Sentimental Sunday: Jonathan Felix Benjamin

Hannah (Ford) Benjamin- Bible Record Transcription
Hannah (Ford) Benjamin- Bible Record Transcription (click to enlarge)

Websites like Find a Grave (FAG) have been incredible resources for genealogists- we have found cousins and long lost living relatives, information is available to help as ‘clues’ to be verified for one’s own research, locations within plots can help determine family relationships, as can inscriptions on tombstones or cemetery records, and it is comforting to know where family is “quietly resting.” Writing memorials for FAG has also been a wonderful exercise to analyze and reassess what I think are known facts, and to tell a person’s story. It is also a way to tug at one’s heartstrings, as one learns of the love and heartbreak of a family.

Today my work on Wittemburg Cemetery memorials on FAG tugged at my heartstrings.

If you are a descendant of Dr. E. A. McMurray, Jonathan Felix Benjamin would be a some-number-of-greats Uncle. He was the g-g-uncle of Dr. McMurray, so you can figure your relationship from there.

Jonathan Felix Benjamin was the fifth child of seven known children born to Jonathan N. Benjamin and Hannah E. Ford Benjamin. He lived the first part of his life in Burlington, Licking Co., Ohio, until he moved west with other family members at age 29, in 1867 when they all migrated to Jasper County, Iowa.

In 1870, Jonathan F. and his wife were living with his father and mother on a farm in Malaka Twp, Jasper Co., Iowa. The parents had just $150 in personal estate, but Jonathan F. and his wife had $6500 in real estate and $1000 in personal value.

Jonathan F. and Hannah E. Marple had married in 1863 (probably in Licking Co., Ohio where their first child was probably born) and had six? children: Edson Benjamin (b. 1864), Roland “Rollie” E. Benjamin (b. 1867), William Benjamin (b. 1867), possibly another William (b. 1870), Emma Benjamin (FAG #44708133, b. 1872, married Herman B. Lufkin), and Orlin Dell Benjamin (b. 1878). An “Infant Benjamin, son of J.F. and H. E.” is buried in the same cemetery as his parents, and died in 1873- this may be one of the Williams? though dates do not align.

By 1885, the Iowa State Census shows the family living in Twin Lakes, Calhoun, Iowa. They may have returned to Jasper Co though in 1895, where there is an Iowa State census record that has Jonathan’s age a few years off.

In 1900, Jonathan F. was listed as head of household in the census for Newton (City), living at 748 Main St. at age 60 with his son Orlin, daughter Emma, her husband Herman Lufkin, and their 4 y/o son Percy. Jonathan was listed as a house painter who had been out of work for 2 months, but he did own their home. 

The part that tugged my heartstrings, after seeing they had an infant buried in Wittemberg Cemetery, was Jonathan’s listing as to marital status in the 1900 US Federal Census. He was listed as married for 37 years, but his wife was not listed on the page- she had died on 27 March 1900, and the census had been taken on 08 Jun 1900. How hard that must have been to face life without one’s partner of 37 years! Just that simple little “M” in the marital status column, with a “37” alongside for the years married, but no wife listed after his name, tells a story. He just couldn’t be a widower yet- in his heart, he was still married.

(OK, the cynical and fact-based folks will say that it could have been the census taker’s error, or that of the person giving the information. But maybe not…)

Jonathan was living alone in 1910, when he may be found in the Federal Census renting on Third St. in Newton, still working as a house painter but not out of work. He was listed as a widower in this census.

Jonathan F. Benjamin passed away in March of 1913, age 74. He is buried in Wittemburg Cemetery alongside his wife Hannah E. (Marple) Benjamin.



Notes, Sources, and References:

1) From “Notes on the Life and Family of JONATHAN BENJAMIN, 1738-1841, Frontiersman and Revolutionary War Veteran,” Hannah (Ford) Benjamin Family Bible Transcription. (Bible owned by Orletta Hatch Foreman at the time of these “Notes.”) Type-written copy given to me back in the 1960s, when I was too young to know much about documentation. I believe it was written by the Benjamin family historians, and reading it and later finding information about these Benjamin ancestors in a book got me totally hooked on genealogy.

2) 1870 US Federal census, Jonathan Benjamin head of household: Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Malaka, Jasper, Iowa; Roll: M593_398; Page: 342A; Image: 324; Family History Library Film: 545897.

3) 1880 US Federal census, John F. Benjamin, head of household: Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Twin Lakes, Calhoun, Iowa; Roll: 330; Family History Film: 1254330; Page: 285B; Enumeration District: 025; Image: 0313.

4) 1885 Iowa State Census, Jonathan F. Benjamin: Quigg, Gary, comp.. Iowa, State Census 1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2003.

5) 1895 Iowa State Census, Jonathan F. Benjamin: Iowa, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2003. Original data: Iowa. 1895 Iowa State Census. Des Moines, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa.

6) 1900 US Federal Census for Jonathan F. Benjamin, head of household: Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Newton, Jasper, Iowa; Roll: 439; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 1240439.

7) 1910 US Federal Census for Jonathan Benjamin: Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Newton Ward 1, Jasper, Iowa; Roll: T624_407; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0032; FHL microfilm: 1374420.

8) My Find A Grave memorial #57139950 for Jonathan Felix Benjamin:

9) My Find A Grave memorial #57139890 for Hannah E. (Marple) Benjamin:

10) My Find A Grave memorial #28129737 for Infant Benjamin:

11) US GenWeb- Iowa listings for Wittemburg Cemetery, Jasper Co:

12) [Edited 04/06/2015 to add] See also posts for Edson Benjamin and his wife, Martha “Jennie” Slade Benjamin:

Tombstone Tuesday: Edson Benjamin and Martha Jennie Slade

Series of posts beginning with Tombstone Tuesday: Edson Benjamin- “A Cowardly Murder,” Part 1:



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