Bennett, Lewis J - Erie County

LEWIS J. BENNETT, President of the Buffalo Cement Company, is one of Buffalo's representative men and a potent factor in the welfare and progress of that city, of which he has been a prominent resident for more than forty years.

Mr. Bennett comes from a long line of sturdy Scotch-English ancestry, his descent being traceable from John Bennett, Sheriff of Wiltshire, England, in 1266, who was the ancestor of John Bennett, Bailiff of Leicester in 1433 and 1435 and Mayor of that city in 1446. In 1599 Henry, one of the English Bennetts, removed to Scotland, and in 1695 his descendant, James Bennett, a captain in Lord Jedburgh's troop, was made burgess of Dunfermline. Ebenezer Bennett, son of James Bennett (2d) and great-great-grandfather of Lewis J. Bennett of Buffalo, was born in 1700 and died in 1775, and was a land-owner of Fifeshire, Scotland. His son, Amos, born March 26, 1739, and five brothers, came to America in 1770 and took an active part in the Revolutionary War. Amos Bennett settled in Rensselaer County, N. Y., and later at Scotch Bush, in the Mohawk Valley, where he was burned out by the Tories and Indians. He served through the Revolution as a private in the 14th Albany County Regiment, one of the most thrilling incidents of his military career being his capture of John Parker, the famous Tory spy. After the war Amos Bennett was commissioned First Lieutenant in Col. Frederick Fisher's regiment of light infantry, four years later being promoted Captain in Col. Abram Vedder's regiment. In 1797 Capt. Bennett removed to Herkimer County, N. Y., and subsequently settled in the town of Locke, Cayuga County, where he died in 1834.

Amos Bennett, Jr., son of Capt. Amos Bennett, was born June 21, 1770, and died August 8, 1840. He lived in the town of Duanesburg, Schenectady County, and was a farmer. In the War of 1812 he was a Captain in Lieut.-Col. Lawrence Schoolcraft's regiment, and in 1821 was commissioned Major in the 188th Regiment of Infantry. His son, William Bennett, father of Lewis J. Bennett, was born May 26, 1794, and died October 12, 1873, in the town of Mohawk, Montgomery County, N. Y. Throughout his life he was a prominent farmer. He married Elma Strong, daughter of Solomon Strong and Lois Frisbee.

Lewis J. Bennett was born in the town of Duanesburg, Schenectady County, N. Y., July 7, 1833. When he was four years old his parents removed to Glen, Montgomery County, where he received a public and High School education. When sixteen years of age young Bennett became a clerk in the general grocery store of Chapman & Smith, in Fultonville, N. Y., and two years later he was admitted to partnership in the firm of Chapman, Peek & Co. In 1856 he became a partner of William R. Chapman and William W. Kline, under the firm style of L. J. Bennett & Co., which association existed till 1866, when Mr. Bennett sold out his interest and removed to Buffalo. There he engaged in general contracting in city. State and Government work, including the building of iron bridges, his partners being Andrew Spalding and John Hand. In 1877 Mr. Bennett organized the Buffalo Cement Company, of which he has ever since been President, and which has for many years been a leading concern in the manufacture of hydraulic cement.

Nowhere in Buffalo will Mr. Bennett be better known or longer remembered than in the Central Park district. He is the founder of this important section of the city, whose development he began in 1889, the work taking nearly four years and costing nearly $300,000 in improvements alone. Only a man with clear business judgment added to strong faith in the future of Buffalo could have carried such a comprehensive project to successful completion.

Mr. Bennett has been a steadfast Republican since the days of Fremont, for whom he voted for President. He was Canal Collector at Fultonville, N. Y., in 1861-62, and in 1865 he represented the town of Glen in the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. In his religious faith Mr. Bennett is a Universalist, and he has long been a Mason, being affiliated with Fultonville Lodge, No. 531, F. & A. M., Johnstown Chapter, No. 78 and Apollo Commandery, No. 15, Knights Templar of Troy. He is a member of the Buffalo Historical Society and the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, serves on the managing boards of both those bodies, and belongs to Buffalo Chapter, Empire State Society, Sons of the American Revolution.

October 6, 1857, Mr. Bennett married Mary F. Spalding, daughter of Andrew Spalding of Johnstown, N. Y. Their surviving children are: Leslie J. Bennett, Vice-President, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer of the Buffalo Cement Company, and Louisa A., widow of the late James P. Wood, who was identified with the same company as Vice-President and Treasurer.

Mr. Bennett has ever lived an active life, devoted to business, to his family and to the welfare of the community. His business career has been varied by only one vacation of any note, this being taken in 1894-95, when he made a tour of the world, chronicling his impressions in a series of letters, which have been published.

SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I