Among the intelligent and enterprising mechanics who are producing creditable evidences of their skill and wisdom, we are constrained to mention the genial gentleman whose name is at the head of this article and who is now operating a first class blacksmith and machine shop in Culdesac. He has had abundant success and experience heretofore and is a valuable acquisition both to the town and County.
Charles D. Benson was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on November 2, 1856, being the son of George W. and Elizabeth (DeHass) Benson. The father was born in Baltimore and the mother in Wheeling. The maternal ancestors of our subject came from Massachusetts and were early pioneers of Wheeling and the grandfather was a doctor and also operated a drug store. On the father’s side, our subject’s ancestors were Irish and on his mother’s side they were French.
Charles gained a good education from the public schools and from the state normal, being kept from graduating from the latter on account of his father’s death. That sad event occurred when he was sixteen and then he went to learn the blacksmith’s art. He wrought until twenty-one and then went to Ashland, Kentucky, and beat the anvil for the Ashland Coal & Iron Company for three years. Two years were spent at Terre Haute, Indiana, and in 1876, we find our subject at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. After this we note that he wrought in Kansas City, Topeka, Santa Fe, Galveston, Texas, Colorado, then six years again in New Mexico, and again in Colorado and finally in 1888, he came to Tekoa, Washington. He wrought some for the Union Pacific and then came to Moscow and in company with George H. Goude, they opened a foundry. They put in eleven thousand dollars apiece and later incorporated for thirty-three thousand. They did a large business until 1893 and the hard times then forced an assignment. Our subject immediately opened a smaller shop and wrought successfully for four years when he was taken one year from his work by a surgical operation. He went to business again and later was forced to again retire for a year on account of another operation. Upon recovering from this he went to Pullman, Washington, and in partnership with George Gausney, he wrought there for two years.
On February 8, 1900, Mr. Benson landed in Culdesac and at once he opened a shop. He has a good shop, is an exceptionally skillful and competent machinist and blacksmith, and stands well with all the people and enjoys a fine patronage. In addition to the arts mentioned, Mr. Benson is a first class worker in wood and does much wagon work.
On October 26, 1891, Mr. Benson married Miss Annie F., daughter of R. G. and Jane (Day) Newland. Mr. Newland was one of the early pioneers to Washington and Oregon. He settled on the original homestead of Mr. Jesse N. Day on the Touchet near Dayton, who owned the town site of Dayton, and was one of the substantial men of that section. Dr. J. H. Day of Walla Walla was an uncle of Mrs. Benson. He died in 1896, aged eighty-seven, and was a highly respected and universally beloved man. Mr. and Mrs. Benson have five children, Esther and Vester, twins, Edna, Fred and DeHass. One, Maggie, an exceptionally robust child, died at two years of age.
It is of note that Mr. Benson took passage on the steamship Metropolis, when he was in Philadelphia in 1876, and started for Rio De Janeiro. Five days out, the date being January 5, 1877, the vessel was wrecked and eighty-one lives out of one hundred and thirty were lost. Our subject held to the chains under the bowsprit for hours waiting for the debris and dead bodies to float away and finally dropped into the ocean and swam ashore, being assisted to land by rescuers.
Mr. Benson was a member of the I. O. O. F. and of the W. of W. Mrs. Benson, whose parents were natives of Virginia, was born near Dayton. Washington, and was educated in Waitsburg’ and Walla Walla. Her father was state representative once of Walla Walla County and once of Columbia, and was speaker of the house for one term.
Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903