|History Of Ottawa County and Bennington|
|In 1966 Ottawa County was 100 years old and the people of the area created a souvenir booklet about the history of the county and Bennington. The following was taken from this booklet.|
|A BRIEF HISTORY OF OTTAWA COUNTY
This material was taken from the files of the State Historical Society
| The Legislature of 1860 bounded the county and named it after the Ottawa tribe of Indians. From that time up until 1865 Ottawa with Clay Dickinson, Saline and all the unorganized territory west of these counties was attached to Davis County for judicial purposes. R. H. Little of Ottawa was a member of the first grand jury that sat at Junction City and Isaac Markley was defendant to the first suit docketed in District Court under State Laws when Ottawa was a part of Davis County. Mr. Markley gained his suit. The Legislature of 1865 attached Ottawa to Saline County for judicial purposes. Dickinson and Saline Counties had been organized and the change was made for the convenience ot the people. S. Z. Boss was appointed justice for Ottawa County.
In July, 1886, Seymour Ayers prepared the papers for the organization of the county. It having, supposedly, the required population of 500. Governor Samuel J. Crawford completed the work by appointing Amassa May, Henry Dresher and A.J. Willis, county commissioners; J.H. Ingersoll, county clerk and designating Ayersturg as the county seat until the people could choose for themselves. In the fall of 1866 an election was held and Minneapolis and Lindsey were candidates for county seat honors. The vote resulted in the favor of Minneapolis. The votes of 1870 and 1872 also gave the county seat to Minneapolis and this settled the question permanently.
The first settlers in Ottawa County were William Still, George Darling and a Frenchman by the name of LaPere. They built a cabin in 1855 near the mouth of Coal Creek, then Myers, and cultivated a garden. but the blood thirsty Sioux Indians induced them to leave by fall. Of the first three settlers in the county, LaPere was probably killed by the Sioux Indians, as they were camped on the Saline River and LaPere went to make a friendly call on them from which he never returned. During the Indian scare of the fall of 1861 Mr. Still moved down into Dickinson County. Mr. Still returned in the fall of 1863.
The first permanent settlers came in 1859. They were SM. Wright, E W. Branch, Jacob Humbarger, H. R. Little and Josiah Hocker The first white women in the county were Mrs. S. M. Wright and Mrs. E W. Branch who located with their husbands in 1859. The first death was Mrs. E. W. Branch. She passed away August 13, 1859 and was buried on the present site of the Minneapolis cemetery. Matilda Jones and W. D. Bruce were the first couple married in the county.
This event took place in 1865 at old Fort Solomon. The first school was taught at Concord in 1864 by Miss Charlotte Ingersoll. The first birth in the county was a son born to Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Branch In the above account, mention is made of Coal Creek and it was a small station five miles southeast of Bennington on the Solomon Valley Railroad, a branch of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. The name was derived from the supposed existence of coal in its vicinity.
|THE HISTORY OF BENNINGTON|
| BENNINGTON was laid out as a town in 1878, by Messrs. Daniel Struble and Christ Nelson on equal portions of their adjoining farms located a quarter of a mile west of the store which Mr. George R. Parker established in the winter of 1872-73. This store would have stood 1/4 mile West of town on Bennington Street. In the early days this was an advantageous location for a trading post as an east-west trail was located near the river. When Bennington was plotted, Mr. Crosby was the surveyor and Frank Struble, son of Daniel Struble, helped carry the link chain. Soon after the town site was measured, Mr. Parker moved his general merchandise store to the Southeast corner at Bennington and Nelson. Bell Springs Creamery Company established on the property vacated by Parker.
The town was quite prosperous having attained a population of over 200 in three years. The Solomon Valley Railroad, a branch of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, reached Bennington in 1878. The county had issued $100,000 worth of bonds in aid of the Solomon Valley Railroad.
An excellent iron bridge, costing $4,500.00, spanned the Solomon River south of town. The Markley Brothers' flouring and saw mill, run by water-power and costing over $20,000.00, was of great advantage to the young town.
In 1879 the first school was located one half mile south of town where the old slaughter house stood on the east side of old 81 highway. Some say that a store and post office operated at this same location. In 1880 a $2,000.00 frame school house was built at 111 West Lexington. It was well furnished and well attended. The present school house was built in 1918 at a cost of $15,000.00. In 1938 the auditorium was added; in 1955 a shop was added; and in 1961 a new graade school building was annexed.
The Bennington Methodist Church was formed in June 1871, by Rev. I. Kahler of Abilene at the home of Daniel Struble one mile north and one mile east of Bennington. The class consisted of the families of Captain G. J. Spitzer and W. W. Walker, who was the leader.
The Bennington Presbyterian Church was organized on July 12, 1874, by a committee of Topeka Presbytery consisting of Rev. Henry C. Bradbury and Rev. Duncan Milner.
The Episcopal Church was organized in 1903 and the corner stone was laid at the present church site at the corner of Nelson Street and Lexington Street in 1905.
Jerome Ingersoll was the first attorney in Ottawa County and he located in Bennington in 1865.
One of the early day post offices in Bennington was located about where the Austin Drug Store stands and S. Z. Boss was the first postmaster appointed in 1864. Levi Boyle was appointed the first rural carrier in 1906 and later E. I. Heywood carried mail on rural route one and Howard Wessel carried the mail on rural route two. The post office building was destroyed in the fire of 1912 and immediately the Bennington State Bank Board of Directors erected an addition on the north side of their building for post office quarters. These facilities were occupied until a new building was built on Main Street in 1961.