Railroad officers Joel Converse and John Bennett recorded that in 1871 a branch of the Midland Pacific Railroad was following a course along the Little Nemaha Creek just southeast of Lincoln Nebraska.
Sighting the railroad would have to pass over William Roggencamp’s land, the railroad entered into negotiations with Roggencamp for right-of-way. Roggencamp agreed to sell the railroad the narrow strip of land necessary, but only if they would plat a town site near his home, north of where the tracks were to be laid.
An agreement was reached and the plat was filed with authorities on July 29, 1871. As was the common custom of the time, railroad official John Bennett, modestly named the new town after himself. The new town was officially described as being in Lancaster County, Nemaha Precinct, Section 10, about 17 miles southeast of Lincoln, Nebraska.
By the time the Village of Bennet was incorporated in 1871 the final “t” had been omitted in its name – Bennet.
By the turn of the century, Bennet had reached a stable position as a small, but prosperous agricultural town. The United States census indicates that 1900 was the zenith of Bennet, in terms of population; with just under 500 residents.
Businesses in Bennet included: numerous general mercantile stores, several hardware stores, lumber yards and blacksmith shops, stock buyers and shippers, doctors and drug stores, a mortuary, several implement dealers, hotels and pool halls , grain elevator and livery stable, and an opera house. The thriving community also included churches, schools and an academy, banks, railroad station and volunteer fire department.
Bennet Park was established shortly after the formation of the town. In 1910 a gazebo was added to the centrally located park. Over the years, this structure has been used as a band stand as well as hosting wedding ceremonies and stage for calling out parades. The gazebo has lasted the test of time and still remains a key feature in the park. Systematic upgrades have been made to play equipment over the past ten years to ensure safety and improve accessibility. A raised play area with numerous slides, climbing bars and scaling wall was added in 2006, and a sheltered picnic area with kitchen and modern restrooms was added in 2003. All new areas are ADA accessible. Two additional parks in the outlying areas of the community are primarily maintained as ball fields.
In the 1970’s Bennet consolidated a school district with Palmyra to become District OR-1. Bennet is home to the elementary school which serves approximately 250 K-6 grade students throughout the district. The school district also offers a Pre-School within the same campus as the elementary school.
Like many Nebraska communities, Bennet’s population dropped during the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s with a movement away from small farms and small towns and a push for more opportunities in larger cities. Bennet’s population has since rebounded and Census data from 2010 reports the population as 719 residents, making Bennet the 3rd fastest growing communities in Lancaster County and 10th in the State.
Invites anyone from Bennet and the surrounding area, interested in our community history, to join!
“Living here is so much more interesting when you know more about the people of the past, their struggles and successes.”
Meetings are on the third Tuesday of each month at the Bennet Village Hall (685 Monroe). All meetings are open to the public.
President: Barb Cochrane
Vice President: Don Ehlers
Secretary: Louise Vedder
Treasurer: Ralph Steward
For membership and more information- Contact Louise Vedder @ 402-782-3915 or:
Bennet Area Historical Society
PO Box 173
Bennet, NE 68317
Altamaha Mills-ca. 1880