Henry Killian Bennett was born 7 October 1810 in Tennessee and is listed in the 1840 and 1850 Marion County, Tennessee census. Mary Ann McDonough was Henry’s second wife and was only 18 when their first child, Joseph, was born. Henry Killian Bennett and his wife, Mary McDonough Bennett, were living in Marion County, Tennessee when they began purchasing land in Dade County during the 1850’s. Prior to 1858, they moved to Slygo Valley with their children Joseph A., Alex Shannon, Elizabeth, George W., and James L. Their family would continue to grow and include, Mary A. “Molly”, Martha J., Phebe Emiline, William, and Rhoda Jane.
During the Civil War, daughter Elizabeth and husband, John Henry Hixson, were living on the Bennett property in a one room log cabin. According to family legend, one of the Hixson men, quite probably John Henry, became incensed when his possessions, including his horse and saddle, were confiscated by a group of Confederate soldiers. He became so enraged that he left his fellow soldiers and went to the house of Andrew Hixson, John Henry’s brother, stating that he would not fight with a “bunch of thieves”. A Confederate patrol came to Andrew’s house looking for the runaway soldier. He escaped detection by hiding under a pile of animal hides. He made his way to the Tennessee River, which he crossed by cover of night! He found a Union camp outside of Chattanooga and promptly enlisted to fight against the Confederates.
Though Dade County was not a very prosperous area prior to the Civil War, Henry Bennett was a relatively wealthy citizen. As with most everyone, the Civil War obviously took its toll on Henry Bennett’s personal and real property which plummeted 75% in value from 1860 to 1870. In 1871, the Federal Government set up the Southern Claims Commission to determine compensation for any Southerners who remained loyal to the United States during the war and who suffered financial losses by the Union troops. In 1878, Henry Bennett applied for compensation for loss of livestock and four hundred pounds of produce with a total value over one thousand dollars. In 1879 Henry K. Bennett was granted compensation of $420.
Part of the claims process was for the applicant to provide a deposition illustrating the person’s support for the Union cause and lack of support for the rebel cause. The following represent some excerpts from the deposition given by Henry Bennett in 1878.
“I had two nephews Andrew and Wm. Johnson who served either in the military or other service of the United States government I don’t now recollect which”.
“At one time when my son Joseph A. Bennett, who was forced into the Confederate service to avoid conscription, was in need of a pair of pants. I sent them to him – not to aid the cause but to prevent his suffering”
“I had two sons for a time in the Confederates. The oldest Joseph A. who was a Union man and who to avoid a draft went into Gov. Brown’s six months militia in the fall of 1861 and when he got out of that in May 1862 joined a Confederate Company to keep from being conscripted. I advised him not to go in, and he would not if he could have avoided it. He was captured at Vicksburg and came home about August 1, 1863. I advised him to stay at home at all hazards and he did so and was never any more (?) got into the rebel service. After all of my provisions were taken in the fall of 1863, this son went to the United States Military Railroad and worked for money to purchase provisions for my family.
“My other son named Alexander S., a boy under sixteen years, was pressured by rebels to run away from me and go with them to the rebel army in Virginia. He knew I was opposed to his going, and he was gone and in Virginia before I found out where (he) was. I would have given anything I possessed in the world to have him back home, but could not get him back and he remained in the rebel army till the close of the war. I furnished him nothing and was as much mortified at his conduct as a father well could be. Alexander now lives near Roseville, Arkansas. Joseph A. lives at Trenton and is ordinary of Dade Co. Ga.”
In the deposition, Henry Bennett mentions his “son-in-law John Hixson who was in the Union army. He was in an artillery company from Tennessee and served in it about three years to the close of the war and was honorably discharged. I don’t know the name of the company nor have I any of his papers. He resides in Dade Co. Georgia.” (See article on John Henry Hixson and Sara Elizabeth Bennett)
After the war, John and Elizabeth began to raise their family. With five children: Luverna “Verna”, Lenora “Nora”, John E., James A., and Edna, they expanded the cabin to four rooms. In addition to the well that stood just 20 feet from the back porch, the out buildings consisted of a large barn, a smoke house, a storage shed, an outhouse, and a work shed containing a furnace which James A. used for his blacksmithing trade. Their fields and pasture land were down the ridge and across Slygo Road where Interstate 59 now runs. The cabin was occupied into the 1960’s, a tribute to the building skills of these adventuresome pioneers.
Nora and her husband, William Dugan, had three children: Vernia (wife of Polk Cole), Bessie (wife of Felt Moore), and Ethel (wife of John Hughes).
John E. and his wife Bessie moved Texas where they continued to farm as they had done in Georgia.
Edna married John “Babe” Sanders. They had four children who lived to adulthood: Alva (wife of Arman Hayes), Madeline “Johnnie” (wife of Gary Holmes), Bess (wife of Mr. Miller and then Elmer Burns), and Ethel.
Verna married George Washington Killian and moved to Jasper, Tennessee, in Marion County with Vann, who was George’s son by a previous marriage. This is where George and Verna’s children: Virginia E., Lottie, Willie, Bessie E., Ulys Marvin, Clyde, Homer, Birdie Alphia, and Una were born. The family moved to Chattanooga about 1908 where the majority of their descendants still reside.
Early in this century there were outbreaks of typhoid, influenza and other diseases that were common in the cities during the summer months. Verna and her children would find transportation by bus, car, or wagon traveling Highway 11 toward Trenton until they got to Morganville where they would then walk over the mountain to Slygo Valley. They would stay with her relatives for several days or weeks.
Henry Killian Bennett died in 1887 and Mary A. McDonough died in 1909. They are buried at Sarah Chapel Cemetery in Morganville, Georgia.