AUTHOR OF“SWEET BYE AND BYE” [sic] WAS LAKE COUNTYMAN
Sanford FillmoreBennett was close friend of W. L. Farmer,
POEMS PUBLISHED HERE
Poetry andsong writing had its [sic] drawbacks in the early days, and Sanford FillmoreBennett, Pioneer of Lake county, and educated at the Waukegan Academy, authorof “The Sweet Bye and Bye” [sic] the strains of which have been echoed aroundthe world, was greatly pleased whenever an editor even published his verse, formost of which he never was paid a cent.
Mr.Bennett, who was born in Eden, N. Y., in 1836, was a close friend of William L.Farmer, assistant postmaster of Waukegan, and inletters written to the Waukegan man severalyears before his death, which occurred at Richmond,Ill., June 12, 1898, frequentlyreferred to his lack of funds.
“The Pioneers” a remarkable poem of great length, written by himcenters around Lake and McHenry life in theearly days, when the log cabin was a familiar sight. Mr. Farmer has an autographed copy of thispoem published in book form many years ago and went through several editions.
Lewis O.Brockway, recorder of deeds and circuit clerk of Lakecounty, heard “The Sweet Bye and Bye” [sic] sung forthe first time in public.
Mr.Bennett’s family lived at Lake a [sic] Sunday school picnic on the lawn of theBennett home in the late sixties” [sic] and at about that time it was announcedthat Jay Bennett, a brother and his wife would sing “Santy’s”new song and that it had never been sung in public. In those early [sic] Mr. Brockway recalls Lake and McHenry ocuntwo [sic]appeared like one immense lawn in summertime, thousands of cattle and otherlivestock keeping the grass cropped every where, with the exception of thesloughs, where it was too tough. Onecould gather enough prairie chicken eggs any time for breakfast in the springof the year.
Mr.Bennett’s early efforts were published in the Waukegan Gazette, when Nathan C.Geer, whose criticism was feared by the mild mannered poet, who found, however,a sympathetic soul in the foreman of the printing shop and thus brought thepoems to the publisher’s attention.
Mr. Bennettsettled in Elk Horn, Wis.,in 1860 and became editor of “The Independent”. Resigning this place he entered the 40th Wisconsin Volunteersand served with them throughout the war. In 1867 he aided J. P. Webster, the composer, in preparing “The SignetRing”, a Sunday school hymn book to which he contributed about 100 poems. The “Sweet Bye and Bye” [sic] was one of thefirst of these.
[Retrieved and transcribed by NanciHeadley Kotowski from
The Waukegan Daily Sunof January 13, 1922, Waukegan,IL.]