A glimpse into the lives of Thomas and Ann Lacey Bennett
My middle name is Bennett. So it was cool for me to find out more about Thomas Bennett (1815-1881) and his wife Ann Lacey ( 1819-1907).
Thomas was born in England in March 17, 1815, the seventh of nine children. His parents, Richard and Mary, weren’t wealthy but their financial status was above average. His mother taught him and his siblings to read and write. When he was about 25, Thomas was working in the harvest field when he met his sweetheart, Ann.
Ann was born on March 7, 1819, into a family that would eventually include four sisters and seven brothers. She was told she was descended from royalty. Sadly, two siblings, a brother and a sister, both died when they were 18 years old. Because her family struggled financially, she worked as soon as she was old enough. First she worked at an “Eating house” but didn’t like interacting with the public. Then she was a dairymaid. Eventually she took a job harvesting grain in the fields and that’s when she met Thomas. They were married on Christmas Day, 1839. They lived above her mother’s cottage for a time. To earn money, she sewed and practiced nursing while her husband Thomas worked as a gardener.
The young couple first heard about Mormonism in the early 1840s. They accepted the faith and were baptized in 1842. They wanted to gather with the Saints in Utah but didn’t have the money. So Thomas came to America in 1857 by himself and ended up in Nebraska, where he farmed for several years until he had saved enough money for his family to make the trip. His 19-year-old son William joined him in 1860 after working in England and becoming ill. When they sold the farm they cleared the sum of $400. They deposited $300 in the immigration fund to bring the rest of the family to America.
Finally in the spring of 1861, after years of hard work, sacrifice and loneliness, the rest of the family crossed the Atlantic and were reunited. Ann and six children sailed on “The Underwriter” under Captain Roberts with 611 other passengers from Waterloo Dock on the morning of April 21, 1861. They eventually joined with Thomas on a wagon train bound for Utah.
After arriving in Utah, the family lived in West Jordan, Pleasant Grove and Draper. During this years Ann had the opportunity to study mid-wifery and nursing from Dr. Ellis Shipp. In the years that followed she would assist in the delivery of many of her own grandchildren and other babies in the valley.
Around 1873, the family moved to the Gentile Valley in Idaho and lived on a small ranch.
Over the years they worked hard to scratch out a meager living and served faithfully in the church. While Thomas worked on the ranch, Ann often responded to medical calls at all hours of the day and night. She charged little for her labors. (This was fascinating for me and my wife to read about because Lisa is a nurse. We can only imagine what it must have been like to be a frontier nurse.)
One Sunday morning in August 1881, Thomas left the house early in search of a missing cow and never came back. He was found dead later. They realized he had been thrown from his horse and broke his neck.
Years later, Ann was riding a horse when she was thrown to the ground. The accident caused her scalp to tear from her forehead. Like the tough pioneer woman she was, Ann pulled it back into place and it eventually healed with an ugly scar.
Another time she fell and broke her hip. She had to lie on the front porch until someone passed by and helped her. For the last years of my life, she carried a cane and had to wear a special shoe because one of her legs was longer than the other.
She finally rejoined her husband in heaven when I died in 1905.