Benjamin Stafford, A Morgan County Pioneer

This funeral card was part of my Grandfather’s collection.

BenStaffordFuneralCard

The other day I found the corresponding obituary on Newspapers.com. It is from the Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, IN Wednesday, April 1, 1891.

INStateSentinelIndianapolisWed1Apr1891p8BenStafford

So who was Benjamin Stafford? He is mentioned in a couple of books about the history of Morgan County, Indiana. (both books are available on the internet)

One book, The Counties of Morgan, Monroe & Brown, Indiana (Charles Blanchard ed., Chicago, F.A. Battey & Co. 1884) gives a biographical sketch of Benjamin on pg 269. His parents were Robert & Sarah (Bullick) Stafford from North Carolina. He was the 3rd of 7 children. He was born in Ohio May 28, 1810. He moved to Indiana in 1818, then to Morgan County in 1820. At that time, the county was still a wilderness.

The other book, The Pioneers of Morgan County, Memoirs of Noah J. Major, (Indianapolis, 1915), recounts the memories of Noah Major, a prominent citizen of Morgan county. Benjamin Stafford shows up on page 272. He is listed as “one of the younger men” who settled in the “Matthews and Drury neighborhood” & “who came with their parents or alone, to this settlement, and who loved, wooed and wedded the girls of their choice—unless the other fellows got them, as sometimes happened, whereupon they turned to a second choice which often proved as good or better than the first one. They were not to be cheated out of matrimonial bliss because of a choice between a Rose and Lily.”

According to these books, Benjamin married Ruth Gifford in 1830 and had a daughter, Sarah. Ruth died soon after.

Benjamin married the second time to Margaret Price in 1835. They had 8 children: Nancy J., John, Marion, William, Benjamin, Barnard and Grant. Then Margaret died in 1852.

One account states that Benjamin married again to Miss Sloan. They had no children.

Benjamin married Susan Fry, a widow with 5 sons. They had 7 children: Mary, James, Priscilla, Martha, Emaline and Oliver P.

So Benjamin had a total of 16 children and 5 step-children. All of them lived to adulthood. One of them, Priscilla (who married Jeremiah McKinley) was my great-great grandmother.

Mr. Major indicates the “Matthews and Drury neighborhood” was located “along the north bank of White River, from the mouth of White Lick to Sycamore Creek.” He said that Benjamin Stafford “lived low down in the pocket when the tide of ’47 came sweeping along, leaving him little else than a house, barn and bare ground. He sold his bottom farm and bought one on Sycamore, where he lived to the close of his life.” This farm was located south west of Centerton.

Benjamin shows up in the US Census records for Clay Township, Morgan County, IN in 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. In 1850, the names of some of the children are different than what is mentioned in the history books.

 

The first time I went to the Morgan County Library to do research several years ago, I found some unique information about Benjamin. They had a ledger listing the livestock markings for local farmers. (Morgan County Indiana Marks & Brands, April 18, 1822 to March 8, 1878, Recorder’s Office, Morgan County Courthouse, Martinsville, IN)

BenStaffordCattleBrand

Benjamin Stafford marks with a crop off of the left and split in the right ear. Clay Township December 9th, 1847.”

Benjamin died in 1891, although the exact date is not clear. The news clipping indicates March 29; the funeral card, March 26 and his headstone, March 25. Regardless, he was 80 years old when he died. He is buried in Williams Cemetery in Morgan County, IN next to his second wife, Margaret. His wife, Susan, and other family members are buried in the same cemetery.

© MJM 2017

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