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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Alexander Benjamin

The life which this sketch depicts began in Lansingburg, Rensselaer county, N. Y., January 16, 1834, and came to a close on his ranch in Sonoma county, Cal., near Santa Rosa, February 16, 1909. Between these dates is encompassed a record of usefulness and industry begun in the middle west and completed more fully in the Golden state.

Contributions from two sturdy nations blended in the subject of this sketch, his father being the son of English parents, while his mother was of Holland-Dutch extraction. Both were natives of New York state, and the early years of their married life were passed in Rensselaer county, N. Y., in the outskirts of Troy, Lansingburg being a suburb of that city. While Illinois was still in its infancy historically, in 1837 the father took his family to that frontier state, settling near New Salem, in Pike county. There he took up a farm and engaged in its cultivation for many years, besides which he carried on wagon-making and blacksmithing on the farm. In the meantime the son grew to be a sturdy boy and became a pupil in the public school in New Salem. When he was sixteen years old he started across the plains with his father, in 1852, but the father did not reach his destination, his death occurring on the plains. After this bereavement the son resumed the journey alone, finally reaching Jacksonville, Ore., where he spent three years engaged in harness and saddle making. He also engaged in mining with fair success, after which, in 1856, he returned to his home in Illinois. Purchasing the old home farm of his mother, he continued its cultivation for about two years, when, in 1858, he moved to Rockport, Pike county, and for the following fifteen years was engaged in the meat packing business and in merchandising.

In 1872 Mr. Benjamin turned his face once more toward the setting sun, this time with California as the favored location. He came to Sonoma county that same year, but it was not until several years later, in 1877, that he selected and purchased the ranch with which so many years of his life were associated thereafter. This consisted of one hundred and three acres of land in Bennett valley, near Santa Rosa, for which he paid $35 an acre. Wheat and corn constituted his principal crops, while the raising of sheep and cattle proved equally remunerative. Since his death his widow has continued the policy which he had inaugurated, still raising grain extensively, as well as raising a band of sheep.

Before her marriage Mrs. Benjamin was Miss Maria Ducker. She is a native of Missouri, born at Independence Landing, Jackson county, July 15, 1837. Five children were born of this marriage, but of the number only three grew to years of maturity. The eldest of these, William Edward, was born January 25, 1858, in Pike county, Ill.; he is married, and with his wife and two children makes his home with his mother on the homestead ranch, having the care of its management. Eudora Ann was born October 8, 1860, and died at the age of three years. Charles Alexander was born in Illinois October 8, 1852, and died April 24, 1877. On her fatherís side Mrs. Benjamin is of English descent, although he was a native of the south, his birth occurring in Kentucky in 1795. He lived to reach a good old age, passing away at the age of ninety-one years in 1885. The mother was a native of Illinois, born in 1800, and upon the birth of the following century she passed away, in 1900. Mrs. Benjamin came with her parents to the west in 1853, coming overland and making settlement in Jacksonville, Ore., and there she was married to Mr. Benjamin, September 21, 1854. Her parents ultimately came to California and settled in Sonoma county, near Petaluma, making their home there until 1854, when they moved to Rincon valley, near Santa Rosa, and continued there throughout the remainder of their lives.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011