About a decade ago I helped research the Bennett family using J.H. Beers & Co.’s 1890 book: History of the Counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron, and Potter, Pennsylvania. Here are the references from the McKean County section dealing with the Eldred area. By the way, italics are my explanatory notes.
p. 231 BACKGROUND NOTE: overview of Eldred Township geography & history; includes a note that in August 1878, there were already four oil wells producing in the township.
p. 232 “The Bennett well was shot in March, 1886.”
p. 232 June 1889, Tarbell, Rice & Shafer “have their rig for [oil well] No. 1 on the Bennett farm, near [the] Mitchell Bros.’ No. 1 [oil well]…”
p. 232 BACKGROUND NOTE: 1880 Population of Eldred township (including Eldred village) = 3,243 (1,165 in village).
pp. 236-237 BACKGROUND NOTE: Until February, 1880, the village of Eldred had been named “Allegheny Bridge.” ALSO: The first brick building in Eldred was begun in October 1881 for Joseph and Dornberg. That December the Eldred Banking Co opened an office on the Davison block.
p. 236 “In the fall of 1878 the old Eldred House was rebuilt by Ed. Dolan; the Oil Well Supply Company’s house was completed; the store buildings for A. More, A. Davidson, Dornby, V.P. Carter Hamlin & Co., W.B. Archibald, Speller and others were projected or being built; the E.W. Doane block, Steele’s barn and Methodist church building completed and Ward & Shaner’s machine shop erected. A two story school building marked the days of the oil stampede. Mr. Barden was postmaster and the Eagle and the Express were just established. Drs. Guthrie, Wykoff and Winans had located here; the Wright House, R. Dennis of the Central, Anthony’s Hotel, L.L. Dennis, White, Moore of the Benton House, the Bennett House and J.S. Hicks of the Prohibition House, represented the hotel interests; the plank road to Duke Centre was completed; Attorney Dunlap’s office was opened; Spiller’s cottage and other private houses were finished. The planing mill and factory and the Green & Hooker tank shop were in operation.”
p. 238 Sept. 30, 1881 fire destroyed the Bennett House along with many others, including the United Brethren church building and “Bennett block.” Five acres of the business section of Eldred were burned down that day in one hour and five minutes.
p. 241 “The United Brethren Church was begun in August, 1878, under the supervision of Elder Bennett, who donated the building to the society. It was completed and dedicated February 9, 1879, but destroyed in the great fire of 1880, and never rebuilt, the little society worshipping in the Methodist and Baptist houses. Elder Bennett received $1,000 insurance and sold the lot to the Opera House company.”
p. 241 BACKGROUND NOTE: In United Brethren polity at this time, a candidate for pastoral ministry was first licensed, then upon completion of a reading program, with time served under supervision was ordained a deacon. Then with a period of probation involving more study and time served under supervision, the pastor could be ordained as an elder. An ordained elder was the highest ordination the church offered. So Elder Bennett is another way of saying Pastor Bennett. By the way, the pastor was Truman S. Bennett whose oil well is referenced on page 232. He bought a considerable amount of land in the village of Eldred, built the United brethren Church and then donated it to the congregation. Still today, there is a Bennett Street in Eldred named for him.
pp. 486-487 Biography of Truman S. Bennett, Eldred. (which will be highlighted in a later blog post).