One of the foulest crimes committed during those dark days of civil strife was the murder of David Lockwood. He was an old man, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, a Tennesseean by birth and a Missourian by adoption, having removed to this State in 1844. He located on section six, and had a neat, well improved farm. Being an old man he remained neutral in the strife around him, attending to his business and looking after his stock and farm. He lost considerable property at different times taken by roving parties calling themselves militia.

On the morning of the 11th of October, 1864, he and his wife went to the barn to feed and look after the stock. While there some one called from the house and Mrs. Lockwood went back leaving her husband to finish feeding the stock. She found four men had taken possession of the house and had Mr Lockwood’s shot-gun. One of the men asked in a loud and threatening voice for Mr. Lockwood This so alarmed her that she told them he was not at home, but Mr. L. hearing the loud voices started at once for the house. He felt there would be trouble when he saw his gun in the hands of one of the men, but tried to go into the house, as he had a loaded revolver and thought he could defend himself and have a chance for his life, but they intercepted him and with a volley of curses shot him down in his tracks; the man with the gun discharged its load of shot into his face and neck and he fell and expired almost immediately.

The fiendish brutes then left this old man of nearly seventy years of age, and unarmed, weltering in his gore, and his aged wife alone with the dead, taking his gun and other property they could carry off with them.

Nine years after, three of the men, John Dyke, William Reynolds and John Prudence were indicted by the grand jury of Gentry county, for the willful murder of David Lockwood, but friends warned the wretches in time and they fled the country before being arrested. They have never returned. The widow still lives and was seventy-four years of age on the 29th day of October, 1881, and has a vivid remembrance of the terrible crime which made her a widow, and took him from her who had been her loved and loving companion for forty years.

After the civil strife is ended we find little of general interest in the-progress of Benton township. It is increasing in stock, and its yield of grain is larger. Township lines have been changed so often that a comparison of gain cannot be made, as one year her territory was enlarged and the next cut off.

Taxable Wealth

The valuation of real and personal property in 1870 was assessed at $153,945, the same assessment for the town of Pattonsburg gave it a valuation of $4,625. In 1877 its assessed valuation amounted to $233,947. A change was made in the boundaries of the different townships in 1870, and Benton was made six miles square, or the size of a congressional township, and remained that size until August, 1878.

Railroad Fever

In the mean time the railroad fever had taken a severe hold of the people, and they wanted communication with the outside world so bad that they were willing to give $20,000 for the favor. Therefore, on the promise and pledge that the Omaha & Chillicothe Railroad should run through the center of the township, and Pattonsburg be made a station on said line of road, the citizens of Benton township voted, August 30, 1870, $20,000 in stock to said road. Hope ran high, and the people of Benton began to believe in a future of prosperity for their township. With cheap freighting facilities-her immense forests of timber could be utilized and a mine of wealth worked in the interest of the people. The road reached there in 1871, but instead of carrying out the agreement, the road was finished to the banks of the Big Muddy, two miles south of the town of Pattonsburg and only about two miles within the corporate limits of the township, and there it came to a stop for about five years, and, in fact, for a year it ceased to run altogether. This did not in the least prevent the railroad company from demanding of the township the $20,000 subscription, but as the company had failed to carry out its contract or redeem its pledges, the people of Benton declined to pay for what they had not received. The result was a suit, commenced by the company, and defended by the township, which resulted, after being carried up to the Supreme Court of the State, in a verdict for the township. They got a road where they did not want it, but they paid nothing.

Elm Flat

The railroad company ceased work on the banks of the Big Muddy on a low piece of ground thickly covered with elm trees and known as Elm Flat. This movement, of course, destroyed the town of Pattonsburg, for, notwithstanding the low situation, there the company built a station house and freight depot. It was a mean and despicable act, and it was so looked upon by the people, and so far as they were able was resented by them. The business of Pattonsburg was removed to the station, and New Pattonsburg took the place of the old town, and the postoffice took the name of Elm Flat, after the plat of land upon which the new town was built. The old town, with property to the value of five thousand dollars, was destroyed, so that at the date of this writing but two or three houses remain to tell where the old town stood. The new town, however, still retained the name of Pattonsburg.

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