Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson

Representing: Union

Unit History

  • 76th Illinois Infantry H

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Daniel Benson
Full Unit History

Organized: Summer, 1862 Kankakee, IL
Mustered In: 8/22/62 Kankakee, IL
Mustered Out: 7/22/65 Galveston, TX
Discharged: 8/4/65 Chicago, IL

Regimental History


The 76th, a three year western theater regiment, was mustered into Federal service on 8/22/62 and was immediately ordered to Columbus, KY. There it was armed and drilled while performing fatigue and picket duties.

In early October the regiment was ordered to Tennessee. It then moved into Mississippi and concluded 1862 with Union Gen. U.S. Grant along the Mississippi Central Railroad.

May, 1863 the 76th again joined the forces commanded by Gen. Grant as they moved toward Vicksburg, MS. After unsuccessful Federal attacks on the city unit settled into siege trenches close under Confederate cannon.

After the surrender of Vicksburg on 7/4/63 the 76th joined Union Gen. W.T. Sherman's operations against Jackson, MS. The regiment was engaged with Rebel forces at that place from July 12th to the 16th.

In May, 1864 the regiment joined the expedition to Yazoo City, Mississippi. During this period it fought in the battles of Benton, Vaughn's Road 10/1/1864 Petersburg, VA and Deasonsville, MS May 4. Yazoo City was then captured and occupied.

Returning from an expedition to Jackson, MS that July a sharp engagement was fought with the enemy between Jackson and Clinton. Cut off from the rest of the command, the 76th cut its way to freedom, but in doing so lost 102 men. 16 were killed and left on the field while 86 were wounded or missing.

The 76th, in the deep south during the spring of 1865, engaged Rebel forces Spanish Fort (3/27 - 4/8/65) near Mobile, AL. In this, the regiment's last battle, it lost 17 killed and 81 wounded. 

After Spanish Fort the 76th remained on duty in Mobile until late June when it was ordered to Galveston, TX. There it remained until final muster. It then returned to Chicago, IL where the men were paid off and the regiment disbanded.

Soldier History

Residence: Yellow Head Kankakee Co., IL   Age:
Enlisted/Enrolled: 7/26/62 Momence, IL   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 8/22/62 Kankakee, IL
Mustered Out: 7/22/65 Galveston, TX  
Highest Rank: Cprl.
Rank At Discharge: Cprl.  

Family History


Daniel Benson was born in Thomastown Saginaw Co., MI during 1845. No specific birth month or date have been found within available documents.

The parents of Daniel were Stephen (b.3/10/1796 Livingston Co., NY - d. 6/15/1889 Mt. Vernon, WA) and Mary Ann (nee Van Ness b. 1/29/14 Pompton Plains Morris Co., NJ – d unk). The Benson family was a farm family.

 During the U.S. Census of 1840 they were residing in Saginaw, Saginaw Co., MI. A decade later, in 1950, they were still in Michigan and Saginaw Co., but by then their address community was Tittabawassee.

Daniel was the sixth of eight identified Benson children. Siblings older than he were: Mary (b. 1832 Saginaw, MI), Jeremiah S. (b. 1836 MI), George (b. 1838 MI), Hannah b. 1840 MI) and John (b. 1842 MI). Younger than Daniel were Sarah A. (b. 1848) and Charles (b. 1850). As noted, all of the Benson children were Michigan born.

The next fact we learn about Daniel is that by 7/26/62 he was residing not in Michigan, but in Yellow Head, IL.  When he had moved there is not known. As for why, his older brother, George, lived in the same community, so perhaps Daniel was residing with him.

July 26, 1862 is notable because that was the date on which Daniel enlisted in the U.S. Army. Days thereafter he was mustered in to Company "H" of the 76th Illinois Infantry. Before Federal muster, however, older brother George enlisted in the same company and regiment. Both entered the ranks as private soldiers, but performed well in the service. On 5/30/64 Daniel was promoted to corporal. George rose to the rank of sergeant. The brothers survived The War and were both mustered out of the military on 7/22/65 in Galveston, TX.

It appears likely that after exiting the military Daniel returned to Kanakee Co., IL. He was definitely there by 9/30/66 as that was when and where Daniel married.

Daniel's bride was Mary Ellen Kile (b. 4/3/48 Crete, IL). After marrying the couple settled into farming in Sumner Kankakee Co., IL.

The union of Daniel and Mary would produce four children only two of whom survived to adulthood and are named: George Elmer (b. 12/14/70 Chicago, IL) and Orval/Orville Raymond (b. 7/20/82 Seattle, WA).

As noted by the birthplace of George Elmer, it appears that by 1870 the Bensons were no longer in Kanakee County. Why they were in Chicago is not documented, but perhaps they were "just passing through" The Windy City on their way west when the "blessed event" occurred.  According to Daniel's later obituary, he/they arrived in Seattle King Co., WA in 1871. That same obituary also noted brothers of Daniel residing in the Puget Sound region, so maybe they persuaded Daniel and family to move west.

It seems that almost immediately after arriving in Seattle Daniel obtained employment within the vast "mosquito fleet" of steamships that in pre-automobile days, plied the waters of Puget Sound. The U.S. Census of 1880 noted the Bensons residing in "Lake Union" King County. Daniel, it reported "works on a steamboat."

Daniel reportedly worked on the steamers for eighteen years rising to the "rank" of master. Some of the many vessels he captained included the Chehalis, City of Quincy, George E. Starr, Edith, Washington, Josephine and the Eliza Anderson.  

 Around July, 1898  "Captain Benson" - the nickname by which he was known to many - had left wife Mary, son Orval/Orville in the family's Seattle (913 Lenora Street) home to travel "North to Alaska" with the gold rush of that era. In Alaska he first worked in Atlin, British Columbia Canada before, in September, 1899 moving from that district to a mine on Douglas Island.

Here's what happened next as excerpted from the Seattle Post - Intelligencer newspaper dated Sunday February 25, 1900 (page 6, column C. Credit for finding the obituary goes to Denise Otteson).



Neck Broken and Skull Crushed by Fall of Rock - Fell Thirty Feet - Was a Union War Veteran and Pioneer Puget Sound Mariner.


Capt. Daniel Benson, a Pioneer Puget Sound mariner, met death February 15 in the Treadwell mine, on Douglas Island. His violent end came about through the fall of a hanging rock. It appears he was at work blasting in a shaft or tunnel when an explosion jarred the rock loose. It fell a distance of twenty-five or thirty feet, striking him on the head. Instant deal resulted from concussion of the brain. His neck was also broken.

The remains of Capt. Benson and the news of his sad death came on the steamer Dirigo which arrived from Alaska yesterday........A veteran of the civil war, he served until July, 1865. Though he saw continuous service and distinguished himself for bravery, he never drew a (U.S. Government disability) pension or became a member of the (Grand Army Of The Republic) G.A.R. (Post war Union veteran’s socio/political org.)

He was a man well thought of by his many friends and acquaintances. His death is mourned by a large number of relatives.

Although the news article indicated Daniel’s remains would be buried in Seattle's Capitol Hill Lake View Cemetery, they were not. Instead, Daniel was/is interred in the G.A.R. Cemetery just north of those grounds.

After her husband's death Mary remained in the Puget Sound area. There is not a census finding for her in 1910, but as of 1920 she was a resident (inmate) of the Retsil, Kitsap County Washington Veterans' Home.

Mary Ellen Benson died on 9/22/22 in Retsil. Only Union Civil War veterans are buried in the Seattle G.A.R. Cemetery, so her final resting place is not known. (She is buried in WA Veterans Home Cemetery, Retsil, Kitsap County, WA).


Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Seattle

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Seattle, WA

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