Bessie Rorick Bennett & Willard Otis Waters

The marriage of Miss Bessie Rorick Bennett, daughter of Dr. Rorick Bennett, and Mr. Willard Otis Waters, of Washington, D.C., which took place at the bride’s home Tuesday evening, was celebrated in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends. An improvised altar was arranged in the north end of the parlor under a canopy of southern smilax and northern pine and throughout the house there was an artistic blending of Christmas colors—rich green and bright red.

As the Lohengrin bridal chorus was played, the bride with her mother and attendants entered the parlors. Miss Dorothy Spears [sic] and Mr. Kenneth Spears [sic] carried the satin guest ribbons, the little Misses Sarah Lambert, Alice Louise Porter, Eva Hamilton and Evelyn Keys acted as flower girls. Miss Margaret Louise Milen [sic] of Chicago assisted as ring bearer. Mr. William Hamilton attended the groom as best man and the ushers were Mr. John Willis and Mr. E. Birtsch.

The bride looked very attractive in an exquisite gown of embroidered Lusl-cloth over white satin trimmed with pearls and rare family lace. She carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley. The mother of the bride wore a gown of pearl grey satin veiled with chiffon and trimmed with violet velvet and [unclear] steel heads. The young girls of the bridal party wore white mull gowns with sashes of pink and carried bouquets of pink rosebuds. Mr. and Mrs. Waters left for a short trip and will then proceed to Washington, their future home.

Source: Detroit Free Press, December 31, 1911.


Bennett Lacked Caution

Coroner’s Jury Reports on Death of S.A.D. Pratt

Battle Creek, Mich., August 14.—(Special.)—The coroner’s jury brought in a verdict this afternoon attributing the death of S.A.D. Pratt, of Athens, to chloroform. The verdict also alleges that Dr. C.T. Bennett did not use caution in that he administered chloroform and performed treatment contrary to usual medical custom.

No criminal proceedings are likely, but a damage suit is probable. Pratt died on Bennett’s operating table.

Source: Detroit Free Press, August 15, 1906.

On An Operating Table

Well-Known Athens Man Died Unexpectedly at Battle Creek.

Battle Creek, Mich., August 7.—(Special.)—S.A.D. Pratt, well-to-do resident of Athens, died in Dr. C.T. Bennett’s office today on the operating table.

Pratt came in for treatment and took chloroform. When Dr. Bennett tried to rouse him he showed failing pulse and before a counsel of physicians could be called, as desired, Pratt was dead.

Coroner Bidwell impaneled a jury to investigate. Dr. Bennett says it was a case of heart failure.

Source: Detroit Free Press, August 8, 1906.

Bennett Not Guilty

The trial of Dr. Charles T. Bennett, of Detroit, upon the charge of murder, was finished in superior court at Grand Rapids, Thursday afternoon, when a verdict of not guilty was rendered.  The jury was out but a few minutes.  The doctor was arrested last fall on a charge of causing the death of Alta Richards, a young woman who went to Grand Rapids from Adrian [sic] to be treated.  She called upon the doctor in his room in the Eagle hotel and he administered chloroform himself, with only a chambermaid as an assistant, performing a slight operation.  The woman died under the influence of the drug and it was shown that he had no proper restoratives at hand.  The defense showed on the trial, however, by many medical men, that the doctor could not be blamed.  There were internal conditions of which he could not be expected to know, and which were found only in the post-mortem.  The defense was conducted by William F. McKnight, of Grand Rapids, and Congressman Henry C. Smith, of Adrian.

Source:  Jackson Citizen, April 9, 1900.

Bennett Acquitted

The Detroit Doctor Found Not Guilty of Manslaughter. 

Grand Rapids, Mich., April 6.—Dr. Charles T. Bennett, of Detroit, was acquitted in superior court yesterday.  He made periodical visits to Grand Rapids as a specialist, and last winter Miss Richards died from the effects of chloroform he administered while undergoing treatment in a hotel room which served as an office.  He was arrested, charged with manslaughter.  The defense was conducted by Congressman Henry C. Smith, of Adrian.

Source: Muskegon Chronicle, April 12, 1900.

During An Operation





Doctor Arrested as He Was About to Take a Train for Detroit.

Grand Rapids, Mich., June 24.—(Special.)—Miss E.M. Richards, a domestic whose home is at Middleville, died this afternoon at the Eagle hotel from the effects, it is alleged, of chloroform administered by C.T. Bennett, of Detroit. Dr. Bennett is about 55 years old and has an office at 38 Winder street, Detroit. He says that he is a graduate of the University of Michigan of the class of ’72 and that he is a regular practitioner. For the past eighteen years he has made a regular circuit about the state, making regular visits at Jackson, Coldwater, Adrian, Lapeer, Bay City, Owosso, Iona, Lansing, Marshall and Battle Creek, spending only about half of his time at home. He always made his headquarters in this city at the Eagle hotel. He treated diseases of women as a specialty and advertised extensively. His patients about the state had cards showing just what days in the year he would be at each place. He arrived in this city this morning and had a number of callers. This afternoon about 5 o’clock, just as he was about to pack his grip and leave for home, Miss Richards called. He says he treated her several times before for rectal trouble, once at her home in Middleville and twice in this city. She has been working in Platteville, Wis., since her last visit to him and when she called to-day she complained of feeling worse than ever. He at once decided an operation would be necessary. He had but one little room, a bedroom, in which he received his patients, and Miss Richards was told to lie upon the bed.

Continue reading “During An Operation”

With Murder.

Dr. C.T. Bennett is so Charged.—He is in Jail at Grand Rapids.

Dr. C.T. Bennett, of Detroit, is in custody at Grand Rapids, pending an investigation into the death of Miss E.M. Richards, aged about 27 years, a domestic of Middleville, who died while being operated upon by the doctor at the Eagle hotel at Grand Rapids, Saturday evening.

Dr. Bennett is about 55 years old and has an office and has an office at 38 Winder street, Detroit.  He says he is a graduate of the university of Michigan of the class of ’72, and that he is a regular practitioner.  For years the doctor has made a regular circuit of the state.

He says he had treated Miss Richards several times.  Saturday evening she called on him again and complained of feeling worse than ever.  He decided that a simple operation would be necessary.  He called in a chambermaid for decency’s sake, and then administered chloroform to Miss Richards.  The operation required but a few minutes.  After he finished he turned to remove the cap from the patient’s nose, and as he did so she stopped breathing.  The hotel was a temperance house, and he could get no stimulants for some time.  Meantime he requested that another doctor be called.  When he returned to the room the young woman was dead.

Continue reading “With Murder.”

He Did Not Operate



Autopsy Performed Disclosed That Miss Richards Had Pleurisy—Coroner Luton Will Impanel a Jury and Hold an Inquest This Morning—Doctor Expects to Be Cleared.

A brother and sister of the woman from Middleville who died at the Eagle hotel Saturday while under the effect of chloroform administered by Dr. C.T. Bennett of Detroit, arrived in the city yesterday morning.  The dead woman was a daughter of Edwin Richards, a well-to-farmer of Middleville.  Her given name was Alta.  Saturday night it was supposed the initials of her name were E.M., from papers found in her pocketbook, but the sister who came to the city yesterday explained that her name is Miss Effie M. Richards and that her sister, Alta, who died, happened to have her pocketbook.

The Richards family formerly lived at Hastings and have a home there still. The tragic death of Miss Alta in this city is the first death in the family, which consisted of the father and mother, three sisters and two brothers. Miss Richards arrived at home in Middleville Saturday after a short visit to a sister who lives in the country near there and decided to come to Grand Rapids to meet Dr. Bennett. Her sister Effie wanted to come with her but was unable to do so on Saturday.  She went to the train at 6:30 to meet her sister on her return, but she did not arrive and it was just a short time after that that Dr. Taylor conveyed the new he had received from Coroner Luton that Alta Richards was dead.  There were no more trains coming to Grand Rapids Saturday night and the brother, George B., and sister came on a freight train early yesterday morning. Continue reading “He Did Not Operate”

Blame Laid On Him

Verdict of Coroner’s Jury In Case Of Dr. Bennett.


Wrongfully, Negligently and Unprofessionally Administered—Responsibility for the Death of Alta B. Richards Charged to the Hands of Dr. Bennett.

The coroner’s inquest in the case of Alta B. Richards was concluded yesterday afternoon. The jury retired to a small room adjoining that in which the court was held and was not out much longer than the time it would take to write the verdict when the foreman announced a verdict had been reached. The verdict was this:

“We find that the said Alta B. Richards came to her death on Saturday, June 24, 1899, from the effects of chloroform, wrongfully, negligently and unprofessionally administered by the hands of Dr. Charles T. Bennett at the Eagle hotel, in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, at which time and place she died.”

Continue reading “Blame Laid On Him”

Dr. Bennett In Trouble

A Patient Died During an Operation from the Effects of Chloroform.

Dr. C.T. Bennett of Detroit, who is well known in this city, is under arrest in Grand Rapids and will probably have to answer to the charge of manslaughter. Miss E. Richards, whose home is at Middleville, died Saturday afternoon at the Eagle hotel, Grand Rapids, from the effects, it is alleged, of chloroform administered by Dr. Bennett.

That afternoon just as the doctor was about to pack his grip and leave for home Miss Richards called. He says he treated her several times before for rectal trouble, once at her home in Middleville and twice at Grand Rapids. She has been working in Plattsville, Wis., since her last visit to him and when she called Saturday she complained of feeling worse than ever. He at once decided an operation would be necessary. He had but one little room, a bedroom, in which he received his patients, and Miss Richards was told to lie upon the bed.

The doctor called in one of the chambermaids to assist him and gave the patient chloroform. He says he used no instruments and finished the operation in a few minutes. He was looking after the chloroform at the same time, and says that he had finished the operation when the patient suddenly ceased breathing. He saw at a glance that she was in danger and rushed out to the hotel office and asked the clerk to summon a doctor and bring him some brandy. Dr. D.S. Sinclair was called but when he arrived a few minutes later the woman was dead, and the coroner was notified.

Dr. Bennett had no explanation to make more than to state that he had graduated at Ann Arbor in 1872 and had practiced medicine ever since as a specialist in chronic diseases. He said that the death of his patient was simply a terrible accident and he was ready for an investigation that might be made and did not fear but that he would be exonerated.

The coroner, Dr. Luton, is quoted as saying: “I think this is the greatest outrage I ever heard of. I never knew in all my experience of a physician would attempt to administer the chloroform at the same time and in not taking the precaution to even loosen the woman’s clothing this doctor was certainly negligent. I believe he ought to be prosecuted.

The prosecuting attorney was called to the case and he at once ordered that Dr. Bennett be placed under arrest and held to await an investigation.

The inquest upon the death of Miss Richards, who died at Grand Rapids Saturday after undergoing an operation by Dr. C.T. Bennett was commenced Monday. The chambermaid who was called in to assist the doctor said that the woman’s collar and tie had been taken off, her waist opened, and that she wore no corsets.

This was contradicted a few minutes later, however, by Dr. Sinclair, the physician who was summoned by the clerk of the hotel. He said that when he arrived, the body of the woman was lying upon the bed, and that she wore a shirtwaist tightly buttoned, a standing collar and a white tie, all in place. Her skirt bands had not been loosened, and not a particle of her clothing had been removed. He himself removed her collar and tie and opened her waist. He also found that she not only had her corsets on, but they were tightly laced. After the inquest was adjourned Dr. Bennett was arraigned on a warrant charging him with murder in the first degree. He asked for an examination and it was set for June 29. An application for bail was refused. Dr. Bennett is very well known in this city. He has made regular visits here for the past fifteen years or more and consequently has a large circle of friends and acquaintances who will watch the outcome of his present trouble.

Source: Marshall Expounder, June 30, 1899.