Dr. Elhanan “Chet” Winchester Bennett was born March 31, 1823, in Rushford, New York. He settled in Clintonville in 1855 and was the pioneer dentist. He was also a timber cruiser, hotel keeper, surveyor, justice of the peace, veterinarian, trapper and the region’s dentist.
Dr. Bennett came from a family of farmers. He picked up the art of surveying and people used to say that he knew every section line between Clintonville and Ashland.
He always was the first person to greet new residents and loved to help people. Dr. Bennett served in the Army from 1864 -1865.
In 1878, the railroad, already built to New London, was to be pushed north through Clintonville and on to Ashland. Dr. Bennett helped the construction engineers and surveyors where to build the road. He worked with the railroad seven years and after that he spent 30 years as inspector of track, the last two years as inspector of bridges as well.
He was also elected Justice of the Peace. As justice, he did what perhaps none before him had done, granted a divorce by giving each a quit claim deed. He was also trusted by the community and served as town treasurer of Larrabee Township and its assessor.
“Was it an ox sick; or a horse? Chet was called to doctor it. Was a man sick? Chet again was called and herbs he brewed, and medicines concocted… Even of dentistry he learned a minimum and purchased the elementary tools of the profession. Had a man a toothache? Chet pulled it. Didn’t believe in a man carrying a dead tooth around in his mouth to infect his system. Out it should be and out it came at the end of Chet’s forceps. The forceps you may view even today in the Clintonville museum.”
Photos courtesy Clintonville Historical Museum