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BENNETT, Rufus (1754-1842)

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Rufus Bennett was born in New England in 1760. The names of his parents are not known, but it is probable that he was a brother or a son of Isaac Bennett who died in Newport Township, Luzerne County, July 28, 1809, aged seventy-six years. Rufus Bennett was administrator of Isaac’s estate. On the tax-lists of Hanover District (which included Newport Township) the name Isaac Bennett, Jr., appears in 1776, ’77 and ’78. He was dead in 1787, and had left children: Isaac, Lois (wife of Moses Brown) and Susanna (wife of Elias Green). The Isaac last mentioned may have been the Isaac who died in July, 1809, and the father of Rufus. Rufus Bennett was a private in Capt. Samuel Ransom’s Wyoming company in the Continental service, and continued in the service under Captain Spalding upon the consolidation of the two Wyoming companies. He was one of those who came home from “the front” (as mentioned on page 978) to assist in defending Wyoming against the enemy. After the battle he joined Captain Spalding, and undoubtedly served with him until the end of the war. After the war he settled in Hanover Township, where, about 1783 or ’84 he was married to Martha Bennett (born in 1763), daughter of Ishmael Bennett of Hanover by his first wife. Ishmael Bennett, mentioned above, was, so far as known, not related by blood to Rufus Bennett. He was born in Rhode Island about 1730; removed to Connecticut, and came to Wyoming about 1773 with his three children—his wife being dead. He settled in Pittston, and, with his children, was in the Pittston fort at the time of the battle of Wyoming. About 1783 Ishmael Bennett—then living in Wilkes-Barre—was married (2d) to Abigail (Beers) Weeks, widow of Philip Weeks of Wilkes-Barre, and about 1788 they removed to Hanover Township. About 1816 Ishmael Bennett removed to the State of Ohio, where he died at the age of 104 years. His children by his first wife were: (i) Ishmael, born in 1760; came to Wyoming with his father; some years subsequently to the battle of Wyoming he was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Constant Searle and widow of Capt. Dethick Hewitt; settled in Pittston Township, where he died August 29, 1844, at the age of eighty-four years, (ii) Martha, born in 1763; married to Rufus Bennett, as previously noted, (iii) Thomas, born in 1765; married to Mary Ann Espy. The children of Ishmael Bennett, Sr., by his second wife were: (iv) Daniel, born in 1784. (v) Josiah, born in 1786; married to Sarah Taylor; died in 1857. (vi) Nathan, born in 1788; died in 1872. (vii) Polly, born in 1789; died in 1831. (viii) Sarah, born in 1791; died in 1881. Rufus and Martha (Bennett) Bennett were the parents of three daughters and six sons. Rufus Bennett died April 21, 1842, at the home of one of his sons in the hamlet of Woodville, just below the then borough of Wilkes-Barre, and his widow died there in 1853. On April 22, 1842, a meeting of the citizen-soldiers of Wilkes-Barre was held at Dennis’ Hotel, to take into consideration measures for paying proper respect to the remains of Rufus Bennett. Gen. William S. Ross presided, and the following minute was adopted: “Rufus Bennett sleeps with his fathers! The Continental soldier and the border warrior—the staunch foeman of the foreign tyrant and the ruthless savage—has closed his earthly career among the scenes consecrated by the blood of his compatriots and endeared by the recollection of his own gallant participation in the memorable struggle for Wyoming. As Americans, and citizens of this Valley, we are anxious to testify our respect for the memory of the veteran soldier who periled life and limb in the war of liberty.” The. funeral of Rufus Bennett took place on April 23d. There was an unusually large number of people in attendance, and the procession to the graveyard was headed by a detachment of “Citizen Volunteers,” with music, under the command of Gen. William S. Ross. Gen. Isaac Bowman was Chief Marshal of the procession.

Harvey, Oscar Jewell and Ernest Gray Smith, ed., A History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Volume II, Raeder Press, 1909


  At a meeting of the Citizen Soldiers, in the Register's Office on Friday morning last, to take into consideration measures to pay a proper respect to the remains of the late Rufus Bennett, one of the few of those who were engaged on the memorable 3d of July 1778, in the defence of this Valley and its inhabitants:

  Col. J. L. BUTLER was called to the Chair, and, Amos Sistt appointed Secretary.

  On motion,

  The Chairman was authorised to appoint a committee to draft a preamble and resolutions indicative of the order to be taken by the meeting.

  The Chair appointed the following persons,

  Col. J. J. Dennis, Major F. Dana, T. W. Drake, E. Collings and W. J. Stephens.

  On motion,

  Gen. I Bowman was appointed Marshal to conduct the funeral procession--and Major L. C. Kidder, Assistant Marshal for the same purpose.

  On motion,

  Adjourned to meet at the house of Col. J. J. Dennis, at 8 o'clock, P. M.


  At the adjourned meeting at Col Dennis's at 8 o'clock P. M., (Col. Butler not being present) Gen., WM. S. ROSS was appointed President.

  When the following report was made by the Committee.

  The honor we pay the illustrious dead, is not lost to the living. When we lay the war-worn patriot of the Revolution in his grave, amidst the melancholy pageantry of the Soldier's burial rites, while we indulge a manly sorrow for our bereavement, we cling more closely around the altar built by his lofty patriotism, and we feel that it is glorious to die for our goodly inheritance.

  OLD RUFUS BENNETT sleeps with his fathers. The Continental soldier and the border warrior--the staunch foeman of the foreign tyrant and the ruthless savage, has closed his earthly career among the scenes consecrated by the blood of his compatriots, and endeared by the recollection of his own gallant participation in the memorable struggle for Wyoming. As Americans, and citizens of this valley we are anxious to testify our respect for the memory of the veteran soldier who periled life and limb in the war of liberty--therefore,

  Resolved, That his remains be buried with military honors under the direction of the citizen soldiers of Wyoming.

  Unanimously adopted.

  On motion, adjourned.

(Signed by the Officers)


On Saturday at 10 o'clock A. M., a large concourse of Citizens and Soldiers assembled at the house of the deceased, in Woodville.

  The procession, under Gen. J. BOWMAN, Marshall, and Major L. C. KIDDER Assistant, was formed as follows:


Citizen Volunteers of Wyoming Commanded by Gen. W. S. Ross.

Woodsville Lancers.


Palbearers, Corbe. Palbearers.

Relatives of the Deceased.

Old Soldiers, and Early Settlers of Wyoming.

Citizens on Horseback.

Citizens in Carriages.

  The procession moved forward to the place of burial in Hanover township, about four miles below the Borough. On reaching the ground the burial service of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was read by the Rev. D. W. BRISTOL--The body of the veteran was consigned to its kindred earth--three vollies of musketry, and the mournful music of the Band closed the Churchyard scene. Repairing to the Church, a Sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. BRISTOL--after which the Rev. JNO. DORRANCE, gave a short sketch of the life of the deceased, when the people departed to their homes, having paid the last tribute of respect to the patriot citizen.

  The number of persons attending the funeral, in the procession we estimate at 500--in addition to which there were 200 or 300 at the house, but who did not go to the ground--at the ground were gathered probably a hundred more.

  The day was mild and beautiful--Nature was putting forth her buds and flowers--and the grave yard where they laid the soldier down was filled with Spring's sweet blossoms. The whole proceedings at the grave were deeply impressive and the silence and seriousness of the assemblage was fitting to the occasion.

  There are but two or three links left in the living chain that connects the present with the past. The rust of age will soon destroy them, and then the memories of '78 will be gone forever.

  How seemly then was the demonstration of respect by the living to the patriotic dead.

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