Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick
CLAIMED NEW LIFE AT BENTONSPORT
According to an article in Keosauqua’s State Line Democrat issued on Thursday, July 16, 1903 the community of Bentonsport and Vernon had been given new hope of revival because of two brothers by the name of Mason who had bought considerable real estate in the area, had constructed an old-fashioned log cabin for display purposes, and seemed eager to revive some of the businesses.
One hundred years ago you could buy dress goods, shoes, or clothing in Bentonsport. Businesses featured a large general store; a dry goods store selling clothing, tin ware and hardware; a grocery store; a restaurant; a hotel; a boarding house; post office; livery stable; two separate barbershops; a railroad depot; two doctors; and a lawyer. Vernon had a hardware/general store; a pottery; a kiln; and a grain mill. Unfortunately, a span of the bridge was out and there was no ferry service, thus trade within the community was badly crippled.
Yet Bentonsport had been in decline for years. It was a steamboat trade center reaching its zenith in the late 1850s and early 1860s when the population exceeded 500. Ferry service connected it with Vernon across the river. Vernon and Bentonsport combined had 700 or more residents, several mills and a newspaper printed on paper made in the vicinity. They competed with Bonaparte, Birmingham and Farmington as a hub of manufacturing and industry.
According to the writer, Masons were kind and generous people dedicated to helping their community prosper. With their help, the community seemed to be on the road to recovery. It was apparent that a good amount of real estate was available at very low prices, and some promoted the area as a good place to live with churches, friendly people, a good economy and pleasant atmosphere.
It was also being promoted that Bentonsport had reached the limit of its decline and was now improving and gaining ground. Unfortunately, statistics show that this was not fact.
1895 1900 1905 1910 1950
Bentonsport 270 254 201 141 75
State and Federal census figures show that Bentonsport continued its decline in spite of the efforts of the Mason brothers and others. This is just another example of how thepopulation statistics and facts do not justify romantic claims by area promoters.
(article from State Line Democrat submitted by Hal Hotle, Bentonsport)
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick