Biography of J. B. Bensyl

J. B. Bensyl. The Bensyl family came to Champaign County in pioneer times, and one of the number is Mr. J. B. Bensyl, now in business at Ogden. His active career has been spent in the county, and he was born in St. Joseph Township May 9, 1855.

He was the fourth in the family of nine children born to Lewis and Mary (Corray) Bensyl. His parents were both born in Ohio, and each was two years old when their respective families came to Illinois. Lewis Bensyl and wife were married in this state, and Lewis Bensyl was long a prominent figure in the life of this county.

J. B. Bensyl grew up at home and attended with his brothers and sisters the Clark school a mile north of Mayview. When not in school he assisted his father on the farm, and at tire age of twenty-two he married Miss Mary Braten. Mrs. Bensyl was born in Urbana Township, daughter of August and Anna (Winkleman) Braten. Her father was a native of Germany and her mother of Switzerland, and they married after coming to America. The Bratens acquired a fine farm in Champaign County. Mr. Braten served as constable in Somer Township and for many years as deputy sheriff at Urbana. Mrs. Bensyl was one of nine children, all of whom were educated in the public schools.

Mr. and Mrs. Bensyl after their marriage located in Urbana, where he took the management of some of the land owned by Mrs. Bensyl’s father. Having the qualities of youth, industry and energy, they were soon making good progress and after farming the Braten estate for ten years they removed to Ogden Township and continued as renters in that section of the county for another twelve years. Their accumulations then enabled them to buy eighty acres of their own north of the town of Ogden, and this became their permanent home in the country. While the land had no improvements, they developed it rapidly, put up good buildings, set out trees, and left it a monument to their effective industry and husbandry.

The following children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bensyl: Lulu, Amanda, Otis, Ora, Verna and Nora. From the first Mr. and Mrs. Bensyl appreciated the value of training and of education and sent their children to the Central School and so far as possible helped them to acquire a liberal education and fit themselves for positions of usefulness in the world. Amanda and Verna and Nora all became successful teachers and did their work in that vocation in Champaign County and also in Vermilion County. The good. they accomplished as teachers during all the years they spent in that vocation can hardly be estimated. Nora Bensyl received her first certificate in 1916 and is engaged to teach the Cottonwood School in Urbana Township for the year 1917-18. Eighteen years ago the daughter Amanda attended the teachers examination at Danville and was awarded her first certificate. Then after teaching one year she was given a first grade certificate. The daughter Verna took the entire course of Brown’s Business College at Urbana, becoming an efficient shorthand operator and also a typist and bookkeeper. The daughter Nora attended the high school at Ogden and later Mrs. Brown’s Normal Training School for Teachers at Homer. She taught the Danforth School in Raymond Township, near Sidney. In addition to her literary studies Miss Nora has been an interested student of music under the direction of Professor C. L. Foster in his musical studio at Champaign. The daughter Amanda married Abner Silkey. Mr. Silkey was principal of the St. Joseph High School two years, and principal of the high school at Ogden two years. He is now a well known business man of Urbana, being cashier of the First Trust & Savings Bank. Mr and Mrs. Silkey have two children, Harriet and Mary.

The Bensyl family have not been spared the visitations of death, and on December 2, 1916, the beloved son Otis passed away. He was a young man of much ability and had acquired a large circle of devoted friends. He married Ruth Hool.

The son Ora is successfully managing his father’s farm. By his marriage to Bessie Bradley he has three children, Mary Elizabeth, Vance Leroy and Ora.

The daughter Verna is now the wife of Ora Hall, who is connected with the Standard Oil Company living at Ogden. The other two daughters, Lulu and Nora, are still at home with their parents.

For the last two years Mr. Bensyl has been engaged in the operation of a livery business at Ogden. His methods of doing business have brought him a large patronage and he is a thorough business man. Mr. and Mrs. Bensyl are active members of the Prospect Christian Church at Ogden and in politics he is a Democrat. Progress has always been the keynote of Mr. Bensyl’s career, and his industry has brought him success, while during many years he has had a good wife to establish the home and train their children and add to the many pleasant things for which the name Bensyl is noteworthy in Champaign County.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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