Benton Family descendants settle in River Falls community in 1891
Published 9:15 am Saturday, December 18, 2021
When the people of Covington County hear the name Benton, many will think of Bill Benton who was the first manager of the South Alabama Regional Airport, a role he ably performed from 1988 to 2007. The airport which is located in Sanford, a community between Andalusia and Opp, provides general aviation traffic for the region. However, Bill Benton came to Andalusia from Louisiana, and this writer was unable to relate him to the local Benton families.
Someone has done extensive research on the local Benton family and has posted family trees on Ancestry.com. While the documentation of the generations is not shown, the lineage is shared here for reference. The genealogy reaches back as early as 1358 with the birth of Nicholas De Baynton in Witts, England. Skipping several generations, one Thomas Benton was born in 1520 in Essex and died there in 1582. He was married in 1554 to Margaret Evget (1535-1596).
Thomas and Margaret Benton had a son named Nicholas Benton who was born in Cambridge England and died in 1630 in London. He was married in 1580 to Jane Pettit (1559-1630). They became the parents of John Benton who was born in 1583 in Essex. John married Joane Terling (1587-1658) and lived until 1653 at which time he died in York, Va.; thus, he became the immigrant ancestor of this family.
John and Joane Benton named a son Francis Benton, and he became the first of three generations to bear that name. Francis Benton I was born in 1638 in Virginia and was married in 1658 to Charity M. Parker (1639-1711), also a native of Virginia. It is reported that they both died in 1711. Their son, Francis Benton II, was born in 1630 in Nansemond, Va., but he died in Craven, N.C. He was married to Martha Cotton who was born and died in the same state as her husband. Their son, Francis Benton III, was born in 1700 in New Kent, Va., and died in 1769 in Dobbs, N.C. He was married in 1720 to Margaret Pipkin (1705-1760).
Francis Benton III changed the pattern of continuing the name by naming a son Hardy Benton Sr. who was born in 1726 in New Kent, Va. He moved to North Carolina where he died in Chowan County. He married Polly Bearden, and they had a son named Hardy Benton Jr. who was born in 1850 in Wilmington, N.C. There is some indication that he might be Andrew Benton who rendered service in the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War. He was married to Sarah Stacking, a native of New Haven, Conn. Hardy Jr. died in 1790 in Wilmington.
Hardy Jr. and Sarah Benton were the parents of a son named Samuel C. Benton who claimed to be of Irish descent. He was born in 1784 and became the ancestor who migrated to Alabama. He was married to Sarah Hyde (1790-1852), daughter of Daniel Hyde (1665-1736), and Sarah Widd (1675-1754), natives of Newton, Mass. He and Sarah became early settlers in Barbour County, Ala., where they resided and reared a large family. The family apparently spent some time in Russell County, Ala., as they made their way south because he appears to have been appointed a postmaster for the office at Fort Mitchell on August 15, 1833.
Samuel C. and Sarah Benton were the parents of the following children: John, b. 1806, d. 1850; Julia Ann Elizabeth, b. 1808; Rebecca, b. 1810, m. ? Crocker; Bethel, b. 1812, d. 1856; Jesse, b. 1814, d. 1866; Mary, b. 1814, d. 1834; Wright, b. 1816, d. 1894; Isaac, b. 1818, d. 1906, m. Sara Lydia “Lettie’ Segars, daughter of Ira Segars, a prosperous farmer in Georgia; Sarah “Sallie,” b. 1823, d. 1904, m. ? Tew; Samuel A., b. 1826, d. 1866, m. 1845 Marina Johnson (1830-1883); Parsada Perry, b. 1826, d. 1871; John W., b. 1830; and Moses.
The lineage of the son named Isaac Benton will be followed from this generation. Although he was born in South Carolina, he spent most of his life in Barbour County, Ala., where he died in 1906. He was married to Sara Lydia “Lettie” Segars, daughter of Ira Segars, a native of Georgia, and a prosperous farmer. Isaac and Lettie both came to Barbour County with their respective parents circa 1823 and were married there where they lived out their lives with Isaac always farming.
Isaac and Lettie Benton were the parents of the following children: Samuel E., b. 1841, d. 1923, m. 1866 Martha Anne Thomas; Julia Ann Elizabeth, b. 1843, d. 1860, m. 1859 William Thomas Helms (1838-1915); James Marion, b. 1846, d. 1864; Susan Jane, b. 1847, d. 1934, m. John Duncan Jay; Mary A., b. 1848-1851, d. 1932; Ira Taylor, b. 1849, d. 1935, m. 1869 Mary E. Lott (1850-1915); Isaac Wright, b. 1855, d. 1935, m. Anna Louisa Carter (1854-1934); Levi Bethel, b. 1857, d. 1936, m. 1880 Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Kilpatrick (1860-1928); John Wesley, b. 1862, d. 1917, m. (1) 1888 Laura E. Brown (2) 1896 Leanna Hamm (1876-1960); William Henry Harrison, b. 1864, d. 1928, m. 1890 Margarette Josephine Duffell; and Daniel Webster, b. 1868, d. 1917, m. 1888 Jeanette “Nettie” Dykes (1871-1909).
Samuel E. Benton was the eldest son of 11 children. He was born in 1841 in Barbour County, but he was the ancestor to bring this family into Covington County. He became a farmer like most of his relatives, but he also became a successful merchant. At the age of 20, he enlisted for service in the Confederate Army in July 1861. He was assigned to Company E, 7th Alabama Infantry Regiment which later became Company D, 50th Regiment. He was captured at Petersburg, but he escaped and returned to his unit and was promoted to Sergeant-Major. Following the war, he returned home and resumed farming with an eye for selecting a wife.
Isaac Benton’s brother, Samuel A. Benton, also served in the Confederate Army as a member of Company B, 57th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He died in 1866, the year after the war ended, so his death may have been related to injuries, etc. from his experiences in battle.
In 1966, Samuel was married to Martha Ann Thomas, daughter of Trust, and Mary Thomas, natives of Conecuh County. Martha Ann was born in 1845 in Barbour and died in 1928 in Covington County. In 1891, Samuel and Martha Ann moved to the River Falls community of Covington County where he established the first store in that community. He was also instrumental in having a post office established, and he was active in civic and political activities. He eventually owned as much as 1500 acres of land in addition to his property in the town. He died in 1923 and was buried in the Fairmount Baptist Church Cemetery in Red Level. He was described as “A very prominent and highly esteemed citizen.”
Samuel and Martha Ann Benton were the parents of the following five children who were all well-educated: Harmon Samuel, b. 1867, d. 1952, m. 1900 Margaret Elizabeth “Madge” Hill (1881-1954); William, b. 1868; Minnie Lee, b. 1869, d. 1905, m. Dr. W.A. McNair; Hattie, b. 1871, d. 1872; and Stella Melvina, b. 1872, d. 1923, m. ? Cooper.
Samuel’s brother, James Marion Benton, who was born in 1846, also volunteered for service in the Confederate Army. He was a Corporal in Co. C, 61st Alabama Infantry Regiment and lost his life in Virginia in 1864.
Samuel’s brother, Levi Bethel Benton, and his wife, Lizzie, settled in River Falls, Covington County, where he was a farmer. They were the parents of the following children: Ora Leona, b. 1881, d. 1966, m. Faris Alva Dawkins (1874-1954); John Wesley, b. 1885, d. 1960, m. Mamie Dunn; Ida M., b. 1888, d. 1980, m. Joseph Benson Thompson (1885-1960); and Sarah Lettie, b. 1889, d. 1984, m. William Vern Raley. Most of these families remained in Covington County.
Samuel’s younger brother, William Henry Harrison Benson, who was born in 1864, was married in 1890 to Margarett Josephine Duffell (1873-1937). They settled in Andalusia, Covington County, and were the parents of two children: Travis Glenn, b. 1902, d. 1951 in Andalusia; and Margaret Arvela, b. 1907, d. 2008 in California, m. 1930 in Andalusia, Wayman Rosco Capps (1894-1983).
There is considerable data available on the Benson family, and hopefully, the one who settled mostly in the Opp area will be featured in next week’s column.
The source for this story included Ancestry.com and Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History—1821-1876.
Anyone who finds an error in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.