Biography - Alonzo Benson

ALONZO G. BENSON was born in Bloomfield Township, Johnson County, ILL., in 1853. He is a son of James M. Benson, who was born in Sangamon County, ILL., in 1822, and he was the son of Charles R. Benson and his wife, Polly Riggin, the former of Kentucky, and the latter of Tennessee. They came from Kentucky to Illinois, settling in Sangamon County about 1821. They, however, returned to Kentucky and lived there some eight years, when they again came to Illinois, locating this time in Gallatin County, where they bought wild land and made a permanent home, At this home Mrs. Polly (Riggin) Benson died in 1838, in the prime of life, leaving six children, five sons and one daughter, of whom James M. was the eldest. Charles R. Benson was married again, and by his second wife he had two daughters. He died in Missouri, where he had gone on a hunting excursion, in 1850, aged about sixty years. As stated before, James M. is the eldest of the family. The next eldest is Andrew H., living near Shawneetown, ILL.; next is Ignatius M., of Bloomfield Township; John F., who went to Oregon in 1853 to engage in gold mining, but is now a farmer of that State; Dr. V. S., of Hamilton County; Mary Weber, who died in Gallatin County, ILL.; and Charles B.
The latter volunteered to defend the flag of his country in the year 1862, from Vienna, going out in Company I, One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Infantry. He lost his left arm and was wounded in his side at Guntown. Miss., and died at Annapolis, Md., in 1864, of chronic diarrhoea, contracted in the prison pen at Andersonville. He was confined there many months and soon after his release by exchange he died, at the age of about thirty years. He left a wife and three children. James M., the father of Alonzo G., was a soldier from Johnson County, enlisting in Company K, Sixtieth Illinois Infantry, being elected Orderly-Sergeant of the company at the time of its organization. He was afterward promoted to be First Lieutenant and was most of the time in command of the company, Capt. Goddard being generally in poor health. While he was not wounded yet, he was broken down in health from exposure, and came home after having served one and a-half years.
The wife of James M. Benson, and mother of the subject of this sketch, was Miss Celinda Slack, of Johnson County, and daughter of William and Mary (Phinney) Slack. Mr. and Mrs. Benson were married about 1848 and lived until 1851 in Gallatin County, when they moved to their present home in Bloomfield Township, Johnson County. They have buried nine children, all of whom died either in infancy or early childhood, and also a daughter, Lizzie, who died in January, 1888, in her twenty-eighth year. Those living are as follows: Dr. N. J. Benson, of Anna, ILL., a hospital physician; Maggie., wife of Col. John P. Carson, of Johnson County, a farmer; James M.; and James N., a farmer of Tunnel Hill Township. James M. is now in his seventy-first year and his wife is in her sixty-eighth year. They are in fair health for their age and are living in comfortable circumstances. They have given their children the best education within their power, though they can leave them but little property.
Alonzo G. Benson, beside the education he received in common schools, attended both Ewing and McKendree Colleges, and taught school nine terms, beginning at twenty-one years of age, some of the time teaching eight months per year. He remained at home with his parents until his marriage, April 14, 1878, to Miss Sydney A. Chapman, of Johnson County, and daughter of Daniel C. and Mary (Rose) Chapman. After living a short time in Bloomfield Township they removed to their present home and farm in September, 1878. Here he bought forty acres for $525, and later he added to it, until now he has one hundred and fifteen acres, all choice and tillable land. He built his present fine, large two-story frame house in 1883; it is 18x36 feet in size and has an L 14x24 feet. This house stands on a fine site and commands a view of a beautiful landscape, and is one of the best houses in the county.
Mr. Benson planned and prepared a pleasant home and was properly and justly proud of it, but his hopes of happiness therein were disappointed, as his wife died August 12, 1888, aged but thirty years. Sbe left him four children, two sons and two daughters, viz: Eva A., fourteen years. old; Arthur C., twelve; John S., ten; and Mary C., seven. Of these children their father is justly proud, for they are both intelligent and good. He is keeping them in school in order that they may be well fitted for such duties in life as may fall to them to perform. He carries on general farming, raising wheat and corn, oats and rye. He keeps from six to eight horses and a few cattle, sheep and hogs, and sells a little of all his products except corn. He is a Master Mason and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and his wife was a member of this church too until her death. In politics, Mr. Benson is an unswerving Republican, and has the highest esteem of his neighbors and friends.

Extracted 16 Apr 2002 by Rick Girtman from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 319-320

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