“Sufferers’ Land” Post #40 – The Benedict Family –

Platt Benedict was not in as bad a situation as Henry Buckingham although the failure of The Norwalk Manufacturing Company must have disappointed him. Platt’s financial position was secure. As a farmer, tavern keeper, manufacturer, and land speculator, he was doing well. In his political life, he was also successful.

In 1840, the citizens of Norwalk again elected him mayor of the village, a position he had held in 1835. He was a leading member of the Episcopal Church and an active Mason. At the age of sixty-five, he was still robust and energetic, involving himself in every aspect of life in the community.

However, in spite of his personal success, he must have been disappointed in how some of his children turned out. His eldest daughter Clarissa had married Hallet Gallup, a prominent citizen of the community who was involved in the construction of various public and private buildings in Norwalk, and they had many children.

Platt and Sally’s eldest son David had married in Danbury Connecticut in 1832, but his only child, a daughter named Mary Boughton Benedict had died in 1834, less than a week after her mother. Platt’s second son Daniel had died over ten years before in New Orleans.

Besides Clarissa, this left only Jonas and Eliza Ann in Norwalk. Eliza Ann had married in 1832 to William Brewster. She had two children, but they died young. In August 1840, less than six months after the death of her sister-in-law Fanny Benedict, Eliza Ann died at the age of twenty-seven. [1]

Of Platt Benedict’s sons, only Jonas remained in the village. He was the only male descendant of Platt to have a son — the only hope for the continuation of the Benedict name in Norwalk.

Jonas had every advantage in life, but while other men of his generation were active in the village, he was not. George Buckingham, Charles Preston, Gilpin Taylor, Frederick Wickham and Hallet Gallup were involved in the political and business activities of the town, but not Jonas. The records of the times rarely mention his name. By this time, it is possible he had succumbed to alcoholism. In any event, he never lived up to his potential.

Jonas grieved when Fanny died. However, he had children to care for and a house to keep up. He started looking for another wife and soon found one. On Thursday, May 26, 1842, he married Caroline Chapman.

At the time of Jonas and Caroline’s marriage, Dave Benedict was eight years old, his sister Mary was six and Fanny was only three. Dave disliked his stepmother. In later years, he said that she was good to his sister Mary, who was crippled, but disagreeable to Fanny and himself. [2]

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Footnotes:

[1] History of the Benedict children is from the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006, p. 6 and The Firelands Pioneer, pp. 920-921.

[2] Story of the marriage of Jonas Benedict and Caroline Chapman are from the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006, pp. 6-7 & 17-18 & “Obituaries – Benedict,” The Firelands Pioneer, December 1902, pp. 920-921.

© 2009 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved

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