Biography - R Bennett

HON. R. F. BENNETT, M. D. Should the inquisitive stranger ask in the city of Litchfield for its most prominent citizen, very many would mention the gentleman whose name opens this article. He is the present Mayor of the place and also is one of the leading physicians, having been in practice here since 1862.
Dr. Bennett was born in Shelby County, Ill., October 2, 1839, and was the son of William B. and Lavina (Curry) Bennett. The father was a native of Virginia, having been born near the picturesque city of Lynchburg, December 9, 1815. He received his education at Nashville, Tenn., his parents having located there when he was quite young, and came to Illinois when he had grown to manhood. He married in Shelby County a lady from Tennessee, and he still lives in Shelby County on a farm with his youngest son. He became a successful Illinois farmer and a prominent man in his county. He is a Republican in his politics and is a member of the Board of Supervisors. He and his wife were members of the Christian Church, but the former is not now living, she having died in 1872, at the age of fifty-six years.
Our subject was the eldest in the family of children and was sent to the Moultrie County Seminary to acquire an education. This was a fine school and our subject improved his opportunities so that at the age of seventeen he was able to take charge of a school for himself, and for two succeeding years he continued a teacher. He had made up his mind in the meantime that he would become a physician, a fine, thorough one, and to that end he began reading under the direction of Dr. Henry, at Paradise, Ill. He then attended lectures in the medical college at Cincinnati, Ohio, and was graduated from that place with honor in 1861. He had studied hard with the hope of success before him and realized that in these later days a physician must very thoroughly understand his profession to be able to keep up with the times. His first field of practice was in a small town.
Dr. Bennett was confident of his ability, and in 1862 he came here, where he saw there would be many calls made upon a good physician, and here he has remained ever since. At that time, the place only contained fifteen hundred people, and there is no one here in active practice who was here at the time when Dr. Bennett opened his office. He has been a general practitioner and has a wide experience in this growing city. His long country rides are now over, but he loved his work and even took the hardships with pleasure. His practice has been remunerative, but there are more cases on his books, or in his memory, of medical care and advice that he cannot balance on the right side of his ledger than of those who have remembered the Doctor when they were well as quickly as when sickness overtook them.
Dr. Bennett is a member of the Illinois State Eclectic Medical Society, of which he has twice been President. He has many interests in the city, has two farms, also bank stock, and real estate, and holds the position of President of the Oil City Building and Loan Association. This is a large local association with a capital of 81,000,000, which is soon to be increased to $3,000,000, and they are just about to pay the first series, having run about nine years. Our subject is one of the incorporators, he having taken an active part in it all the way through, as he has seen its advantages. He has been a public-spirited man and has helped to get the mills, shops, etc., which have made the place assume its thriving condition. He was Mayor of the city at the time the St. Louis Railroad was put through here, and he is now closing his fifth term as Mayor. His defeat for any city office has yet to take place. In 1888, he was the Republican nominee for the State Senate, and the first count gave fourteen hundred votes against him, but the official record was only five hundred against him. He has been an Alderman four years, a member of the Board of Education for a number of terms, and has been President of the Board for two terms. His property in the city is principally residence property and is very valuable. The fraternities to which Dr. Bennett belongs are: Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Honor, and Modern Woodmen of America. He is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he has taken great interest for many years. He was married to Miss Elizabeth J. Storm, of Shelby County, Ill., the daughter of Green up Storm. They have two children: Harry F., who is in Chicago, having been recently graduated from the Northwestern University; and Mary. The home of Dr. Bennett is a model of all that a home should be, and in him and his family the good people of Litchfield take just pride.

Extracted 10 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 289-290.

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