfull to you for them stockins. You will be long remembered by me if my life is spared. O how it makes me feel to think of past times and to think what I have been through.
I am alone tonight. Uncle Arba and Aunt has gone to Ephraims so here I am alone. Now I can read and call on our heavendly Father to guide and pertect me in this sad and sinfull world and at last receive me home to glory, there to sing his prases forever and ever. If I had a companion as good as I think you are to kneel with me tonight in prayer hour, happily I should be or I think I should be happy, but I will trust to the Lord to guide me on the right. It is my prayer to God that I may live and do his will in all things. I may never see you agin on this earth but I hope if we hent [ain't] permitted to see each other here, we shall be in heaven.
I bin over to see Sis once. She met me at the dore, took me into the parler, and when I left she asked me to com agin. We [have had] two rainy days and nights this week. I got a bad cold. I feel most sick tonight. It is now almost 11 o'clock, so goodby for tonight.
Nov 11 - I bin to Meeting to[day?] Mary & Isadorah was thare. I did not speak to them today. I am goin¹ tonight. Its bin a plesent day. Arba, Aunt Lizzie got back. They found all well to Ephraim and Maces. I hent heard anything from old man Bennet since you left. Give my love to all. Rite soon. Tell Dorcas to write & Sam & Oliver and I will anser all letters and try to have Mary & Isadorah write to.
Uncle Peter talks of coming home with Ephriam and Arba talks of coming with her father. May the Lord bless you all and give you health and strank.
NOTES: From Contributor John Bennett, who adds these notes:
To: Hannah & O Bennet
1. Oliver & Hannah had just moved from Lexington county IN to Richland county IL
2. John Johnson is a cousin to Hannah on her mother's [Rhoda Hardy Close] side of the family
3. Father in the first sentence is Sanford Close, who eventually moved to Richland county as well.
4. The Hardy family originated in New Hampshire, thus the Œdown east reference.
5. Old man Bennet is William Bennett, Oliver's father. William's wife Elizabeth died in 1857, and is buried in the Bennett cemetery in Lexington township, Scott county IN. Also buried there is William S. Bennett, Oliver & Hannah's first child, who died in infancy Feb 1859.