Susan Stringer Bennett – A REAL Daughter of the American Revolution

Leonard Stringer, Sr., 1761 – 1843, Revolutionary War Veteran, Miller Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky

About four years ago my husband, Ritchey, was able to connect with his Jolly family through DNA testing.  This was quite a find, since we knew his grandfather was James Jolly of western Kentucky, but that was all we knew!  Since then we have researched, visited Livingston County where the Jolly’s lived, visited cemeteries there and elsewhere in Kentucky to connect the dots.  Yesterday I found some very interesting articles on his 3rd great-grandmother, Susan Stringer. 

Her father, Leonard Stringer, was born in Washington County, Georgia, about 1760, and drove a provision wagon when the Revolutionary War began.  As soon as he was old enough he became a soldier and served under General Elijah Clarke and was in service until the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown – he had been captured and was in prison when the surrender took place.  He was given a land grant in the county of his birth by Edward Telfair, dated January 20, 1786.  He later moved to Tennessee, living near the Hermitage in Davidson County, where he was a close friend of Andrew Jackson.  Later he came to Livingston County, Kentucky, as a pioneer citizen.  Moved to Alexander County, Illinois, the next year; then back to Livingston County to live out the remainder of his days in the household of his daughter, Susan, and son-in-law, Alfred Bennett.  In the 1830 census of Livingston County he is listed in the 60-70 age group under Alfred Bennett.  In addition to his work as a soldier, Leonard Stringer was also a doctor, minister and school teacher.  There remained in the family, as of 1904, a pair of scales on which he used to weigh drugs.  He had charge of the school in Livingston County and taught Alfred Bennett, who would one day become his son-in-law.

Susan Stringer’s mother was Dolly Ware, the second wife of Leonard Stringer.  Susan was born April 27, 1810.  In October of 1904 Susan Stringer Bennett was inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution as a Real Daughter.  This special privilege was reserved for those women entering the D.A.R. through the revolutionary service of their own fathers.  In all, about 760 women were given this privilege.  The D.A.R. was founded October 11, 1890.

Susan, wife of Alfred Bennett, April 27, 1810 – November 26, 1904.

The following article gives the history of this most interesting father and daughter.  Father, daughter and husband all buried in Miller Cemetery in Livingston County, Kentucky.

The Owensboro Messenger, Daviess County, Kentucky

Sunday, November 13, 1904

 Mrs. Susan Stringer Bennett, of Livingston County, Kentucky, enjoys the distinction of being the only surviving Real Daughter of the American Revolution in Kentucky, and one of the few and perhaps oldest in the United States.  Mrs. Bennett is 95 years of age and resides in the same place to which she came with her husband, a young bride, over 70 years ago.  Her home is six miles from Smithland, the present county seat of Livingston County, and two and one-half miles from the Tennessee River.  It is a substantial log house in the heart of the woods, and has escaped, in a measure, the ravage of time.

Mrs. Bennett has just been admitted to the D.A.R. Chapter of Paducah.  A telegram from Mrs. Augusta Danforth Greer, register general at Washington, announcing that Mrs. Bennett’s record has been verified and that she was eligible to be enrolled as a Real Daughter of the Revolution, was received by the regent of the Paducah chapter, Mrs. H. S. Wells, where she was at the Kentucky State D.A.R. convention in Louisville recently.  A telegram was read to the convention and created great enthusiasm, as a real daughter was a novelty in Kentucky.  She was elected by the national society October 5.

Mrs. Bennett’s Father

Mrs. Bennett is the daughter of Leonard Stringer, who was born in Georgia in 1760, and entered the revolutionary army at about the age of fifteen.  He drove a provision wagon until he was considered old enough to enter the regular service.  A grant of land for his services was given him by Edward Telfair, captain, governor and commander in chief of Georgia, and is now filed in the secretary of state’s office in Atlanta.  It is dated January 20, 1786, and calls for 287 acres in Washington County, Georgia.

The following certificate is attached to the document:

‘State of Georgia.

‘This is to certify that Leonard Stringer was entitled to serve as a soldier in the battalion of Minute Men raised for the defense of the state, by resolve of the assembly, passed the 3rd day of June, 1777, and that the said Leonard Stringer was not at the time of his enlistment an inhabitant of this state, nor had he resided in any part thereof for six months previous to his enlistment.  And further that he was in the service at the time the said battalion was reduced by a subsequent resolve, March 1, 1778.

‘Given under my hand at Washington this first day of April 1787.

‘Elijah Clarke, Col.’

Leonard Stringer was married three times and Mrs. Bennett is a daughter of his second marriage with Mrs. Dolly Ware Williams, a widow.  She was born in Georgia in 1810, but her earliest recollection is of living with her parents near Nashville, Tennessee.  She says that her father and Andrew Jackson were intimate friends at that time, and she remembers to have frequently seen them riding on horseback together.

Her father moved to Kentucky when she was about 10 years of age.  He settled in Livingston County, and after remaining there a year went to southern Illinois, where his daughter stayed until her marriage, when she returned to Kentucky.  Her husband was Alfred Bennett and he was born in Livingston County in 1808.  He, too, went to Illinois when quite young, but brought his wife to Kentucky a year after their marriage and passed the remainder of his life near his birthplace.  He died about 17 years ago and was buried in an old cemetery near his widow’s home.

Alfred Bennett, husband of Susan Bennett, born Feberuary 7, 1803, died March 3, 1883, aged 80 years, 26 days.

Leonard Stringer was a man of versatility.  Besides being a soldier, he was a doctor, a minister and a school teacher.  Reminisces of him in each capacity survive in the family history.  A pair of scales on which he used to weigh drugs have been preserved.  As a school teacher he had charge of a school in Livingston County and Alfred Bennett, afterwards his daughter’s husband, went to school to him.

He preached in the pulpit of the church John Wesley, the father of Methodism, established in Savannah, Georgia, and got into a controversy with the followers of Wesley on the subject of baptism, Mr. Stringer being an ardent Baptist.

Had a Good Memory

Mrs. Bennett is remarkably well preserved and delights to talk of other days.

We called to see her recently with Mrs. Wells, the regent of the Paducah Chapter D.A.R., who had been instrumental in establishing her eligibility to become a Daughter of the Revolution.

She was propped up in an old four-poster bedstead, which must have been more than 100 years old, in a quaint room in the old log house.  She looked at us in a glazed sort of way but extended her thin ladylike hand and greeted us with great cordiality.  She wore a black lace cap over her scant grey hair and her bright, small black eyes beamed with intelligence and included all around her.  ‘I am always glad to see visitors, ‘she said.  ‘I see so few people these days.’  It took little encouragement to get her to talk of her recollections.  ‘I came to Kentucky,’ she said in answer to a question, ‘when I was but a girl.  ‘I remember driving along the road with my father, when an old darkey asked me where I was going.’

‘“I am going to Kentucky,” I replied.’

‘“Why, you are already in Kaintucky,” he said.

‘“Why,” I said in surprise, “I do not see any cane,” for I thought the state got its name because cane grew here.’

‘Yes, my father was in the revolutionary war.  I often heard him tell about it.  He knew George Washington very well.  He was in prison once, or in a sort of barricade, rather.  The prisoners were not given enough to eat.  Just a morsel of bread and a morsel of meat was given them – just enough to keep them alive.  A lot of parsley grew inside of the prison wall, though, and the prisoners thought of putting it in a pot and cooking it with their bits of meat, like greens.  Then they lived high.  My father learned to like it so much that I had to cook it for him as long as he lived.’

He was in prison when Cornwallis was taken at Yorktown, and Mrs. Bennett tells of a song which the prisoners sung in which every verse ended with the statement that Lord Cornwallis was taken.

‘The English ladies who heard it were very mad and they would say, “Ye lie, my lord is not taken,” but sure enough he was,’ she ended in triumph.

Father Buried In Livingston

Leonard Stringer came to live with his daughter after her marriage, since his last wife was dead.  He died in Livingston County and is buried in the same old cemetery in which others of Mrs. Bennett’s family are laid to rest.  His death occurred in 1843.

Mrs. Bennett can remember distinctly when her stepbrother, Peter Williams, and her half-brother, Joe Stringer, returned from the War of 1812.  She was then five years of age.

She is a very devout church woman and is the only living member of the original ones of Friendship Baptist Church, within a mile of her home, established in 1840, and she and her husband were the first people baptized between Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, at the point where she lives.

‘They tell me,’ said Mrs. Bennett, laughingly, ‘that the reason I have lived so long is because I have been good.  Now,’ she continued, putting her hands up to her face in coy fashion, ‘I guess I will have to get bad to die.’

Interesting Relics

A flax wheel over 100 years old has been preserved in the Bennett household.

‘I have spun many a hank of flax on that wheel,’ Mrs.  Bennett said, ‘woven into cloth and made it into clothes, and things for the house.  It did not wear as well as cotton, though, and we used cotton more. This we spun and wove, too.’

A spoon presented to the National D.A.R. in recognition of her as a real daughter, with a flax wheel and a woman on the handle, and a hank of flax in the bowl, is, therefore, signally appropriate.

She also has a large platter and an old sugar bowl of blue china which are a century or more old.

Mrs. Bennett was perfectly active until 17 years ago, when she had a fall, which injured her hip and she has never since left home.  She stays in bed most of the time, but occasionally walks around her room, and sits in a chair.  She will be 95 next April.

She has three children living, Mrs. Serena Walker, who resides near Benton, Kentucky, aged 61; Mrs. Amanda Moore, living near Princeton, aged 57, and Rowland Bennett of Livingston County, aged 54.  These are the three youngest.

She is the especial charge of two grandsons, whom she has reared, Zed Bennett, of Smithland, superintendent of public instruction of Livingston County, and Bryant Bennett, who lives with his grandmother and takes care of her.  They live alone, except for a housekeeper.

Mrs. Bennett’s parting speech when we left was like a benediction.

‘Be good,’ she said, ‘and do all of the good in the world you can.’

Such has been the rule of Susan Bennett’s long and useful life.  Begun amid the hardships of pioneer days and extending over nearly the entire history of her country, it has been passed in the secluded spot, sunny, sweet and helpful, an inspiration to all who came in contact with it.  And now, its simple duties almost done, it is drawing to a peaceful close, surrounded by the love it has fostered.