|EGBERT BENNETT, one of the pioneers of Dane county, now living retired in the town of Dunn, was born in Albany, N.Y., June 4, 1819. His father, William C. Bennett was born in Stephenson, Rensselaer county, N.Y. and his grandfather, whose name was also William C. Bennett, was a native of Connecticut, from whence he came to Stephenson, N.Y. purchased land, engaged in farming and there spent the remainder of his days. The father of the subject of this sketch enlisted as a volunteer for the war of 1812, but was never called into the service. He learned the trade of a tanner and currier, and went to Albany, N. Y. as a young man, where he conducted the business until 1821. In the latter year he removed to Coblesk’ll, Schoharie county, and continued the same business there until 1837, when he moved to Chenango county, purchased a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits.
He resided in Chenango County until 1848, and then came to Wisconsin and spent the remainder of his days in Dane county, dying in 1854.
He chose as his helpmate in life Miss Laura Mygatt, who was born in Dutchess County, N. Y. the daughter of Isaac and Sarah (Smith) Mygatt. After her husband’s death Mrs. Bennett returned to New York for the purpose of visiting friends and she died in Albany County of that state. Two children were reared by this couple, Egbert and Isaac M. Egbert Bennett was reared to manhood in his native state and educated in the public schools, which, though limited, were better than the average existing in that day. He resided with his parents until 1848, and during the last few years of that time was in charge of their farm.
In 1846 he made his first visit to the territory of Wisconsin and purchased a tract of land at where is now situated the village of Oregon in Dane county. After a short stay here he returned to his Eastern home and remained until 1848, when he again came to Wisconsin this time for the purpose of making a permanent settlement in Dane county. His first employment in the embryo Badger state was cradling wheat for a neighbor, and he continued to work as a farm hand for short time. Dane county was then but sparsely settled, Stoughton was a village of about 300 inhabitants, Madison had about 2,000, with two hotels and a bank, and much of the land on all sides of the new state capital was still owned by the government. Deer and other wild animals roamed at will over the unpreempted soil with a freedom born of a common and undisputed possession.
Home-made wagons were in general use, oxen were used almost exclusively as beasts of burden, and in the absence of railroads the farmers’ grain was hauled to Milwaukee. Mr. Bennett says that in those days families who lived two miles west of his residence would come to a spring on his farm every day and get their water supply. A short time subsequent to the date of his permanent settlement in Dane county, Mr. Bennett purchased ten acres of land, upon which now stands the principal part of the village of Oregon, erected a home, and while resident there improved the first tract of land which he had purchased.
The bank building in Oregon occupies the site of the residence then erected by Mr. Bennett, and it was the first frame building to appear in the village. In 1857 Mr. Bennett disposed of the ten acres mentioned and purchased a tract of eighty acres in section 31 of the town of Dunn, having at the time a frame house and forty acres broken. He began at once to make further improvements on the place and was soon the owner of two hundred and ten acres, with good buildings, which has been his homestead for years. Aside from this he accumulated one hundred and twenty acres more, part of which he sold and the remainder he gave away.
Mr. Bennett was married, February 9, 1840, to Miss Margaret Miranda Holmes, who was born in Albany, N.Y. the daughter of John and Alma (Robbins) Holmes. Mrs. Bennett died October 16, 1884, having become the mother of two children, the names of whom and other facts concerning them are as follows: Huldah Celestia, the eldest, was born December 1, 1840, and is the wife of Mason M. Green, of Estilene, S.D., and the mother of two children, George and Hattie. William C., the second child, was born on March 4, 1843, married Louisa Griffin, a native of Albany county, N.Y., and died October 5, 1877, having become the father of five children, two of whom are now living-William C. and Lewis J., both of whom are practicing physicians in the village of Oregon.
Mr. Bennett was formerly a Whig and cast his first presidential vote for William Henry Harrison, but he has been a Republican since the formation of that party. He was the first postmaster of Oregon, receiving his appointment from President Pierce, and was chairman of the Town of Dunn in 1864 and has served on the sideboard four terms. He joined the Masonic lodge at Evansville, Wis., in 1854. Although eighty-seven years of age, he is in full possession of his faculties, congenial, generous, exceedingly sociable and hospitable, and is ever endeavoring to please others.
1906 History of Dane County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Association, Madison, WI, p. 82-83.