Jonas M. or Joseph Bennett was born on February 23, 1844, in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, the son of Cyrus (b. 1809 in Massachusetts) and Dianna (Larnes, b. 1813 in New York).
Cyrus married Deanna Larnes in Washtenaw County, Michigan in 1834 and by 1839 had settled in Kent County; he was still living in Grand Rapids in 1840. By 1850 Cyrus was working as a carpenter and the family was still living in Grand Rapids where Jonas was attending school with three of his older siblings, including a brother George who would also join the 3rd Michigan. Jonas was living in Grand Rapids when he reportedly fell from a building in 1855 and dislocated his elbow.
Jonas eventually moved to Muskegon, Muskegon County probably to work in the growing lumber industry there and by 1860 he was working as a day laborer residing at the Chubb boarding house in Muskegon; he was also listed as living with his family, including his brother George, in Brooks, Newaygo County, where his father worked as a carpenter. Also living with Cyrus and his family was Jonas’ brother-in-law Charles Mills, and his wife Laura (Bennett) and their son Frederick.
Jonas stood 5’7” with blue eyes, black hair and a fair complexion, and was 18 years old and probably still living in Muskegon when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company H on April 5, 1861, along with his older brother George W.; his brother-in-law Charles enlisted in Company E. Jonas was quite probably related to George A. Bennett, who also enlisted in Company H. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers”, was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.)
Jonas was discharged on July 31, 1861, probably at Hunter’s Farm, Virginia, near Alexandria, for a deformed right elbow, injured some six years prior to enlistment. Jonas recalled in 1904 that in the spring of 1855 he fell from a building in Grand Rapids and dislocated his elbow. (In the winter of 1867, he jumped out of a burning building in Newaygo, Newaygo County, and broke his ankle.)
He returned home to Muskegon where he reentered the service under the name of “Joseph W. Bennett,” as Sergeant in Company C, 26th Michigan infantry on August 5, 1862, for 3 years, crediting Muskegon, and was mustered on September 15, 1862, at Jackson, Jackson County. (Jonas claimed in 1904 that he changed his name so he would be allowed to go back into the army, believing he would not be accepted because he had been previously discharged for a disability.)
The 26th infantry was organized at Jackson between September 10 and December 12, 1862, and mustered into service on December 12. The regiment left Michigan for Washington on December 13 and was on provost duty at Alexandria, Virginia until April 20, 1863. It was moved to Fort Richmond, New York City harbor on July 14 where it remained until mid-October when it rejoined the army of the Potomac. It participated in the Mine Run campaign of November -December and various actions around the Rapidan River in February of 1864.
It is unclear if, however, Jonas (or Joseph) e
ver left Michigan with the 26th infantry. He was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps (VRC).
It is possible that Jonas was transferred to the VRC while still in Michigan. In any case, he had returned to Michigan, possibly as a consequence of being transferred to the VRC and was on detached service from February of 1864 through April at the draft rendezvous in Grand Rapids (Camp Lee). When the Grand Rapids draft depot was closed down in the summer of 1864, he was sent to the draft rendezvous at Jackson in July where he remained until he was mustered out on May 31, 1865.
After the war Jonas remained in western Michigan and by 1867 was living in Newaygo, Newaygo County when he broke his ankle jumping from a building to escape a fire. For a time lived in Greenville, Montcalm County.
He was possibly still living in Grand Rapids when he became a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association sometime around 1872 (shortly after the Association was organized).
He married Julia Tubbs in Grand Rapids, in 1866, and they had one child; they were divorced in 1879.
In 1870 he was operating a saloon and living with his wife in Muskegon’s 2nd Ward, Muskegon County.
He married his second wife, one Julia or Juliette Cervier (or Cenvier), in Denver in 1886; they had one child, Leila Grace (b. 1888).
Jonas eventually moved to Leadville, Colorado and engaged in mining. He was living at the rear of 133 W. 9th in Leadville from 1888 to 1890. By the late 1890s he was living in Cripple Creek and Victor, El Paso County, Colorado when he applied for and received pension no. 1,100,153, dated 1897, drawing $6.00 per month by mid-1905. He lived for a time in Texas and Montana, and by 1903-4 he was living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (possibly with George W.).
Jonas died on October 21, 1905, possibly in Oklahoma City and may be buried there.