The home of James and Nancy Bennett was a simple farmhouse near the Durham Station of the North Carolina Railroad. It was located about half-way between Confederate General Johnston's headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina and Union General Sherman's headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1865, the two officers met at the Bennett farm, where they negotiated the largest surrender of the American Civil War. As a result, approximately 89,000 troops from southern armies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida were paroled.
James Bennett, like most North Carolinians, worked as a yeoman farmer. When the war broke out, Bennett was 55 years of age – too old for compulsory military service. Nonetheless, the Bennetts were affected; James and his wife Nancy had three children, each of whom was touched by the conflict. Their first son, Lorenzo, died of pneumonia in 1862 after enlisting in the 27th North Carolina Infantry. He was still in training. The Bennett's middle child, Eliza Anne, was widowed when her husband Robert Duke passed away in a Confederate hospital. James and Nancy's youngest, Alfonso, also died during the war.
Aside from loss of life, wartime would have been extremely difficult. Southerners like James and Nancy Bennett would have had to deal with the effects of a Union blockade, which made various resources scarce and practically necessitated rationing. The Bennett family faced all of these circumstances alongside friends and neighbors. In this way, their experience was similar to that of many people in North Carolina and the rest of the Confederacy. But the Bennetts were unique in that their home helped to reunite the nation and set the stage for Reconstruction.