Monday, August 4, 2008

The Life and Times of Dr. Benjamin David Hennington

Dr. Benjamin David Hennington, was born 21 January 1843 in Copiah County, Mississippi. He is my 1st cousin, three times removed. He was the son of Rev. Henry Hennington and Susannah Nesom.

Benjamin spent his youth in Copiah County, living with his family in the old Henry Hennington house, still standing today on Didlake Road near Crystal Springs, Mississippi.

During the Civil War, Benjamin served in the 16th MS Infantry Co. C as a Private and 2nd Lt. Serving in the same company was his future brother-in-law William H. Catchings, as well as several cousins from the Slay, Funchess and Weathersby families. H served with Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and was with him when he was gravely wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia in May, 1863.

Before the war's close, he was discharged and returned to Copiah County, Mississippi. He married Mary Narcissus Catchings on 11 August 1864 in the same county. Mary was the daughter of John Noel Catchings and Emma Angeline Smith.

In 1866 he graduated from the New Orleans School of Medicine, and returned to his family in Mississippi to set up general family practice. They soon moved to Lawrence County, and as stated in the Leader newspaper in Brookhaven, Mississippi, "he was a dedicated doctor and well trained in the practice of medicine. The weather was never too cold or too rainy, the roads were never too rough or slippery for him to get out, if needed he went, he would rise from his sleep and go to a patient at any hour of the night. He road horseback or traveled by buggy and went many miles to the sick. Some families paid him and some could not, but he went to all alike, for he went when and where he was needed. When the Civil War began, he joined the army and was as dedicated to serving his country as he was at practicing medicine."

Legend through the decades, indicates that Dr. Hennington gave the name "Tryus" to the small community where he was practicing medicine. Among several legends, one states that it got its name from a slogan hung over the door of a store owned by Dr. Hennington and Jasper Newton.
The sign said " Try US", which was shortened to "Tryus". Another legend says that Dr. Hennington asked the U.S. Postal Service to give the small community a post office. The postal service thought there weren't enough people there for a post office, and Dr. Hennington said, " try us", and they indeed got their post office and the name "Tryus." It was during this time, the Dr. served as the Postmaster from December 1893 until 1908. Tryus is still a small rural community near Sontag, Oma, Brackett and Wanill, Mississippi.

Benjamin and his family were of the Methodist faith, and attended the Bahala Chapel, built in 1868. The original building still stands today and services are held twice per year, and is owned by the Bahala Chapel Cemetery Association. The church has never had electricity and the original pews and altar remain. Bahala Chapel is located in a secluded place near Bahala Creek between Sontag and Oma.

Benjamin and his wife Mary, had eight children, all born in Mississippi. Their children included; Frank W., Emma Frances, Annie, Henry Livingston, Lucius Lamar, Rosa, Beatrice and Benjamin David Hennington Jr.

On 16 May 1925, Benjamin died at Oma in Lawrence County. Six months later, his wife Mary passed away. The semi-weekly Leader (pg. 4) Brookhaven, Mississippi, 27 May 1925 published his obituary as; "Dr. B.D. Hennington, one of the landmarks of Lawrence County, died at Oma.

Funeral services were conducted by Rev. J.H. Moore, Pastor of the Monticello Methodist Church at the Old Bahala Chapel. In his active years, Dr. Hennington was a man of great influence and large possessions."

The Lawrence County Press (pg. 4) May 21, 1925 edition stated; "Lawrence County loses another good citizen and it's landmark in the passing of B.D. Hennington of Oma, whose death occurred last Sunday. He was buried Sunday afternoon at three o'clock at Old Bahala Chapel, the funeral service being conducted by Rev. J.H.Moore, pastor of the Monticello Methodist Church, who was also pastor of the deceased. Dr. Hennington had been partially paralyzed for a number of years, by reason of which he had lived a rather secluded life. At one time, however, he was a man of great activity, wonderful influence, and large possessions. He was an educated man, of striking personality, and highly connected. We had in Dr. Hennington a valued and sincere friend, and his family mourns the loss of one whose place can never be filled. All hearts are sad of his going away."

Dr. Benjamin Hennington is buried in the Bahala Methodist Cemetery, as is his wife Mary, daughters Beatrice, Mary and Eva, sons Henry Livingston and Benjamin David Jr.

Special thanks and appreciation to W.E. "Bill" Farnham for his assistance. Bill is a dedicated member of the Sons of the Confederacy and spent quite a bit of time in the Monticello Public Library, viewing micro film, gathering details from reference books and transcribing the obituaries on this fascinating man. Bill also went out his way to take photographs of Bahala Chapel, Benjamin's tombstone and placed a Confederate flag at his grave. He also graciously took photographs of all the Hennington tombstones nearby. Bill went out of his way to help me, and this proud Daughter of the Confederacy is most grateful! Thanks again Bill!

Tombstone Photo - Dr. Benjamin David Henington & Mary Narcissus Catchings

Tombstone located in the Bahala Methodist Cemetery,
Lawrence County, Mississippi

Benjamin David Hennington
b. 21 Jan 1843 Copiah County, Mississippi
d. 16 May 1925 Oma, Lawrence County, Mississippi
Son of Rev. Henry Hennington & Susannah Nesom

Married to Mary Narcissus Catching 11 Aug. 1864
Copiah County,Mississippi. Mary was the daughter
of John Noel Catchings & Emma Angeline Smith.
Mary was born 23 March 1843 in Crystal Springs,
Copiah County, Mississippi.

Their children were: Frank W., Emma Frances,
Annie, Henry Livingston, Lucius Lamar, Rosa,
Beatrice and Benjamin David Jr.

For a biography of Dr. Benjamin Hennington, please
refer to blog posting of December 10, 2006.

Benjamin & Mary share their tombstone, and several of their children are buried nearby. The family is buried inthe Hennington plot as pictured above.