The subject of this sketch was born at Wyandotte, Kansas, November 27, 1857. His father, Dr. James E. Bennett (deceased), was a physician and surgeon, graduated of the University of Maryland. He served in the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry throughout the war, after which he was postmaster in Fort Smith, Arkansas, during Grant’s administration. Leo received his education at Rugby Academy, Wilmington, Delaware, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, graduating in medicine at the University of Tennessee in 1883. Between the years 1869 and 1872 he served his apprenticeship in the newspaper business at Fort Smith, Arkansas.
In the fall of 1883 he removed to Eufaula, Creek Nation, where, in addition to the private practice, he was employed as United States examining surgeon for pensions and surgeon of the Missouri Pacific Railway. Dr. Bennett, on account of the illness of his father, returned to Fort Smith in the spring of 1884, and there engaged in practice. In the fall of the same year he was married, at Eufaula, to Louie, youngest daughter of Judge G. W. Stidham, Chief Justice of the Creek Nation. About six weeks afterward his father died, and this event was followed by the death of his mother eight months later. In the spring of 1885 Dr. Bennett located near Eufaula and recommenced practice. Just two years afterward he purchased the material of the Indian Journal and moved it to Eufaula. Selling out in a few months, he bought a new plant and started the Muskogee Phoenix (February, 1888), which he conducted until April, 1889, when he was appointed United States Indian Agent for the Indians of the Union Agency, embracing the five civilized tribes, which position he still holds; and at this writing (October, 1891) has been appointed “Special Disbursing Agent” to make payments to Delaware Indians of nearly a half million of dollars, and for which he gave a bond with sworn security of more than one million and a quarter dollars, filling the bond in less than twenty-four hours.
Agent Bennett owns 1,000 acres of improved farmland in the Creek Nation, besides two eighty-acre farms in Arkansas. He is also owner of good town property in Muskogee, Eufaula and Wagoner; add to this one hundred head of cattle and twenty horses. Agent Bennett is one of the incorporators and a director of the First National Bank of Muskogee, as also of the Adams Hotel Company, of the same town. He has been president of the Muskogee Live Stock Association, representing some 80,000 head of cattle, for three years. He was also President of the Indian National Fair Association in 1888.
At the present time Mr. Bennett is United States Commissioner for the Western District of Arkansas; also treasurer of the Board of United States Examining Surgeons for Pensions, at Muskogee. The subject of our sketch is a member of the Astrea Chapter, No. 14, Order of the Eastern Star. He is serving his third term as Grand Master of Masons of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories, being a member of Muskogee Lodge, No. 28. He is Grand Scribe in Muskogee Chapter, No. 3. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Council, Royal and Select Masters, and Sir Knight Generalissimo in Muskogee Commandery, No. 1; is Past Grand Chancellor and Supreme Representative of the Knights of Pythias of the Indian Territory, and a member of Phoenix Lodge, No. 3 (so named in honor of the newspaper founded by him.). Mr. Bennett has two children, Gertie Ethel, aged six, and Louie Abie, aged four years.
In personal appearance Agent Bennett is tall and rather slight, refined and intellectual looking. His address and bearing indicate refinement and an education above the average. Few men have risen so rapidly or attained so much in such a brief period as Agent Bennett. Not only does he stand high with the present government, but with the people of all races and denominations. He is a gentleman of high moral rectitude and a good Christian.