Biography - M. A. Benham

M. A. BENHAM, fruit and vegetable grower, Cobden, was born in Yates County, N. Y., January 18, 1836, to Ansel and Lucy A. (Willard) Benham. Ansel Benham was born in New York September 8, 1800, but his ancestors were from New England, and still farther back from England. He died April 24, 1857. He was one of a family of nine children, all of whom lived till after the youngest was forty-five years of age; two brothers and one sister now living. He resided in New York till 1839, then moved to Boone County, Ill., where he remained for seven years, then to Knox County, and died there. His occupation most of his life was in the harness business. In 1833, in Elmira, N. Y., he was married to Lucy Willard. She was born in Sterling, Mass., August 26, 1812, to Asa and Lucy Willard. The Willards are of English origin, and this family descended from Maj. Josiah Willard. Mrs. Ansel Benham is still living. To them a son and a daughter were born, both of whom are still living— our subject and his sister, Mrs. Emma L. Henry, of Irvington, Ill. Our subject received most of his education in Galesburg, Ill., in the academy. He entered college three times, but health failed and he had to abandon it. However, he completed a commercial course at the original Bell's Commercial College, Chicago. He learned his father s trade of harness-maker, but that has not been his life work. When twenty-two years of age, he began farming, and continued for six years in Washington County, and, in the fall of 1863, came to this county and rented land for two years. In the spring of 1866, he came to his present farm, and has been here since engaged in raising fruits and vegetables, asparagus and sweet potatoes receiving most of his attention, having about four acres in the former and from twenty to twenty five in the latter. He has a large potato house in which he can store 3,000 bushels. Just after the battle of Bull Run in 1861, he entered the service — Company E, Tenth Missouri — and was Sergeant in the company. Most of his work was scouting, so he was not in any of the heavy engagements. His health was completely wrecked, and the deafness with which he was afflicted before entering the service became worse, and on this account he was discharged after being in the service for about one year. In the spring of 1864, he was married to Mrs. Josephine (Foster) Newton. She was born in Erie County, N. Y., May 10, 1835, to Joseph and Lucinda Foster. Mrs. Benham died November 12, 1881, leaving no children. In politics, Mr. B. is Republican.

Extracted 30 Aug 2019 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V, pages 118-119.

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