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The church building pictured this week was torn down in 2008. It was dedicated October 4, 1914 and in its last years served as the location of Jack and Vera Moore’s Christmas parties. There are no churches left in Benton as the Methodist Church was also razed in 2008.
I have in my possession a manuscript written by W. A. Golliday in, apparently, the late 1960s. It depicts the town of Benton circa 1910 and I thought it was the same account that appears in the Benton Centennial Book. But, they are different and I’ll share a little of both.
William Golliday was eight years old when his father died in 1905. William went work delivering newspapers as a youth and eventually had a career with the Chicago Great Western Railway Co.
Dr. Frank Landis, who arrived in 1897, was the town physician but he would move to Mount Ayr in 1925 and I don’t know of any doctors after 1925. Benton had many barbers over the years including: C. T. Gunter, Harve Callen, Mr. Barnes, A. B. Callen, Aaron Fertig, Earl Groves, and Floyd Butler.
In those days Benton had a lumber yard, ice house, slaughter house, post office, drug store, livery barn, jail, city hall, hardware store, hotel, general store, butcher shop, clothing and furniture store, bank, Odd Fellows Hall, grocery store, produce house, blacksmith shop, school, doctor’s office, and restaurant.
The railroad, a main line as opposed to a branch line, was big business. The depot was in service 24-hours a day. Mail and newspapers could arrive at Benton twelve hours ahead of Mount Ayr (Mt. Ayr was on a branch line), so a hack line was established from Mount Ayr to Benton for the purpose of getting mail and newspapers.
Benton’s first two-room schoolhouse was built in 1895 by William Ferguson. The brick high school was built in 1916 and necessitated the formation of Waubonsie Township to accommodate the Benton Independent School District. The Waubonsie Trail, now Highway 2, just north of Benton, was established in 1911. Automobile travel increased greatly about this time.
A railroad section (maintenance) crew operated out of Benton and employed many men, but most of them only part time. Railroad traffic through Benton ceased in 1984, although the depot closed decades before that. The original depot was replaced with a boxcar depot in 1948.