1850 - 1922
||Edward or A. E. |
||20 Feb 1850
||Wood River, Madison County, Illinois
||14 Nov 1922
||Wood River, Madison County, Illinois
||Oakwood Cemetery, Madison County, Illinois
- BENBOW, AMOS EDWARD/Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 15, 1922
Formerly Dominant Force in Democratic Party - Founder of Benbow City
Amos Edward Benbow, for years one of Madison county's most familiar figures, died yesterday at 5 p.m. following an illness of three years, at the home of Mrs. Helen B. Messenger, 1406 Washington avenue, where he had made his home. He was 72 years old. Against the malady with which he was stricken three years ago, Mr. Benbow fought one of his typical battles, the kind that had made him a power in politics and business for many years. More than a year ago, he became critically ill, but by his indomitable will survived the crisis. A few weeks ago, however, he suffered a relapse which, it was thought, would hasten the end, and his niece, Mrs. Abie C. Flack, was called from West Carrollton, Ohio, to attend him. The death of Mr. Benbow removes from Madison county one of its familiar characters after a career noted for its picturesqueness. In his youth he displayed that will and ability which later made him a power in the Democratic party in the county and state, and a dominant factor in business. In the old days, when county tickets were nominated at party conventions, Mr. Benbow, or "Judge," as he was known to his intimates, was one of the most prominent members of the Democratic party. He knew politics thoroughly and had the faculty of gathering around him men who would follow his leadership. A large man, towering more than six feet and weighing more than 200 pounds, he was truly a dominant figure. In politics he was an opponent worthy of any man's steel, and those who engaged him in the battle of politics knew, when the fight was over, that they had competed with an adversary who fought so long as there was the slightest chance to win, and fought with every ounce of his energy. It was an unusual trait of the character of Judge Benbow that he rarely carried his political enmities outside the party. Some of his warmest friends were men of opposite political belief, or men he had opposed vigorously in his own party. A son of Richard M. Benbow, he was born in Wood River township on February 20, 1850. He was of distinguished ancestry, a collateral descendant of Admiral John Benbow, many years ago a famous officer of the English navy. Mr. Benbow's paternal grandfather was a life-long resident of England and owned an estate in Riffle [Ribbesford] Worchester, where he conducted the Stafford Bridge Inn. Richard was one of three sons who was being educated by his father for the Episcopal ministry. When started out on his journey for preparatory school, Richard Benbow gave up his intended career and boarded a steamer for America. After working in St. Louis, he settled at Fort Clark on the Illinois River, but later purchased a tract of land near the mouth of Wood River in Madison county. Edward Benbow attended the public schools of his native district, and then attended Shurtleff College for three years. Upon leaving college, he taught school for six years, his first position being at the Hull school. After that he engaged in the real estate business. In 1908 he platted Benbow City of which he was elected mayor. As head of that town, he made his famous fight against the encroachment of Wood River, insisting the place was Benbow City, not Wood River. Several years later he disposed of some of his land to the Standard Oil Co., and Benbow City ceased to exist. Mr. Benbow served two terms as mayor of Upper Alton. Other public offices held included constable, justice of the peace, assessor, collector and deputy sheriff. He represented his district in the Forty-fourth Illinois General Assembly. During President Cleveland's first administration, he was Deputy United States Marshal, for the Southern Illinois district, which included 69 counties. Mr. Benbow was a deep student of history, and was well informed on politics and government. He was a loyal Democrat and a great admirer of former President Wilson. One of his chief regrets was that he has been unable to vote regularly during the past two years. Mr. Benbow had been confined to his room for more than two years. Much of this time he was able to sit up and he read extensively, retaining his knowledge of local and national events. He discussed current topics with his visitors and showed the same vigor in his denunciation of things that displeased him and praise of those he liked. He always spoke of what he termed the certain triumph of the principles of Woodrow Wilson. He followed world events with the same close attention and was interested in the result of negotiations regarding German reparations. Mr. Benbow was a member of the Odd Fellows for 50 years, and several months ago was awarded the Veterans' Jewel by the Upper Alton lodge. The jewel was one of his most cherished possessions. Funeral services at the home of Mrs. Messenger at 2:30 tomorrow will be in charge of the Odd Fellows. Services will be conducted at the Upper Alton Presbyterian church at 3:00, and interment will be in Oakwood cemetery in the Odd Fellows' lot.
As president of the Upper Alton village board, Mr. Benbow is specially remembered for a proposition to give Upper Alton a water works system of which he was the originator. That was about thirty years ago when Upper Alton had no water, light, nor any other conveniences afforded now by public utilities. According to the proposition, Upper Alton was to issue bonds for $50,000 and a complete water works system was to be installed in the town. In those days $50,000 was a big sum, and it looked so big that it staggered the Upper Alton people. The proposition was known at that time as the "Benbow Water Works Scheme," and it was one of the most important questions that had ever been submitted to the people of Upper Alton up to that time. Many prominent people investigated the plan of Benbow, and after studying it from many angles, endorsed it. A great political fight followed, and the water works scheme was fought bitterly by what turned out to be the majority when the election was held while many others fought hard with Benbow to carry the bond issue. It was one of the bitterest fights, politically, Benbow ever experienced. While he lost in his water works fight, he made a fight that was not forgotten and for many years afterward Upper Alton people regretted that Benbow's plan for a water system was not carried out. In 1900, eleven years afterward, the mains of the Alton Water Co. were extended to Upper Alton and water service was given. The bond issue election in the fight to put through Benbow's water works scheme created factions among Upper Alton's voters, the effects of which were felt for years afterward, in fact as long as the village remained a separate corporation from the City of Alton. Years after Benbow went out of office as village president and even was out of politics altogether in Upper Alton, the two factions continued to fight and when any question came up or any individual was running for an office, the two factions took opposite sides in the matter.
||Benbow Family and Allied Lines
||12 Oct 2011 |