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Francis M. Benedict
Born 25 September 1847


Francis M. Benedict is numbered among those who have sought their fortunes through the cultivation of Iowa's rich soil and through their own well directed efforts have won a foremost place among the men of affluence in their section of the state. He was born in Malone, Franklin county, New York, September 25, 1847, a son of Michael Martin and Alathea (Coleman) Benedict, both natives of Williamstown, Vermont. The father, who was born on the 5th of August, 1816, was reared and married in the east. He lost his first wife and was again married ere coming to the middle west, his second union being with Ruby A. Hudson. He arrived in Iowa in 1868, the family home being established in Monticello, Jones county, where the father carried on agricultural pursuits for some time, and as he prospered he engaged to some extent in money loaning. He was identified with the grocery business in the east. With the exception of five years spent in Perryburg the period of his residence in this state was spent in the same house which he erected upon his removal to Monticello. His last days were there spent and his wife still continues to make it her home. By his first marriage he became the father of three children, namely Faber, a farmer of Bethel, Vermont; Francis M., of this review; and Henry M., residing in Los Angeles, California. The second union was blessed with one child, Herbert M., of Cass township, Jones county.
Francis M. Benedict spent the first four years of his life in his native town and then accompanied his parents on their removal to Bicknelville, St. Lawrence county, New York. There he acquired his education in the common schools and spent the intervening years until 1868, his time and energies being devoted mostly to agricultural pursuits. In that year he came west with his father and stepmother, arriving in Monticello, Jones county, on his twenty-first birthday. His parents made the entire journey by train, while Mr. Benedict drove in a horse and buggy from Chicago. During the next ten years, which were mostly passed in Monticello, he engaged as a laborer and in 1878 he located in Cass township, purchasing the farm upon which he now makes his home. At that time it consisted of one hundred and sixty acres located on the northwest quarter of section 1. About three years ago, however, he gave one hundred and twenty acres to his son, for whose use another dwelling has been erected upon the place. Mr. Benedict also owns one hundred and thirty acres in Scotch Grove township and sixteen acres of timberland in Castle Grove township. During his residence here he has continued to devote his time to general agriculture and stock raising, and that he has been successful in his undertakings is indicated by the fact that he now ranks among the well-to-do men of the community in which he resides. His home is considered the finest in Cass township, and his farm is equipped with all the modern and up-to-date improvements that go to make up a model farm of the twentieth century. He not only occupies a high place among the township's leading and representative farmers, but is also well known in financial circles for as he has prospered he has been an extensive money loaner.
On the 9th of April, 1871, Mr. Benedict was united in marriage to Miss Luanna Secrest, a native of Anamosa, Jones county, Iowa, born on the 24th of August, 1852. She is a daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Osborn) Secrest, the former born in Lexington, Kentucky, on the 19th of December, 1816, and the latter in Indiana, January 19, 1819. The father came to this county with his parents when a young man and was here married about 1843. He was numbered among the early settlers of Anamosa, where he conducted the first store, the town at that time being known as Lexington. He was thus engaged for many years and later removed his business to a store about four miles south of the town. He passed away in February, 1871, while his wife still survives and makes her home in Chicago. Their family consisted of seven daughters and one son, of whom Mrs. Benedict is the fifth in order of birth. The others are: Sarah, the wife of H. D. Sherman, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Margaret, the widow of P. Smith, residing in Pueblo, Colorado; Jennie, the widow of C. McGowan, of Chicago; Josephine, the wife of Robert Shields, who makes his home in Santiago, California; Bell, who wedded Nicholas Nellis, a resident of Chicago; Douglas C., who passed away in Dubuque, Iowa, and Ella the deceased wife of Professor F. Gault. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Benedict have been born three children, who are as follows: Winifred, the wife of George Colton, of Colony, Kansas, by whom she has five children; Jessie, who married C. B. Darrow, of Cass township, and has two children; and Royal, who operates the home farm and is also married, having two children.
In his religious faith Mr. Benedict is identified with the Presbyterian church of Castle Grove, in which he has served as an elder for the past three years. He gives stalwart allegiance to the republican party, supporting its men and measures at the polls and doing all in his power to extend its influence in the community. He has never sought nor desired public office, however, as a reward for party fealty, preferring to concentrate his efforts upon his own private business affairs. Preeminently a man of business, as the architect of his own fortune he has built wisely and well and now ranks among the wealthiest residents of Cass township, while his salient characteristics have been such as to make him popular with an extensive number of warm friends.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 360.

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