Bill Bennett’s Anthem to Antrim

Posted on April 23, 2014


No invisible birds in the mist today, although they’re coming soon. For one thing, it’s a beautiful day and you deserve to see some nice blue skies. For another, we have presents – I love presents – and they’re all in black and white. Let’s begin with the blue skies.

No invisible birds today

Now the presents. Every now and then a note arrives from Bill Bennett. He is a descendant of the Bennetts who arrived Around Here in the 1870s and settled along the Townline Road between Banks and Central Lake Townships – the one that came to be known as Bennett Hill Road.* In today’s note Bill enclosed three items.

There was a picture of the Bennett farmhouse taken in 1916. Bill says the house was torn down in the 1980s, but it stood a long time at the top of Bennett Hill, near the Ogletrees and the Wiltses.**

Bennett farmhouse  1916 from Bill Bennett

There was a picture of the Bennett family at the old Wiltse millpond on Ogletree Creek, taken in the 1940s. That very tall man is Bill’s dad, William Arden Bennett. The tiny little woman standing on the dock in high-heeled pumps is his mom, Stella. In between them is sister Sylvia, and w-a-a-a-y in the back (I’ll bet he’s standing in a rowboat) is Bill himself. They visited the pond because Bill’s dad wanted to show them where the Wiltse mill was. That’s where the lumber for the Bennett farmhouse was milled.

William Arden Bennett family - Wiltse Pond 1940s

These are rich memories, and the inspiration for “a bit of poetry” Bill composed. He says it’s his Anthem to Antrim.

Anthem To Antrim - Bill Bennett

Bill hasn’t lived here for many years, but he thinks about Antrim County. His memories are as green as the great white pines.

*Note: The Bennetts most likely bought their land from the Grand Rapids and Indiana Rail Road. (Even before the Homestead Act, Congress passed the the Act of June 3, 1856 granting to the States public lands “to aid in the construction of railroads.”)

**Note 2: Bill’s grandfather and great-uncle Stewart helped to build the Wiltse barn in 1910. The barn burned, but the Wiltses still live there on a Centennial Farm.