Burr Benton
Biography: Burr Benton
from Scott's files...
(Benton: Burr2, Burr1)

Burr Benton

from: A History of Van Buren County Michigan
By Captain O.W. Rowland (1912)



Burr Benton - For a quarter of a century has Mr. Benton been a resident of Van Buren county, Michigan. He is called the "King Raiser of Peaches;" is a progressive citizen and enjoys the respect and esteem of all who know him. Mr. Benton is a native of Berrien county, where he was born April 5, 1857, and he is the fourth in a family of seven children, two of whom were sons and five daughters-the offspring of Burr and Louisa (Juday) Benton. Of this number four are living: Theodore, an agriculturist and member of the Baptist church, is a resident of Oklahoma; Mary Ann, wife of George Vandestyn, is a resident of Keeler township and the mother of four children; Burr is next in order and Louisa is the wife of B. J. Smith, a farmer.

The father was a native of the Green Mountain state his birth having occurred in 1812 and was among the pioneers. At that time there was not a frame building in Niles. He was the first sheriff of the county, being elected in 1832 when only twenty years of age and one of the tax receipts issued by him to a neighbor has been seen by his son Burr. On the land entered from the government by his father Burr Benton, the immediate subject, was born. At that early date deer and wolves were plentiful and life still wore a rather adventurous aspect and even years later these wild creatures were seen, for not so many years ago this part of Michigan was a wilderness. Father Benton was a Jackson Democrat and an enthusiastic Union man and during the Civil war he made speeches and raised troops to put down the rebellion. Among the many public services of this prominent citizen was that of many years as justice of the peace. He owned eighty acres of land and a team or two of oxen were among his faithful servitors. He was a resident of Berrien county for over half a century and in that time witnessed great development and many changes. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and benevolent in his proclivities.

Mrs. Benton, the mother, was a native of Pennsylvania of stanch old Pennsylvanian-German stock. She was born about 1830 and died in 1872 her demise occurring but sixty-two hours after that of her husband. Thus this devoted couple, so happy together in life, were not separated by death. She was but a girl when her parents came from the Keystone state to Berrien county and here practically all her life was spent. Both of these good people are interred in that county where a beautiful stone stands sacred to their memory. They were fine pioneers of the type which so well paved the way for Michigan's present high standing. Father Benton was a great hunter and it is related that one morning before breakfast he killed four deer and in one memorable day he killed five bears. Many and many a time he conversed and mingled with the redmen.

Until the age of twenty-six years, Mr. Benton remained in his native Berrien county. He had the advantage of receiving in his youth a training in the work he meant to follow and no one could be better fitted for it. He now devotes his energies to agriculture and horticulture and has been eminently successful. When he began life independently he had about two hundred and fifty dollars in cash and that was the nucleus of his present prosperity.

Mr. Benton has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Luella M. Dempsey and their only child was Martha L. She is now the wife of A. A. Burbank, of Whiting, Indiana. Mr. Burbank was in San Francisco at the time of the earthquake. They have a small son, Cecil J. On June 8, 1878, Mr. Benton was a second time married, the lady to become his wife being Miss Martha Henderson. To this union have been born three children, a son and two daughters. The son, John F. Benton, is deceased. His lamentable demise occurred March 1, 1906, when only about twenty-two years of age. He had been educated in the public schools, was an excellent musician and had adopted agriculture as his own life work. Zelma A. is the wife of O. H. Mathayer, a resident of the vicinity of Sister Lakes and their three children are Elsie, Fae and Claire. Lousia B. is the wife of John Harrold, a farmer, and their two children are Beatrice and John Burr.

Mrs. Benton is a native of Marion county, Ohio, and was born November 3, 1856. She is the eldest of seven children, five of whom are sons and two daughters, born to Joseph R. and Sarah (Long) Henderson, more detailed mention of whom is given in the biographical record of P. H. Henderson (Mrs. Benton's brother) given on other pages of this work. Mrs. Benton was a little girl of eight when she came with her parents to Michigan and here she was reared and educated. When she and her husband began life it was on the Benton homestead in Berrien county, a partially improved farm of eighty acres. There they resided five years and cleared twenty-five acres, which they sold and then came to Keeler township, where they purchased forty acres. As Mr. Benton's capital at that time consisted of only about $800, he was forced to go partly in debt. A part of the property was a blind team, but he managed very well. As he was able he added to his property from time to time and now is one of the prosperous agriculturists in this locality. In the early days he raised garden truck and disposed of much by peddling. All the fine improvements which his farm now boasts were brought about by him, with the aid of his estimable wife, even the trees being set out by them. In February 1907, they purchased their present excellent place of one hundred acres, which property was in a deplorable state when they took it. They have expended upon it much thought and honest toil and money. It is largely devoted to fruit and is one of the best fruit farms in the township. There are no less than one hundred and seventy-five apple trees and sixteen hundred peach trees, twelve hundred and fifty of which are bearing trees. The varieties represented in the latter are the Champion, the New Prolific, the Kalamazoo, the English Mammoth, the Alberta Gold Drop, the Lemon Tree, the Bismarck, and the Salloway. It is the general opinion that Mr. Benton is the most skilled peach grower in all Van Buren county. He is a born horticulturist. Mr. and Mrs. Benton have surely prospered, for whereas they began without practically any capital, they today, in 1912, have not a dollar's indebtedness against their fine farm and pretty home. This estate had been rented for years and had run sadly to waste, fences being down and buildings dilapidated. It is now neat, well-kept, and well improved. In addition to their property, they have money in the bank and their children are now in pleasant homes of their own. No small amount of credit is due to the faithful aid of the noble wife and mother.

Mr. Benton is a Republican in his political sentiment and cast his first vote for James A. Garfield, the martyred president. Fraternally his is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Keeler, and Mrs. Benton belongs to Rebekahs. Both Mr. Benton and his wife are generally respected and it is well that the record of their lives be preserved in this History of Van Buren County, Michigan.

Notes: Mention is made above about a biographical record of Martha Henderson's brother P.H. Henderson in the same book. Port H. Henderson's wife was Burr Benton's sister Jessie Benton.

08 May 2001