Page 709-711, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


James C. Henrie.—In studying the development of any locality there is always to be found a leading spirit, a dominant factor, a personal force that has been the chief element in the progress and development of that community. James C. Henrie, whose name introduces this review, belongs to that type of men. To his initiative and public-spiritedness is largely due the fact that the town of Benton has a place on the map and is one of the thriving little business centers of Butler county. When the Missouri Pacific railroad was built, Mr. Henrie donated thirty acres of land for the location of the depot and he gave the ground to the city which is the present site of the public school building, and every movement that has been inaugurated for the upbuilding and betterment of Benton has had the unqualified support and co-operation of Mr. Henrie.

James C. Henrie was born in Columbia county, Pennsylvania, June 8, 1844, and is a son of Joseph and Mary Henrie, natives of Pennsylvania. There is one other child of Joseph and Mary Henrie besides James C., now living, viz.: Mrs. Martha J. Rand, of Riverside, Wash. The parents came to Butler county in 1884, where the father died November 18, 1892, aged ninety-one years, and the mother passed away in 1913, at the age of ninety-seven.


When James C. Henrie was a child about one year old the family removed from Columbia county, Pennsylvania, to Kane county, Illinois, and here young Henrie grew to manhood and received a good common school education. He lived the peaceful life of the average farmer boy until the life of the Nation was threatened by the spirit of secession and breeders of rebellion in the early sixties.

Young Henrie had just passed the age of eighteen and on August 9, 1862, enlisted in Company B, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth regiment, Illinois infantry, and for three years and six days bore arms in defense of the the Union in the Southland. His first military service was under Grant in the Army of the West, and he was with his regiment on the march from LaGrange, Tenn., to Yacana, Miss. They returned to LaGrange in December, 1862, and in the following January were on a campaign to Memphis, and from there to Lake Providence; thence to Millikin's Bend and Port Gibson, participating in the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hills, siege of Vicksburg, Fort Hill, Monroe, Brownsville, and was on a campaign in Mississippi, and with Sherman's division on the Meridian expedition, Yazoo City, Benton, Jackson Cross Roads, White River, Memphis, Mobile, Montgomery, and the storming and capture of Spanish Fort.

During its period of service this regiment covered a distance of 4,100 miles, including the expeditions both by land and water. They participated in ten battles, fourteen skirmishes and two sieges, one siege occupying forty-seven days and nights, and the other, thirteen days and nights. They were under fire eighty-two days and sixty nights. At the close of the war and after having made a military record of which any man might be justly proud, he was honorably discharged August 15, 1865.

After the war was over, Mr. Henrie returned to his Illinois home, and on April 15, 1872, came to Butler county, Kansas, locating on the northeast quarter of section 21, where he homesteaded, and he also bought 320 acres of school land on the deferred payment plan, and he says, even at that, the payments were not deferred enough. When he came to this county he was better equipped than many of the pioneers to begin life in a new country, and yet he had his ups and downs, the downs appearing to be more frequent than the ups. He had three horses to begin with, and earned his first money in Butler county by breaking prairie for a neighbor.

Mr. Henrie was a pioneer, in many ways, in Benton township, He erected the first windmill there, and built the first barn. He owned the first spring wagon in that locality, which was considered a real luxury in those days. This was in an age before there was any rivalry as to who should own the highest priced automobile in the neighborhood, and Mr. Henrie's spring wagon became a sort of neighborhood property. Anyboy who wanted to put on style for a day, took the wagon and no questions were asked, and then kept it until some other neighbor wanted it,


and when the time came that Mr. Henrie wanted to use his wagon, all he had to do was to go and get it. He used the first barbed wire that was shipped into Wichita, paying nineteen cents per pound for enough to fence ten acres. In the early days he kept a "half way house," where travelers made themselves at home whether they had any money or not; and at times the place was filled to its capacity, the weary wayfarers lying about one deep on the floor.

Mr. Henrie erected the first store building in the town of Benton, and conducted a general mercantile business for a number of years, and served as postmaster there from 1872 to 1886, for which he received $1 per month, the Government being very considerate of its employees at that time and did not encourage extravagance. When Mr. Henrie came here there was a great deal of large game in this section, including deer and antelope. He remembers when money was scarce and the early settlers practically had no market for their produce. He tells of selling corn at Wichita for ten cents per bushel, and after hauling it there he finally succeeding in finding a market for it in a saloon for fuel purposes, as corn in those days was a cheaper fuel than wood.

Mr. Henrie was married in 1868 to Miss Frances A. White, a daughter of Solomon White, of Illinois. To this union were born the following children: Mrs. Mary Luta Parks, now deceased; Joseph and Cull, both farmers and stockmen in Benton township, the father having given each of them 160 acres of good lind,[sic] in 1906, and they are now successful and prosperous farmers. The wife and mother died in 1903, and in 1906 Mr. Henrie married Mrs. Leo Lawton, the widow of Dr. Lawton, of Kansas City, Mo.

Mr. Henrie has the finest residence in Benton and is now living retired. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and one of the men whose ability, foresight and industry have given them a place among the builders of Butler county, which should be an inspiration to the present and future generations. Mr. Henrie is a courteous and genial gentleman who has many friends and a large acquaintance in Butler and adjoining counties.

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