Artimease (Wederstrandt) Benton (1854 - 1930)

My 3x great grandmother, Artimease Wederstrandt, was born around October of 1854 in Louisiana. Artimease was the daughter of a slave owner named Robert (pronounced “RO-BEAR”) Charles Wederstrandt and an enslaved woman named “Annette” also known as “Antoinette King.”

The Parish and town of her birth is unknown, however, circumstantial evidence from her sister’s death certificate suggests that she may have been born in Bayou Sara in West Feliciana Parish.  Her sister, Hiawartha Wederstrandt was also known as “Wartha,” “Martha” and “Waffie.”  Additionally, Robert Charles Wederstrandt operated a family plantation in Saint Francisville, Louisiana in West Feliciana Parish.  The Wederstandt Family owned several plantations and hundreds of  slaves:

  • Harlem Plantation in Plaquemines Parish
  • Hermitage Plantation in St. James Parish
  • Blakeford Plantation in East & West Feliciana Parish
  • A Plantation in Terre Aux Boeufs
  • Family property known as “Carlton” in Baltimore, Maryland

On April 21, 1870, Artimease married Thomas Benton, Sr., a former slave from Cape Girardeau, Missouri and a United States Colored Troop (USCT) who fought in the Civil War.  They were married at Mount Zion Baptist Church in East Baton Rouge Parish. The wedding was officiated by the Rev. Isaac Palmer.

To this union, four children were born:

  1. Edward Benton (1872 – 1946)
  2. Charles Benton (1873 – ????)
  3. Thomas Benton, Jr.(1874 – 1947)
  4. Nellie Benton (1876 – 1956)

Thomas died seven years later in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the age of 37.  As a struggling former slave and widow, Artimease would struggle for the next 20 years to provide for her children. Her sons learned carpentry and painting from their uncle, William Maddox (Hiawartha’s common-law husband), to help with the financial responsibilities. William was a white man and former confederate soldier who also fought in the Civil War and was captured at the Battle of Port Hudson. Interracial marriages were illegal in the U.S. until 1967 so Hiawartha never legally carried his name.

On March 29, 1880, Artimease bore another child named Ernest Gibbons by a white man with the surname “Gibbons,” however, for most of his life, Ernest carried the surname “Benton.”

Between 1891 and 1893, Arimease bore her last two children, Katie and Maude Jackson, respectively.

Artimease died on October 31, 1930 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the home of her youngest child, Maude (Jackson) Davis.


  1. Information obtained from the oral histories of Marguerite Vernell and James Hill, III.
  2. “Marriage License for Thomas Benton and Artimease Weatherstrand,” “Louisiana Marriages, 1718-1925,”  accessed June 2013 
  3. Artimease Benton’s Death Certificate acquired from the Louisiana State Archives on 10 Jul 2006.
  4. “Waltha Cecelia Weatherstand’s” Death Certificate acquired from the Louisiana State Archives on 02 Aug 2013.
  5. Artimease Wederstrandt Benton, “United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934,”, accessed 2 Jul 2013
  6. Artimease Wederstrandt Benton, “United States Civil War Widow’s Pension File,” (NARA); accessed 6 Jul 2013
  7. “William Maddox Confederate Muster Roll,”; accessed 1 Jul 2013
  8. “Wederstrandt Family Ledger Books,” New Historical Society, Account Book Ledger 1
  9. “50 Dollars Reward Absconded,” Newspaper Advertisement for Runaway slave; dated: 6 Nov 1819;; accessed 1 Jul 2016
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