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Biographies of Buchanan County Residents:

Calvin W. BENIGHT

Transcribed by Danielle Thompson

From the History of Buchanan County and the City of St Joseph and Representative Citizens

Calvin W. BENIGHT, one of the old and honored residents of Easton, who has filled the office of justice of the peace since 1880, is a man who is known and esteemed all over Buchanan county, where he was long associated with milling and mercantile life. He was born December 11, 1824, in Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and is a son of Thaddeus and Abigail (WAITE) Benight.

Thaddeus Benight was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, in 1797; his wife was born in Vermont and removed in girlhood with her parents to Ohio, where she was married. About 1829, Thaddeus Benight and wife moved to what is now West Virginia, but in 1846 they returned to Ohio for two years, and in 1848 came to St. Joseph, Missouri. Here he died in October, 1850, survived by his widow for four years. Their seven children were: Sarah L. (Wife of Anderson SMITH), deceased; Calvin W., of this sketch; Mary (wife of Daniel FORCE of St. Joseph), deceased; Samuel D., deceased, who was prominent in Buchanan County, serving on the bench and in other offices; Benjamin W., a farmer living south of St. Joseph; Phoebe G. (Wife of Robert MAUPIN), deceased; and Susie E. (Wife of Robert DARNELL, a farmer of Platte County), deceased. Thaddeus Benight traded his farm in Ohio for a tract of land containing 320 acres in Andrew County, situated northeast of St. Joseph, but did not live long enough to enjoy it. He was a stern supporter of Whig principles, but would never accept political office. For years he was a consistent member of the Missionary Baptist Church.

    Our esteemed subject in boyhood, had the best educational advantages to be secured in the subscription schools of his locality, but these were meager. When his parents came West, he was 24 years of age, and he recalls the long trip, made by water, the journey consuming 17 days. The death of the father greatly changed the family’s plans, and in 1850 he decided to join a party setting out for California. It consisted of 45 people with 19 wagons and 90 head of cattle. It took four months to cross the plains and mountains and many of those who started out well and hopeful grew sick and some died of cholera. Our subject stopped at a point which at that time bore the suggestive name of Hangtown, its present name being Placerville, California. There he worked in the mines for two years and in May, 1852, returned to St. Joseph. After a visit in West Virginia for a few months he returned to settle permanently in Buchanan County.

 In partnership with Norman BUELL, Mr. Benight built a flour and woolen mill, on Blacksnake River, but in the fall of 1855 he sold his interest to J. L. STONER, who bought Mr. Benight’s interest in 1880. For a number of years our subject also conducted a mercantile business at Easton and is probably the oldest continuous resident of the place.

     On May 1, 1856, Mr. Benight was married to Mary L. TALBOT, who was born in Kentucky, and they have had nine children: Thaddeus, a miner of Hillside, Colorado; Julia A., wife of Charles NEIMEYER of Duluth, Minnesota; R. C., a furniture dealer of St. Joseph, ; Maggie L., wife of Dr. J. A. MINOR, of Marion Township; Octa K., a teacher in St. Joseph; Sybil, a teacher in Minnesota; Harry W., a merchant of Denver, Colorado; Robert M., an attendant of the State Hospital for Insane, No. 2, at St. Joseph; and Mable, wife of J. M. BOYER, a resident of Kansas.

     For the past 14 years our subject has impartially dispensed justice in Easton and has done a large amount of legal work. He is a citizen who has been closely identified with the development of Easton and vicinity, owns considerable valuable property here and has many warm personal friends. Politically, he has always the Democratic party. Formerly he was active in the Masonic fraternity. He is a member of the Christian Church.