Biography of Sidney S. Benton

SIDNEY S. BENTON. – This pioneer of Illinois, California and Washington is one of those facile, multiplex characters that give to our Western life its buoyancy. He was born in the first-named State in 1838, while Chicago was yet in her swamps, and his father was at that city in 1831, when it was a mere Indian trading post, and also at Galena, the home of the Grants, in 1832. His father came out to California with ox-teams amid Indians, and over the usual sage-brush plains, and the iron-stone rocks in 1849. He mined on Feather river in Yuba county, and in 1852 went to Siskiyou county, where he followed mining and merchandising. Sidney arrived in 1856 via Panama at Yreka, and mined near that city and in Scott’s valley until 1861. In that year he went to Nevada, working on the Comstock; for six years he was underground foreman of the Savage mine, making money and losing it.

In Siskiyou county and Surprise valley, and at Dixon in Solano county, California, he engaged again in business. At the latter place, in 1863, he met an old acquaintance from Wisconsin, Miss Mattie E. Bowmer. She and her brother had come the year before from the East in the company which had been attacked on the Upper Snake river by Indians, who killed twenty-eight of the party. Some fifteen years after his marriage to this lady, Mr. Benton came to Walla Walla with his wife, where he began stock-raising. He has prospered greatly, picking up interests at various points throughout the territory. At Farmington he, with a partner, owns twenty-two acres of land, which have been plotted and added to the town. It forms an addition which has been named Grover, after ex-President Cleveland, and lies on the Idaho side of the territorial boundary, which runs next the city. Farmington, being the first agricultural region reached from the mines, is sure to prosper. At Medical Lake Mr. Benton owns a portion of the townsite, and also has city property in Tacoma. His first venture in the Coeur d’Alene mines ended in a disastrous snow blockade at the place where Wardner now stands, but he now has valuable claims at Carbonate Center. He is anchored to real estate at Colfax also.

Mr. Benton’s life on this coast has been peaceful with the exception of a campaign and skirmish during the Modoc war while he was deputy assessor. He is living now at Colfax with his wife and son, advancing the interests of the city and state to the best of his somewhat rare ability.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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