Having by long practice and wide experience gained knowledge and skill
in his professional career, Newton J. Benson, M. D., of Goreville,
occupies a position of note among the more successful physicians of
Johnson county, while as a druggist he has established a substantial
business and is closely associated with the advancement of the
mercantile interests of this part of the state. He was born March 6,
1848, in Gallatin county, Illinois, on the farm of his father, James M.
His paternal grandfather, Charles R. Benson, was born in Virginia, a son of Babel Benson, who migrated with his family to Kentucky in the early part of the nineteenth century. In 1821 Charles R. Benson came to Illinois, settling in Sangamon county when the country round about was in its virgin wildness. On account of the prevalence of malaria and other sickness, he soon returned to Kentucky, and was a resident of Logan county until 1831. He then started for Sangamon county, Illinois, with his family, but stopped en route in Gallatin county, where he entered one hundred and sixty acres of land from the Government. Clearing a space in the midst of the deep, wild woods, he erected a log cabin, and there resided until his death, which was caused, in 1848, from exposure incurred while on a hunting expedition.
James M. Benson was born February 6, 1822, in Sangamon county, Illinois, near the present site of the city of Springfield. He spent a few years of his childhood in Logan county, Kentucky, afterwards living on the home farm in Gallatin county until 1851. Moving then to Bloomfield township, Jackson county, he purchased two hundred and forty-eight acres of wild land, and on the farm which he improved lived and labored many years, it being the estate now owned and occupied by James S. Benson. In September, 1861, he enlisted in Company K, Sixtieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under command of Captain William C. Goddard and Colonel Toler, being commissioned first lieutenant of his company. On November 30, 1862, on account of serious illness, he was honorably discharged from the service. While in the army he took part in several skirmishes. He was at Island No. 10, in the Mississippi, from there going with his comrades to Pittsburg Landing, thence to Corinth, Mississippi, and from there marched to Tuscumbia, Alabama, thence to Nashville, Tennessee, traveling on foot all the way and there being discharged. In 1907, having by dint of industry and wise management accumulated a competency, he disposed of his farm, and having given each of his heirs five hundred dollars retained the remainder of his wealth and took up his residence in Goreville.
On April 10, 1845, James M. Benson was united in marriage with Selinda Slack, a daughter of William and Mary (Finney) Slack, natives, respectively, of Kentucky and Virginia. She died April 17, 1900. Four children were born of their union, namely: Newton J., the subject of this brief sketch; Maggie A.; A. G.; and James. Maggie A. became the wife of a Mr. Carson and to them two children were born, as follows: Mrs. Maud Whittenberg, who died in early womanhood, leaving one child, George W. Whittenberg; and Cora, who married a Mr. Nave, and at her death left one child Ellen Nave. A. G. Benson married and has seven children, namely: Mrs. Eva Kuykendall, who has two children; John, who is married and has two children ; Mrs. Mary Hudgens, who has one child, Earl Hudgens; Arthur, the oldest son; Robert; and Charles and Frank, twins. James Benson is married and has two children, Eugene and Daniel.
Growing to manhood on the parental homestead, Newton J. Benson began teaching school when eighteen years old, and five years later, with the money which he had saved from his scant earnings, he bought a farm of forty acres. From 1866 until 1874 he taught school, farmed and studied medicine. In 1873 he sold his land, and with the proceeds entered Rush Medical College, in Chicago, where he studied faithfully for eighteen months. In the spring of 1875 he was graduated from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, with the degree of M. D. Beginning the practice of his profession in Johnson county, Illinois, Dr. Benson was associated for three years with Dr. "W. A. Looney, of Vienna, and the ensuing three years was there in partnership with Dr. George Barton. For nearly a quarter of a century longer the Doctor continued his residence in Vienna, where he built up a good practice, and where, from 1896 until 1907 he was secretary of the County Pension Board. In 1907 he opened a drug store at Nashville, Illinois, and conducted it a year, when, in 1908, he came to Goreville, where he is carrying on a profitable business as a druggist and has a large practice as a physician. He has accumulated a fair share of this world's wealth, owing a farm of twenty-five acres near Goreville, and having in addition valuable residential and business property.
Dr. Benson is a member of the Southern Illinois, the Johnson County, the Illinois State, and the American Medical Societies. He is a man of good executive and professional ability, and from 1890 until 1894 served as assistant superintendent of the Anna Hospital for the Insane. Fraternally he is a member of Vienna Lodge, No. 150, Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons, at Vienna; and of Gethsemane Metropolis Commandery, No. 41, Knights Templars, of Metropolis. Religiously he belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church.
On April 22, 1879, Dr. Benson was united in marriage with Mrs. Emma F. (Beal) Cole, a daughter of Stephen and Eliza Beal, who migrated from Pennsylvania, their native state, to Southern Illinois in 1857 when she was a child of three years. Her first husband, L. W. Cole, left her a widow with one child, Mrs. Margaret A. Keithley, whose husband is connected with the Wheeling Canning Company, at Wheeling, West Virginia. Mrs. Benson is an active and prominent worker in the Order of the Eastern Star, being a member of the Grand Chapter of Illinois, and having served as a delegate from Vienna to the State conferences.
Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 2, page 693.
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