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Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  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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DR. VALENTINE S. BENSON, a prominent citizen at present of Randolph County, and Superintendent of the Illinois Asylum for Insane Criminals at Chester, was born in Gallatin County, Ill., May 22, 1834. His father, Charles R., and mother, Mary (Riggin) Benson, were natives respectively of Virginia and Tennessee. His grandparents, Babel and Nellie (Soward) Benson, resided in Greenbrier County, Va., where Charles R., the Doctor’s father, was born September 28, 1793. His mother, Mary (Riggin) Benson, was born in Knox County, Tenn., June 23, 1796, and was the daughter of James Riggin, a Methodist minister. They were married in Knox County, Tenn., April 5, 1821, and immigrated the following fall to Logan County, Ky., where they resided until 1828. They then came to Sangamon County (then St. Clair), Ill., and in 1830 removed to Gallatin County, this state, where he entered a fine body of land from the Government. He improved a valuable farm and resided there until his death, October 16, 1847, while on a visit in Missouri. The mother died December 26, 1838. The father served in the War of 1812, and was in several hard-fought battles, that of the Horse Shoe Bend being one of them. The Doctor is the youngest of five brothers yet living, and with the exception of one, who makes his home in Oregon, all are residents of Illinois. Eleven years ago they met together in a family reunion.

We now take up the personal history of Dr. Benson, who attended the common schools of Gallatin County in his childhood and early youth, and worked upon the home farm until fourteen years of age. When sixteen years of age he entered a school in Jacksonville, Ill., there pursuing his studies for four months. On the expiration of that period he farmed one year in Gallatin County on his own account, and then began merchandising in Raleigh, Saline County, where he continued two years.

Wishing to make the practice of medicine his life work, our subject then entered upon its study under Dr. V. Rathbone, of Raleigh, who is now living in Harrisburg, Ill. With that gentleman he read for two years and attended a course of lectures in the St. Louis Medical College. In the following year, 1856, he located in Hamilton County, Ill., but after a year removed to Benton, Franklin County, where he engaged in the practice of his chosen profession for six years. In 1869-70 he attended the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville, Ky., and was graduated from that institution. At that time he was a resident of McLeansboro, Hamilton County, Ill., where he had re-located in 1863, and where he continued the practice of medicine until 1880. He then retired from an active practice of his profession, but still continued a select practice and his residence in McLeansboro, where he followed the drug business, farming and stock-raising until 1885.

In 1855 Dr. Benson married Mary E., daughter of Dr. L. Rathbone, of McLeansboro. Of this marriage were born a son and daughter. The former, Dr. John G. Benson, is a prominent physician and druggist of McLeansboro. The daughter is the accomplished wife of Hon. James R. Campbell, who is a member of the Illinois Senate. In February, 1864, Mrs. Benson died. The Doctor was married in January, 1867, to his present wife, Judith A. Parrish, nee Wilbanks. The lady is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1885 Dr. Benson received an appointment as agency physician to the Sioux Indians at Ft. Peck, Camp Poplar River, Mont. He served in this position one year and then returned to his home in McLeansboro, where he engaged in the drug business in connection with farming and special practice in his profession until February 1, 1893. In his political views the Doctor is a Democrat and represented Hamilton and Wayne Counties in the State Legislature in 1865-66. In 1876 he was elected in the Nineteenth Congressional District a member of the State Board of Equalization, which office he held for four years, and was Chairman of the Committee on Personal Property. In 1881 he was appointed on the United States Board of Pension Examiners. This was under President Arthur’s administration, and he held the office until 1885, when he resigned to accept the Indian Agency. In January, 1893, he was appointed Superintendent of the Criminal Insane Asylum of Chester, which position he still holds. His able management of the institution has won him high commendation. His entire official career has been an honorable one and has brought him into just prominence throughout the state, while his fidelity to duty has won him high regard.

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This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Randolph County, Illinois family biographies here: Randolph County, Illinois Biographies

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