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HISTORY of BENTON, RINGGOLD COUNTY, IOWA

Benton Depot.jpg
CB&Q Depot, Benton, Iowa
Courtesy of digital.lib.uiowa.edu/railraodinan

When the Chicago Great Western Railroad came through the western portion of Ringgold County in 1885, the town of Benton was founded as a rail station. A news clipping proclaimed, "The name of our new town and depot is Benton. It is located in Rice Township, on uncle S[amuel]. IRVIN's land joining the NICHOLSON farm on the south."

Before the arrival of the railroad, Benton was known as the post office Bloomington.

The Chicago Great Western route coming through Benton was known as the Maple Leaf Route.

Benton was located in two townships with Main Street following the boundary line of Rice and Benton Townships. In 1910, the county supervisors created a new township out of the large independent school district which was named Waubonsie Township.

Because there wasn't a village located nearby, Benton enjoyed a boom in its early years and had three business streets. At one time, twenty-two businesses thrived in Benton. Mr. HICKENLOOPER owned and operated a cream and cheese factory across the railroad track. Marion GERMAN bought the HICKENLOOPER factory and converted part of it into an ice house and the other portion as a slaughterhouse. Frank ELLIOT owned and operated a livery barn. The town council building housed two jail cells. Other early Benton businesses included Dr. F. H. LANDIS' office, Benton post office with Mr. GUNTER as postmaster, ESLICK's drug store, L. S. GROVES and Brothers general store, J. R. HAVILAND - a Civil War Veteran - owned and operated a hardware store, Harve CALLIN barbershop, Benton Bank which was run by Mr. EMMERT, BLAUER furniture and clothing store, Frank GLEASON general store, an implement business, BAXTER's lumberyard, Mr. E. C. GAINE's two-story hotel, Odd Fellows Lodge with Mr. FARMER's general store on the ground floor, J. Y. KIMBERLING's barbershop, Claude DINKLE's general store, an opera house which had formerly been the Christian Church, Mr. E. C. GAINES' poultry and produce business, William FERGUSON's blacksmith shop, a stockyard, a brick yard, a lumberyard, a furniture store, and a city park with a bandstand.

Walter COSS conducted the city band. John FERTIG was the conductor of the old-time military band. Harry NELSON managed the Benton Depot which had a night telegraph operator.

There were four churches in Benton: United Brethren, Seventh-Day Adventist, United Methodist, and the Christian Church.

In 1896, Twice-A-Week News noted that Benton, population of 200 residents, had a creamery, and Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Lodge, three churches, and no saloons.

In 1894, the population of Benton was 200. The 2000 census population of Benton was 40.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Lodge, Benton

Benton's I.O.O.F. lodge has eight members and is the last remaining I.O.O.F. Lodge in Ringgold County. The lodge members meet on the 2nd story with Benton's Post Office occupying the ground floor.

Click on thumbnail photo or the link to see an enlarged view of the photograph.
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Benton Bank

Benton Depot

Train No. 1

Benton Railroad
Section Crew

Main Street

south side

1st Millinery Shop

Dalton Garage

Cora Amanda
(OUDERKIRK) DALTON

Benton Hotel

Jack Sprat Food Store

Dick Campell

Main Street

south side

Benton Theatre

Schlapia General Store

Main Street

west side

Band Stand

Frank Gleason's
Furniture Store

Grocery Store
Implement Building
Elisha Gaines' hotel

Benton School

built 1916

Benton Jail

Benton Jail

after 1981 tornado

Benton Jail

October 11, 2009

Benton Post Office
2009

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 02, 1987

The dedication of a memorial bell will ring in the Benton Centennial celebration this Sunday, July 5, in the town of 52 population, located five miles west of Mount Ayr just south of Highway 2. There will be a parade, numerous games and contests, memorabilia, country music and the crowning of a queen. All these events are expected to draw a crowd to the town which remembers a peak population of around 300 persons who gained employment mainly from the Great Western Railroad which ran along the south edge of Benton.

~ ~ ~ ~

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 09, 1987

Cooperating weather swelled the crowd as people from far and near celebrated the centennial of Benton Sunday. A crowd estimated at more than 2,500 people shared the day in the community of 52, taking part in a number of activities during the busy day. Named queen for the celebration from a group of 11 candidates was Kelly GRAHAM. Reigning as princess and prince for the day were Jessica GRAHAM and Larry LANE.

Transciptions by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2012

 

SOURCES:

Benton Centennial book

Ringgold County History, Compiled and written by the Iowa Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Iowa, Sponsored by Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools, Mount Ayr, Iowa. 1942.

AVIT, Mike. Pages and Pictures from the Past . . . Ringgold County Iowa: 1855-2005 Pp. 42-3. Paragon Publications, Inc. Mount Ayr, Iowa. 2009.

Written & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, 2008; updated May of 2010

2009 photographs by Sharon R. Becker


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