Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, p 580
John BENSLEY, who is engaged in farming in Cherry Valley Township, Winnebago County [IL], was born in PA in Nov 1830, and is a son of Adam and Anna (IMPSON) BENSLEY. His paternal grandfather, Israel BENSLEY, died in middle life, leaving but one child, Adam. The maternal grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier, and died in NY at a ripe old age. Our subject was one of eleven children, three sons and eight daughters, who grew to mature years, and with one exception are all heads of families.
John BENSLEY was the youngest of this family, and at the age of 62 years now has five surviving brothers and sisters. He acquired his education in the district schools, and a the age of 23 went from PA to Cattaraugus, NY. In the autumn of 1855 he left NY and emigrated to Rockford with the hope of bettering his financial condition by removing to the broad prairies of the West. About two years later, on 20 Jul 1857, he was joined in wedlock with Maria DAVIS, daughter of Benjamin DAVIS, who was born in the Mohawk Flats, where later he and his wife began their domestic life. He was a carpenter and builder, and was the builder, owner, and captain of the first line boat on the Erie Canal. To that business he devoted his energies for a number of years, and laid the foundation for his future success. In 1836 he removed with his family to NY, after which he went to Waverly, Tioga County, at which time Mrs. BENSLEY was an infant. They had a family of three children who lived to be grown, two sons and a daughter. They also lost one son, John, who was drowned when a child.
In the spring of 1857 Mr. DAVIS came to Winnebago County, and settled on the west side of the Rock River in Rockford. He engaged in contracting on the construction of the Erie Railroad and gave the site for the depot. He left behind him many evidences of his thrift and enterprise. Many buildings of the city were erected by him, indluding one of the oldest blocks, which bears his name. His death occured in May 1872, and his wife departed this life in 1870, at the age of 69 years. They have one son still living, Angus DAVIS, a resident of Bradford County, PA. Mr. and Mrs. BENSLEY have had two children: Eva, who is yet at home, and Benjamin, who died in infancy.
Mr. BENSLEY has had a varied experience in life, but farming has been his chief occupation , and he now devotes his time and attention to that line of work in Cherry Valley Township, where he owns 80 aacres of land which yield to him a golden tribute. It has been his home since 1889, and is a well improved farm.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.