The Ancestors and Descendants of John Lewis Benson and His Sisters and Brother : A Genealogy and Social History
John Lewis Benson, born in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, was an 8th generation descendant of John Benson, who arrived in America at Plymouth Colony on 11 April 1638 on the ship "Confidence." After being reared in Chautauqua County, New York, John Lewis Benson's father, William, took him to Rock Island County, Illinois, following his daughters who had already made the migration. Shortly after reaching his majority, John Lewis Benson went to "Bleeding Kansas" as part of the wave of Abolitionists who sought to "keep Kansas free," which action reflected the devout Puritan Calvinism of his Benson forebears. He enlisted in the 5th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry two months after the first canon was fired on Fort Sumter, and served until the end of the War of Rebellion, being mustered out on 22 June 1865. He then returned to Kansas where he prospered, married, and fathered 5 children. He lost all his worldly possessions due to drought and the economic collapse following The Panic of 1873, and then moved about Kansas seeking a new start. During this difficult period, his wife died, leaving him a widower with 4 children ages 6 to 11. He soon married a divorcee who brought her 3 children, ages 1 to 3, to the marriage. In his second marriage, John Lewis fathered three more children. After the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma Territory were opened for settlement in 1899, John Lewis and his blended family moved there and share-cropped 40 acres southeast of Guthrie, Oklahoma, which he eventually bought. He died on this farm on 23 March 1906. This book by one of his great-grandsons tells the story of his life, the lives of his five sisters and one brother, and their ancestry back to 16th century Oxfordshire, England.