Thursday, April 5, 2018

John W. Benney 1793 - 1853

John W. Benney
Born 1793
April 1, 1853
60 Years

Buried in Smithland Cemetery. Tombstone photograph provided by David Boswell of Livingston County. This tombstone is recorded in Livingston County, Kentucky Cemeteries 1738- 1976, compiled by the Livingston County, Kentucky Homemaker Clubs  in 1977, but had fallen and was covered with dirt until uncovered in 2017.

John W. Benney came to Livingston County from Graves County, Kentucky after 1841. He is found on the 1840 and 1841 Graves County tax lists. In 1840, he owned  land on Clarks River.  He also appears on the 1840 Graves County census with one male aged 15/19, one male age 40/49, 1 female under age 5 and one female aged 20/29.

John W. Benney shows up on Livingston County tax lists in 1848 - 1853  as the owner of land in Graves County. He does not appear on the 1850 census in either Livingston County or Graves County. 

On Monday, 2 May 1853,  James  T. Benney was granted letters of administration on John W. Benney's estate with William Gordon as his surety on the administrator's bond. Blount Hodge, Samuel A. Kingman and Sterling M. Barner, or any two of them, were appointed to appraise the estate.[1]

The estate record provided the first clue to the occupation of John W. Benney.  Among the items inventoried were  23 bedsteads, five bureaus and 21 Windsor chairs,[2] all items needed if one were operating an inn or hotel.  My guess is that John W. Benney came to Smithland to run a hotel, likely for someone else as he did not buy or sell land in Livingston County. Because of the heavy traffic on the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers at Smithland, there were several hotels during the 1850s.

Now, some searching needs to be done to determine which hotel he operated.  James T. Benney also remains a mystery. Was he a son, or perhaps a brother, to John W. Benney?  More work is needed to answer these questions. 

[1] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book L, p. 142.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Inventory, Appraisement and Sale Book E (1852-1859), p. 61, 4 May 1853.

Published 5 April 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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