Asabel & Sarah Bennett

In 1840, Asabel Bennett married Sarah Ann Dilley in Iowa County, Wisconsin. Three children were born to them and the family, along with Sarah Ann’s father, Derial John Dilley, left in the spring of 1849 on a wagon train headed for California.

In 1840 Asabel married Sarah Ann DILLEY in Iowa Co., WI. Three children were born to them in WI, George Bennett b. 1842, Melissa J. b. 9 Oct 1845, and Martha Ann b. 21 Jan 1848. This family, along with Sarah Ann’s father, Derial John DILLEY, left Iowa Co., WI in the spring of 1849 on a wagon train headed for CA.

From the book “CA Wagon Train Lists”, Volume I, by Louis J. Rasmussen, pg. #67 & 68: “On May 29, 1849 a group of CA emigrants left Kanesville, Iowa, to begin the long journey across the plains. This wagon train was known as the ‘Badger Company’ and members of the train were:  Isahel Bennett, D.J. Dillay, and E. Bennett.”

The Badger Company re-organized once again in Salt Lake City, where the decision was made to take the trek as a short cut, ending up by accident in Death Valley.

The book entitled “Death Valley 49’rs” by William Manley is available in larger CA libraries and by interlibrary loan. This book is a journal of the trials and tribulations that this wagon train experienced on the trail. Family oral history stories include Sarah Ann giving the children tallow candles to chew on when the food ran out, the children riding “Old Crump” the faithful oxen in saddlebags fashioned out of the women’s clothing.

There is a monument in Death Valley called “Bennett’s Well” where the party was stranded for a time.

Eventually the party made their way out of Death Valley into the Los Angeles basin. By the 1850 census, they were up in El Dorado Co., CA. Asa was a miner, always looking for the elusive gold strike. In 1857 Sarah Ann (Dilley) Bennett died of consumption. Two more children had been born to the family in CA, John Rogers who was b. 1853 in San Jose, CA, and Ella b. in 1856. After Sarah died, Asa gave baby Ella away to the Scott family of Scott’s Valley, CA, where she was loved and raised by the George E. Scott family.

Asa then became a wanderer of sorts, from mine to mine. Martha and Melissa ended up in the Plaza Church Orphans Home in Los Angeles. The two sons traveled around with Asa, up to Idaho and into Nevada. They even went back into Death Valley at one time to search for the lost mines.

Melissa married Judge Horace C. Rolfe in San Bernardino. She died in April of 1868 at age 23, after giving birth to a son who died at the same time, and is buried with her. One daughter survived, Agnes (Rolfe) LINDLER.

Martha Ann married John F. C. Johnson who was from Denmark. They lived for several years on Catalina Island, raising sheep. They then located in Wilmington, CA, where John became a highly respected Judge.

As far as we know, Asa’s two sons, George and John, never married. John died at Martha’s home in Feb 1904. George’s death has not been located, but it is said to be somewhere in Nevada.

Martha died in Feb. of 1910 in Los Angeles.