This is the story of the settlement and growth of western New York state from the War of 1812 to the 1890s using the never-before-published journal of an early settler as its central thread. Joseph Bennett, farmer, builder, and entrepreneur, also held political office at the town, county, and state level. From 1814 naval action on Lake Champlain through pioneer life on the Niagara Frontier, from the building of the Erie Canal to the coming of the railroads, from the beginnings of farming in Erie County to the transformation of the county shoreline by vacation cottages and camps—Joseph Bennett witnessed it all. Businessman, builder, farmer, public servant, family man, deacon of his church, canal worker in Lockport, early resident of both Williamsville and Evans, Joseph Bennett, along with the men and women of his time, laid the foundations of modern civilization in western New York state. His journal, spanning virtually an entire century, is filled with details of life in the Buffalo area and beyond: transportation, commerce, farming, shipwreck, murder, birth, death—details of the process, going on throughout America, of turning wilderness into farms, villages, and cities.
Kevin gives an overview of the book:
One cold day in early December 1824, the Thayers slaughtered their hogs at the house of young Israel, whose wife had been “sent away.” Love had been invited to join them, although he was not expected to participate in the butchering. As darkness fell, having no better place to work, Nelson and Isaac dragged the bloody hog carcasses into the small, low, log house to cut them up in the warmth of a roaring fire. They worked on the hogs at the far end of the room, away from the fire, while Love sat in a fireside chair, his back to the hog operation. He was wearing the Navy pea jacket that he had worn during the war, and which Joseph himself had occasionally worn during night watches on the lake. About 8 PM, the muzzle of a rifle was eased through one of the darkened window openings, and Love was shot through the head. Bennett gives the version he had later heard of what happened after young Israel pulled the trigger. “Love . . . did not stir from his position. One of the boys behind him, thinking he was not hit with the bullet, struck him with the ax he was using, cutting meat. Love fell from the chair dead . . . The three young men with their father, all implicated alike, took the dead body, buried it in a ravine some distance from the house. . . .” “The judgements that I obtained against the Thayers, . . .” said Joseph, “proved to be the bone of contention which caused the murder.”
Kevin H Siepel writes on personal, historical, and scientific themes. His benchmark biography of Confederate hero John Singleton Mosby has proven durable, as have a number of his essays and poems. He has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, Readers Digest,...