|Quakers The Religious Society of Friends.|
The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground.
The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House was exclusive to the members of the Society of Friends, who often took political stances on issues of the day. Among these were peace, Indian affairs, women's suffrage, and the evils of boxing, lotteries, and gambling.
Throughout the 19th century, Benjaminville was home to a distinct local community of considerable political importance. Benjaminville never grew very large though it did contain at least two churches besides the meeting house and a few shops. By 1870 the town's fate was sealed when the Lake Erie Railroad opted to bypass the town because of the elevation of its terrain. The local churches eventually moved closer to the new railroad, and the town's businesses shut down.
The village of Benjaminville was located near the present-day community of Holder, Illinois, east of the city of Bloomington. The town was founded on an elevated area of flat, treeless prairie. Today, much of the area is used as cropland. Near the site of Benjaminville is the present-day unincorporated community of Bentown, Illinois. The townsite lies in both Dawson Township and Oldtown Township.
In 1981 the only remaining structure, an old wagon shop, was destroyed by fire, leaving the meeting house as the last remnant of the town. The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and its burial ground were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 1983.
Illinois Historical Marker, erected May 12, 1995, reads: "Benjaminville was founded in the 1850s by Quaker farmers looking for rich prairie soil on which to grow their wheat. The Friends Meeting House, built in 1874, has changed little since then. The adjacent Burial Ground is divided into two sections: one for Quakers and a second for non-Quakers. When the expected Lake Erie Railroad went elsewhere, the town eventually died. The Meeting House and Burial Ground are all that remain of Benjaminville. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984."
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
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