REV. WILLIAM U. BENEDICT
REV. WILLIAM U. BENEDICT.-- Whatever makes for true and noble manhood and for consecration to duty, in all the relations of life, was represented, in the character of the honored pioneer to whom this brief memoir is dedicated. He kept himself “unspotted from the world,” was significantly free from “envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness,” and as a clergyman, teacher and citizen left a definite impress for good upon the community in which he lived and labored so faithfully. His was the sturdy integrity and unbending righteousness of the Puritan stock from which he was sprung. He was born in Stamford, Fairfield county, Connecticut, in September, 1808, and two years later his parents removed to Cayuga county, New York, in which state he was reared to maturity. In 1829 he was graduated in Williams College, Massachusetts, and in 1832 he completed the prescribed course and was graduated in Auburn Theological Seminary, at Auburn, New York, being duty ordained to the ministry of the Presbyterian church. For ten years thereafter he labored successfully in the work of his high calling, in central New York, and on the 23rd of May, 1843, he took up his residence in Vermontville, Eaton county, Michigan. During the remainder of his life he continued resident of this county, engaged in preaching, teaching, and, for a time, in superintending the operation of a farm. In 1869 Deacon S. S. Church wrote concerning the early schools in the township of Vermontville, and from his article the following pertinent extract is made: “In 1843 the population had so increased that an academical association was organized and materials procured to build an academy to answer the double purpose of academy and church. In the fall of 1844 the upper story was completed, and the Rev. W. U. Benedict, the pastor of the church, taught a school four months, in the winter of 1844-5, in which the higher English branches and also the languages were taught. Mr. Benedict continued to teach for several successive winters. From a "History of the Vermontville colony" is gained the following excerpt: "In 1842 Rev. William U. Benedict became pastor of the church and the first principal of the academy, continuing his preaching and teaching for eight years. to him the children of the pioneer colonists are indebted for their education. He always took a great deal of pride in his scholars in after life. He was an excellent teacher, active and useful in every sphere of life, and as preacher, teacher and citizen he filled every place assigned to him with marked conscientiousness and ability. After he left the pastorate and became a successful farmer he would go on Sunday to Oneida or some other place to hold religious services. Until the close of his mortal life he never rested from his labors. To the academy, where he taught for eight winters, he gave learning, enthusiasm and devotion. More than all others he was the teacher of the children of the pioneers. to the church he brought a high type of Calvinistic theology, in harmony with New England orthodoxy of that time. Without doubt religion and education are more largely indebted to Mr. Benedict, because of his learning and energy, than to any other occupant of the congregational pulpit in Vermontville. Certainly no other man is held in more grateful remembrance by those of the second generation who received most of their schooling under his tuition. His wife, Almira A., was one of the noblest and gentlest of women. It should be stated that his wife's maiden name was Bennett, and that she was born in Massachusetts in January, 1911, and that her death occurred in Vermontville in July, 1890, from which data it will be seen that she was nearly eighty years of age when summoned to the life eternal, having long survived her honored husband, who passed away in October, 1875. Mr. Benedict founded the Presbyterian church in Oneida. He was a man of high intellectual attainments and was a forceful and convincing speaker, his every public utterance bearing the impress of sincerity and earnest conviction, while he was at all times and under all conditions to be marked as humanity's friend. Of his five children four are living. William H., born in 1835, married a daughter of Daniel Barber, one of the original colonists of Vermontville, and he is still a resident of Eaton county; Edwin E., born in 1838, is a resident of the state of Oregon; Sara E., born in 1841, who furnished the data for this memoir, resides in Vermontville, and further mention is to be made concerning her in this article; Anna M., who was born in 1845, is the widow of Rev. Henry Marsh, and resides in Holland, Michigan; Orville E., born in 1851, died at the age of fourteen years, having been a lad of much literary precocity, Sara A., elder of the two daughters, became the wife of Dr. George W. Williams, who was born in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and who was graduated in the Chicago Homoeopathic Medical College. After their marriage he engaged in the practice of his profession in Marshalltown, Iowa, and his death occurred in 1887. He is survived by one daughter, who is now the wife of Dr. A. L. Swinton, of Ontonagon, Michigan. Mrs. Williams has a beautiful home in Vermontville and is prominent in church work and in the best social life of the community. She is an accomplished artist, painting in both oils and water colors, and making art work her profession. she studied under the best artists in Chicago and New York and also prosecuted her art studies four years in leading ateliers in the city of Paris, France.