Ancestor of Dan Dixon
BENJAMIN F. FLETCHER - Benjamin F. Fletcher, who is living retired in Springfield, is one of the extensive landowners of central Illinois, his possessions aggregating five hundred and forty acres, constituting a very valuable property. He was born in Ball township, Sangamon county, December 13, 1839, on the farm adjoining that of R. H. Easley, and on the paternal side comes of Scotch and Irish ancestry. His paternal grandfather, John Fletcher, was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia, in 1774, and married Elizabeth McElvain. Later, in company with Frances Brown and their respective families, they came to Sangamon county in 1830, and Mr. Fletcher entered eighty acres in what is now Ba11 township. He was then in very limited financial circumstances and came to the west in the hope of bettering his condition, but he was not long permitted to enjoy his new home, for he died six months after his arrival. His widow survived him for twenty-eight years, passi ng away in 1858, and was laid by his side in the West graveyard.
Captain Job Fletcher, the father of our subject, was born in Virginia in 1801 and served as captain of a military company in Kentucky. In that state he was married to Miss Frances Brown, who was of German lineage. He followed farming in Kentucky until, with the other members of the family, he came to Sangamon county and here opened up a farm on Panther creek, carrying on the work of developing and improving his land until his death, which occurred in 1884. His wife passed away in 1882 in her eightieth year. In the meantime the father had added to his property until in his home farm be had two hundred and sixty acres. He also accumulated other lands and divided among his children three hundred and twenty acres. He carried on general farming and stock-raising in a practical manner that led to success, and was known as one of the leading agriculturists in pioneer times. He was a man six feet in height, spare and wiry, and he successfully coped with the hard conditions of frontier life in order to secure a goo d home for his wife and children. In the family were eight children : Elizabeth, who died after her marriage; William and Frances, who died in childhood; John S., who died at the age of twenty-three years; Preston B., who is living in Montgomery county, Illinois; Paulina K., the widow of Francis E. Dodds, of Springfield; Benjamin F.; and Virginia, the wife of C. G. Brown, of Divernon, Illinois. All of the children were born upon the home farm in this county, with the exception of Elizabeth, and in the early days attended the paid schools and afterward the free schools. They remained upon the old homestead until they were married and went to homes of their own or until they were taken from that place by death. The family was prominent and honored in the community and the father was well known as a public-spirited citizen. A Presbyterian in religious faith, he contributed generously to the support of the church and assisted in organizing the Pleasant Grove church at an early day and later in founding the church at Divernon, where his two daughters lived. A man of domestic tastes, his interests centered in his family, and he put forth every effort in his power to provide a good home for them and to make life attractive for them.
Benjamin F. Fletcher obtained a common school education and grew to manhood upon the home farm. In August, 1862, he enlisted for service in the Union army as a volunteer of Company B, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, with which he took part in the battles of Jackson, Mississippi, the siege of Vicksburg and Guntown. At the last named place be was captured and held prisoner from June 11, 1864, until April 8, 1865. He was kept in Andersonville until after the fall of Atlanta, and then was transferred to Millen, but later was returned to Andersonville, where he remained until after the close of the war. At Vicksburg he was wounded in the head, but the injury was not serious, and at Camp Butler, in May, 1865, he was mustered out.
Mr. Fletcher then returned to his father's home and was married in 1867 to Mary E. Drennan, who was born in Ball township, this county, in 1847. They had four children, all born on the home farm, and one died in infancy. Those living are Cyrus O., who is on the old homestead; Myra F., the wife of Dr. J. T. Woodward, of Elkhart, Illinois, by whom she had a daughter, Ruth; Franklin D., who is a practicing physician at Chatham, Illinois and is a graduate of the Rush Medical College of Chicago of the class of 1902. All attended the district schools, and Myra is a graduate of Lincoln University, while Cyrus pursued a three years' course in that institution and the doctor completed a two years' preparatory work in Lincoln University before entering medical college.
Upon the death of his father, Benjamin F. Fletcher took charge of the home farm and received as his share of the estate two hundred acres. He also purchased the interest of the other heirs, and to the property he has added from time to time, until he now owns five hundred and forty acres of well-improved land. He erected a modern residence and made other excellent improvements, and there carried on the raising of grain and stock until November 1901, when he purchased his home in Springfield and took up his abode in this city. He is also a stock-holder and director in the Farmers' State Bank of Auburn, of which he was one of the organizers and its vice-president for many years. He served as supervisor of Ball township for two years, and for a long period was one of the school directors. In politics he has always been a Republican, but has never been an aspirant for office. In 1865 he was made a Mason at Auburn, was long numbered among the charter members of Chatham Lodge, and is now a member of lodge No. 4, of Springfield. He likewise belongs to Stephenson Post, No. 30, G. A. R. and to Abraham Lincoln Regiment of the Union Veterans' Union.
He has been a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church throughout much of his life. This church is one of the oldest in that part of the county, and from his early years Mr. Fletcher has been connected with the Sunday school, while his wife is a member of the Ladies' Aid Society and is active in other parts of church work. An honored veteran of the Civil War, Mr. Fletcher has ever been interested in the welfare and upbuilding of this portion of Illinois, and at the same time he has conducted farming interest, which have made him one of the prosperous and substantial men of Sangamon county.