Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the Nebraska Territory was inhabited only by roving tribes ofplains Indians. Dense stands of tall, sod forming grasses and scattered woodlands along streamscovered the soil. In the spring of 1850 William Roggenkamp arrived with his family at his 120 acrehomestead claim which, in time, was to become the site of the Village of Bennet.
In 1867, soon after Nebraska became a state, a group of men organized an independent company to builda railroad from Nebraska City to Lincoln. A town was needed in Section 10 near the Little Nemaha River,and in 1871 the railroad entered into negotiations with Roggenkamp for right of way through his land. Heagreed to provide the land necessary, but only if they would plat a town site near his home, north of wherethe tracks were to be laid. The railroad agreed, and the finished plat was filed with the State authoritieson July 29th, 1871. Originally named Bennett's Station for John Bennett, vice president of the line, thelast "t" was mysteriously dropped by 1872, and the town was incorporated October 1, 1881 as Bennet.
Bennet grew quickly, and by 1900 became a stable prosperous agricultural town. It was the social andcommercial center for the farming population in the surrounding area, as well as for its own residents. Ofcourse it must be remembered that at that time Lincoln was about as accessible to residents of Bennet, assay North Platte might be today. At one time Bennet boasted its own telephone company, gas company,hotel and bank. Other businesses filling the business district included a hardware store, grocery store,lumber yard, drug store, blacksmith shop, and funeral parlor. There was also a grain elevator and flourmill in town, and a limestone quarry east of town.
During the 1930's the population declined and the number of businesses dropped significantly. Area farmsbecame bigger, and many of the younger people moved away to the big city in search of employment.Also, as transportation became more reliable and affordable, people began going to other towns for goodsand services.
Today Bennet is best viewed in its regional setting with Lincoln as the focal point. Lincoln is the seat ofcity, county, and state government and has over 90% of the total population of Lancaster County. Itexerts a major influence on the Village in terms of employment, commercial services and public facilities.Bennet must keep abreast of regional issues and opportunities in order to more effectively advocate itsinterests within the regional community.
In the past 25 years, the community has grown largely due to an influx of families who commute to work.The community wide attitude survey of Bennet taken in October, 1992, found that 76% of the residentswork in Lincoln. It must be remembered that, although they work elsewhere, they have chosen to maketheir home in Bennet. Of the people moving to Bennet in the last five years, 44% did so because of thesmall town atmosphere. They like the lower cost of living, cleaner air, good school system and ruralatmosphere.
Many new small businesses have also started in Bennet since 1970. They must compete with the Lincolnmarket where residents do most of their shopping. To survive they must offer needed products orservices at a highly competitive price and must also draw customers from more than the immediateBennet area.
The future of Bennet depends upon the attitude of the people and the community leaders. It will take agroup of hard working local leaders, and a willingness of its citizens to work together, to make Bennet abetter place in which to live.