Benton (town), Wisconsin
Benton is a town in Lafayette County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 469 at the 2000 census. The Village of Benton is located within the town. The unincorporated communities of Jenkinsville and Strawbridge are also located in the town.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.6 km²), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 469 people, 159 households, and 131 families residing in the town. The population density was 16.7 people per square mile (6.5/km²). There were 166 housing units at an average density of 5.9 per square mile (2.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.57% White, and 0.43% from two or more races.
There were 159 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.8% were married couples living together, 5.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.6% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.95 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the town the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 115.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 116.3 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $38,077, and the median income for a family was $41,250. Males had a median income of $30,179 versus $21,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,621. About 11.0% of families and 11.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.
Before the town of Benton was settled, Indians of the Pottawatomie and Winnebago tribes would pass through its modern boundaries. American Indians were also the first to discover the rich lead deposits located in the area, which is part of the Driftless Area, in what is now southwestern Wisconsin. As Europeans moved through the region, the American Indians of the area introduced them to the rich mineral deposits that would later draw them to the region en masse.
Though Europeans passed through and visited the region, threats from the Indians kept the area from being permanently settled until Andrew Murphy, along with his wife Catherine, five sons, a French voyageur named Francois and a servant named Peggy, established a homestead in the area that is now the town of Benton in 1827. Though no one settled for several years after the Murphy party, the relative safety after the conclusion of the Black Hawk War and the prosperity promised by the rich lead deposits brought large numbers of settlers.
Benton continued to grow and prosper, as the need for lead during the Civil War helped Benton recover from the Panic of 1857. Agriculture, too, fueled Benton's economy and by the end of the 19th century, Benton was home to three churches, four general stores, and many businesses.
Benton has long since moved from the extractive economy of mining to one based in agriculture and modern business.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Thwaites, Reuben. "Notes on Early Lead Mining in the Fever (or Galena) River Region". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 02/12/2013.
- Butterfield, Consul Wilshire (1881). History of Lafayette County, Wisconsin, Containing an Account of Its Settlement, Growth, Development and Resources: An Extensive and Minute Sketch of Its Cities, Towns and Villages ... Its War Record, Biographical Sketches ... the Whole Preceded by a History of Wisconsin, Statistics of the State, and an Abstract of Its Laws and Constitution, and of the Constitution of the United States ... Chicago: Culver, Page, Boyne & Co. p. 801.
- Carter, Jim (2012). Benton: Historic Mining Village. Monroe, Wisconsin: New Life Press. p. 238.