American Medical Biographies/Bennett, Sanford Fillmore

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Bennett, Sanford Fillmore (1836–1898)

Sanford Fillmore Bennett, editor and song writer, was the son of Robert and Sallie Kent Bennett and was born at Eden, New York, June 21, 1836. He was one of eleven children and two of his brothers became physicians. The father came to Lake County, Illinois, in 1842, first settling at Plainfield and three years later removing to a farm near Lake Zurich. He was a farmer of more than usual prominence, serving as assessor, town trustee, school director, and for eight years as justice of the peace. At sixteen years of age young Bennett entered the academy at Waukegan, Illinois, and at eighteen began teaching school. In 1858 he entered the University of Michigan. In 1864 he resigned his position as editor of The Independent at Elkhorn, Wisconsin, to enter the Civil War, enlisting in the 40th Wisconsin Volunteers and serving to the end of the war as 2d lieutenant.

At the close of the war he returned to Elkhorn where he engaged in the drug business and studied medicine and in 1874 he graduated from Rush Medical College of Chicago. He then settled in Richmond, Illinois, and for twenty years was a successful practitioner. While living in Elkhorn he became associated with J. P. Webster and together they published numerous songs. "The Signet Ring," published in 1871, was a book of hymns of which Dr. Bennett wrote more than a hundred. Among these was "The Sweet Bye and Bye," which has been widely used and is probably best known of his writings. In 1898 he published in book form "The Pioneer, an Idyl of the Middle West." In the preface he says, "It is the pleasant work of my later years, an attempt to preserve to posterity some of the incidents common to frontier experiences in this country during the thirties and fourties, the local coloring being drawn more particularly from the early settlement of Lake and McHenry Counties, Illinois, where I have spent nearly the whole of my life." He was a frequent contributor to the Richmond (Ill.) Gazette, of which he was for a short time one of the editors and publishers.

In 1860 he was married to Gertrude Crosby Johonnatt of Richmond. They had three children.

Dr. Bennett died at Richmond, Illinois, June 11, 1898, lacking only a few days of being sixty-two years old.

History of Lake County, Illinois, 1877, p. 367.
Richmond (Ill.) Gazette, June 16, 1898.
The Signet Ring, Chicago, 1871.
The Pioneers, Chicago, 1898.