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Ottawa County
1866 - 1966

The following information was obtained from a souvenir booklet that was made for the Bennington Centennial and Fall Festival of 1966. Contained is a brief history of the town of Bennington, Ottawa, KS., along with many family histories of the town. If you have interest in one of the surnames below, please send me a message and I will do a lookup for you. Please limit to one or two names.

History of Bennington

Bennington was laid out as a town in 1878, by Messrs. Daniel Struble and Christ Nelson on equal portions of their adjoining farms located a quarter of a mile west of the store which Mr. George P. Parker established in the winter of 1872-1873. In the early days this was an advantageous location for a trading post as an east-west trail was located near the river.

The town was quite prosperous having attained a population of over 200 in three years. The Solomon Valley Railroad, a branch of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, reached Bennington in 1878. The county had issued $100,00 worth of bonds in aid of the Solomon Valley Railroad.

An excellent iron bridge, costing $4,500.00 spanned the Solomon River south of town. The Markley Brother's flouring and saw mill, run by water-power and costing over $20,000.00, was of great advantage to the young town.

In 1879 the first school was located one half mile south of town where the old slaughter house stood on the east side of old highway 81. Some say that a store and post office operated at this same location. In 1880 a $2,000.00 frame school house was built and was well furnished and well attended.

The Bennington Methodist Church was formed in June, 1871, by Rev. J. Kahler of Abilene, at the home of Daniel Struble, one mile east of Bennington. The class consisted of the families of Captain G. J. Spitzer and W.W. Walker, who was the leader.

The Bennington Presbyterian Church was organized on July 12, 1874, by a committee of Topeka Presbytery consisting of Rev. Henry C. Bradbury and Rev. Duncan Milner.

The Episcopal Church was organized in 1904 and the corner store was laid at the present church site at the corner of Nelson Street and Lexington Street in 1905.

Jerome Ingersoll was the first attorney in Ottawa County and he located in Bennington in 1865.

The first postmaster was S.Z. Boss, appointed in 1864. Levi Boyle was appointed the first rural carrier in 1906 and later E.I. Heywood carried the mail on rural route one and Howard Wessel carried the mail on rural route two. The post office building was destroyed by fire in 1912 and immediately the Bennington State Bank Board of directors erected an addition on the north side of their building for the post office quarters. Thier facilities were occupied until a new building was built on Mail Street in 1961.

Dr. J.K. Osborne opened the first drug store in Bennington in 1879. His second building in Bennington-Mr. Parker's general store building being the first.

Main Street, also known as Nelson Street was paved in 1923. Many years ago Jim Chapman had a general store, including groceries, on the west side of Main Street.

Squires Walters maintained an early day real estate office east of the depot.

There was an early day cemetery on the grounds where the Methodist Church stands and it was later moved to its prsent location.

Bennington had lodge orders including Masonic, I.O.O.F., Woodman and Royal Neighbors and Rebekahs.

The first mayor of the town was O.H. Shepard.

A paper written on the history of Bennington states that Bennington is an Indian name meaning "place of the trees." The same article also states that Mr. Parker gave the town its name after Bennington, Vermont.

Mr. J.S. Boyle opened his real estate and insurance business in 1886 and his first office was above the Shepard's General Store.

B.F. Markley Light and Power Company began operation on July 3, 1913 and supplied Bennington with electricity. The plant was situated near the river where the Markley Grist Mill stood. A 130 horse power water wheel was the source of generating power at the plant.

In 1913 a water system was installed. The water was pumped from a deep well into the tower by a 10 horse power electric motor.

The Bennington State Bank was organized in 1884 with J.H. Nelson, son of Christ Nelson, as president, Wm. Rowe, vice president and E.M.Morris, cashier.

The Farmers State Bank was organized in 1906 with Rudolph Rehberg as president, H.J. Quinn, vice president and A.M. McAdams as cashier.

In 1900, Mr. Mac Shepard began the rural telephone company in Bennington. He started with 75 phones, with the first operator being Miss Ola Shepard. The original switchboard was housed over the O.H.Shepard Store, which was destroyed by fire in 1912.

The Spitzer House, the first hotel in Bennington, was opened for business on June 1, 1883, by Captain G.J. Spitzer. The fire of 1912, broke out in the hotel and all of the buildings on the west side of Main Street burned, with the exception of the Farmers Bank and the J.S. Boyle real estate and insurance office.

In the summer of 1904, Dr. L.M. Hinshaw came to town to serve an internship under Dr. Roberts, who had established practice. Before long his brother, Dr. E.B. Hinshaw of Harveyville, Kansas, who was a dentist, came to town and shared office space with Dr. L.M. Hinshaw. Dr. E.B. Hinshaw was called into the service during World War 1 and after his discharge began practicing in Marysville, Kansas. Dr. E.B. Hinshaw married Louise Markley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Markley of Bennington. Dr. L.M. Hinshaw served in the State Legislature as a Representative for two years.

Dr. Chas. C. Boyle, son of M.C. Boyle of Minneapolis, established his osteopathic practice in Bennington in March, 1919, over the H.A. Elliott Drug Store.

The Bennington Democrat, an early day newspaper, was published by John Hoskins and it too was located on the east side of Main Street. On April 15, 1915, Albert B. Edson came to town and began publication of the Ottawa County Democrat.

The Bennington Concert Band was an early day organization; it was reorganized in 1912 with Mac Shepard as the manager and Chas. E. Dale as leader. This excellent musical organization was recognized as superior to any other similar group in the state. The members included; L.L. Ostrander, E.B. Hinshaw, Chester Quinn, Geo. Kubach, A.M. McAdams, Chas. Rake, Israel Markley, Lewis Dale, Alex Rehberg, Arthur Haley, Don Boardman, Charles Watts, Harley Watts, Carl Schuler, W.H. Garrison, Bentley Nelson, L.M. Hinshaw, Chas. Benedict, Harry Crake, Wil drake, Marchall Heley, Chas. Dale, who was leader, Oliver Benedict, Chas. Houdek and Mac Shepard, who was manager.

Bennington was also the home of Solomon Valley quartet, also known as a "Band of Merry Makers," owing to their excellent work in light comedy as well as their excellent variety of quartet numbers. The quartet was composed of: E.B. Hinshaw, A.N. McAdams, Marshall Haley and Otto Cole.

Before the fire of 1912 the following businesses were located on the east side of Main Street, beginning at the south end and moving north: the hotel, Dr. Crosswaite's Drug Store, a bakery, a restaurant, Eicholtz's Racket Store, Chas. E. Dale Jewelry, Will Straight's Pump Shop, Hoskins Print Shop, and Vineyard's Barber Shop. Across Washington Street, the Leidigh and Havens Lumber Yard and across Main Street the Bennington Bank, J.S. Boyle, real estate and and insurance office, post office, Farmers Bank, Gorsline Variety Store, Ostrander's Implement, O.H. Shepard's General Merchandise, Nina Shepards Hat Shop, W.P. Rose and Will Rake meat market, McConnell's Metal Shop, and Washburn's Hardware. Across Bennington Street and east across Nelson, the Reinhardt's General Store, which did not burn.

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Bennington Family Histories

Andrew Anderson
Baugh Family
Benedict Family
Blaha Family
The Boss Family
Arthur Broom family
The Joseph S. Boyle Family
W.L. Boardman
Carr Family
Chapman Family
The Cherry Family
The Albert Constable Family
Crow Family
The James Collins Family
Dale Family
Dalrymple Family
Eisenhauer Family
The Essig Family
J.J. Fisher
Louis Geissert Family
Haley Family
Hardisty Family
Ed Hare Family
E.I. Heywood
August Hohensee Family
The Lott Family
George A. Miller
Neaderisher Family
Bent Nelson
W.B. Nelson
Alex Rehberg
Carl Frederick William Rehberg
Daniel Rehberg
Slick Family
Jeremiah Watts Family
Horace A. Waite
Wessel Family

Return to Ottawa County

Julie Schossow

Last Updated February 7, 1997

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