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Bennet, Sanford Fillmore (21 June 1836–11 June 1898), physician and writer of popular verses and hymn texts, was born in Eden, New York, the son of Robert Bennet and Sally Kent. After spending his early years in New York, Bennet moved with his family to Lake County, Illinois. By the age of eighteen Bennet was teaching school in Wauconda, Illinois. In 1858 he entered the University of Michigan but did not complete a degree there, deciding instead to accept a position as the head of the Richmond, Illinois school district. After his marriage to Gertrude Crosby Johonnatt, Bennet moved to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he became co-owner and editor of the ...

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Crosby, Fanny (24 March 1820–12 February 1915), poet and author of gospel hymn texts, was born Frances Jane Crosby in Putnam County, New York, the daughter of John Crosby and Mercy Crosby, farmers. (Her mother’s maiden name and married name were the same.) At the age of six weeks, she developed an eye infection, for which a man falsely claiming to be a physician prescribed the application of hot poultices; the tragic result was permanent blindness. That same year her father died, and her mother went to work as a maid. Fanny was first sent to live with her grandmother, and later with a Mrs. Hawley, who realized the child’s precociousness and set her to memorizing much of the Bible. Within two years, Fanny had committed the entire Pentateuch (complete with genealogies), most of the poetic books, and the four Gospels to memory....

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Fletcher, Bridget Richardson (23 April 1726–08 June 1770), hymnist and religious poet, was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Zachary and Sarah Richardson. Although little is known about Fletcher’s childhood, her parents were probably farmers, as Middlesex County was largely an agricultural region and Fletcher herself writes in Hymn 2 that she did not spring from a prophet’s line, but “only of an herdsman.” Whether or not Fletcher had any formal education is uncertain. Her ability to read and write should be noted, however, since only 40 percent of women were literate during this period, and schools frequently did not admit female students. On 15 February 1745, she married Timothy Fletcher, Jr., of Westford, Massachusetts, a small community adjoining Chelmsford. She probably lived the rest of her life in this town, as the title page of her volume of hymns indicates that she is “late of Wesford [ ...