GEORGE RILEY BENNETT
George married Mary Ann King 1 Jan 1885 in Kaysville, Davis County, Utah. George and Mary had twelve children of record:
- Joseph Henry Bennett (29 Jan 1866 – 17 Jan 1887)
- Dilbert Riley Bennett (16 Dec 1887 – 16 Sep 1942)
- Nancy Orisa Bennett (15 Mar 1890 – 18 Oct 1955)
- Marvin Allen Bennett (27 Dec 1891 – 3 Jan 1984)
- Ephraim Earl Bennett (3 Sep 1893 – 16 Oct 1905)
- Hyrum Wilford Bennett (12 Oct 1895 – 27 Mar 1979)
- Issac Leslie Bennett (20 Aug 1897 – 4 Jan 1966)
- George Q Bennett (26 Sep 1899 – 18 Jan 1985)
- Mary Alice Bennett (30 Oct 1901 – 18 Mar 1959)
- Florence Isabell Bennett (4 Nov 1903 – 10 Feb 1997)
- Rettia May Bennett (11 May 1906 – 30 Jul 1906)
- Melvin John Bennett (23 May 1907 – 31 Oct 1991)
George and Mary lived on their farm in the area now known as West Point, Davis County, Utah for most of their married lives. George died 28 Mar 1943 at age 79. He is buried in the Kaysville City Cemetery, Kaysville, Davis, Utah.
Life Sketch of George Riley Bennett
I, George Riley Bennett was born March 17, 1864 at Kaysville, Davis County, Utah. I was the second child and the first boy in a family of eleven. Their names are as follows: Sarah Ellen Bennett, born June26,1862; George Riley, born March 17,1864; James Allen, born January 27, 1866; William Henry, born December 9, 7867; John Harvey, born July 4, 1870; Nancy Melvina, born September 24, 1873; Mary Lovisa, born March 14, 1876; Alvin L., born July 7, 1878; Eva Lillie, born May 18, 1881; Dilbert Taylor, born March 8, 1882; Isaac M. born February 6, 1885.
My father, George Bennett, also came from a large family of fourteen. He was born of a noble father and mother. When hearing correct principles, they would make such principles part of their life. They endured the hardships which the Saints suffered in the early days of the Church.
Grandfather, James Bennett, and his wife, Ellen Pincock Bennett, were born in Leyland, Lancashire, England, a little town of about 2000 population some thirty miles from Preston, England where the first gospel message was preached in this last dispensation in England. Six months after the arrival of missionaries to England, they heard the gospel message and were baptized into the Church. After accepting the gospel they were moved by the spirit of the Lord to join the saints in America. After prayer and council from the missionaries, they began preparation for their journey westward. Selling their home and what small holdings they were blessed with and everything now being ready, they bid farewell to their native land and sailed for America in 1841.
Grandfather was the only one of his family to join the Church, thus making him the Heir of the James Bennett family. As has been stated, Grandfather and Grandmother endured many hardships with the saints in the early days of the Church. While crossing the plains, their little daughter, Hanna, was taken from them through cold and exposure. Grandfather made her a casket and laid her away on the desert, after carrying her two miles on his shoulder in two feet of snow. This was one of their trials along with many others. They arrived in Salt Lake City October 10, 1852 making eleven years from the time they left England. My father, George Bennett, was nine years old when they arrived in Salt Lake Valley. He was born March 14, 1843 at Augusta, Hancock, Illinois. He was the sixth child in a family of fourteen. Living in a large family he was schooled in the school of hard knocks and privations. Many times he was asked to share with his brothers and sisters. He understood that the gift of life which they had was blessings from God, because his father and mother truly believed in the Scriptures where the Master said, “Ask and it shall be given you, knock and it shall be opened.” Many times in their family they had been called to do just that, and the children had witnessed their prayers answered. Thus they grew in a knowledge that God lived and was at their side.
My mother, Nancy Melvina Taylor was born May 30, 1846. She also came from a large family. She married my father August 25, 1861 in the old Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. Father and mother spent most of their life in New Harmony, Dixie, Utah, having received a call in 1862 to go help settle Dixie. While traveling to their new home in the south by team and wagon, my oldest sister, Ellen, was born thirty miles north of St. George, Utah in a covered wagon.
After establishing a home in Hew Harmony, father and mother came back to Kaysville, Utah where I was born. After four years stay at Kaysville, father made preparations to go back to Dixie again. Although I was only four, I can well remember the trip. It was a long, rough journey some three hundred miles in a covered wagon. Robert Egbert and his wife traveled with us. Their outfit consisted of a covered wagon and a small team of ponies. I well remember one was a little yellow mare. She balked about half the time. We just about lost patience-mare and all. It was while we resided at New Harmony that five of my brothers and sisters were born.
My early boyhood life was spent in this beautiful southland. Most of my time was spent as a laborer. Although I was small and young, it became necessary for me to go out for work that we might have the bare necessities in our home. For a long time, we had a very scant living. Our home was made of logs which father and I cut and drug from the hills. We had no floor, just dirt, and the roof was made of dirt and straw. There were no windows, just a hole cut in the wall to five what light was needed. When it would rain, which wasn’t very often in that south land, we just had to cover the hole with a swinging door. We had very little furniture-a chair or two, no stove to cook on, a small fireplace served for heat. Mother did her cooking and baking in a baking oven with wood coals over the top and underneath. There was no electricity for light. Mother made tallow candles and pitch lights. With these lights she did all her patching and darning. A pitch light was a saucer full of grease; a small piece of rag tied around a button and set in the saucer of grease. The rag would absorb the grease and burn for some time. Mother did all the carding and spin ing for our clothes. We had a little old spinning wheel.
Many nights we children went to sleep to the humming of the old spinning wheel. Those kinds of homes were a good place to breed bed bugs and fleas. They would get in the cracks of the logs and you couldn’t poke them out with a stick. I remember father, mother, Sarah Ellen and myself coming home from Grandmothers. On arriving at the door, the fleas had thrown up a barricade so thick we had to retreat to Grandmothers. They were black and about the size of a pin head. We would try to put our finger on one end and it was gone. My, how they could jump! The bed bugs were so thick we couldn’t sleep. At night, we would put burr leaves around the bed. In the night the bugs get on the leaves and couldn’t get off, and then we would burn the leaves.
My sister, Sarah Ellen, and I would go into the fields and glean grain. Then we would thrash it out with a stick and fan it with the wind. I remember my sister getting two hundred pounds of barley and I one hundred pounds. We went in to Roach, Nevada by Archie Bell and sold it getting two and a half cents a pound for it. There weren’t many people who could afford a harvester. Most of the hay was cut with a scythe, and grain with a cradle. All had to be raked by hand. The first reaper that was in New Harmony was bought by William Pace in 1874.
It was in 1874 that father gave me the hardest whipping I ever had and it was the only one he ever gave me. After it was over, father told me that he had whipped me too hard. I learned a lesson from that. I know have a family of twelve, and I would say that it is the proper spirit for a father or mother to acknowledge to their children when they have made a mistake.
Many times heavy rains and cloud bursts would result in floods and would come down the mountains and would carry with it our corrals, pigpens and chicken coops. My boyhood days were fast coming to an end in New Harmony. Father and mother were making plans to leave Dixie, and the land of sunshine, and travel back to Kaysville, Utah. My days spent there were rich, full of excitement, and I can say full of joy. Many things could be said about my school chums, friends and neighbors we were leaving. I will say, however, my schooling was very limited. I got no higher than the fifth grade.
In 1876, we gathered together what earthly goods we had, and made preparations to move back to Kaysville, Utah. We left New Harmony in May 1876. Father drove two yoke of oxen on one wagon, mother and my sister, Sarah Ellen, drove a team of mules on another wagon. I drove what loose cattle we had. Thus we made the three hundred mile trip. We were six weeks on the road, arriving in Kaysville in June of the same year.
Feed in and around Kaysville was scarce. The community settlers grouped their cattle and hired the young boys to herd them. In the year 1878, I and James Bennett, a cousin; John Bennett, a cousin; E.M Whitesides; and Joseph Howard herded the community cattle. We would drive them as far north as the Clearfield State Bank now stands and then back again at night. We would take our lunch in our pocket. There were no homes north of Kay’s Creek to Clearfield, and only two or three slab shacks in Riverdale, and five or six small homes west of where the old railroad used to be, which came parallel to our present highway. There was not a tree or shrub to be found, just thistles and sage brush. One day while herding cattle, there were three roughnecks came riding by on horse back. They appeared friendly and asked if we had any lunch. We told them we had a light lunch in our pocket. They wanted us to share with them as they were very hungry. We were much younger than they were and were felt obligated to share which we did. After they had eaten our lunch, they threw a lasso rope around me and dragged me about a quarter of a mile through thistle and sand, a fine Christian act I thought.
I was young but quite large for my age, so in 1882 I went to work on a thrashing machine with Richard Venable. It was a horse power machine. We had to feed the grain into it by hand using a sharp wooden peg to pull the grain into the cylinder. We thrashed all through Syracuse and down into Hooper. It was an awful dusty job. My uncle said if I would take a chew of tobacco and hold it in my mouth while feeding the machine the dust wouldn’t get in my throat so bad, so I tried it. It made me so sick, death would have been pleasant. That was my first and last chew of tobacco.
One Christmas, I and William saddled our horses and went up to Fairview, Idaho to a dance which was held in a little log school house. As the dance got underway, trouble began. A man by the name of Jake Harris and Jim Shupe started drinking and got into a fight. Shupe drew his pocket knife and stabbed Harris in the jugular vein. Blood spurted from the wound in a stream about the size of a pencil. The dance broke up, Harris was laid on a bench, Abner Mack held his finger over the wound to check the bleeding while Josh Adams and I rode to Weston, Idaho, a distance of eight miles to bring Uncle John Smith to sew up the wound. We had to ford Bead River. Ice was coming in chunks as big as a house. I stayed to uncle’s place all night and he rode my horse back to Fairview. Harris lived until March and died. Shupe was released on bail and left the country and never returned. What became of him was never known.
In 1883 I began courting my wife, Mary Ann King, daughter of Hyrum Smith and Alice Bennett King. She came from a large family of twelve. Up to this time I had never accompanied a girl home. I had no carriage, so our courting was done on horseback. I lived at Kaysville and Mary Ann lived at South Hooper. Their home stood where Grant Blake’s now stands. It was a long way to ride on a horse, but I made the trip each week. Not long after our courtship started, we attended a dance in West Kaysville at William Barnes’ home, both riding the same horse. The orchestra consisted of a violin. The dances were the waltz and square dances. There were some songs made up in those days. A verse for each boy. The one for me went like this: “This is George Bennett with whiskers on his lip; he’ll marry Mary Ann King if she don’t give him the slip. He goes out to see her and he goes once a week, and he sits her up so much that she is getting weak.”
On May 4, father, mother, my brothers and sisters started to Rabbit Valley, 250 miles to see mother’s folks. I was left to batch it. I was my own boss for six weeks. I remember a big rain came the night they left. They came home on June 15, 1884. Father and I and a brother, 14, put up 45 or 50 tons of hay that year. There were no derricks in those days. Father and I pitched it on the wagon and I pitched it on the stack. In November 1884, my brother John and I went back to Rabbit Valley with a team after four head of horses. Uncle Pan Taylor brought them from New Harmony. They belonged to father. We were gone 3 weeks-got back in December 1884. Aunt Margaret Taylor came back with us to see her folks, Brother and Sister John Ellison. I remember she had a small baby with her. It took us a week to come home. One night when we camped, we had to buy water for our horses.
I had an experience that summer I will always remember. I was asked by a man much older than I was to go to Ogden with him. He had divorced his wife and taken to drinking. He insisted that I drink with him. He got so drunk he passed out, but I was just drunk enough to be silly. We had been gone so long mother became worried about me. When I got home and she saw my condition, she cried the rest of the evening. When she went to bed she said, “Will you make me a promise?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Promise me you will never get drunk again.” I am happy to say I have kept that promise. It is now 56 years since I made that promise.
That fall while I was on the thrasher and I was away from home, I thought it would be a good time to try smoking. I got a sack of tobacco and used about half of it. We were at my uncles thrashing. His wife and another aunt saw the string hanging out of my pocket and they took me to task. I gave the balance of the sack to Carl Green’s father. That was the last sack of tobacco I ever bought, but I could have easily learned to smoke if I had not received council and advice from some one who was interested in my welfare.
I had the money I made on the thrasher that fall to get married on. It was 40 or 50 dollars. I bought the ring for $5.00. That was quite expensive in those days. I went to South Hooper December 31, 1885 in a buggy borrowed from my Grandfather Bennett and stayed there all night. January 1, 1885 I went back home with the girl that had promised to be my wife. Her folks had gone into Kaysville the day before to help prepare for the wedding. The snow was about one inch deep. We were married at 5 p.m. January 1, 1885 by Bishop Barton of Kaysville in Kaysville, Utah. 95 people were at the wedding which took place at my father’s home. The first dance was a quadrille danced by myself and wife, my father and mother, my sister, Sarah Ellen Criddle and her husband, my brother, John and his girl friend. We danced until 4 a.m. We got enough money that night to buy a bed stead and six chairs. That was our start. We had some dishes we got the night before.
We had a lot of snow all through January that year. My mother died February 6, 1885, just a month after we were married. She died from childbirth. She was only sick three hours. The baby lived until April 5, 1885.
On May 14, 1886 my wife and I; our baby boy that was born January 29, 1886; my wife’s father and mother, Alice and Hyrum King, and Grandma King went to the Temple in Logan, Utah and were sealed for time and all eternity. We went to Fairview and stayed a few days with Aunt Ellen Egbert. When we returned home, we lived with father and looked after his children until he married again in October 1886.
On May 14, 1886, father went into the sheep business. After mother’s death, I looked after the farm. Sheep business was very bad in those days. I helped some with the sheering. We moved to South Hooper the later part of October 1886. We were living with my wife’s folks. Soon after we moved there my wife and four of her brothers and sisters got typhoid fever. While they were down, my wife’s mother gave birth to a baby boy. They were very sick. Dr. Ingram from Kaysville came out to see them. One of our neighbors, Levi B. Hammon was there. He asked the doctor what he thought about them. He said, “I don’t want to excite anyone, but there is no doctor on earth that can save George’s wife.” Then he said, “George, if you have any faith, now is the time to exercise it.” For he said, “It all depends on your faith and the nursing she gets if she ever gets better.” Imagine if you can how I felt. Many times I would go out back of Brother King’s hay stack and plead with God in prayer for the recovery of my wife and the rest of the family. Many times it looked like the end was near, but after many weeks there seemed to be some change. By December 30, my wife was able to be up for a while each day. I promised the Lord if he would spare her life, that she could live and we could raise a big family, I would try to all my life to keep the commandments of God and do my duty in the Church. When my wife began to improve, our baby boy 11 months o1d became ill with pneumonia. He grew and on January 17, 1887, I went to Kaysville to see the doctor. While I was there, Joseph King, my wife’s brother, came after me. He said the baby was worse. My father had a pony saddled for me and I rode him a distance of 13 miles in 45 minutes. When I got home, we administered to him but he passed away in just a few minutes. I wondered if God was putting me to the test. My heart was very heavy, but I realized my wife was improving and my prayers had been answered in her behalf and I had promised the Lord I would serve him all my life. I don’t want to live long enough to do otherwise. My prayers were answered and she is still alive today and will be 75 years old on May 28,1940. This day is February 8, 1940. She is the mother of 12 children, Joseph Henry, born January 29, 1866, died January 17, 1887; Dilbert Riley, born December 16, 1887; Nancy Orissa, born March 15, 1890; Marvin Allen, born December 27, 1891; Ephriam Earl, born September 3, 1893, died October 16, 1905; Hymm Wilford, born October 12, 1895; Isaac Leslie, born August 20, 1897; George Q., born September 26, 1899; Mary Alice, born October 30, 1901; Florence Isabelle, born November 4, 1903; Retta May, born March 11, 1906, died July 30, 1906; Melvin John, born May 23, 1907.
In May 1889, my father moved his family to Canada but became discouraged and settled in Kamas Meadows, Idaho. The winter of 1889 was a real hard one. Father lost a loft of horses and cattle amounting to $15,000.00. I went up to see him in October. My brother, John, brought me home in a wagon. Downey, Idaho was not settled at that time. John lived with us that winter. The winter of 1891 and 7892, my sister Lovisa and brother Alvin lived with us and went to school in Gilbert Parkers old house. John W. Singleton was the teacher.
We now lived in a one room log house. I had hauled the logs from Deseret Hill in Weber Canyon. I had a lot of interesting experiences and funny things happen to me in the canyon and the coal beds. In 1903, I was at Eliza Ellison’s funeral is West Layton. Her brother, Joseph, was there from Canada. I inquired about father and brother’s family. He said they were well and busy but not interested in Church work. This bothered me and I began to wonder what could be done to help them. I began to have a feeling I should go to Canada. As time went on, the feeling grew stronger. Then I began to pray about it. The more I prayed, the stronger the feeling grew. I had no money and my wife was expecting a new baby. I told the Lord if there was anything I could do I would go if I could get the money. On November 4, 1903, the baby was born. My wife got along better than she ever did. I got the money and left on December 13 for Canada. I got there on December 16th. My brother, Alvin met me at the train at Spring Cooley, the nearest station. It was quite a surprise to my folks as Alvin was the only one that knew I was coming. On January 4, 1904, I went to Sacrament Meeting. The Bishop, William R. Slone was not there. The Counselor asked me to speak. Later on while talking to him, he said he felt sure something could be done to create interest within my folks to work in the Church. We held a cottage meeting at my sister’s on Monday evening. Many good thoughts were expressed. Both of my folks were there. They arranged to have a meeting at my father’s house on Monday night. The Bishop was there and he asked me to speak. I felt impressed to bear my testimony and tell them why I had come to Canada. It was because the Lord had sent me for a purpose and I didn’t know what it was unless it was to tell my folks how I had obtained my testimony; how when my wife and others were sick, I had promised the Lord if he would spare their lives I would try my best to keep His commandments the rest of my life and how my determination had grown to keep that promise. Every eye in the house was wet with tears as I told them I wanted to do what God wanted me to do, whether it was to move to Canada, go on a mission, or stay home and work in the Church.
I left their home January 7tn. My brother John’s wife was expecting a new baby and wanted me to stay until it arrived, but I felt I was needed at home. In a few days we received word that she had a baby boy, but the mother died. She was the daughter of Elizabeth Parker who went to Canada to the funeral and brought the baby home with her and kept him until was 6 years o1d. His father married again and came and took him back to Canada to 1ive. His name was William Bennett. He grew to manhood and went on a mission to England in 1925. When he returned home, he corresponded with a young lady convert he met while on his mission. She came to Canada in 1933 and they were married. They moved to England and worked with the Missionaries until they began to talk so much about war that they moved back to Canada. They are still working in the Church and I firmly believe the testimony of his mother was instilled in him. She was so enthused in the meeting we held. When he was called on a mission, I told him of the occasion of me going to Canada before he was born. His step-mother has been a real mother to him and all the other children. Brother John had eight children; Aunt Jane had two when they were married. They had six making fourteen in all.
My visit to Canada seemed to make a great change in my folks. My brother had smoked for twenty years, but he quit and later became counselor to the Bishop. He later was made the Bishop. The night my brother’s wife was buried, my father’s baby died. They felt like they were really being tried. I firmly believe that the Lord sent me to Canada to prepare them for the trouble that was coming. That was a testimony to me that God moves in a mysterious way.
In the spring of 1905, I began planning to build a new home. We had lived in a log house and it had served its purpose for 18 years. I hauled rock from Weber Canyon fourteen or fifteen miles. A ton of cement and gravel were under the rock. The brick outside came from Wards brick kiln in East Kaysville fifteen miles away. It was $4.25 per 1000. The inside brick came from Roy. George Parker was in charge of inside bricks. On September 5th, I got a load of brick from Roy. My son, Earl went with me to help with the team. He said he had a stomach ache. I asked him what gave it to him. He said he had eaten some little peaches up at Johnny Ware’s. He said, “I won’t eat any more.” He complained all day and night. We sent for the doctor. He said it was Appendicitis. He thought it would work off, but it didn’t improve so the doctor said he would operate on him. He ordered me to have a boiler of water boiled and cooled and another one boiling so he could operate on him on Sunday morning at 11:00. We waited until 2:00 pm. He hadn’t come so I called him. He said he could not come until 4:00 pm, but he still didn’t come. About sundown, his brother, Ezra C. Rich, came. He examined him and said his appendix had broken so he could not operate. Edward Rich, the doctor that was going to operate had gone to California. The boy kept getting worse. The doctor said to put him on a liquid diet. The men were laying brick on the new house. We had to cook for them. We just had one room in the 1og house and a lean to. Earl was right there in the room where we ate. When we would eat dinner, he wanted us to put a quilt over a chair so he couldn’t see us eat, because he said he was starving to death. We finally had to send the men down to my father- in-law’s to board. Earl continued to grow worse. We had many friends ready to help with their faith and prayers and getting up nights. We had lots of faith in administration. On October 7, 1905, he was wild with pain and was throwing his hands. My sister, Sarah Ellen and her husband, John Criddle, were there with us. I was kneeling by his bed trying to comfort him. He began to hit me in the face. Uncle John said, “Earl, did you know that was your father you were hitting?” He put his arms around my neck and said, “Oh, pa, was that you? I thought it was a black bird.” He was so overcome with pain he was delirious. He was all bloated up with gas. The doctor could do nothing. He kept getting worse. On October 10th, the doctor came and said, “Let him have anything he wants to eat.” He couldn’t eat. The end was near.
October 15th, Walter Blake was setting up with us, Earl was suffering terrible and he asked us to administer to him. After we finished, he was quite for a few hours. About 4 o’clock a.m., October 16, 1905, he was worse again. He asked us to administer to him again. When we finished, he put his hands over his eyes and said, “Oh please God, make me better so I can sit up to the table and eat and so I can help pa work.” After that he quieted down and at 5:00 a.m., October 16, 1905 he passed away in spite of our desire for him to live. We had his school boy friends for pall bearers. President Grant spoke at the funeral. He said if I would continue to live faithful, the time would come when I would know why. So in answer to prayer, I had that sweet influence of satisfaction burning in my heart that it was God’s will he should go. His suffering was too severe to endure. I have done his work in the temple and I think he is one of those that will go into the highest degrees of glory that God has for all such as he.
The work on the house continued. Samuel Law and son of Centerville were the brick layers. I paid them $2.50 a thousand kiln for laying the bricks. The lime was hauled from Salt Lake City lime kiln. Peter Barton was the carpenter. The house was finished at a cost of $1500.00 besides a years work for me. The house had five rooms downstairs and three upstairs. After moving to South Hooper in 1886, I began working in the Church and have continued doing so throughout my life. In 1886, I acted as Assistant Superintendent in the South Hooper Ward Sunday School. I was counselor to Levi B. Hammond in the Y.M.M.I.A. and President to the Y.M.M.I.A. from 1893 to 1895. I also served as counselor to Gilbert Parker in the Elder’s Quorum from 1894 to 1895. I was 2nd counselor to Bishop Antoine C. Christensen of South Hooper Ward from 1896 to 1898; then as first counselor to Bishop Gilbert Parker for 17 years. I was set apart as Bishop of the West Point Ward August 8, 1915 and served until October 30,1927. I was also a Ward teacher for many years. I served on the Senior Aaronic Committee from 1940 until 1943. I was advisor over the Ward Teachers for many years. I was set apart as Patriarch of North Davis Stake August 25,1935. I served four years as Constable of the South Hooper Precinct, four years as Deputy Assessor and a number of years as School Trustee. I was Health Inspector for eleven years, also Director in the Cheese Factory and Hooper Irrigation Company.
George Riley Bennett died March 28,1943 at the age of 79; still a firm believer in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and still serving as Patriarch at the time of his death. He had 8 living children, 32 grandchildren, and several great grandchildren.
More information will be posted soon.