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William Benson


Posted By: County Coordinator
Date: 3/10/2009 at 11:20:49

William Benson, whose home is at No 203 West Fifth Street, is one of the leading and influential business men not only of the city of Boone but of the county is closely associated with the development of her coal mines, owning and operating a coal bank near Boonesboro. He is largely self educated as well as a self made man financially, but experience, reading and observation have broadened his knowledge, while untiring energy and unfaltering purpose have gained for him success in the business world. He came to this county in 1877 and with his family located permanently here in 1879.
Mr Benson is a native of Scotland, his birth having occurred near Glasgow, on February 10, 1840, his parents being Peter and Margaretta Benson. His father was also born and reared in Scotland, and removed from Dumfrieshire to Lanark, where he reared his family and there died. The subject of this review spent the days of his childhood and youth in that place. He had but limited school privileges for at a very early age he started out to make his own way in the world, being employed in a coal bank. For a number of years he was connected with coal mining in Scotland and while there residing he chose as a companion and helpmate for the journey of life Miss Margaret Clark, their wedding being celebrated in Scotland, in October, 1860. She also is a native of the land of hills and heather and was there reared to womanhood. Two years after their marriage our subject and his wife came tot eh new world, taking passage on a vessel at Glasgow which was bound for Quebec. The did not tarry long in the Dominion of Canada, however, but made their way to La Salle, Illinois, where Mr Benson secured work as a coal miner, spending the winter there. He then removed to Pennsylvania and was engaged in work in the mines along the Monongahela river. After a few months, however, he returned to Scotland in 1864. The same year he removed to England and obtained employment in the mines of Staffordshire, residing in that portion of the country for two years. However, he had become imbued with a strong liking for the new world and in 1866 he returned with his family to America, locating first in Pennsylvania, near the Eagle coal works on the Monongahela river. He was there employed for a time and afterward removed to center county, Pennsylvania, where he secured a situation in the coal mines. Afterward, however he removed with his family to Middlesex, Pennsylvania, where he was employed for two or three years, during which time he built and occupied a residence there. His next home was in Trumbull county, Ohio, where for a year and a half he was engaged in digging coal. Leaving his family at that place he came to Iowa, settling in Boone county about 1867. He began work at Shepardtown and being pleased with the state and its future prospects he sent for his family and was joined by his wife and children in his new home in 1869. His first purchase of land in this county consisted of a tract of 40 acres on which was a little brick house. There he carried on farming and also worked in the coal mines to some extent. Subsequently he purchased 50 acres of land adjoining the first tract. About 1895 he opened a brick yard and began its operation. It is located on the farm and for four years he engaged in burning brick to the extent of about three or four hundred thousand brick annually. The product of his kilns was of such excellent quality that it found a ready sale on the market and the enterprise contributed in no small degree to his business success. He also added to his farm until it comprised on hundred and forty acres of rich land. He erected thereon a good residence and s substantial barn and other outbuildings for the shelter of the stock and grain. In 1901 he sunk a coal shaft and found a rich vein of a thickness of three feet. Since that time he has been engaged in digging out coal, working about twenty men and doing a good business.
In 1900 Mr Benson erected a pleasant and substantial residence at No 203 West Fifth Street, in Boone and there he now reside with his family. Unto him and his wife have been born several children: One daughter was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, while one daughter was born in Staffordshire, England the others in the United States. Peter was born in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, while Jennie, William and Sadie are native of Mercer county, that state. James is a native of Trumbull county, Ohio, and Robena and Robert were born in this county. Margaret is the wife of James Crow, who owns and operates a coal bank in Boone county. Annie is the wife of George Heeps, who operates a mine near Boonesboro. Jennie is the wife of Al Frazier of Marshalltown, Iowa. Sadie is at home, Robena is the wife of Charles Olson, county recorder of Boone county. Peter is the eldest son. James, William and Peter are connected with their father in the coal business and Robert is still a student.
Politically Mr Benson is a stanch Republican, having voted with the party since he cast his first ballot for General Grant, but he has never sought office, preferring to give his attention to his business interests. For a quarter of a century he has made his home in this county and has witnessed the up building of the town, the introduction of railroads and the addition of all modern equipments to the locality. His efforts in agricultural lines and in other departments of business activity have brought to him creditable success and he is now one of the substantial as well as one of the highly esteemed citizens of Boone.

1902 Boone County History Book


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