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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BENJAMIN F. ENGLE. This well-known general farmer and fruit- raiser of Cass County has a comfortable and attractive home on section 3 of La Grange Township, and is one of the most successful fruit-growers in the State. In the cultivation of fruits he has met with more than usual success, and has employed such methods as have produced the best results. He has made of his chosen occupation a science, and is well read in everything pertaining thereto. Some mention of the ancestry of our subject will not be amiss. His grandfather, John Engle, was born in Pennsylvania, of German parentage, and his wife was of Irish extraction. The grandfather was for many years engaged in merchandising, but on account of failing in business he afterward devoted his attention to general farming, in which he continued during the remainder of his life. His methods of tilling the soil were primitive, and he plowed with a wooden plow, reaped with a hand sickle, etc. During the War of 1812, he enlisted in the service of the United States, and rendered efficient service as a soldier. He and his wife reared the following-named children: John, Mathias, Bartley, Whitney, Silas, Lemon, Ora and Ann. Bartley became an Episcopal minister, and was for many years pastor of the church at Indianapolis.

The father of our subject, Silas Engle, began at an early age to be self-supporting. He purchased land in Allegany County, N .Y., where for a number of years he followed farming operations. Later he embarked in the mercantile business, and also for a time was proprietor of an hotel. About 1836 he settled in the village of Mt. Morris, Livingston County, N. Y., where he spent seven years. Thence he came to Michigan and purchased land in Van Buren County, devoting his attention to agriculture during the remainder of his life. While residing in New York he took a contract to build a part of the Erie Canal.

Mr. Engle married Miss Mercy Olverd, and they became the parents of seven children: Eliza, who married William Bliss; Polly, deceased; Ann, the wife of Leonard Tisdell; Columbus; Benjamin F., Mathias and Allen. The mother of these children died in Livingston County, N. Y., in 1839, and subsequently Mr. Engle married in New York Mrs. Matilda Burgess, nee Wilson. One child was born of this marriage, Silas. The third marriage of Mr. Engle united him with Mrs. Wilson, who is now deceased. He died at his home in Van Buren County, Mich., in 1879. Politically, he was first a Whig, and later affiliated with the Republican party.

The subject of this notice was born in Allegany County, N. Y., in 1833, and remained at home until reaching his majority. He then began by renting land and farming on shares for five years, being thus occupied both in Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties. For five years he was engaged in merchandising at Lawton, Mich., and from there removed to Cass County, where he purchased eighty acres in La Grange Township, and at once began to cut the brush and clear the place. He began not only without capital, but with an incumbrance of 12,000 on his place. Through excellent management he has not only paid off the entire indebtedness but has also accumulated a handsome property, being the owner of two hundred and thirty-three acres, the most of which has been placed under improvement. Here he engages in the raising of fruit and grain, in the former making a specialty of peaches, pears, cherries and other fruits. He has probably been the most successful fruit-raiser in Cass County, and richly merits the prosperity which he now enjoys. The frame structure which stood upon his place has been converted into a tenant house, and the family now occupies a beautiful brick residence, surrounded by a smooth and grassy lawn, with other inviting environments.

In Van Buren County Mr. Engle married Miss M. L., daughter of Jonathan and Betsy (Burton) Elliott, and unto them were born five children: Frank; May, the wife of Nathan Burnham; Hattie, who married John Bramer; and Silas and Laura, deceased. In his political affiliations, Mr. Engle works with the Republican party, and uniformly votes that ticket. Socially, he is identified with the Ancient Order of United Workmen at Dowagiac. He and his estimable wife are active workers in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and are prominent in social circles of the community. His son Frank, who resides at home, cultivates the farm and relieves him of many of the anxieties and cares incident to its management.

Since starting out in life for himself at the age of twenty-one, he has twice met with the misfortune of losing everything he possessed. While the greater part of his life has been spent in agricultural pursuits, they did not wholly command his entire attention, for he devoted five years to mercantile business in Lawton, and from there removed to Whitmanville in 1865 and engaged in trade. One year subsequently he removed to the farm on which he now resides, and commenced for the third time to build himself a home, being at this time far removed from the bottom round of the ladder of fortune. In addition to farming, he devotes much attention to fruit-growing, and to this latter fact he is indebted for his financial success. From the moment misfortune ceased to follow him, the Latin phrase, Fortes Fortuna Juvat is applicable to him.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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