My Contribution: I was a female businesswoman in Harrisburg after the Civil War, who operated a successful chimney sweep business with my husband. I also belonged to an activist family involved in the Underground Railroad. My mother, Judy Richards, was so influential in our community that an entire neighborhood, “Judytown,” near Third and Mulberry, was named after her. My husband, Reverend Edward “King” Bennett, and I were active participants in the Underground Railroad and assisted fugitive freedom seekers as part of a vast network of allies in Harrisburg based in the Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church.
My Legacy: I was devoted to self-improvement and improvement for those of my race. Through my assistance in the Underground Railroad, many people had new opportunities to live life in freedom.
About Me: Regarding Mary Ann’s husband and home: “‘King” Bennett was also an active agent of the celebrated ‘Underground Railroad,’ and many a poor fugitive was concealed in the houses at Third and Mulberry.” — J. Howard Wert, Harrisburg Patriot, December 23, 1912.
Full Name: Mary Ann (Richards) Bennett
Birth Date: 1798
Death Date: February 17, 1874
Place of Birth: Virginia
Race: Mulatto” (1860 Federal Cen- sus); Black (1870 Federal Census
Places of Residence: Third Street, near Mulberry in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Member of Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church.
Family Members: Mother: Judy Richards. Husband: Reverend Edward “King” Bennett. Children: Grant Bennett, Thomas Bennett, Mary L. Coleman (step-daughter). Brother-in-law: Aaron Bennett. Grandchildren: Charles Smith
Education: No Education listed on federal census records
Occupations: Keeping house. Businesswoman
Church Membership: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church
Activism: : Involved with the operation of the Underground Railroad
Connections: William “Pap” Jones, David Stevens, Joseph Bustill.