by Polla Horn for
The Frostburg Express
Prominence and tragedy of the Benson family
John N. Benson was born in Washington, D.C., on May 6, 1853. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Baltimore, where he attended school and grew into manhood.
John came to Allegany County in 1872 and married Mary Bachman on Nov. 13, 1873. He wa engaged in business for a short time with his uncle, John Carson, and eventually took a position as collector for the gas company in Frostburg. Over the years he held several other position: clerk for Beal, Bausch and Company; clerk for the Borden Mining Company; Frostburg Postmaster from 1893 until 1898; and general manager of the Big Savage Mountain Fire Brick Company in Allegany (now Zihlman).
John was known as a staunch Democrat and was elected as a delegate to the Maryland Legislature in 1888. He was elected mayor of Frostburg, serving in 1901 and 1902.
John and Mary lived at 215 Frost Ave. and had eight children.
Those with intelligence, means, prestige and prominence are not exempt from tragedy and sorrow.
The couple's oldest son, Walter, died in 1893 from spinal meningitis at age 18; a daughter, Emma, died before her 10th birthday; and son Joseph, 15, was tragically killed on March 31, 1904, on the tramway at Big Savage Mountain Fire Brick Mine when he was hit by a load of wood. To add to this family's pain, his father was general manager of the mine at the time of Joseph's death.
The mine was near the headwaters of Sand Spring Run, 1.8 miles northwest of Frostburg, and supplied fuel for the brickyard at Allegany. Another son, Davisson Armstrong Benson, eventually became manager of the Big Savage Mountain Fire Brick Company.
Mary died in 1912, and John died in 1919. They were buried with their children in Frostburg Memorial Park.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the crossroads of state Route 36 and the National Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our Georges Creek miners and name those who perished while mining.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the
Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765 Frostburg, MD 21532.
We welcome updated information and encourage your participation.
Contact Polla Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Bucky Schriver at email@example.com
if you have a story of your own to tell. Be on the lookout for future Miner Recollections.