Thursday, March 14, 2019

Nelson Bennett The Man. A Man. (rev 3/14/2019)


This is a work in progress. I am diverting my attention to another project right now, November 17, 2017, but will alter this as I make time. Any ideas, research, opinions that anyone has on this, please email me:


The Man. A Man.                        

Copyright © 2017 Theodore M. Wight. All Rights Reserved.

I am a great grandson of Nelson Bennett (NB). I share that designation with twenty others, all my first and second cousins, third cousins and generation(s) removed add myriad other relatives. NB had six siblings, five males and one female, each has descendants spread out throughout the west whom I want to identify, but might not have time.

Nelson Bennett shined brightly in the minds of my mother, Virginia Bennett Davis Wight and her two brothers, my Uncle Ed and Uncle Nelson. His life to us kids was a fantasy of fabulous wealth gained and lost, guts, grit, glory, failure, determination, hard work, good and bad luck. While he had little formal book learning, he must have been curious, studying, learning and adapting his whole life, always looking at the sunshine, never giving up. NB could talk his way into getting his way including convincing the Board of Directors of the one of the mightiest companies in the country, the Northern Pacific Railway – that he, not an engineer or even a high school graduate, could pick, shovel, dynamite, and bore through nearly 2 miles of the hard rock of the Cascade Mountains. Or rather that he was capable to hire and manage a highly diverse workforce, including the Chinese whom he paid the same as whites and was severely criticized for doing so. (Though admittedly they got the worst work and working conditions.) And when he did get a contract, most times he succeeded at producing what he had been selling. His most notable accomplishment, of course, was the Stampede Pass Tunnel of the Northern Pacific Railroad, tunneling two miles through the Cascade Mountains, which for the first time enabled the direct connection of the Puget Sound region with all of the United States of America east of it. But unsung was his development of the Washington town of Fairhaven, now part of Bellingham; purchasing vast swaths of land in Portland, Oregon, and out to Seaside along with other tracts in northern Oregon; operating the Chilkoot tramway in rush Alaska. Was his sunny d                  .

We grew up knowing of that accomplishment along with the NP tunnel under Tacoma’s Point Defiance and short automobile tunnel in Ruston, Washington, next to Tacoma, both named for him, both now closed.  He was rich, had a mansion and a lot of great china and silverware that we all grew up using on special occasions, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, and other times when our grandmother would teach such as how to use a fingerbowl! Very useful today.  But always, we were brought up in modesty; we could not and would not brag or shine light on ourselves especially when it was he that achieved. But over the past twenty or so years, when my interest perked up, I would research NB in the Tacoma Public Library and the Historical Museum which was up Stadium Way from our once-home at 730 North Stadium Way in Tacoma. It is next to Stadium High School, when I was in the fourth and fifth grades at Lowell School. Later I discovered the tools from the Internet, such as Family Tree Maker, and other genealogical sites as well as the New England Historical and Genealogy Society in Boston, the hometown of many relations.

This, my “biography” of Nelson Bennett is not scholarly nor an historical novel.  I have not filled this narrative with made-up events from my imagination, I have attempted to gather what I can, mostly from NB’s memoir and newspaper accounts. Plus a little – very little – oral history which was achieved much, much too late from NB’s last surviving grandson, San Francisco’s late, great John Bennett Ritchie.

I started a set of blogs in 2012 about my four great grandfathers, each successful and notable in his own way. One was a Congregational minister who wrote 20 books, helped start a library and historical society in Fairfield, Connecticut; another a Washington, D. C. newspaper correspondent for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Journal, Chicago Inter-Ocean, and numerous other newspapers. He was a founder and served a couple of terms as president of the Gridiron Club (the oldest, most prestigious journalism organization in the country and host of the Annual Gridiron Club satirical Dinner with self-deprecatory remarks by the president and politicians of both sides of the aisle, as they say) and the third, about whom I know far less, a businessman and investor, who was buying property and building a residence at the same time as George Washington Vanderbilt was concocting the Biltmore House, the largest residence ever built in the United States of America, in Asheville, North Carolina. The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan, “The epic story of love, loss, and American royalty in the nation’s largest home” recently released depicts the Biltmore story. The blogs are;; and all to be joined together in (which has yet to happen).

The writing of these blogs has waxed and waned with my interest and time available during which I was a retiring venture capital investor (but still on the boards of directors of many companies), a free and easy recreationalist and from 2007, author of a blog of the Obama presidential years ( and four books, none published.

The DNA of all these important and remarkable men flows through me. Naturally and equally the women married to (and behind) these men donated their DNA and “nurturing” that came before me contributed all in some unknown but absolutely critical way. NB’s surprise love, which he discovered at age 38 was the greatest and probably the only one in his life. I can’t imagine many women that could have traveled his path with him. Lottie Bennett, herself pregnant when married to a cad for the first time, was an early, highly visible suffragette later on. After NB died she took up his reins and successfully completed the half-mile Point Defiance Northern Pacific railroad tunnel, working full time for three years! My two grandmothers, Theodora Child Wight “Grannie,” the straight-laced daughter of a Congregational minister in Connecticut was a nurse ministering to the Indians and fisherman of Labrador (where she met my grandfather) and “Nana,” Nelsie Bennett Davis, NB and Lottie’s third daughter, who, among other notable accomplishments, taught my older brother and me how to play poker – Seven-toed Pete!

And speaking of Lottie, in the Saturday, January 10, 1891, issue of the Rockford, Illinois, Daily Gazette was a paean to her: “Mrs. Nelson Bennett is another favored woman upon whom beauty has smiled. Moreover she is kind and lovable, and has a handsome home, over which she reigns as queen, surrounded by her numerous friends and pretty children. She drives a magnificent team of blacks that attract almost as much attention as their owner. Mrs. Bennett has a superb figure, harmonious feathers, soft brown hair and expressive eyes.” This was among the praise of eight other society ladies of Tacoma. But further, writer Fay Fuller glorified the “City of Destiny,” Tacoma itself:

“Thus in this new state beauty, genius and culture flourish, and if Draper’s prophecy—that in the northwest will be reared the highest types of mankind—prove true there may be a great future for the state of Washington. At any rate the poet’s line, ‘Go where you may and beauty follows too,’ has ample verification at Tacoma. It is of the state of Washington that Moses P. Handy recently published the following estimate in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine (January-June 1891, volume 24, page 128): ‘The most imposing monument yet reared to the memory of George Washington is not the splendid shaft at the national capital; nor is it that capital itself, beautiful now, and destined to be the most beautiful of cities. It is the new state which bears his name, away off at the northwest corner of the Union—a state larger than New York, larger than England and Wales combined, and which in its very infancy bears upon its brow, in characters legible to all beholders, the infallible promise of parity, if not primacy, among all American commonwealths in every attribute of greatness…Fifteen years ago there was no such place as Tacoma, and the encyclopaedia makers had never heard of it. Today Tacoma is as large as Richmond was when it became the Confederate capital. Today the two cities of Seattle and Tacoma, nearer together than Baltimore and Washington, have a population greater by 20,000 than New York had at the beginning of the present century.’”

[A young Lottie Bennett by A. L. Jackson Tacoma, Wash.]
Page 4

[Family photograph]

There are many sources for NB’s story; as a famous man he was frequently portrayed in writing in many ways, from various viewpoints. From the minor – “NB visited…”  to the major “Nelson Bennett’s Debts…” Since I am neither scholar nor educator, my methodology might be a bit iconoclastic or simply ignorant. But this is not about me, it is about Nelson Bennett. A significant, if unknown, figure in the development of United States of America, especially the west. He was towering in accomplishment, one of the richest men, spoken of as a possible candidate to the governorship or senator, in the Northwest, until he wasn’t, yet he was always, always American: tenacious and optimistic, creating opportunity. I was never so important as to be in his shadow, yet I was, though his shadow has been faint.

Leaving home, 1860, age 17

Nelson Bennett was born October 14, 1843, (a hundred years, three months and 11 days before my own birth, but no one cares but me) in the Province of Ontario, Canada, township of North Gwillimbury (now Georgina), York County, on a family farm.

According to the “Bennett Family of Bedford & Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania,” and some possibly unreliable third-hand “family legends,” NB’s great grandfather, Isaac, moved with his father and family from England to Virginia, thence to Brothersvalley, Pennsylvania about 1804 where the family apparently farmed hundreds of acres it had purchased. Brothersvalley was a strict German community of Dunkards – the Brethren in Christ, who tried to live the way Christ might have lived, as farmers removed from the greater population – and the Amish. Apparently, the dissatisfied patriarch moved back to England while Isaac remained; Isaac was an entrepreneur operating salt works after moving to Medina, Orleans County, New York some time before 1809, until the 1820s, when he traded in land, and perhaps was a merchant. Family lore has it he died around 1835, perhaps was killed by Indians; his wife and children moved to Canada for a while, returning to Pennsylvania. One of their sons was Aquilla Bennett, born about 1775 in Virginia. Aquilla’s sixth child, of eleven and third son (of six) was Nicholas Bennett (1819-1850), father of NB. In 1837, Nicholas married Diana Sprague (1818-1873) whose father, David Sprague, gave each of his children land to farm in Keswick Township [Lot 16, Conc 4 Belhaven. According to Google Maps in 2017 it lies near the intersection of 500 Holancin Road and Concession Road 2, Kettleby, Ontario Log 1 JO just outside of Toronto across from Buffalo and Niagara Falls.], later it became North Gwillimbury, now Georgina Township, York County, Ontario, Canada.  Near or on the Cook’s Bay shores of Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto.  Various accounts of Diana said she had impressive business abilities. Nicholas’s life sadly ended at age 31five months after his sixth child was born. Diana remarried and started a new family two years later with husband Nathan Gager with whom she had three children; then later, July 1, 1972, when she was 54, married twenty year-old James Cleary. The first two sons, Sidney and David left home      With Sidney later forced to fight for the Confederate Army, deserted and joined the Union forces, becoming captain and fighting at Shiloh, until the end of the Civil War, when we was engaged against the Indians; brother David died in the Battle of Antietam, September 27, 1862.  Years later NB, too, left home at age 17.

[Email from Jean Bennett January 28, 2019:  


ISAAC BENNET was born 1752 Bucks Co, PA.

Died 4/15/1845 age 93. Buried Boxwood Cemetery, Orleans County, NY


HANNAH SHOEMAKER born 1754 Maryland.

Died 7/12/1840 age 86, Buried Boxwood Cemetery, Orleans County, NY


Willem (Adriaense) born 1605 Netherlands

Married: Maritje (Thomas) Van Der Beek born 1608 Netherlands

Son: Adriaen “Arie” (Willemse) born  03,1636 Brooklyn, Kings, NY died 9 Feb 1704 Brooklyn

Married: Annetje (Jans) Van Dyke born 1643

Son: Isaac (Adriaense ) born1678 New Utrecht, Kings, NY

Married: Magdalena (Joosten)  born 1679 Flatbush, Kings, NY.  Died 1732 Bucks, PA

Son: Isaac (Isaac)  born 1700

Married: Elizabeth Aerson “Krosen” “Harrison”

Daughter: Magdalena aka Elena born 1728

Married: Johannes aka John born 1717/18

Children: Jannetje baptized 1748 (Baptisms of Bucks County,PA

                 Isaac born 1752 Bucks County, PA]

Their mother was a Sprague.

Sprague Families in America” (Compiled and Published by Warren Vincent Sprague, M. D., The Tuttle Company, Printers, Rutland Vermont, 1913) narrated that the first American Spragues, all born in England, were three sons of Edward of Upway, a fuller from County Dorset, came to America – Salem – in 1630 on the Abigail with Gov. Endicott as part of the Massachusetts Bay Company. It is said they paid their own way. The brothers were Ralph, Richard and William (born 1609) from whom NB descended. They attended the fabled first meeting Charlestown.[ were they signators to covenant of 1629? Richard Pierce, ed. The Records of the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, 1629-1736 (Salem: Essex Institute, 1974 Also see “Green’s Narrative). Their descendants spread, living in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Ohio Valley. and. Later they emigrated into Canada when King George III allowed the homesteading of land taken from the deported French-speaking Arcadians in the “Great Expulsion” from 1755 to 1764. Some were suspected of siding with France during the French and Indian War, the war between the French and English over the Ohio River Valley. The English victory helped establish it as the world’s most powerful country but also further turned the American settlers against the English.

At the start of the Revolutionary War misfortune repeated itself and, similarly to the Arcadians twenty years earlier, those suspected or accused of sympathizing with the American rebels were forced to leave Canada without possessions, including many Spragues who later joined the armies of the declared United States. After leaving the Army in December, 1779, Frederick Sprague (1762-1839) was placed on the pension roll of Ohio, 1818, for service as private in the Connecticut Continental Line. (This action makes all his progeny eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, according to Mrs. Mable Bennett Snow, DAR number 113407. I will apply!) They settled in Genesee County, New York, but times were tough and King George III offered free land in Canada to homesteaders and with a small colony of the like-minded, some Spragues moved to Lake Simcoe, Ontario. And “commenced building a home in that wilderness.” Later he sold his property to his son-in-law, William Crittenden and moved back to the U. S.  He is buried in Truro, Ohio. His son, David, stayed in Canada as a farmer. Later he was a merchant and postmaster and head of all the business and affairs of North Gwillimburg Township. He gave each of his five children a farm, including David who with another son-in-law, John Morten, took over his business and municipal work. Son David married Diadamia Draper and produced children, including Diana (Diamia) who was born November 27, 1818. When she was 18 she married Nicholas Bennett on May 15, 1837; he was also 18. They were given and farmed XXX  acres given them by her father.  Nicholas tragically died September 17, 1859 after 13 years of marriage. They were both only 31.

Much of the early Sprague land had been subdivided and sold off but Belhaven, its center stands today???

[Belhaven pict here – see the notes file]

In a free genealogy, [see] the following is taken from the History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, Volume II, edited by Elwood Evans and published in 1889; transcribed by Janine Bork for the Skagit River Journal site, Noel V. Bourasaw, editor. This is also available from []

“Though Toronto, Canada, must be accredited as the birthplace of the distinguished personage whose name heads this brief sketch of a most active, useful and busy life, yet were his parentage and ancestry thoroughly American. On the paternal side the Bennetts were natives of Virginia, three generations back; and his mother was of the ancient and time-honored family of the Spragues of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He was born October 14, 1843; and his father died when he was seven years of age, leaving a widow and six children. The family resided upon a farm; and Nelson was afforded the opportunity of acquiring a good rudimentary education in the grammar schools near Toronto. The custom was to work on the farm six months, and go to school the remainder of the year. This was continued until his fourteenth year…In his seventeenth year he left Toronto, and came to Orleans county, New York, the old home of the family, where he attended school for one year. [According to the Progressive Men of Montana, A. W. Bowen & Co., 190X brother Willard “in 1860, he removed to the United States and located at Medina, N Y. where he remained eighteen months.” Then he headed to “the Atlantic slope and the eastern portion of the Mississippi valley…two years…drilling oil wells  with his brother, Nelson…” They charged a per-foot drilling fee.] During much of his first year in New York, he was sick from the effects of a singular but severe accident. He was riding horseback through the timber, his horse being on a lope, when he came to a limb extending across the road, which he thought he could avoid by ducking his head. The limb, however, so caught his body, and drew it forward in such manner that the pressure caused extreme internal injuries, from the effects of which he suffered for about a year. His health being recovered in 1863, he was employed by the United States government, in a corps of artisans, whose chief occupation was building barracks for troops. In this service he remained until 1864, when he went to the oil regions of Pennsylvania. Then and there he first displayed the proclivities which have rendered his after-life so prominent, and his name so well-known. He commenced contracting. While there he sank twenty-seven oil wells, with varied success, and made considerable money…”

[I queried the Crawford County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society to seek information on NB. Susan Beates, Historian/Curator, Drake Well Museum, responded, “Though a person drilling 25 wells is significant, there were possibly thousands of wells drilled in Crawford and Venango Counties between 1860-65. No one has ever attempted to count them. By 1865 there were men who made a profession of drilling (thus creating the occupation of “driller”). In the 1865 Pithole Directory,” the 1866 Oil City Directory, the 1866-67 Titusville Directory and its “biography card files do not contain a ‘Nelson’ nor does the index for the Venango County history (1890) nor does Our County and Its People (1899 – a Crawford County history). The PA Oil Region was a transitory place. A driller was a peripatetic sort who traveled easily across township and country lines in search of work.” This proves nothing, but I keep working to find NB somewhere, then.] And Penny Haylett-Minnick responding to my email, “Sorry we have not been able to be of more help but that is it for what we have as nothing shows up in Venango Country for attempting to trace him here. Titusville is in Crawford Co., so we figured his residence could possibly be in that county.” She did find another Nelson Bennett, the wrong one!]

From a much-copied and fading typed set of three pages in our family possession, labeled on its upper left corner, “floating feature to go where space fits” and headlined, “NELSON BENNETT TACOMA’S GREATEST & MOST FAMOUS EMPIRE BUILDER Everything Great That Made Pioneer Tacoma Evolve Into A World City Bennett Had A Hand In,” comes: “There are two kinds of daring. Here is a far-sighted Empire Builders with God’s gift of uncanny genius – the kind who work, dare, pioneer where others say it can’t be done; gamble their entire fortunes on a single Thing—win lose or draw; venture into many fields that seem to need the Empire Builder’s touch rather than one who seeks to one or two business lines—and either go broke a few times, then die famous, either rich or broke!…Nelson Bennett started life early in Sutton, Canada, on his Father’s farm, helping a widowed Mother with six children to support. Because of this farm work, he could attend school only six months of a year.” I have no idea of exactly what these pages are but they look like some draft article for some periodical that is NB’s obituary. Inexplicitly, the third page is numbered “-----30-----”. Another similar fading copy of a typed page is titled, “DEATH SUMMONS NELSON BENNETT,” and says, “With the exception of one daughter, Ceta, Mrs. Brackett Munsey of Boston, the entire family was at his bedside at the last. A widow and four daughters, Mrs. Stephen Appleby, Mrs. Minot Davis, Mrs. Munsey and Miss Charlotte are his surviving relatives…Only non-long-deceased members of the family knew of the headway Mr. Bennett had made with the autobiography which he confined to a few that he had begun...” Hand written on the first page is, T.Brag – 3” and greatly faded, “Tacoma Ledger July 23, 1913.” That apparently unfinished autobiography is Reminiscences by Nelson Bennett, and the original handwritten manuscript is in our family’s possession. This presentation that you are at this moment reading – my – biography of NB incorporates his autobiography, Reminiscences by Nelson Bennett, which starts on page 8 of this manuscript which I have titled Nelson Bennett, a Life Extraordinary. It is what Nelson Bennett purportedly wrote himself. Before I present his Reminiscences, I need to explain that as might be understood in any written version of any notable’s life, there are typically various accounts. And those of NB’s life have differing details. Over the past decades, I have been trying to verify what is true and what is not. Obviously, newspapers and other periodicals are usually under pressing timeframes to publish words to fill spaces. From where the words come is not always known or really nothing for writers to care about; filling space is their job. Maybe life accounts have been provided by an interview with the subject, NB in this case. Maybe unnamed “sources,” which are quite popular in today’s environment, have provided information. Maybe they’ve from other unnamed places, or perhaps simply lazily made up by the writer. Words about NB have filled many spaces of many periodicals. Reliable or unreliable, wasn’t always of concern as in much of today’s “false news” they matter not. In this manuscript, I have attempted to discover and present what is true, but, again, what is the truth? I will regularly break in on stories written by others with alternative versions, the sources of them and whatever else I want to present.

Nelson Bennett and Wright Park:

Information from Jean Bennett Schoenmaker (“My great grandfather married the daughter of Diamia's eldest sister Miranda Sprague Sheppard Willoughby”) in an email of November 9th, 2001: "Mr. Bennett was born in Sutton (close to Keswick), Canada, October 14, 1843, and his life spanned the intervening years to the 20th of July, 1913. his parents were Nicholas and Diana (Sprague) Bennett but in early youth he left his mother's home. His father had died when the son was but seven years of age, leaving the widowed mother with six children to support, and at the age of fourteen Nelson Bennett was doing a man's work on a farm. he attended the country schools for six months in a year, receiving such primitive instruction as the district schools of that time afforded. when seventeen years of age [1860] he went to Orleans county (Medina), New York, and at the age of twenty years was employed by the United States government on the construction of government barracks [for the Civil War]. [somewhere it says he worked for Washington Dunn and his brother-in-law Fisk, of the firm Bennett, Fisk & Dunn] [But the History of Tacoma, page 6, states “It was in 1875 that he established mule freight trains in that state and it was while thus engaged that he met Washington Dunn, representative of Jay Gould, whose acquaintance he formed, resulting in Mr. Bennett’s ultimately becoming interested in railroad building.” “Later he made his way to the oil regions of Pennsylvania, and although the youngest contractor in the field, did a profitable business, receiving a liberal patronage. He sank twenty-five successful wells in that region.”

In the1880 census, Washington Dunn’s son Levi lived in Beaver Head county, Montana, in the “lumber” business. Bennett Brothers perhaps, since lumber might have been one of its products.

Photo added by I Love Genealogy

“Washington Dunn

·       Birth 5 Aug 1837

·       Death 14 Jul 1883 Missoula, Missoula County, Montana, USA

·       Burial Highland Cemetery Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania, USA

·       Plot L.21.9

·       Memorial ID 38203699

“Rumors of the sudden death of Washington Dunn, which reached this city yesterday, are confirmed by our special dispatch from Missoula. On his return from Portland, Oregon, and when within a few miles of his destination, he was found in his berth in a Pullman sleeper cold in death. The moment of his demise or the exact cause of death are unknown, but he had been long subject to severe attacks of erysipelas, and it is believed that he died of paralysis of the heart superinduced by that disease. During the past seven years Washington Dunn has been one of the most conspicuous figures in the, at first patient and toiling, but latterly gigantic operations which have brought about the railroad era, upon which Montana is just entering. *In 1876, he contracted with Jay Gould to build the first one hundred miles of the Utah and Northern north of Franklin, Idaho, upon the completion of which he undertook the construction of the line to Silver Bow Junction. The latter contract was finished in October, 1881, after which he severed his connection with the road, which had in the meantime passed into the control of the Utah and Northern Company, and connected himself with the construction department of the Northern Pacific Railroad of which he may be said to have graded the entire roadbed from Bozeman to the Pond d'Oreille. He was also a partner in the extensive agricultural implement house of Nelsen, Bennet & Co. of Deer Lodge. In the very prime of an active manhood, at the age of forty-five, and when, by a life of great devotion to business and the most energetic prosecution of large enterprises, he had accumulated a competency, he has been cut down, leaving to mourn his loss and revere his memory, besides thousands of friends in the northwest who knew his sterling qualities, a devoted wife and three children. His family resides in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, where his remains will be taken for burial.

The Butte Daily Miner (Butte, MT) 17 Jul 1883”

From, Dunn was born August 5, 1837 in Great Island, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. He married Lois Ann Fisk (whose father, was Levi Jackson Fisk, born March 15, 1809, in Vermont, but who lived in South Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. in 1871 and whose father Ebenezer was born in 1771 in Danby, Rutland County, Vermont, whose father was the Reverend Nathaniel Fisk, was born 1732 in Providence, Rhode Island, then Benjamin (1705 – 1785), Benjamin Fiske (1683 – 1765) Dr. John Fiske (1654 – 1718, born in Windham, Essex County, Mass.) His daddy also John was born in WIndfield, Derby, England (1627)

“Through Utah” by John Codman from The Galaxy magazine:;cc=gala;rgn=full%20text;idno=gala0020-3;didno=gala0020-3;view=image;seq=0316;node=gala0020-3%3A3 [Couldn’t find the Lippincott’s version] Discusses Utah Western, Walker Bros, Ophir mine and canon, Oquirrh ridge and… Need to read and investigate more.

Below on Washington Dunn is from:

                                             [Picture of Washington Dunn]
                                                           Page 13
Followed by pdf of Washington Dunn and a separate pdf of Dunn's bio and marriage

Checking the James Fisk, Jr. family on Ancestry, back 3 generations they were from Rhode Island, New Jersey, and later New York. James (“Diamond Jim”) seemed to be the one who had removed the “e” from the family name “Fiske.” It is unlikely that Washington Dunn’s in-law Fisk was related to Diamond Jim, though Gould was partners with Jim Fisk and Dunn was married to a Fisk, whose father was Levi, a lumber man. An interesting book on Gould portraying him as a good guy not a Robber Baron is “t5he Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons,” By Edward J. Renehan, 2005,

*[From It reached Franklin, Idaho, just across the Idaho border, in May 1874 where construction was halted. Investors had become hesitant after the panic of 1873 and the railroad was now moving into the northern half of the Cache Valley where there were many fewer Mormon volunteers due to this area only recently having been relinquished by the Bannock and Shoshone. Poor decisions by the planners and the lack of business from the frugal residents of the Cache Valley led to the bankruptcy and foreclosure sale of the Utah Northern only a few years later in 1878. It would be the robber baron Jay Gould who would transform the Utah Northern. He and Union Pacific acquired the Utah Northern Railroad, changing the name to the Utah & Northern Railway and infusing the railroad with capital. [Colorado Rail Annual No. 15, Colorado Railroad Museum, 1981, p 14.] Big business knew that an electrical age was coming and that the demand for copper switches, copper bars, copper fittings, and most importantly, copper wire was putting a charge on copper prices. [See Ken Burns Presents: The West, Directed by Stephen Ives, Writers: Dayton Duncan, Geoffrey C. Ward, 2004]  They also knew that there were rich copper deposits at the mines near Butte, Montana. Union Pacific wasted no time and resumed construction on the Utah & Northern Railway immediately after purchase in April 1878. In fact, Jay Gould invested personal money to get some construction started just beyond Franklin in the fall of 1877. The new plan was not to build the road to Soda Springs, however, but to build a much longer road on a direct route through the Cache Valley, then north across eastern Idaho and north across western Montana to Butte, Montana. In the first year of construction, they reached Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls, Idaho), 120 miles (190 km) north of the Utah/Idaho border, where they built a bridge across the Snake River in early 1879. [Deseret News, 1879-07-17 p. article "Utah and Northern" describes the scene at Eagle Rock and describes the new railroad bridge.] In the second year, they added another 90 miles (140 km) of track and crossed the continental divide at the Idaho/Montana border. After three and a half years of construction, before the close of 1881, they completed the additional 120 miles (190 km) of road to Butte, Montana. Butte soon grew to be the largest copper producing city in the world and Butte's population, by some estimates, grew to nearly 100,000 residents for a time, making Butte, with its "Copper Kings," the second largest city in the West with more influence than Salt Lake City, Denver, Sacramento, Seattle, or Portland. Only San Francisco remained larger and more important. Butte, with its large-scale mining and smelting operations, was dubbed the Pittsburg of the West.

The Utah & Northern was switched from 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge on July 25, 1887 only six years after completing the line to Butte. The railroad operated successfully for several years and finally became a branch of the Union Pacific Railroad.

  • Mrs. Dunn’s Find-a-Grave:  her dad was Levi Fisk; from that: Her father removed with his family to upper Pine Creek and then to this city about 1855 and engaged in the lumber business, then approaching its zenith. In 1870 she was married to the late Washington Dunn, in the direct line of one of the pioneer families of Central Pennsylvania, with whom she lived in this city and in New York and the far west where he was engaged in railroad construction until his death in 1883, since which time, except for intervals in which she was traveling with her family, she lived in this city.
    *Did Dunn from “Central Pennsylvania” know the Bennetts – who may have come from the same area. Material for further investigation. Was Levi Fisk a relation to Diamond Jim Fisk, Jay Gould’s erstwhile partner in the Union Pacific and other endeavors.  Levi Dunn was born in Birth 15 Mar 1809 Birth:  15 Mar 1809 – Addison, Vermont, USA    Death 18 Jul 1876 Angus, Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada

·       Burial Angus Union Cemetery Angus, Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada m only 45 miles from Keswick on the eastern shore of Cook’s Bay on Lake Simcoe, where the Spragues lived …

Similarities: Pennsylvania, Vermont? Near Canadian border, and Lake Simcoe/Ontario

James Fisk Jr. 01 Apr 1835 Pownal, Bennington County, Vermont - 07 Jan 1872 managed by Notables Project WikiTree last edited 31

From  Dunn’s father, in 1860, William Dunn at age 48 was a “gentleman” with $25,000 of real estate. Washington at age 23 was an engineer and his brother Huge a planter.

Further information from Jean Schoenmaker, January 14, 2009: "North Gwillimbury file.  Where the name Willard Bennett is on the property near Belhaven is where his father and mother Nicholas and Diamia (Diana) Sprague Bennett originally farmed.  Just across the side road on the south west corner is the original lot Frederick Sprague received from the Crown in 1805.  In the northwest close to the lake is the lot owned by Joel Draper which Joel bought from Frederick Sprague in 1805.  David and Deiadamia Draper Sprague lived there on the other half of the lot right after they were married in Keswich, Ontario.” She added more on another email, January 14, 2009: “David and Deiadamia Draper Sprague lived close to Roches Point.  The lot owned by Peter Bennett is on the lake and marked in green.  He sold this lot to his wife's aunt Diamia Sprague Bennett Gager in 1883."

Around then, in August, 1870, (according to the United States Federal Census), Charlotte Huggins – now probably naming herself “Lottie” –  was born in Binghamton (Sanford?), Broome County, New York, on August 8th of 1855 to William H. Huggins and Mary A. Woodland, both 40. She then was an 18-year-old servant in the Binghamton household of the Scott family. Both he and Lottie’s father being farmers it was likely they were family friends. Silas L. Scott as head of household lived with his wife, Helen, and two daughters ages one and ten. By a year later, some how she had met James Wells, Jr., five years older, son of a Johnstown, New York (Fulton County)-based glove maker/manufacturer on Melcher Street. Wells had two sisters, one named Sarah. Lottie was pregnant at the time they got married in the Amsterdam, NY, Presbyterian Church of Amsterdam Village, September 23, 1874, according to church records. She was aged 20. Their daughter, Sarah “Sadie” was born February, February 9, 1876, in Johnstown. The place of their marriage, Amsterdam, NY, near Schenectady is about 130 miles from Fulton and 125 miles from Binghamton. Were those long distances designed to keep friends and family away from the wedding since Lottie was pregnant?  No one can ever know. And with Binghampton and Fulton 100 miles apart, how did Lottie meet James?

From Binghampton, where Lottie was born and lived, it is around a hundred miles to Johnstown where James Wells lived, including with his family at age 20, in 1870. How they met and why will likely be forever unknown.

Three or four years after the birth of Sadie, the “family” was living in Montana.

Some vital statistics:

Nelson Bennett, born: October 14, 1843. Married Charlotte “Lottie” Huggins Wells September 1881, Dillon, Montana.  Lottie was born: 1855, Sandford, Broome County, New York, USA

            Her father: William Huggins, born in Ireland about 1813, was a farmer, had $9,000 in real estate (the economic present value of which would be about $3.7 million!), 1860, and they had lived there 10 years; there were 5 children in the family.

            Her mother: Mary Woodland, born in England about 1823, was not living with the family in 1860 – had she passed on or was there an error, which was rampant? Unknown.

NB’s occupation, farmer, 1861 - North Gwillimbury, York Co., Ontario, Canada. The family farm.

NB’s occupation, miner, 1869 - Atlantic City, Fremont Co., Wyoming, USA

Lottie’s first Daughter: Sarah “Sadie” Wells Bennett born to Lottie Huggins Wells and James Wells, Jr. in New York well before Lottie met NB in 1880 or 1881; Sadie was later adopted by NB and married Stephen Cecil Montague Appleby, April 17, 1906. They had no children. They lived in and are buried in Portland, Oregon.

Lottie’s second and NB and Lottie’s first daughter: Zella Bennett nicknamed “Stella” or “Cella.” Born: October 9, 1882. Died: August 13, 1883 of infant cholera; she is buried in Salt Lake City.

Their combined third daughter: Leta Woodland Bennett, “Sheila” or “Ceta.” Born: October 22, 1884. Died: August 22, 1949 in Tacoma, Washington. Sheila married Brackett True Munsey, September 29, 1912, was divorced by 1930 and had two children, Bennett Munsey and Barbara Munsey Munson.

The fourth daughter: Nelsie Bennett. Born: June 7, 1887. Nelsie married Minot Davis and had three children, Nelson Bennett Davis, Edwin Folsom Davis, and Virginia Bennett Davis Wight; she is buried with her husband, Minot Davis, and her parents, Nelson and Lottie Bennett in Tacoma, Washington as well as with other family members.

The fifth and last daughter and child: Charlotte Bennett.  Born April 11, 1896. Charlotte married Isaac Hayden Ritchie, Colonel Retired, U. S. Army, and had two children, Isaac Hayden Ritchie II and John Bennett Ritchie. She died in San Francisco May 27, 1988 and is buried with her husband in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, California according to one source, her obituary obtained from her son, John, said she and “Uncle Ike” were buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to General Custer.

“In the fall of 1865, he migrated to Pettis county, Missouri, where the town of Sedalia now stands, and invested the money made in oil in large tracts of land. In the spring of 1866 he went to Iowa and secured employment by the North Western Railroad Company, and worked on their roads in Iowa during that year. In 1867 he went out on the Union Pacific, and followed on the line of construction till the track reached Fort Bridge. He abandoned railroad construction when the mining excitement borne out into the Sweetwater country in Dakota, and remained there while the excitement continued. Among the occupations necessitated by his Sweetwater experiences was fighting the Indians for about two years of that period.

“Mr. Bennett had now become a miner. He left the Sweetwater country for the Little Cottonwood mines in Utah. For the next two years he engaged in mining pursuits in Utah, at which time he entered into a contract with Walker Brothers to transport a quartz mill from Ophir canyon, a district in Utah, to Butte City, Montana. This was the commencement of a freighting and transportation business out of which a train was built up of 150 animals, mostly Kentucky mules. The business was pursued under the old style of freighting — twelve animals constituting a team, each team drawing three wagons. During the time Mr. Bennett pursued the freighting business in the Rocky Mountains, he opened a wagon road from Eagle Gorge on Snake river, by way of Big Lost river, through the Challis and Bonanza mining districts in Idaho Territory. He it was who also sent the first team into the Wood river district with supplies and materials for miners. In one of his expeditions during the year of Howard's campaign against the Nez Perces, his train had just passed Dry creek, in Idaho. The hostile Nez Perces came up and intervened between his train and the head of the train following, that of James Brown. Bennett's train was not delayed; but Brown had to return to Pleasant valley.”

In encompassing NB’s own biography I have more or less left it as it was written. I have corrected some typo-type misspellings but where I think it was purposeful but unschooled, I left it. The same with punctuation. So, it is arbitrarily with presumptuousity as I think he would have wanted it. And now to the heart of this story:

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

REMINISCENCES by Nelson Bennett
with the assistance of ALVINA N. COOKS 1965 starts page 20   follows with that text until page 88: 
I am now suspending Reminiscences for a moment because the following seems a departure for NB. But I believe it to be a turning point in his life. I will continue his story in bold, please read the following two paragraphs in bold, then I will explain about the contents of it before moving on with Reminiscences.

[LOVE AT AGE 42, his saga continues]

Before entering into co-partnership with Mr. Dunn I had concluded that thus far in manhood my life had been a mistake, or at least I was not fulfilling my place among civilized men. This conclusion was more vividly presented and adopted by reason of a growing belief that finally there had entered into my acquaintance an affinity, one in whose presence I felt inspired as never before; one whose unostentatious grace and womanly character entranced me. In fact, I was in love. Could I in turn hope for reciprocity of affection? I could do no less than make the effort. I fully realized there were other men beset with the same ambitions and I approved their good taste, for was she not worthy of the best?

“Whether or not her selection was wise or not there was one happy man, when I standing by her side, promised to ‘love and protect her’ and in turn she promised to be my wife until ‘death do us part’. I believe both have tried – if trying has ever been necessary – to live to those solemn vows. Would that we could guarantee as happy lives to those for whose existence we have been responsible. During this family career, studying its intricacies, its cares and joys, I have concluded that a great deal of the troubles of married life is in lack of effort to understand each other. Love is a creation and is capable of growth, of intensifying, or of dissipation. One cannot continue to love where the other repels, and I cannot conceive a more horrid life than to be compelled to live with one who repels your affection; who makes home a disagreeable misnomer. On the other hand palliation and a judicious overlooking of little apparent misgivings or shortsightedness or what not of each other will eventually ripen into love and joy and make life worth living.”
[NB and Lottie Huggins Wells were married, on September 1881, Dillon, Montana.]

[DILLON, Sidney Dillon like NB

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search  B Northampton Fulton County NY – May 7, 1812 d NYC June 6, 1892
Sidney Dillon (May 7, 1812 – June 9, 1892[1]) was an American railroad executive and one the nation's premier railroad builders.
 Dillon was born in Northampton, Fulton County, New York.[1] His father, Timothy, was a farmer.[2]
Sidney Dillon began his career in the industry working as a water boy on the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, one of America's earliest railroads, for its construction from Albany to Schenectady, New York.[2]
In 1840, he went into business for himself, forming his own construction company, and obtaining the construction contract for the Boston and Albany Railroad. Dillon married Hannah Smith of Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1841. The couple would have two daughters, Cora A. and Julia E. ("Julie").[2][3] Cora married Dr. Peter B. Wyckoff in 1875.[4] Julia married Josiah Dwight Ripley on May 28, 1862. In her later years, Julia married Gilman Smith Moulton on March 1, 1894.[5]
He was actively involved in the construction of numerous roads, his largest being the Union Pacific Railroad, with which he became actively involved in 1865 through an equity exchange with the Crédit Mobilier of America corporation.
Crédit Mobilier of America was a company set up by the Union Pacific to defraud United States taxpayers in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The result was the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal, which exposed an over-invoicing and a stock and bond share-pricing scheme, whereby Union Pacific officers and directors, including Dillon, profited by manipulating the share price of Crédit Mobilier of America's stock shares and bonds, padding invoices to the U.S. Government, and bribing congressmen with shares in Crédit Mobilier of America, cash and other perks.
As one of the principal contractors for the Union Pacific, Dillon's vast experience in the construction of railroads proved invaluable. He took part in the "golden spike" ceremony of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, receiving one of the ceremonial silver spikes used to complete the project. Following 1870, Dillon was primarily known as a financier, becoming involved with Jay Gould in numerous ventures as well as serving on the board of directors of the Western Union Telegraph Company. He finally served as President of the Union Pacific Railroad from 1874 to 1884, and again from 1890 until his death in 1892.
Dillon died at his home at 23 West Fifty-Seventh Street in New York City, after a twelve-week illness, at the age of 80.[1] Funeral services were held at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (55th Street and 5th Avenue) on June 13.[1]
He is interred under a distinctive Celtic cross at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.
  • Dillon, Montana is named for him as it was an early terminus for the railroad.

On October 8, 2012, my wife, Laura and I visited John Ritchie, NB’s grandson through his youngest daughter, Charlotte Ritchie, and his wife, Sue, in their marvelous iconic apartment on Russian Hill in San Francisco. John relayed to us a story about the founder of Wells Lamont Glove Co., Binghamton, NY, (now owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.)                According to John, he was the same James Wells who was first married to NB’s wife, Lottie, and with whom she a daughter, Sarah (my Aunt Sadie).  Apparently residing in the same boarding house in Dillon, Montana, Nelson Bennett and Lottie Wells met and fell in love. Unfortunately, Lottie was married at the time. According to John, Mr. Wells found out about their “relationship” whatever it then was and far be it from me to guess. Again, according to John, James Wells followed them – to Salt Lake City or somewhere in Montana – and set out to shoot him.  Apparently Wells saw someone getting out of a coach and, with the man’s back to him, thinking he was NB, shot him dead. He shot the wrong man! Wells was prosecuted and sent to prison.  Lottie divorced him and married NB.  This was obviously an oral history passed down probably by John’s mother who was NB’s daughter, Charlotte, with egregious error.  I have done some independent research and it seems that none of the story is true as I will now show. John said James Wells, Jr., was from the family that founded Wells Lamont Company a large and successful glove maker which merged into the Hammond Organ Company, which was purchased by the Marmon Group of Companies of Chicago’s Pritzker which later was sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in 2013. But after contacting the grandnephew of the founder of Wells Lamont and asking him, I was steered to the self-published (by the father of the grandnephew) history book of the company, “Stubborn About Quality” by Lamont C. “Monty” Wells. There was no James Wells, senior or junior in the family and Lamont Wells company was never in Broome County, New York, but                    Aberdeen, South Dakota and Illinois. So much for oral family histories. Other than an arrest after his divorce from Lottie nothing is known of the drunken deserter James Wells, Jr., and even there is no proof that it was THAT James Wells, Jr., that was put on a chain gang for a week.

Charlotte Huggins was born August 8, 1855 in Binghamton, Broome County, New York, 125 miles from Johnstown NY. She had two sisters and two brothers and was the youngest. Her father, William, was listed in 1855 as being a farmer originally from Ireland.

James Wells (Jr.) was born five years earlier, about 1850 in Johnstown, Fulton County, New York, son of James Wells a glove maker/manufacturer in Johnstown. He was the youngest child with two sisters older Grace, three years older and Sarah, five years his senior. That is about the most known for certain about James other than some later assertions by Lottie in favor of their divorce.

Lottie A. Huggins married James Wells, Jr. on September 22, 1875, at the Amsterdam, NY, Presbyterian church, in Fulton County, triangularly about a hundred miles each from Johnstown and Binghamton.

The (Butte) Montana Standard, Friday, January 27, 1881, page 8 “Mrs. Nelson Bennett and child arrived from Deer Lodge yesterday. They are at the St. Nicholas hotel.”

An email from the Curator of the World Museum of Mines, July 19, 2017, stated that “Nelson Bennett was a very prominent business man in Butte and Deer Lodge Montana. He was in the farm implement business in the 1880’s. Ironically, about three years ago the buildings he used for his Butte Location were torn down. The buildings were located at the corner of Wyoming and Front street and had ‘Bennett Block 1’ and ‘2’ in friezes, topping the facades. There was a depot for the Butte streetcar line at the corner of Park and Main, which went up the hill to Meaderville and Walkerville. A street in Walkerville, part of Butte, is still named after him.” The Curator added that one should go to select Montana and type in Nelson Bennett for newspaper articles on NB.

Having arrived a year or two earlier, Lottie apparently lived in a lodging house in Dillon, Montana, owned, along with a millenary shop located in the street floor of the lodging house, by Lottie and with one Mrs. L. E. Hansen, who herself has a fascinating past as will be described later. According to John Ritchie’s memory, NB lived in the same boarding house and met Lottie there. Lottie was separated from her first husband, James Wells, Jr., and resided with their daughter, five-year-old Sarah probably named after Lottie’s elder sister, Sarah Huggins. “Sadie” had been born five months after Lottie and Wells were married. While it is uncertain when (and how) Lottie and NB met, on March 15, 1881 Lottie began divorce proceedings, filing against Wells when Wells was summoned by the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the Territory of Montana, in and for the county of Beaverhead:
“The said Action is brought to obtain the judgement and decree of the said District Court dissolving the bonds of Matrimony heretofore and now existing between you [James Wells, defendant] and plaintiff [Lottie Wells], and divorcing you and plaintiff.
“The grounds upon which the action is based is your desertion of plaintiff for more than one year last past and for your habitual drunkenness for years, and failure to support plaintiff and said minor child.” Affidavits were provided. D. B. Hawley attested that Lottie had lived in Beaverhead County since May 1880. Wells boarded at the Montana House, Red Rock, and Hawley was proprietor of the Montana House. Wells left the county in June 1880 deserting Lottie and female child and Lottie was compelled to support herself. Wells was always drunk. The Affidavit of C. L. Bristol stated that had resided at Dillon since 1879. Wells came to town March 1880 and many times he threatened that he would kill his wife; several people and Bristol had to disarm him from doing his wife violence. He had habitual drunkenness.”
The Final Order of Divorce by Lottie Wells vs. James Wells, was handed down June 11, 1881 and included sole custody of their daughter, Sarah about five years old.
On Tuesday, September 6, 1881, page 3, the Helena, Montana, Independent Record, recorded
                           [Here is a pdf of an article "MARRIED}

And here is another pdf of a newspaper article about the wedding.

About three months later, probably sometime in early January, 1882, Lottie became pregnant with Zella who was born October 9, 1882, and sadly died in August the next year.
That “Mrs. Hanson” at whose residence NB and Lottie were married, and apparently at whose boarding house they met, and, finally, whose millinery parlor had Lottie as partner, herself has an interesting history. Lillian Eliza Hackett was born in 1850 in Iowa; ten years later her father joined the Civil war Union armies and in 1863 her mother, “who had not been strong” since the birth of Lillian’s brother in 1859, died. Father, William, a surveyor who helped find land for new settlements, returned and moved the family to his parents in Maine while he was continuously on lecture tour touting about people moving west. He remarried and removed to Kansas leaving Lillian in Maine. Lillian from about age 13 on worked in local cloth weaving factories but the fabric dust irritated her lungs so she moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, to work in a shoe factory. She met and in 1873 married William George Hanson. But unhappy she moved on without husband to Dillon, Montana, in 1880 where her brother lived. In the next spring, on May 12, 1881, she rented a house and started a millinery shop, Mrs. L. E. Hanson, Fashionable Millinery, Dillon, Montana. Lottie’s name was also on the Boarding House, perhaps she was the housekeeper, as she had done that in the past for at least one family, perhaps she worked both small businesses.
The Dillon tribune on November 25,1881 reported that “Mr. and Mrs. Bennett departed Thursday evening for their new home at Missoula. The good wishes of their many friends go with them. [From Image 6.]
 Then another pdf picture of Nelson Bennett]                                  
                                                                                                 Nelson Bennett in the 1880s
According to the Dillon Tribune, September 3, 1881, “Mrs. L Hanson continues the millinery business and Lodging house formerly carried on by Mrs. Wells & Hanson.” And “New goods just arrived at Mrs. Hanson’s Millinery Establishment.” [The same issue described “an incipient blaze occurred last Saturday morning at the lodging-house of Mrs. Wells & Hanson, and was caused by the explosion of a kerosene lamp”…there was “only slight damage to carpet and furniture”…in the same issue an advertisement announced “At Mrs. Hanson’s. Just received, Corsets, Kid gloves, Silk Nets, Silk Veiling, Java canvas and Zepher in all colors.”]
From The New North-West, Friday, September 16, 1881, page 3:
That is the exquisite love story of NB at age 38 and Lottie at age 26 and their impetuous headlong love (-- ultimately instigating the creation of…me –) which continued robustly through much thick and thin until his untimely death 32 years later. Now that joyfully over, we move back to NB’s autobiography, Reminisences, as it continues:                                                             [Page 94 of book]

Page 95 of book:

Retreating once again from Reminisences, it must be mentioned that this story of the close calls of the dangerous accident just described was presented in a surprising number of newspapers. Including all the way from Indianapolis, “Five Men's Wonderful Escape” on the second page of the Indianapolis Sentinel, Wednesday, November 16, 1881.

We continue with NB’s autobiography, Reminisences:

But on Page 97 we digress once again:

[From:, Bennett Family of Bedford & Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania”


iv. WILLARD BENNETT14, b. October 18, 1844, Keswick twp, York Co., Ontario; d. April 19, 1924, Helena, MT; m. ELIZABETH TOMLINSON, 1873, Keswick, Ontario, Canada; b. 1855.


"Willard Bennett lived in Canada until he was fourteen year old. Then, in 1860, he removed to the United States and located at Medina, NY, when he remained eighteen months. Just then petroleum, the newest gift of Mother Earth to man, awakened the cupidity and quickened the energies of the dwellers on the Atlantic slope and the eastern portion of the Mississippi valley, and thousands flocked to the oil fields. Among them went Willard Bennett. he remained there two years, drilling oil wells with his brother, Nelson. In 1865 he went to Missouri and purchased land near Sedalia as a investment. In 1867 he returned to Pennsylvania and soon afterwards to Canada. Subsequently he returned to the oil regions and remained there until 1881, when he emigrated to Montana, locating at Deer Lodge, where he and his brother Nelson engaged in merchandising. They conducted Branch houses at Butte and Townsend, all under the firm name of Bennett Bros. For eleven years they prospered together' then, in 1892, Willard sold his share of the enterprise and purchased a controlling interests in the Royal gold mine in Granite county, which her operated successfully for four years. In 1894 his attention was attracted to the profitable and rapidly increasing industry of stock raising. By the year 1901, he had over 10,000 sheep and a large number of horses of superior quality. (Source: Progressive Men of the State of Montana, Chicago, A.W. Bowen, 1902, pg 45.)

“Settled in Montana, was a rancher, struck it rich on the Royal Gold Mine in Granite Co., Wyoming. He ran for State Representative of the territory and then State of Montana. He won both terms.

“More About WILLARD BENNETT and ELIZABETH TOMLINSON: Marriage: 1873, Keswick, Ontario, Canada”]


“i. SIDNEY JAMES5 BENNETT, b. March 18, 1838, Keswick twp, York Co., Ontario; d. May 24, 1911, Spokane, WA; m. EDITH CASE.


“As teenagers, he and his younger brother, David, left home in Keswick to find a future in the USA. Their mother had remarried and was starting a new family. Sidney first landed in Medina, NY, to work ‘for a man he knew from before’ His work took him to St. Louis, MO, at the out break of the civil war. There he was forced into the confederate army. After 6 months, he escaped to join the US army at St. Louis at the Benton Barracks. ‘His war record covered four years and nine months. (It included campaign in Georgia, Alabama and other southern states) He first enlisted in the Twenty-third Missouri Infantry, and later in Company A, Twelfth Missouri Calvary, of which he was captain,’

“Captain Bennett gives an account of his part in the Battle of Shiloh, as reported in his local newspaper, The Fort Dodge Messenger, 08 Apr 1902:

“Captain Bennett's experience in the ‘Hornet's Nest.

"By a queer coincidence 40 years ago on Sunday morning, April 6, the desperate battle of Shiloh, which marked one of the turning points if the civil war, was begun. The fact that April 6 came again on Sunday this year, has been noted with interest by many an old veteran who fought with the boys in blue against the Johnny Rebs those awful days.

“At the close of the war, the brigades of which Captain Bennett's troops formed a part, were sent against the Indians, who were committing depredations in Wyoming. The winter of 1865-1866 was spent at Fort Laramie, and after this the surveyor general of Kansas appointed him to conduct a survey of the Solomon river region. There occupied the summer of 1866. Failing by two days to secure a contract for the survey of No Man's Land, Captain Bennett gave up surveying. Having married at Lawrence, Kansas, he soon went to Boone, Iowa, and later removed to this city (Ft. Dodge City) (In both communities he operated a Cigar Store)

"For a number of years, Captain Bennett engaged in the tobacco business in Fort Dodge. Then in 1884, he went west to assist his brother, Nelson Bennett, who was doing construction work on the Northern Pacific, then being built through the mountains of Montana. No sooner did he arrive on the scene of operations, than Nelson Bennett was compelled to leave for New York City, and the entire responsibility of the work was thrown upon his brother. Although new to the work, yet he completed it satisfactorily and then assumed the superintendency of the construction of the Stampede tunnel through the Cascade range, a contract which his brother had secured in the east. The work was more difficult, with it approaches, two and one-half miles in length, yet Captain Bennett completed it five days ahead of time, thus saving a heavy penalty (and actually receiving a $5,000 bonus). Later he superintended the construction of still another tunnel west of the Cascades."]

[The Reminiscences end here on page 123 perhaps about the year 1882. The rest of the manuscript has been lost. But I continue searching.]

*          *          *          *End of Reminisences           *          *            *          *          *
The book, Nelson Bennett    The Man. A Man. continues on page 99:

From the Montana Standard (Butte) Sunday, September 10, 1882, page 3:

In the Friday, January 13, 1888, New North-West, “Nelson Bennett, of Bennett Bros., is expected here on Saturday.”

Below from the New North-West, Friday, January 27, 1888, page 3:

From [] comes a biographical note about a person who became closely intertwined with NB apparently beginning in Deer Lodge and traveling to Fairhaven, Washington and Portland, Oregon.

 “Charles X. (C.X.) Larrabee was born November 19, 1843 in Portville, New York, and moved to Omro, Wisconsin with his family in 1849. In 1875, Larrabee moved to Montana, where his brother, S.E. Larrabee (Larabie) had established himself as a successful banker. C.X. became a partner in the Larabie Bros. banking firm in Deer Lodge, Montana, and engaged in prospecting, discovering the prosperous Mountain View copper mine near Butte, Montana. He also established the Brook-Nook Stock Ranche, near Dillon, Montana, which became renowned for the breeding of Morgan race horses. In 1887, having sold off large portions of his mining interests, C.X. Larrabee moved briefly to Portland, Oregon, purchasing the Holladay addition east of the Willamette River in partnership with his brother and Nelson Bennett, the founder of Tacoma.

“Between 1889 and 1890, Larrabee moved to Fairhaven, Washington, where he established the Fairhaven Land Company with Nelson Bennett, E.M. Wilson, E.L. Cowgill and his brother S.E. Larabie. In addition to his real estate concerns, Larrabee was a leading investor in the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad, and the first president of the Citizen’s Bank of Fairhaven. In 1890, Larrabee hired Cyrus Lester Gates from Vermont as his private secretary. Gates played a key role in several of Larrabee’s business enterprises, and held part-ownership of ventures including the Roslyn-Cascade Coal Company.

Seattle Post Intelligencer, Monday, July 28, 18901, page 6

“On August 3, 1892, C.X. Larrabee and Miss Frances Payne (1867-1941), of St. Charles, Missouri, were married. Frances was an accomplished pianist and became highly regarded in Bellingham for her philanthropic work. The Larrabees had four children: Charles Francis (1895-1950), Edward Payne (1897-1944), Mary Adele (1902-1988), and Benjamin Howard (1906-1944). Following C.X. Larrabee’s death on September 16, 1914, Frances Payne Larrabee and later their two eldest sons took over the family business interests. The Larrabees were noted for making substantial gifts of money and land for charitable and public use, including their donation of Larrabee State Park along Chuckanut Bay, the site of the Fairhaven Public Library, and the YWCA building in Bellingham.”

From the New North-West, May 30, 1884, page 3:

From the New North-West, Friday, June 27, 1884:

Below from The Morning Astorian (Oregon), Saturday, September 27, 1884:

And Friday, March 13, 1885:

“Mr. Nelson Bennett arrived last evening from his railroad contract in Washington Territory.” According to the New North-West, Friday, March 20, 1885.

Many mentions of NB in BOOKS FROM GOOGLE about  NB :

*          *          *          *          *          *         

[The Progressive Men of Montana states “in 1882, he – Willard – emigrated to Montana, locating at Deer Lodge, where he and his brother Nelson engaged in merchandising…under the firm name of Bennett Bros.”]

FROM Chapter 8, Fairhaven, A History, by Brian L. Griffin: “Late in 1883, the officers of the Northern Pacific (NP) made a decision that surprised and disappointed the Oregon interests…[they would begin work on the Cascade Division bypassing Portland and Bellingham Bay for the NP’s western terminus. It would be Tacoma.] With Nelson Bennett the low bidder on the tunnel through the Cascades at Stampede Pass.


History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, Volume II, edited by Elwood Evans and published in 1889:  Vol I - Vol II - Early in 1889 [NB] became interested in Fairhaven, Whatcom county, in the extreme northern part of Washington, on Bellingham Bay. The Fairhaven enterprise comprehends the development of the Lower Puget Sound region, the possibilities resulting from which it is premature to predict. They must be estimated in the future, though it is quite proper to add that the success of the short period already passed through promises grand results. Already twenty-five miles of railroad have been constructed, while another section of twenty-five miles is ready for tracklaying. A large force of men are now at work extending the line south of Skagit river, and gradually approaching connection with the Northern Pacific. There is also work being done on the line connecting Skagit river with the Eastern branch, which is heading eastward to pass through one of the Skagit passes of the Cascade Range to enter and open the rich mining region of the Okanogan, and connect it with Puget Sound.

Another railroad is being constructed which extends northward from Bellingham Bay to New Westminster, and possibly to Vancouver and other more remote points in British Columbia. Mr. Bennett is the president of the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad Company. He has purchased the entire control of the Westminster & Southern Railroad Company properties. He is the president of the Fairhaven Land Company, a company which is engaged in the development of the city of that name on Bellingham Bay. He is the president of the Skagit Coal Company, which is at present and for the past year has been engaged in developing the vast coal fields of the Skagit river basin. He is largely interested in and principal promoter of the Fairhaven Iron and Steel Company, who are about erecting the necessary furnaces and works for the development and utilization of the rich iron deposits in the valley of the Skagit.

[From Brian L. Griffin’s book – there is a brief history of John Joseph Donovan. ] J.J. Donovan was hired by Nelson Bennett in 1888 to build a railroad and open up the town of Fairhaven to development. After purchasing the property acquired by Dan Harris who originally platted the town in 1883, Donovan, with the Fairhaven Land Company, aggressively promoted the town’s development with an eye to becoming the western terminus of the Great Northern Railroad. Even though this honor went to the city of Seattle, Fairhaven experienced a significant building boom during the years 1889-1892. [this includes a picture from 1889 with explanation] Beginning in 1888, the town of Fairhaven on Bellingham Bay was experiencing a period of rapid growth and significant development due in large part to the efforts of promoters eagerly anticipating that Fairhaven would be selected as the western terminus of the Great Northern Railroad. These promoters, led by Nelson Bennett [From Griffin: “Nelson Bennett had developed a vision”] and joined by C.X. Larrabee, Edgar Cowgill, E.M. Wilson, Alexander McKenzie and J.J. Donovan formed the Fairhaven Land Company.  They actively advertised opportunities in a land of rich natural resources, a mild climate and limitless possibilities for wealth and prosperity. Indeed, the population leaped from around 150 in 1889 to 8,000 in 1890 according to the Fairhaven Herald of December 29, 1890.

Buildings were erected at a rapid pace during the boom years of 1890-1892, and then came to a halt with the onset of the big depression of 1893.  After a period of slow growth beginning in 1900, followed by consolidation with the town of Whatcom in 1903, the town of Fairhaven became the "south side” of the city of Bellingham. Page 153 end: Any lengthy account of the extraordinary city of Tacoma is beyond the limits of this chapter; and we must content ourselves with such quick glances

From The (Helena, Montana) Independent Record, Sunday, April 15, 1883, page 3*:

Above is from the New North-West, Friday, June 1, 1883, page 3.*

Below is from the New North-West, July 10, 1883, page 3*:

An advertisement in the Helena, Montana, Independent Record, Tuesday, August 7, 1883, page 5*: “TO R. R. Graders. Parties wishing to go to the Yakima or Cascade division are requested to proceed at once to Missoula, or apply to the undersigned at his office in Deer Lodge. Aug7-d3t NELSON BENNETT, Contractor.”

The New North-West, Friday, October 19, 1883*: “Mrs. Nelson Bennett, accompanied by her daughter, left Wednesday to visit friends in Binghampton, New York. She will be absent some three months of more.”  “Mr. Nelson Bennett, who is in Washington Territory, has taken the contract for building the bridges and laying the track of the Cascade Division of the Northern Pacific. Tuesday last he telegraphed for Mr. L. A. Dakin, of this place, to take charge of the bridge work, and that gentleman will go to the front immediately.”

From []: “Aug. 29, 1883 Early in the afternoon, the first passenger train runs from Deer Lodge to Garrison, connecting the Utah and Northern with the newly completed Northern Pacific. The Utah and Northern, which runs from Utah to Butte, has been finished since 1881, and an extension to Deer Lodge was completed last November. Now that the transcontinental NP through Helena is open, a link between the two competing lines is needed to transport people and goods from Butte to Helena and vice versa. The two railroads join forces to operate the intermediary railroad, the first in Powell County. It'll be dubbed the Montana Union. It costs $4.25 to ride from Butte to Garrison and $4.35 from Garrison to Helena.”]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *


Stampede Pass

Around January, 1884, Lottie became pregnant again with Sheila who was born October 22, 1884.

[Salt Lake (City) Tribune, Thu

In the June 4, 1886, New North-West, “Mrs. Nelson Bennett expects to start to-day for Tacoma, where they have concluded to build and reside, instead of at Ellensburg.”

Probably in September of 1886 Lottie became pregnant with Nelsie who was born in June 7, 1887.

Northwest Tribune May 11, 1888: Mitchell & Bennett new building

The Certificate of Incorporation of Bennett Brothers Company was filed for record January 15, 1888, among Nelson Bennett, Willard Bennett, Edgar E. Congden and Alexander McKenzie with a subscribed stock of 1500 shares at an aggregate paid in price of $150,000. A fifth trustee was Thomas Morgan. The principal office was the Town of Deer Lodge, Territory of Montana, with branches in Townsend, Meagher County; the city of Butte, Silver Bow County.
1888 Wright & Woodward Missoula City Directory: Willard bought residence at 74 West Cedar
[[ Newspaper articles according to its exclusive card index: Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812-9936 Located on level four of the Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections helps to document the history of the region through its unique and valuable manuscript and print holdings.
Email: (406-843-2053), University of Montana, Missoula,
M – Missoulian
MCT – Missoula County Times
M Gaz – Missoula Gazette
NW Trib – Northwest Tribune
New NW – New North West
W & W – Wright & Woodward Missoula City Directory
O – Owen’s Journals
H – Harris’ Journals
Leeson’s History
Joaquim Miller’s History of Montana
Business Licenses
Tax Records ]]

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, January 20, 1888, page 3*:

The New North-West, Friday January 29, 1886, page 3:

Above from the New North-West, Friday, Friday, April 2, 1886, page 3*.

Below is another article from the same paper, The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886*:

The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886, page 3*: “The latest about the “three rails” between Butte and Garrison is, that work is to begin at once. This information comes from Mr. Nelson Bennett, who arrived from St. Paul Sunday. Any later news before going to press will be inserted as usual.” Another article, same paper, was about the fire of the O’Neill’s hotel when Willard jumped out of a window….

The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886, page 3*: “Mr. Nelson Bennett and family passed west last Sunday night, en route from New York to Ellensburg, W. T., thirty miles from the Cascade tunnel, where they will build and make “home” until the tunnel is completed. It was their intention to have visited friends in Deer Lodge, but their little girl having the whooping-cough, the visit was cancelled.”

The New North-West, Friday, May 21, 1886, page 3*: “Mrs. Nelson Bennett and children, of Ellensburg, W. T., arrived Wednesday to visit relatives in Deer Lodge. The lady received a very cordial welcome from friends here.”

Above is from The New North-West, Friday, June 25, 1886, page 3*.

The Great Falls (Montana) Tribune writes Saturday, May 14, 1887, page 3 that “Bennett Bros. will conduct the new opera house in Missoula.” And that “Bennett Bros. and E. S. Larabie have got the Butte street railway franchise.”

Below is from the Weekly (Salem) Oregon Statesman, Friday, September 16, 1887, page 6*:

Above from the River Press (Fort Benton, Montana) Wednesday, September 28, 1887.

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, September 30, 1887, page 3:
Below is from the New North-West, Friday, November 4, 1887:

“Mr. Nelson Bennett, of Bennett Bros., is expected here on Monday.” Apparently he was to arrive January 16, 1888.

Above is from the New North-West, Friday, January 20, 1888, page 2.

From the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal, Tuesday, February 21, 1888, page 1, “Portland, Or., Feb. 20.—This morning counsel for the Oregon Pacific moved that the amended complaint of Nelson Bennett, who sues the O. P. for five hundred thousand dollars, be stricken from the files, because it is not verified, and to dismiss the case at Bennet’s cost. The motion will be decided Saturday.”

Below is from the Albany, Oreg

In the June 4, 1886, New North-West, “Mrs. Nelson Bennett expects to start to-day for Tacoma, where they have concluded to build and reside, instead of at Ellensburg.”

Probably in September of 1886 Lottie became pregnant with Nelsie who was born in June 7, 1887.

Northwest Tribune May 11, 1888: Mitchell & Bennett new building

The Certificate of Incorporation of Bennett Brothers Company was filed for record January 15, 1888, among Nelson Bennett, Willard Bennett, Edgar E. Congden and Alexander McKenzie with a subscribed stock of 1500 shares at an aggregate paid in price of $150,000. A fifth trustee was Thomas Morgan. The principal office was the Town of Deer Lodge, Territory of Montana, with branches in Townsend, Meagher County; the city of Butte, Silver Bow County.

1888 Wright & Woodward Missoula City Directory: Willard bought residence at 74 West Cedar

[[ Newspaper articles according to its exclusive card index: Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812-9936 Located on level four of the Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections helps to document the history of the region through its unique and valuable manuscript and print holdings.

Email: (406-843-2053), University of Montana, Missoula,


M – Missoulian

MCT – Missoula County Times

M Gaz – Missoula Gazette

NW Trib – Northwest Tribune

New NW – New North West

W & W – Wright & Woodward Missoula City Directory

O – Owen’s Journals

H – Harris’ Journals

Leeson’s History

Joaquim Miller’s History of Montana

Business Licenses

Tax Records ]]


Below is from the New North-West, Friday, January 20, 1888, page 3*:

The New North-West, Friday January 29, 1886, page 3:

Above from the New North-West, Friday, Friday, April 2, 1886, page 3*.

Below is another article from the same paper, The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886*:

The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886, page 3*: “The latest about the “three rails” between Butte and Garrison is, that work is to begin at once. This information comes from Mr. Nelson Bennett, who arrived from St. Paul Sunday. Any later news before going to press will be inserted as usual.” Another article, same paper, was about the fire of the O’Neill’s hotel when Willard jumped out of a window….

The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886, page 3*: “Mr. Nelson Bennett and family passed west last Sunday night, en route from New York to Ellensburg, W. T., thirty miles from the Cascade tunnel, where they will build and make “home” until the tunnel is completed. It was their intention to have visited friends in Deer Lodge, but their little girl having the whooping-cough, the visit was cancelled.”

The New North-West, Friday, May 21, 1886, page 3*: “Mrs. Nelson Bennett and children, of Ellensburg, W. T., arrived Wednesday to visit relatives in Deer Lodge. The lady received a very cordial welcome from friends here.”

Above is from The New North-West, Friday, June 25, 1886, page 3*.

The Great Falls (Montana) Tribune writes Saturday, May 14, 1887, page 3 that “Bennett Bros. will conduct the new opera house in Missoula.” And that “Bennett Bros. and E. S. Larabie have got the Butte street railway franchise.”

Below is from the Weekly (Salem) Oregon Statesman, Friday, September 16, 1887, page 6*:


Above from the River Press (Fort Benton, Montana) Wednesday, September 28, 1887.

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, September 30, 1887, page 3:

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, November 4, 1887:

“Mr. Nelson Bennett, of Bennett Bros., is expected here on Monday.” Apparently he was to arrive January 16, 1888.

Above is from the New North-West, Friday, January 20, 1888, page 2.

From the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal, Tuesday, February 21, 1888, page 1, “Portland, Or., Feb. 20.—This morning counsel for the Oregon Pacific moved that the amended complaint of Nelson Bennett, who sues the O. P. for five hundred thousand dollars, be stricken from the files, because it is not verified, and to dismiss the case at Bennet’s cost. The motion will be decided Saturday.”

Below is from the Albany, Oregon, Morning Daily Herald, Friday, March 2,

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, November 15, 1889, page 3:

From the Morning Astorian (Oregon), Tuesday, November 26, 1889, page 3:

“Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Bennett, of Tacoma, Washington, have been visiting the family of Mr. Willard Bennett the past week.” Said the New North-West, Friday, May 30, 1890, page 3.

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, June 13, 1890:

Below is from the New North-West, Friday, January 16,1891, page 3:


                           In the Deer Lodge New North-West, Friday, February 20, 1891:

The Larrabees have purchased NB’s interests in Oregon, The San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, April 22, 1891, page 3:

[ picture of Larrabee check as the end of NB in fairhaven] The Dillon Tribune, July 17, 1891, page 1 (story on page 4)

Politics 1891

Below is from the Pullman (Washington) Herald, Saturday, January 17, 1891, front page:

Below from the Dalles (Oregon) Daily Chronicle, January 21, 1891, page 1:

A number of newspapers, including this squib from the San Francisco Call, Wednesday, August 26, 1891, page 8: “Tacoma, Aug. 25 – Nelson Bennett, a well-known capitalist of Tacoma, has purchased an interest in the Tacoma Daily Ledger. R. F. Radebaugh, however, retains the controlling interest.” The Salem Statesman Journal, August 26, on page one, added “and there will be no change in its policy or management.”

The Aberdeen (Washington) Herald, Thursday, November 12, 1891, front page, said on November 9 that “Nelson Bennett has declared his desire to succeed Senator Allen.”
While the Pullman (Washington) Herald of Friday, November 27, 1891, page 2 said, “Several papers in the [Puget] Sound Country have taken a sudden liking for Nelson Bennett. Bennett wants Squire’s shoes.”
The United States Senate elections of 1888 had the Republicans keep a slim majority which increased with the admissions of new states. Senators were selected by state legislators then, before the 17th Amendment. The 51st Congress, March 1889 to 1891was dubbed the Billion Dollar Congress (imagine!) for lavish spending had Idaho Territory becoming the 33rd   state on July 3, 1890, electing two Republican senators, Shoup and McConnell. Wyoming was admitted July 10, 1890, its two senators (Carlisle and Carey) being Republicans. Montana joined the Union on November 8, 1889 with Republican senators Sanders and Power, both seated April 16, 1890. Washington was the 42nd on November 11, 1889. required the U. S. government
July 14, 1890: Sherman Silver Purchase Act, ch. 708, 26 Stat. 289 required the government to mint silver and to purchase millions of ounces of it by issuing paper (Treasury Coin Notes) currency to inflate the economy and bail out heavily indebted western farmers by reducing the oversupply built up by miners. Speculators arbitraged selling high priced silver and buying lower-priced gold, at the same time European speculators cashed in investments for gold fearing widespread depression originally triggered by a coup in Argentina, the Revolución del Parque, and failure of its wheat crop which threatened investment which had been heavily promoted by the English merchant bank, Baring Brothers which was on the brink of failure, and had to be bailed out bankrupting many of its partners; it took a decade for all of its debts to be repaid.  (The reconstituted bank finally fatally collapsed in 1995 after suffering losses of £827 million ($1.3 billion) resulting from poor speculative investments, primarily in futures contracts, mostly made by one employee.) All this led to fear which triggered runs on banks, where depositors rushed to withdraw their savings. Banks exist to make long-term loans which cannot be collected to repay depositors too much money. Then they fail for not having sufficient liquidity. Exactly the same thing happened in the 2007 USA with Lehman Bros.
triggering the   until President Cleveland repealed it.

From the (Salem, Oregon) Statesman Journal, Thursday, January 8, 1891, page 1:

senators, finally

The Wednesday Morning Olympian, August 26, 1891, page 2 said “The report that Nelson Bennett will sue The Olympian for libel for mentioning him as a possible candidate for United States senator is a mistake. Mr. Bennett would be a business senator of the Philetus Sawyer school. He is not so great in the girth as Philetus, but first impressions would give Bennett the choice of intellects. Bennett is one of the Jim Hill type and we mean no disrespect when we so classify him. Hill is a very brainy man. His education was not picked up in libraries and in the forum as in the case of his great fellow townsman, Senator C. K. Davis. It was acquired in the society of the St. Paul levee, the Red river valley and the bankrupt St. Paul & Pacific railroad. He graduated into large affairs and they seemed to invest him with unknown intellectual power. He displayed, as he progressed in his industrial schemes, a knowledge of the world, its inwardness and colossal possibilities, that staggered the credulity of his old neighbors. They even discovered that he was an orator and that he possessed the art of stating a proposition. They learned that he was a student of affairs and that his mastery over them was the result of his contact with them. He would be a stronger man in the United States senate than Stanford. He has, however, seen fit to be a railroad man, pure and simple, and he will be content with that distinction. Besides, he is a Democrat in a Republican state. He is not altogether a railroad man, if his chief fame does rest upon his work as the builder of the great Stampede tunnel Besides his master work, he is the founder of Fairhaven, and had the foresight to pull a clean million out at the right time. His recent fight in Tacoma for pure water is creditable, and his anxiety to entertain the Eastern brewers when they expected to come to the Sound country last summer commended him to the hop-growers. He has grown with his business experience, and it would not surprise a cold-blooded observer if he had a very large knowledge of the economic questions of the day and a clear-cut way of presenting his insight. If he could accomplish as much in the senate as Philetus Sawyer has done, he would be a great success as a getter of things. If Calkins is not a candidate attain, and if Bennett is, what will Pierce county do? What will the Calkins men do? What can they do? Or what must they do?”

From the Salem, Oregon, Daily Capital Journal, Tuesday, February 3, 1891, page 4:

In the Anaconda Standard, Thursday, November 26, 1891, page 4:

The Tacoma Daily News Tuesday, August 23, 1892, headlines “BENNETT SAYS ‘NO’ He has not resigned from the Republican National Committee.” A reporter from the Daily News wrote that Editor Nelson Bennett [of the competing morning Tacoma Ledger] asked NB about the rumors that he who had been “displaying inclinations to flirt with the People’s party [the Republicans]” “would soon be asked to resign.” The interchange went as follows:
“Have you resigned from the National committee? Inquired the reporter.
“‘No, sir. I have not,’ was the energetic tone.
“‘Have you been asked to resign?’
“‘No, sir.’
“‘Have you thought of resigning since the recent Republican State convention?’
“‘Oh, I have th--- well, that’s a ------ of a question to ask a fellow. That is an absurd question. Instead of asking me if I have thought of resigning, why don’t you ask me if I have contemplated resigning?’
“‘Well, have you contemplated resigning?’
“‘No, sir; I rather like the position.’ And he added with a sarcastic smile, ‘It’s a very remunerative position and I am a little hard up just now, so I guess I’ll hold on to it.’ After chatting on other topics Mr. Bennett remarked that the report that he intended to resign had been ‘born in Seattle and had died a-bornin’’.”

On February 20, 1893 the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was unable to meet its commitments; it a victim of a slowing economy and overextension, much like most railroads at that time. Newly inaugurated president Grover Cleveland repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act which had encouraged the production of the metal causing its price to plunge in half and was thought to be the cause of the poor economy. He had fixed the problem. But the economy struggled along while the stock market steadily declined.

[Letter] To the Editor. [Of the Daily (Chicago) Inter Ocean, Monday, May 8, 1893, page 2]
I do not fear the future of Republican principles, and whether the party regains power under that name or another will depend upon the party’s stewardship. Neither can any party afford to cater to, or be controlled by the foreign speculator in our finances, whether in London, Amsterdam, Berlin, or New York. America is a producer of the precious minerals, and has latent wealth in her mountains to pay for all obligations. Give the silver producer the same protection against foreign competition that is given to other minerals, and thereby increase the product of gold many fold. It is a well-known fact that a large percentage of our gold is produced from the argentiferous ores. The West is entitled to consideration and sooner or later the East will recognize this fact. Put America in condition to pay her debts, private and public, by stimulating her industries and increasing her products, and in ten years we will command the values of both gold and silver, and no monetary conference will be necessary. America has the power to regulate the price of the money metals the same as she has of any product within her domain which other nations lack and must come here for. This is republicanism.

           The Democrat party is negative, and cannot continue in power in a progressive country. It must fall by its own weight. “Innocuous desuetude” induces lethargy.

           There should only be a nominal representation allowed in our National convention to those States which have not given the Republican nominees for President electoral votes since 1873. The injustice of the present representation was very apparent at Minneapolis last year.
                                            NELSON BENNETT
Republican National Committeeman for Washington. [NB owned gold mines and shares of them!]

1888, page 3:
on, Morning Daily Herald, Friday, March 2, 1888, page 3:

[Salt Lake (City) Tribune, Thursday, Jan 1

“Mr.Nelson Bennett was in town yesterday, direct from Portland and en route to St. Paul. There is no rest for a railroad contractor in the spring.” According to the March 21, 1884, New North-West, page 3*.

The New North-West, Friday, May 30, 1884, page 3*, “Nelson Bennett, of Bennett Bros., has purchased the main part of the lot on the southeast corner of Higgins avenue and Front street for $5,000. – Missoula Times.

In Tacoma Illustrated, Her History, Growth & Resources, A Comprehensive Review of the City of Destiny Chapter 5, Page 20:


“Were it not for the fact of its universally conceded advantageous location it would be a difficult task, even for men eminent in finances, to account for the almost universal desire to new-comers to engage in the banking business. Her rapid growth since the completion of the Northern Pacific R. R., three years since, is evidenced forcibly by the increase in the banks.

“Ten years ago when Tacoma was merely a hamlet, containing not to exceed seven hundred souls, she had no bank; now, with a conservative estimate in population of at least 30,000, there are nine commercial and two savings banks; of the commercial banks six are National, and three private.

“The first bank established in Tacoma was organized about eight years ago by the late A. J. Baker, with a capital of $35,000, and was known as the Bank of New Tacoma; it was successfully conducted for a period of three years, when it was purchased by the Hon. Walter J. Thompson and his associates, who, in May, 1884, merged it into the Merchant's National Bank with a paid up capital of $50,000; the very rapid and successful growth of this bank is a fair index of the standing and rank of the "City of Destiny" in financial and commercial circles, and we shall later refer to its management, first in the order of banks in order that existing conditions may be properly understood, and we shall now proceed to the completion of our theme based upon the record before us. Er premised by stating that, while ten years ago Tacoma had no banding institutions within her limits, she now has eleven, including two savings banks. We shall enumerate them in the order of their organization, viz., Merchants' National, capital $250,000…

“In the preparation of this article we have endeavored to place only well-known facts before the reader rather then mere metaphor or brilliant description, but if it shall aid anyone to determine in his own mind the important future which lies before this proud city on commencement Bay, in Puget Sound, at the foot of the grandest mountain peak on earth, Mount Tacoma, raising its snow-crested head, 14,444 feet above the sea, we shall be content.


“This bank, which ranks first in amount of paid up capital in the State, was, as we have before stated, organized in May, 1884, with a capital of $50,000; in May, 1888, its directors finding that the large line of deposits necessitated more capital, the capital stock of the bank was doubled, and again last August their deposits having reached nearly a million of dollars, the amount of paid in capital was increased to $250,000. In the five years of its existence it has acquired a standing in financial circles which in the older cities of the Eastern states would have taken years, yes, twenty years to accomplish. Its leading position gives it facilities for collection and correspondence which are excelled by no other banking institution in the State. The total resources of the bank according to its last statement, are $1,285,972.72.

“At this date the Merchants' National Bank has the largest capital, more country correspondents, and transacts more business than any other bank in the State of Washington.

“The phenomenal prosperity of this institution can be accounted for by the way it is officered. Walter J. Thompson, the President, is a man who is universally admired and respected by the entire community in which he lives, and it is safe to say that there is not a man in Tacoma to-day who so justly deserves respect. Although but thirty-seven years old, Mr. Thompson is today a self-made man and a millionaire at that. While living in Hebron, Neb., Mr. Thompson forsook law, a profession he had originally intended following, and entering the principal bank of that city, he remained there until his removal to Tacoma in 1883. Mr. Thompson is also a prominent candidate for United States Senator on the republican ticket, and as the new State Senate is composed of a majority of Republican, there is a very good prospect of his attaining his ambition.

“The Vice-President, Mr. Henry Drum, is also a young man. He is a brother-in-law of President Thompson, and come from the same town. Mr. Drum, when Mayor of Tacoma from 1888-9, proved himself an able and clear headed business man. He has recently been elected to the State Senate. Mr. Drum, is a Democrat in politics, and the very fact that the constituency which he represents is strongly Republican, proves beyond doubt his popularity. The cashier of the bank, Mr. Samuel Collyer, although only a resident of Tacoma since June, 1888, is now looked upon as a most successful business man. To him credit is chiefly due for the prosperity of the bank. His sound judgment has gained for him the respect of every one in Tacoma. He is a member of the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce, and has more than once been called upon to represent the City of Destiny in commercial conferences in distant cities. To Mr. Collyer we are indebted for the history of Tacoma's banking interest, as also for many courtesies extended us, and it is hardly necessary to say that Mr. Collyer's position in financial circles is established when it is understood that the is president of the Tacoma Clearing House, secretary of the Washington Bankers' Association, First Vice-President of the Pacific Coast Chamber of Commerce, and Vice-President of the American Bankers' Association. He is for Tacoma first, last and all the time, and is ever ready to give his time and money to maintain the prestige of the city. Mr. Collyer comes originally from Chicago, and he is a son of the Rev. Robert Collyer, the eminent divine of New York City. Mr. R. J. Davis, the assistant cashier, started in the bank as office boy. His business ability and general integrity are unquestioned, and he has no superiors in the knowledge of banking.

“The present offices of the bank have recently been renovated, but the new Safe Deposit Block, a magnificent edifice built by the Merchants' National Bank and the Tacoma Trust and Savings Bank, will be occupied by this bank. A cut of their new building will be seen on the opposite page, and as will be seen, it will indeed be an ornament and pride to the city.”

The significance of these paragraphs and the founding of the Merchants’ National Bank of Tacoma, Washington will unfold later.

The New North-West, Friday, June 13, 1884, page 3*, “Mr. Nelson Bennett is in town, from Ainsworth, this week. As will be seen by another notice, the jury in his express robbery trial hung.”


“FOUST’S CELEBRATED HAY LOADER IS now seen on exhibition at Bennett Bros., Deer Lodge. Call and see this wonderful machine. 779-2t.” “CALL AT BENNETT BROS. and see those grand Studebaker Buggies, sold at very moderate prices. 779-2t” “Burglars also broke into a store room of Mr. N. Bennett and stole a quantity of bedding and silver ware. Several tramps were overhauled and searched, but the guilty parties have not yet been found. Mr. B. offers a reward of $20 for them.”

The New North-West, Friday, July 4, 1884, page 3*: “Mrs. Nelson Bennett drives the finest little turn-out in Montana—a Shetland pony to an elegant English cart, that looks like a picture out of a fairy book.”

The New North-West, Friday, July 18, 1884, page 3*: “Mr. Harry Dims, who has been in Washington Territory for some months past as bookkeeper with Nelson Bennett & Co., has returned to Deer Lodge and will take charge of their books here.”

Above is from the New North-West, Friday, July 18, 1884, page 3*.

The New North-West, Friday, October 24, 1884, page 3*, “Mr. Harry Sims, recently in charge of Bennett Bros’. books, Deer Lodge, has gone West again to keep books for Mr. Nelson Bennett, on the Cascade Division work.”

The New North-West, December 19, 1884, page 2*, “Two or three of the smaller contractors under Nelson Bennett, are reported to have thrown up their contracts, and about 300 men will be thrown out of employment, of whom a number will probably to go British Columbia to work on the Canadian Pacific Road.—Walla Walla Union,13th.

The (Portland) Morning Oregonian, Thursday, February 12, 1885, page 1:

The New North-West, Friday, April 3, 1885, page 3, “The Supreme Court of Oregon having sustained the decision in favor of Nelson Bennett against the Express Company, in whose hands $18,000 of Mr. Bennett’s money disappeared a year or two ago, the Company has paid over the amount and interest, amounting to over $20,000, to Mr. Bennett.”

In the Anaconda Standard, Sunday, January 27, 1895, page 9 was this important information,

On October 19th, 1895, Robert Wingate receiver of the Merchants’ National Bank sued NB for nonpayment of an agreement for him (NB) to make eight quarterly payments of $4,500 each beginning May 1st of 1894, plus $31,500 by June 1, 1896. Apparently not paid Wingate (whose daughter Mrs. Wingate lived for decades next door to NB’s daughter and son-in-law, Minot Davis then their daughter’s family, then her son, me, in the Tacoma Country & Golf Club) sued for around $82,000. Then in November the $20,000 suit by E. D. Heustis against NB was answered by the Bennett National Bank which failed just before then from a run on it. It responded that it owes NB nothing, but that NB, a stockholder, owes that bank over $13,000. It holds collateral of notes from the Ledger publishing Company aggregating over $30,000 and an overdue open account of $3300. NB answered that he owes is, but that he was given an extension in exchange for consideration of a mortgage on Pierce County property.

On November 5, 1895, a Tacoma Daily News article, page 1 “Bennett Seeks Delay” Mr. Titlow receiver of the Bank of Tacoma suing NB and Lottie on some rule. The issue is that Titlow holds that the Tacoma Hotel is worth not more than “10 cents on the dollar” because of a $100,000 mortgage debt against it.  Apparently, nothing happened for a year later, because on January 20, 1896 in another Tacoma Daily News article, page 3, it wrote that Robert Wingate, receiver of the Merchants’ National Bank of Tacoma sued the Tacoma Hotel Company, the Capital National Bank of Olympia and F. D. Huestis that on October 15, 1895, the hotel company owed Nelson Bennett $200,000 and that NB owed the receiver of Merchants $67,000 to which NB had assigned everything owed him, except $27,000 to Lottie. Then on December 14, 1895 the hotel company gave a chattel mortgage to Huestis, for a debt to him from NB for $16,000 which was given to the Olympia bank.  There is a mortgage on the hotel’s real estate and building of $90,000 which is more than its value and that the hotel was insolvent when it was granted. The Judge granted a temporary restraining order to halt the disposal of any of the assets of the hotel.

The New North-West, Friday, December 4, 1885, page 3, “COURT CALENDAR 2117—Nelson Bennett, William Bennett, George H Bennett vs James A. Maxwell and William G. Price; debt; on demurer to complaint.”

The New North-West, Friday, December 25, 1885, page 3, “Mr. Nelson Bennett, of the firm Bennett Bros., and a director of the Spokane Falls & Farmington R. R., soon to be in process of construction as a branch of the Northern Pacific was in town this week en route to attend a directors’ meeting in New York.”

The New North-West, Friday, January 29, 1886, page 3 New York, Jan.22—The Board of Directors of the Northern Pacific………[ May already have this….]

[Northern Pacific Railway Company Papers --  -  Series A Board of Directors’ Minutes and Corporate Histories: [need minutes from January 22, 1886.

Reel II. 0001 Secretary—

           0300 Volume 6 Minutes (...1882 – December 16, 1886 431 pp.)  1194 Folder 28--July 1885 – January 1887. 34 pp.

What I want:  Reel II. 0001; 0300 Volume 6; Reel III. 0001 Secretary – volume 7 and Vol 8

1194 Folder 28 Holdings of the Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts.  ISBN 0-89093-728-1 as Series A. B and C may be different.

An Inventory of Its Records at the Minnesota Historical Society

Manuscripts Collection

ARRANGEMENT –(gives contents, letters, etc.)

Northern Pacific Railroad Company: Minutes and Related Records, 1864-1956
Minutes of Stockholders' Meetings, originals, 1895-1968
Minutes of Stockholders' Meetings, copies with index
Minutes of Directors' Meetings, originals, 1896-1970
Minutes of Directors' Meetings, copies with index
Directors' Meeting Folders
Minutes of Executive Committee Meetings, originals, 1898-1967
Minutes of Executive Committee Meetings, copies with index
Audit Committee Minutes

Location Box
137.H.9.6F 28 May 16, 1884-June 19, 1886.
Location Box
137.I.17.1B 1 Northern Pacific Board of Directors:

Sent email form asking about microfilm being sent to SPL  8/26/2017

Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

651-259-3000 • 800-657-3773


The Northern Pacific Railway Company was the first transcontinental railroad to traverse the northern tier of states, a territory that included Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Chartered in 1864 by the United States Congress to construct a line from Lake Superior to Puget Sound, the Northern Pacific in return received title to an estimated forty-seven to sixty million acres in alternating sections along its line-the largest land grant ever awarded by the federal government. After a series of unsuccessful attempts, the railroad finally was completed to Tacoma, Washington Territory, in 1883. Forced into receivership on several occasions, it was reorganized in the wake of the Panic of 1893 under the aegis of investment banker J.P. Morgan and James J. Hill of the Great Northern Railway Company, with whom it concluded a final truce and alliance in 1896. In 1901, the Northern Pacific came under the formal control, with the Great Northern and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroads, of the Northern Securities Company, also controlled by Morgan and Hill as well as by Edward H. Harriman and his allies. When the United States Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the Northern Securities Company, the Northern Pacific reverted to its former status until the formation of Burlington Northern, Inc., in 1970. Because of the vast lands the Northern Pacific controlled or claimed under its land grant and because of its fundamentally important role as a carrier and as a pioneer in finance, management, labor relations, and other matters, the Northern Pacific exercised a pivotal influence in the settlement and development of the Northwest. Viewed another way, the Northern Pacific, as an important organization within the railroad industry, was among the very first big businesses in the United States. Consequently, the Northern Pacific, like its counterparts elsewhere, served as a model for corporate enterprise in the industrializing nation.”

The following is from the Saint Paul (Minnesota, Globe, Saturday, January 23, 1886, page 6*:

·       *          *          *          *          *

The New North-West, Friday, April 9, 1886, page 3:

Willard [sometimes written William H. or W.H.] Bennett MCT; 4/21/1886 Bought Billy Edwards place above (?) to raise stock. In Missoula Gazette; he bought John McGilvery’s interest in limestone quarry, with Leo E. Fleishower buying the other half.

In the Friday, April 30, 1886, issue of the New North-West, page 2:

The New North-West announcement, Friday, May 7, 1886, “Missoula – Bennett Bros., agricultural implements; succeeded by T. C. Power & Bro.”

The New North-West, Friday, May 14, 1886, page 3:

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I am a descendant of Nelson Bennett's uncle Peter Bennett and Peter's eldest son Ellis Bennett. I am enjoying reading your blog very much. Some of the material is familiar to me, some is new.

    I'm looking at the URL below on Google Chrome and cannot see any photos or images. Are those photos available someplace?

    Ron Bennett