|1988 Benton Family
In 1988, I traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my father’s side of the family to attend our 1st family reunion. This reunion focused on my grandfather’s maternal side of the family. My grandfather’s name was Sanders Willis, Sr. and his mother, Artimease (Benton) Willis Jackson, was still living at the time at the age of 86. My first visit was in 1984 to attend my cousin, the late Jerome Vernell, Sr.’s wedding, but this was to be my first exposure to my family on a much larger scale.
The family tree program (shown to the left) stated the root began with Ed & Artimease Benton (Artimease Jackson’s paternal grandparents). It also stated 7 children were born to this union:
- Ed Benton , Jr. (b. 1872) – My 2x great grandfather
- Charles Benton (b. 1873)
- Thomas Benton (b. 1874)
- Nellie Benton (b. 1876)
- Earnest Benton (b. 1880)
- Katie Benton (b. 1891)
- Maude Benton (b. 1893)
- Mamie Benton (b. 1905)
- Percy Benton (b. 1908)
- Dalton Benton (b. 1911)
- Velma Benton (b. 1913)
- Earnest Benton (b. 1915)
Twenty one years later, I decided to verify these facts on Ancestry.com. One day, I came across something a little puzzling. In the 1880 U.S. States Federal Census for East Baton Rouge Parish, page 28 (image 28 of 83), Artimease Benton is listed as “Tomese;” Mulatto, female, age 25 with the first 5 of her 7 children: Edward, Charles, Thomas, Nellie & Ernest.
|1880 U.S. Federal Census for
Artimease Benton & Children
This makes sense given the last two children are not born for at least another decade. It also states their father, who is not listed, was born in Missouri. However, the 1900 U.S. States Federal Census for East Baton Rouge Parish, S.D. #6, E.D. #28, sheet 10 (images 20 & 21) illustrates a discrepancy from the reunion program. Artimease is listed as Head of Household and a 45 year old widow of seven children. She also stated she was born in October of 1854. The following individuals and their relationship to her are as follows:
- Thomas Benton; son; born in July of 1874; age 25; single
- Nellie Jackson; daughter; born in Aug of 1876; age 23; married for 2 years
- Alfred Jackson; son-in-law; born in July of 1873; age 26; married for 2 years
- Katie Jackson; daughter; born in Aug of 1891; age 8; single
- Maude Jackson; daughter; born in Feb of 1893; age 7; single
- *Eddie Benton; son; born in Dec of 1872; age 27; married
- Ernest Benton; son; born in March of 1881; age 19; single
|1900 U.S. Federal Census for Artimease Benton & Children|
My initial thought was Katie & Maude were the children of Alfred & Nellie Jackson, but that means Nellie bore her first child at 15. The census record say she was married at the age of 21. Also, the relationship column pertains to Head of Household, implying these young girls are the daughters of Artimease, but the family Reunion program says their last name was “Benton.”
Now I’m confused!
In July of 2009, I asked my Aunt Marguerite, daughter of Artimease Jackson, why Katie & Maude’s last names were “Jackson” instead of Benton if they were Ed & Artimease Benton’s children. She was not sure, but she did remember that Maude Jackson (who married Joseph Davis, Sr.) was the last living child of Artimease Benton and the oldest living family member (95 years old) during the time of the reunion in 1988. She recalled that when her sister, Ruth Castle, invited the entire Davis Family to the reunion, Maude’s daughter, also named Maude Davis, replied “…but it’s the ‘BENTON’ family reunion. We are not Bentons.” Aunt Marguerite, interpreted this as some missunderstanding–that since their surname is now “Davis” instead of “Benton,” they didn’t feel it included them. As a result, Aunt Marguerite did not pursue it any further, but my suspicions were confirmed. The family tree was incorrect—Katie and Maude had a different father, but anyone that new the real story was deceased and the living family members were not aware. They just assumed they were Bentons.
|Artimease Wederstrandt Benton|
On December 14, 2010, James completely stunned me with an email of this INCREDIBLE picture of my 3rd great grandmother, Artimease (Wederstrandt) Benton. He said this picture sat on the mantle of his grandmother’s house as long as he can remember. I sent this to Aunt Marguerite and all of my family in Baton Rouge. No one ever saw this picture before…truly amazing!
|From (L-R): Doris Davis Fields, Artimease Wederstrandt Benton & Artimease Benton Willis Jackson|
Some time after that, James emailed a current picture of his grandmother, Doris, his mother and her sisters. Using PhotoShop, I combined her picture with other pictures of Artimease (Wederstrandt) Benton & my great-grandmother, Artimease (Benton) Willis Jackson (shown above).
* – “Eddie” Benton is my 2nd great grandfather
** – On March 29, 2013, I acquired the marriage record (below). Unfortunately, it did not indicate the parents of Thomas Benton & Artimease Wederstrandt.
|Marriage Certificate for
Thomas Benton & Artimease Wedserstrandt
|Marriage License & Bond for
Thomas & Artimease Benton