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Below is a family biography included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1898.  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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A. B. BENHAM, a retired farmer, who now resides in the village of Cortland, has in his life-time accomplished very much in the way of bettering the condition of the people, who are engaged in the cultivation of the soil, by showing them how to perform their duties in a way that will bring them the greatest amount of returns for the labor expended. He has been in the truest sense of the word a model farmer, and one to whom great prosperity has come. He tilled the soil in a methodical, intelligent manner, and made his calling a real study, just as much as any professional man, who reads and practices that he may excel in the chosen lines of his life. Mr. Benham is a son of Isaac and Sally (Baker) Benham, the latter a daughter of John Baker, and was born May 12, 1820, at Marcellus, Onondaga County, N. Y.

Isaac Benham was a native of Catskill, N. Y. In early life he was a farmer, but later he moved to Marcellus, where he spent twenty-five years working in the business of making high wines. He next engaged in farming near McLean, Tompkins County, N. Y., later following the same pursuits in Sennett, Cayuga County, and still later moving to Auburn, where he rounded out the rest of his days. Isaac Benham was thrice married. His first wife, Eunice Baker by name, bore him one son, John B. His second wife left seven children: A. B., the subject of this sketch; Vincent B., deceased; Asa B.; Alanson J.; Eunice; Sarah Ann; and Mary Jane. To the third wife were born seven children: David, deceased; David (2); Isaac; Matilda; R. Eliza; James; and Charlotte. John B. Benham, the son of the first wife, grew up to be a very worthy man. He was pastor of the First M. E. Church of Cortland at one time, and then went to Africa as a missionary. He spent some years in that field, but had to finally give up the work on account of his ill health. Isaac Benham was quite a well known member of the M. E. Church, in which he reared his family. Politically, he was a Whig.

A. B. Benham engaged in farming just as soon as he left school. He had charge of the Cornell farms for four years, and then tilled what were known as the Spring Brook farms. While there he began to bring into play his ideas of what farming should be; in 1860 he received a first premium of $50.00 for having the best-conducted grain farm in New York State. In 1863 he received another first award for having the best dairy farm in the state. This farm he sold to his son later on, and came to Cortland to live. At this writing he is leading a retired life. However, he still looks after his farm holdings, and sees that they are being conducted properly. He has a fine place near Cortland, another near South Cortland, and still another in Freetown. Besides having the reputation of being the best-posted farmer in Cortland County, he has won distinction as a breeder and raiser of fine stock, and owns few equals. In his day he handled some of the finest grades of shorthorn cattle that were ever raised in Cortland County. In politics, Mr. Benham is an ardent Prohibitionist. He was formerly a Republican, but came to realize that intemperance was becoming the great curse of our otherwise prosperous times, and determined to throw the whole force of his influence on the side of the right. He is a consistent and upright devotee of the M. E. denomination, being a trustee as well as the oldest member of the Homer Avenue M. E. Church of Cortland village. When the new church home was built, he was one of the main supporters of the enterprise.

Mr. Benham’s first wife, Caroline E. Smith, was removed from his side by the hand of death, after making him the proud father of four bright children. Charles M., deceased, was the eldest; he left a widow and six daughters who reside in McLean, Tompkins County, N. Y. George is an attorney of Chicago, Ill., and is one of the most talented of the rising young men of that western metropolis. He has a great amount of literary ability, and is a prolific writer. Susan H. is the wife of E. J. Lyon, and has one daughter. Mary is deceased; she married E. B. Woodworth, and left one daughter. Mr. Benham’s second wife was Margaret E. (Bower) (Bishop), widow of Edgar Bishop. Two children have resulted from this second union: Anna Louise, wife of Joseph T. Ewing, an Episcopal minister of Jonesville, Mich., and mother of two children; and Adelaide E., who is a teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published in 1898. 

View additional Cortland County, New York family biographies here: Cortland County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Cortland County, New York here: Cortland County, New York Map

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