Miss Belle Bennett


Miss Belle Bennett


How many people know that Sue Bennett Memorial College at London, Kentucky, is named for a Madison County lady? Not many, I would guess. It was established in 1892 by Miss Belle Harris Bennett in memory of her sister who had passed away before being able to complete her work in the mountain area.

Miss Belle was born December 3, 1852 about six miles from Richmond on the Lexington Pike. She joined the Providence Church near her home and soon became involved deeply in the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Scarritt Bible and Training School of Kansas City and Nashville and a memorial building was built in Nashville and named for her.

In 1896 she became president of the new Parsonage and Home Missionary Society where she worked for the formation of Wesley Community Houses and Bethlehem Houses. She also led the movement which resulted in the foundation of Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, a school for Negro girls. Upon the request of the pastor, Rev. A.W. Jackson, she taught for three years a bible class every Sunday afternoon at the St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Richmond-the attendance ranging up to 500 people. She lent the church $2000 with no interest and no maturity date.

Along with County School Superintendent H.H. Brock she helped establish the Madison County Colored Chautauqua in 1915, which organization was able to bring George Washington Carver and William E.B. DuBois to the county. Rev. J.W. Cobb was secretary of the group.

In 1910 under a reorganization plan Miss Bennett became president of the Woman's Missionary Council of the Southern Methodist Church. She was the only woman on the joint board of the Northern & Southern Methodists in their mission centenary in 1919-24. She visited Europe in 1919 under the sponsorship of the Methodist Church and in 1916 had received a Doctor of Laws Degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College. Her last fight led to the opening of additional doors to Methodist women in 1918 which resulted in her election as delegate to the General Conference in 1922. She was too ill to attend, however, and on July 21, 1922 Miss Belle died. For those who wish to know more about this peerless leader, of Methodist women, there is an excellent biography of Miss Bennett in the Eastern library.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Miss Belle Bennett,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed August 19, 2018, https://madisonsheritage.omeka.net/items/show/780.