Benton Genealogy

at Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site

The Bentons were originally established in Lincolnshire England. A branch of the family went to South Wales. In 1731, three brothers, Benton, came from Wales to America. They intended to settle on Chesapeake Bay, but contrary winds drove the ship south, and the brothers landed on Albermarle Sound, North Carolina, whence they went to the uplands and settled at Hillsboro, Orange County, N.C. These brothers were Samuel, Abner, and Jesse. The latter never married. Abner married in Wales, Samuel in North Carolina. This sketch has to do with Abner Benton and heirs. To him was born Jesse B. and Catherine. The latter never married, both born in North Carolina U.S.A. Jesse B. Benton was sent to England and educated. On his return from England, he was appointed (by the Crown), Secretary to the Lord Tryon, Governor of the Province. Afterwards an ugly British General in the Revolutionary War, Jesse B. Benton broke with his chief in the War for American Independence, and was an officer in the American Patriot Army. He, Jesse B. Benton, was married during the War for Independence to Ann Gooch, the daughter of a disreputable English officer under Lord Tryon. Her mother was named Hart and was American born, and Ann Gooch always said, "I came from a family of Harts." Her cousin Col. Nathaniel Hart was killed at the "River Raisin", in a battle with British and Indians, during the War of 1812. To the union between Jesse B. Benton and Ann Gooch, there was born Thomas Hart [the Senator], Jesse, Samuel, Nathaniel, Susan, and Catherine Benton. Susan and Catherine never married. In 1793, at the age of 46, Jesse B. Benton died at Hillsboro, N.C.

In 1796, the year Tennessee was admitted to the Union, Jesse B. Benton's widow Ann, with her family, moved to Tennessee, and settled some forty miles south of Nashville, on land provided by her husband during his life. In 1800 Ann Benton's sons Thomas H. and Nathaniel returned to North Carolina and entered the State school at Chapel Hill. Neither of them graduated. Of the four brothers Thomas H., Jesse, Samuel, and Nathaniel, the following facts are worthy of record: Samuel married in 1808, a Miss Grundy, and raised six children all born in Carroll County, West Tennessee. Four of these were boys, Nathaniel, Abner, Thomas H., and Samuel (the latter twins) and Catherine and Sarah. Catherine never married. The elder, Nat, went to California and reared a family. Abner died in youth. Thomas H. settled in Iowa, was a Democrat, was a Colonel and Brig. General in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Was father of Maria Benton, a brilliant woman who married Ben Cable of Illinois and is living. Samuel settled in Holly Springs, Mississippi, reared a family, was twice a Whig Candidate for Congress, was a Confederate Colonel and brevet Brigadier General, was wounded at Resaca, Ga., and died in 1864. Sarah married a Brandt, reared a family and lived and died in St. Louis. Jesse, son of Jesse B. and Ann Benton, married in middle Tennessee, Mary (Polly) Childress, both of whom in old age died near Nashville without children. Thomas Hart, the eldest son was a member of the Tennessee Legislature, a lawyer and a Lieut. Colonel in the War of 1812. An unfortunate break between Generals Jackson, Carroll and Coffee, and Thos. H., Jesse and Nathaniel Benton brothers, resulted in a street duel in Nashville, in September 1813, in which General Jackson and General Carroll were both shot. In 1814 Thos. H. and Nathaniel moved to the Territory of Missouri. Thos. Hart Benton was elected one of the two first United States Senators for Missouri, and served thirty consecutive years, followed by two years in the lower House of Congress. After becoming a Senator he married a daughter of Governor McDowell of Virginia. To this union were born: Sarah, Mary, Jesse Ann, Elizabeth, and Randolph Benton. The latter died in his minority. Sarah married Baron Bolieau, French Minister to the U.S. in the forties, and was the mother of the celebrated artist Philip Bolieau later of New York, now deceased. Mary married a Mr. Jacobs of Jefferson County, Kentucky, an extensive Planter. Jesse Ann married Jon C Fremont, a U.S. Lieutenant of French descent, and afterwards the California Pathfinder, and later in 1856 the first Republican Candidate for President, against James Buchanan, and was not supported by Col. Benton, his father-in-law. Fremont was a Major General U.S.A. in the Civil War. Fremont and Jesse Ann Benton, had born to them John C. (who was a U.S. Naval Captain), and Lilly, who never married but lived to be sixty years old. John C. Jr., died a Captain and has a son John C. now a Captain in the U.S. Navy, and two girls not married. Elizabeth married Commodore Jones, U.S.N. and died in Florence, Italy in 1903.

Nathaniel Benton (our direct ancestor), was born in February 1788, in Hillsboro, Orange County, North Carolina, moved with his mother and family to middle Tennessee in 1796, spent afterwards two years in the North Carolina University and in 1810 married Dorothy Myra Branch, daughter of Governor Branch of North Carolina. To this union were born Nathaniel in 1811, Alfred in 1814, Columbus in 1819, Abner in 1816, Susan in 1822, Thomas Hart in 1825, Rufus in 1829, and Maecenas in 1831. Nathaniel and Alfred were born in middle Tennessee; Abner, Columbus and Susan were born in Jefferson County, Missouri; Thomas Hart, Rufus and Maecenas were born in Dyer County, Tennessee. The elder of this family Nat Benton, spent two years at West Point Military Academy, resigned, and with his mother's family (his father Nat Benton having died in 1833) moved to Texas in October 1835, and settled on the Brazos, near Waco. In February 1836, Nat Benton together with his brother Alfred joined the army of General Sam Houston for the liberation of Texas from Mexican domination. Nat Benton however, accidentally shot himself in the foot, and came near passing away. Alfred Benton and Ben McCulloch were with Houston at San Jacinto and helped in Texas Independence in 1836. Nat Benton in 1837 returned to Tennessee and married Harriet, the sister of Henry and Ben McCulloch. To this union was born Benjamine Eustace Benton. Nat Benton's wife died in 1845. In 1853 Nat Benton and son left Dyersburg, Tennessee and went to Texas. Both he and his son Eustace were in the Texas Rangers, and while so engaged Eustace was badly wounded, losing one eye. Captain Nat Benton married again during the'50s to a Miss Harris and children were born to this marriage, but the family history to which I had access did not state how many children, nor where the second Mrs. Benton died.

Nat Benton was a soldier in the Confederate army attaining the rank of Colonel, and was badly wounded at Port Hudson. He returned to Sequing Texas, and lived there till his death which occurred in 1873. His son Capt. Ben Eustace Benton married during the Civil War on April 15 1863, Miss Margaret C. Walker, daughter of General B.W. Walker, and to this union was born Miss Eulalia Benton now living in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Capt Ben E. Benton died at Pine Bluff, Arkansas June 13 1914.

Alfred Benton, second son of Nat and Dorothy M. Benton, after serving in the war for Texas Independence, died in Texas in 1838. Abner the third son, married Mary Ann Wardlaw of Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tenn., and to this union were born eleven children. Fannie, the eldest, married Tom W. Neal at Dyersburg, had two children. Ella N. Crook, now of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Lillian Simpson, and died in 1880. Alfred lives in Louisville, Ky., Ed at Trenton, Tennessee, Hattie at Memphis, Annie at Dyersburg, Tenn., and Minne at Memphis, others all dead. Columbus Benton died in infancy. Susan married one Boggess, had eleven children, none of whom are living to my knowledge, and she died in June 1885.

Thos H. Benton Jr, son of Nat and Dollie Benton, married Mary Ellen Eason, whose father was Carter T. Eason, and mother Ellen, daughter of Gen. Daniel Morgan who defeated Tarleton at the "Cow Pens". To this union were born Maecenas E., Mary Ellen, Nat (both the latter died in infancy), Jesse Ann, Thomas H. (both of whom died when about grown), Dollie who married Frank E. Miller and had one child named Mary Ruth Miller. Dollie Benton Miller died May 1895. Samuel Abner born in 1863 died in 1894, and Fannie May, who married E.L. Logan and has had two children, Sam Benton and Ernestine. They live in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Maecenas E. Benton, the eldest of this family is a lawyer, born in Obion County, Tennessee, removed to Missouri in 1869. Was two terms State's attorney, one term as State Representative, one term United States Attorney, and five terms a member of Congress. He was married in 1888 to Elizabeth Wise of Waxahachie, Texas and of Kentucky parentage. To whom were born Thomas Hart [the artist], Mary Elizabeth, Nathaniel Wise, and Mildred Benton, all now grown.

Rufus and Maecenas, the youngest of the children of Nat and Dorothy Benton and brothers of Nat, Abner, and Thomas H., died in youth.

This statement covers the direct line from Abner Benton the Englishman who came to America in 1731, down to and including all of the present generation of whom the writer has any knowledge.

Compiled by Maecenas E Benton of Neosho, Missouri from old family records, from Dorothy Myra Benton's family bible and from his personal knowledge.

Dated July 22, 1915 (signed) ME Benton