Benton Township Now and when Settled

Benton township is bounded on the north by Harrison county, on the east by Salem township, on the south by Marion, and on the west by Gentry county. The territory occupies all of township sixty-one of range twenty-nine, and also sections thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five and thirty-six of township sixty-two, range twenty-nine. It is the fourth township in size and the second in point of population, the census of 1880 giving it 1,875 in number. It was originally a part of Grindstone township, one of the three original townships organized when the county was formed in 1837, and remained a part of that township until September, 1839, when the present township of Benton became Big Creek township as did also about three-fourths of Salem. The south line, however followed the channel of the river to the month of Hog Creek; this left all the portion south of`the river in what was at the same time organized as Jefferson township.

Up to the organization of Big Creek township, Benton had not been honored with an election within its precincts. The elections being held in Grindstone township further south. But when Big Creek was set off in September, an election was ordered to be held October 5, 1839. This election was held at the house of Alexander Liggett, for two justices of the peace, and the judges were Jonathan Liggett, John Githens and Alexander Liggett. H. W. Enyart was one of the judges elected at that time. Big Creek township covered considerable territory, reaching from the Grand River, as above stated, on the south, to the Iowa State line on the north, being about thirty-seven miles north and south, and nine miles east and west on its southern line, spreading somewhat as it reaches northward. The inhabitants were badly scattered and it was a year or two before those in the north part found out where they lived, or that any election had ever been held in that neck of woods.”

The County Court of Daviess county in the year 1840, had a large amount of patriotism, with a pressure of about three thousand pounds to the square inch, and it fairly bubbled up and boiled over at the June term of the court of that year. They did not want Daviess to be known as a backwoods county by any such primitive names, as Clear Creek with its pellucid waters, or Grindstone with its suggestive tendency of sharpening, or Big Creek or Honey Creek with their primitive mingling of largeness and sweetness, none of which gave any signs either of patriotism or of statesmanship. These last were facts of local origin, for one was a pretty big creek, and the other historic for many years, and those years a decade, before this enlightened County Court took its seat. Honey Creek was a regular beehive, and many a wagon load of this toothsome article of the busy bee had been garnered along its flowery banks. But Daviess county was, hereafter, to be named by townships, in honor of the statesmen of the land, and so Big Creek, with its mammoth territory, wealth of timber rolling surface and clear running streams, was to be known as “Benton” township for all future time, and the name of Missouri’s greatest senator will ever be a household word in Daviess county.

There is no township in the county whose people have exhibited more energy and thrift than those of Benton. They had to work to make houses for themselves and families, and while the soil in most parts is rich and fertile, it was a timbered country and it had to be cleared before crops could be raised. Benton township has steadily improved and her population has kept pace with that improvement. In no one thing is she behind her sister townships in all that goes to make an intelligent and prosperous people.

When Settled

Benton township was first settled in 1833. In the spring of that year Benjamin Sampson for the first time trod the soil and proved to be the first white settler who made his home within its limits. He settled on the western side of the township a little over a mile from the Gentry county line, then Clinton county, on the southwest quarter of section seventeen, township sixty-one, of range twenty-nine. He built himself a log cabin and cleared a place for a patch of corn. His neighbors were some miles distant and he played a lone hand against the forest which surrounded him. But Sampson did not bely his name, and he overcome the trees of the forest as his namesake did the Philistines, but he used an ax. He came from good old Tennessee, and his father before him from Virginia, the mother of States and of statesmen.

On the 22d day of November, 1833, Mr. Sampson found a neighbor, and one, as the future proved, worthy to be called such, and a representative of the true pioneer. On the above date H. W. Enyart settled on section eight, on the southeast quarter, something over a mile from Mr. Sampson’s residence. A tent was occupied until the palace of logs was’ erected. The cabin was built upon a plat of rising ground, forty-eight years ago, and today, on that same spot, Mrs. Mary Ann Enyart, the true and noble pioneer wife, still lives, in the seventy-third year of her age. The cabin was built on section nine, and the occupants came from Kentucky.

Then followed, the same winter, Benjamin and Jerry Burns and John McCully, and in the spring of 1834, Charles and Isaac Burns, brothers of the above named, arrived. They settled in the same neighborhood on sections eighteen and twenty. All were neighbors who were within five or six miles of each other. John Githens followed closely, and, he too, came in 1834; all these left the “dark and bloody ground,” Kentucky, where they were reared, and bidding their “old Kentucky home, good-bye,” they started west to grow up with the country. A few others came in on the eastern part of the township, and for awhile immigration ceased.

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