Benton County, MN

Local History

Minnesota became an independent territory in 1849 after which nine original counties were established, Benton, Dakotah, Itasca, Mahkahta, Pembina, Ramsey, Wabashaw, Wahnahta, and Washington.  Seven other counties, Aitken, Anoka, Crow Wing, Isanti, Mille Lacs, Morrison, and Sherburne were partly formed from the original Benton County land.  Counties such as Cass, Itasca, Lake, Morrison, Pembina, St. Louis, and Sherburne combined their records with Benton County before the start of their own official records.

Benton County is named in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of St. Louis, Missouri, a strong advocate of free land laws which eventually led to the growth and development of the country after the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862.  Benton was born near Hillsboro, N.C. on March 14, 1782 attended Chapel Hill College (now the University of North Carolina) and the law department of William and Mary College, Williamsburg, VA. He was admitted to the bar at Nashville, TN in 1806 and commenced practice in Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee. He died April 10, 1858. Benton counties in Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, and Washington are also named for him. Click here to see photographs of Senator Benton's gravesite in St. Louis, Missouri.

Today, Benton County is a moderate sized county in central Minnesota, part of the St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area. St. Cloud began as three separate settlements on the Mississippi River which were founded by three extremely different men. One of the town sites was begun by a former slave owner who was involved in the fur trade, bringing slave-owning Southerners to the area.  A second settlement was begun by a professional town entrepreneur who attracted Protestants opposed to slavery.  The third site was intended for a sawmill which drew Catholics from Germany.  In spite of the differences, the three settlements eventually merged into one city in 1856.  Soon after, granite deposits were discovered and area granite companies began shipping granite to sites all over the world.

History of Benton County at the Benton County official site.

County History at the Benton County Historical Society and Museum.

Other links on local history can be found on the Research Links page.

The Lost Village of Langola is near the NW corner of Benton County, just above the confluence of the Platte and Mississipi Rivers.

Read about the early days of Sauk Rapids.

Updated 9 Apr 2014 by William Haloupek

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