Bennett and his wife, Helen, enjoy the garden at their lovely
twostory home on Tustin Avenue in the late 1800s
Like many of the men who came to Tustin in
its early years, Charles F. Bennett had fought in the Civil War, serving in
the Union Army.
Bennett was attending the Chicago University
when the Civil War broke out and soon enlisted. He was assigned to the
Douglas Brigade and later participated in 32 engagements including the
battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg. He was in charge of the guard at General
Shermanís headquarters during the famous march to the sea. He was slightly
wounded several times and had many narrow escapes.
Bennett was discharged with the rank of first
lieutenant, but his health was greatly impaired by the hardships and
privations he had suffered. After two years his strength was restored and he
taught school in various parts of Illinois in addition to raising stock near
the family farm in LaSalle County for a number of years.
He married Miss Helen Beach, another
Connecticut native, in 1872. After six years in Illinois, they moved to
Nebraska, making the long journey in a prairie schooner. Bennett raised
cattle for a time, then settled at Arapahoe where he ran a hotel as well as
a large merchandising business.
The couple came to California in 1885. They settled at San Diego for a short
time before moving up the coast to Oceanside, where they purchased a 40-acre
hillside farm. During the boom of the 1880s they disposed of their holdings
at a profit and came to Tustin.
Bennett purchased 10 acres on the east side
of Tustin Avenue north of First Street. They built a beautiful home and
developed the land into a citrus orchard. Later he acquired an additional 22
acres in Tustin and Santa Ana as well as a 60-acre ranch at El Toro.
The Bennetts had three sons, Frederick W.,
Charles A., and Harvey F., and a daughter. Pearl Edna, who passed away as a
young girl. Harvey, who was born after the family came to Tustin, attended
Tustin Grammar School and Santa Ana High School. He moved to El Toro in 1911
to take over his fatherís holdings there. The house from this ranch is now
part of El Toroís Heritage Hill Historic Park.
Becoming an authority on irrigation, the
elder Bennett installed one of the few private irrigation systems at El
Toro, taking water from Aliso Creek in addition to putting in a well and
Both Bennett and his wife were active in the
Tustin community. She served two terms on the Tustin Elementary School
District board, 1895-97 and 1901-03. Bennett represented Tustin area in the
California Legislature from 1892 to 1894.
Bennett died at home on Jan. 7, 1921, at age