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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (April 22, 1906)
TIIE OMAIIA ILLUSTRATED BEE.
Erastus A. Benson, Republican Candidate for Mayor of Omaha
R A STUB A. BF.N80N. republican
mayoralty candidal and the first
In Omaha selected by the direct
votes of the members of his party.
Is so thoroughly on record about
views and convictions concerning mu
nicipal government that he should be well
understood, lie lias said many times In
different and amplified language that be
Is opposed to all kinds of graft according
to the widest Interpretation of that elaatlo
word; that he -favors the enforcement of
the laws to all concerned alike, and that
he believes In city ownership of public
utilities, and, without that, requiring tho
public service corporations to treat the
Mr. Benson himself Is the subject to be
dealt with her. The real Erastus A. Ben
son is, according to his friends, a good
many furlongs removed from the esthetic
Puritan his foes would have him believed.
It is true that no ene has dug up any scan
dal wortb quoting from his private life, nor
ascertained that he committed any crimes
In his business and public career. Although .
be has studied matters of city government
closely for ten years, and his home Is Ut
tered with books, pamphlets and magusines
on the subject, and he has traveled exten
sively throughout the United States, Can
ada and Mexlco and visited practically
every large dity on the continent, he has
never held public office.
Americas far many Geaeratlons.
When his forefathers emigrated from
England during the reign of King James
in the seventeenth century they picked out
Virginia for an abiding place and passed
up Plymouth Rock. The Beosona, who in
the dim ages sometime had originally hailed
from Sweden, magged to get along without
great moral discomfort In f re and easy '
old Virginia until th father of the mayor
alty candidate got to advocating the cause
of the slaves too hard. It was intimated to
him very plainly that If he placed any
value on his mortal existence he would do
well to vacate those parts. Rather than
try to fight It out alone, he came west to
Illinois and later Into Iowa, settling on a
farm near Grand View, where the mayor
alty candidate was born. During the rev
olution several of the Benson ancestor
were Puritanical enough to take a hand lu
it, and scrap a bit for a new flag. The
grandfather of his mother was a French
man and he came to this country to bear 4 v
hand In the revolution, and, finding him
self on the winning side, stayed.
Birth and Boyhood of Benson.
The birth of Erastus A. Benson occurred
April 27, 1S54, and he was, thurefore, but a.
lad when tho war of the rebellion began.'
The father who had left his Virginia home
because of sympathy for the slaves was
unable to go to the front himself, but he
sent three sons, elder brothers of Erastus.
The latter says he remembers when a tod
dler of 6 seeing his father carried to the
polls to vote for Abraham Lincoln In I860.
The elder Benson was a very sick and
crippled man and his life was despaired cif,
but he Insisted upon voting and was taksn
to the polling place, and the box moved
out from the little store that held It so he
might drop In his ballot With the elder
brothers In the war and his father disabled
Erastus caught an early share of respon
sibilities and hard work, en the farm.
When old enough he went to Grand View
academy and later worked his way through
the Wesleyan university at Mount Pleauant,
la., and a year at the Stat university at
Iowa City.. H taught country school'! part(
of the time and worked In the' harvest
fields and elsewhere on the farm during
vacation. He was about W years old when
he completed his schooling at Icwa City
and Immediately accepted a petition as
principal of the high school ani superin
tendent of schools at Wapello, the county
eat of his native county, Lou'sa.
His connection with this position has a
bit of Interest attached. Tb j superintend. '
ent at Wapello had been forced to resign
by a gang of young ruffirna In the school,
some of them 23 and 24 years old. Toung
Benson at Iowa City had gained some
thing of a reputRUon as an athlete. He
held the records for the Jumps and had
other feat' to his credit. The first day he
offlclat'j at Wapello was peaceful. That
evening on his way home he met several
c-; his older pupils engaged In a Jumping
match close by the choolhouse. They In
vited him, not knowing of his accomplish
ments, and lie accepted. He outjumped
them so far that they concluded the new
superintendent was a man of such physi
cal prowess that there was no hint of
en encounter during the two and one-half
years ho presided over the schools of the
Law Mad Real Estate.
Toung Benson was too ambitious to re
main a country sohool teacher. He studied
law at odd hours and about 1878 joined
his brother who was practicing the pro
fession at Davenport. H was admitted
to th Iowa bar, but did not proceed far
along legal lines, drifting largely by cir
cumstances Into the real estate business.
A syndicate placed considerable money In
his hands for the purchase' of farm lands
In Iowa and Nebraska, and It was on mis'
slons of this kind that he first became ac
quainted with Nebraska and Omaha. He
made frequent trips always passing through
and usually stopping off at Omaha. He re
mained In Davenport until June, ISSt, when,
having Investments on his own respon
sibility at Omaha, he moved here with his
Since then Mr. Benson has been a local
real estate man, doing little commission
and no rental business, but buying and
selling for himself and tn partnershlo with
others. His first big deal was the purchase
and laying out of the suburb tn the north
weft that bears his name. His holdtnn
originally were 8! acres. Mot of thl
property has been sold, but he retains
about 390 lota. He built a street ral'wav
to Benson ss a means of Indimlis; home
owner to locate, there, onerated It dnHnr
the hard time himself at a los of atvut
t4ft,W0 In order to keen faith with the wn.
pie he had sold lots to and lter srranced
to turn It over to the street railway
Thro as; a Prosperity Mad Advrrnlty.
Benson Is now boasting of a population
of 2,000. Many of the lota wore sold on
easy payments to men of small meant
who wsnted to own their own homos.
Th years of bleakness, and despair
followed, but It Is part of Mr. Benson's
most treasured pride to say that he never
foreclosed a mortgage where a man wnntod
to retain his place, and has not foreclosed
a mortgage In any contingency for ten
years. To the contrary, many storl.-t are
told by others of his leniency and gen
erosity. One mall clerk relates how he
bought a home to be paid for at the
rat of 128 a month. His wife been me an
Invalid and for seven years he paid noch
lng. Finally the wife died and the rle-k
found be owed all the principal and t-75
Interest. No demands had been made upon
him for either. Mr. Benson cancelled the
contract and receipted la full for the In
terest to give the man a new start.
At the same tlm th period of depres
sion also caught Mr. Benson hard. His
losses entailed by th failure of banks
and shrinkage of realty value mounted
lula th hundreds ec thousands H bad
bought Brlggs Place, a tract lying be
tween Forty-second street and tb city
limits and from Harney street tn Capitol
avenue and built and sold about thirty
homes there, only to be forced ' to los
practically all he had put Into It. But
he set his teeth and weathered the atorm,
coming through the hard times shaken
and a loser, but not destroyed. Since then
to has recovered much of the ground
lost and la today a man of large means
In excellent financial condition. He, de
clares that If he goes Into the mayor's
office he will do so at a financial sacrifice
far In excess of the salary paid by the
Work for the City' Growth.
During his twenty years' residence here,
besides his direct personal Interest In de
veloping Omaha and Its suburbs, Mr. Ben
son baa been actively Interested In many
movements designed to benefit the city.
A friend of his said the other day: .
"I cannot remember a single movement
of consequence that pertained to the up
building or the Interest of Omaha, whether
It be such things as the Auditorium, th
Grain Exchange, th Toung Men's Chris
tian' association or hospitals and churches,
that Mr. Benson has not assisted In some
way. He has contributed practically to
everything of this character and has
served on numerous committees and In
many organisations. His Interest and phll
anthrophy have extended beyond the usual
Mr. Benson donated half the ground, or
twenty-four lots, to the St. James Or
phanage at Benson, a Catholic Institu
tion, receiving the general support of th
community. He was one of the leaders
In the effort that secured the Juvenile
court law, served on the general commit
tee that supported the measure and per
sonally appeared before the legislature In
ERASTUS A. . BENSON.
Its behalf. He Is Intensely Interested In
the Juvenile court and Its workings and
believes its mission Is very Important and
the work done among children of Inesti
Mr. Benson might lay successful claim
to being the sponsor of the "city beautiful"
movement In Omaha. He originated, helped
to form and was the chairman of the tree
planting committee In 1898. This was before
the days of Improvement clubs and it was
their forerunner. The committee planted
over 2,000 trees of different kinds in vari
ous parts of the city and along country
roads. Most of them survive today, beau
tiful monuments to the effort. Only three
years ago Mr. Benson was one of the or
ganisers of the Omaha Improvement
league which undertook to stimulate the
beautlflcatlon Idea and accomplished a
great deal. He served as chairman of
the ways and means committee which col
lected the cash paid to children as prises
for gardens and th care of lawns.
The Commercial club and th Real Es
tate exchange number Mr. Benson among
their charter members and he belongs to
both organisations today. He was th first
president of the exchange and served In
this capacity several years. The Ak-Sar-Ben
has Included him among Its loyal
knights from the day of Its Inception.
He Is an Elk and an Odd Fellow and a
member of numberless other organizations
of public and seml-publio character,
Personality of the Man.
' Personal contact with Mr. Benson is the
surest and quickest way to get acquainted
with his characteristics. Some years ago
President Hadley of Yale undertook to de
fine the elemepts consisting a gentleman as
those that gave consideration to the rights
of the qther person first. People get this
Impression from meeting Mr. Benson. Ho
. has the air of both a student and a soldier.
The outlines of his fac. suggest both and ..
his bearing a military mind and training.
His library at his home. has proved too
mall for his books' and they are piled in
every room In the house. His collection is
particularly complete in histories and books
of reference. Municipal problems have In
terested him for years. The nature of his
calling forced the consideration of such
subjects upon htm and . he found them to
his taste. City government is n, favorlto
study and conversational theme. In, visit
ing other cities Inquiry Into the local gov
ernment has been his hobby. He Is never
at a loss to discuss themes bearing on or
relating to the subject.
The Family Residence.
In 1889 Mr. Benson built his comfortable
home at 4756 Dodge street, where he has
brought up a family of five children
Ben, aged 21, and Grant, aged 20, who are
tudents at Bellevue college; Mabel, aged
18, who is In the Sacred Heart academy;
Margie, aged 18, a high school student,
and Newman, aged 13, still in the grades
at Saunders school. The grounds around
the Benson home are commodious and part
of them has long been the playground of
the neighborhood children. Ths Is exactly
as the owner wishes and the more foot ball
and bsse ball games played there the bettor
he likes it.
Mr. . Benson Is not a man of fads. His
principal recreations are reading and con
versation. He smokes a good many cigars. Is
not a teetotaler, although a member of th
board of trustees and a supporter of tho
First Methodist church'. He Is a man of
fluent and easy address, capable of speak
ing well extemporaneously when required.
His Ideas and conclusion are quickly ar
rived at and clearly expressed. He Is tol
erant In argument and always desires th
other man's reasoning presented first.
. i. -'.. '
RESIDENCE 07 ERASTUB A. BENSON. AT 46S1 BODGE STREET. OMAHA.
' . ? 'I , - s .
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M 1 i 1 V 4
ul...-., --X.i..-l.: -
LOVING ROOM IN THE BENSON HOMO.
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ERASTUS A. BENSON AT HOME WITH ONE OF HIS SONS AND HIS TWO DAUGHTERS.
Interesting Sights and Scenes in a Famous Mexican City
irRMnsrT.T.n Mexico. Anrll 1. .
HI (Special Correspondence of Th
I Bee.) After a nlxht's travel from
Nogules, Arls., we alt'lve at t
o'clock at the town of liermoa.llo.
ana after a breakfast at t.'.e leading hotel w
are itad for a day f pleasure. We en
gage a carriage at the sum of $1 (Mexican)
an hour and are rapidly driven around
the town and suburbs. Our first vlalt Is
to the government palace, a lark's building
of brick and ccnent, made to represent
marble, and quite an imposing structure.
On entering you find yourself in a larje
pnilo, which Is tilled with trcts and Mowers.
There is aUo a grand staircase of marble,
and brunae statues decorate the landings.
Here are found ail the municipal office
and through th courttsy of one of the
ofilcials w were shown through Lh en
In front of the palace la the PUsa Zara
goxa, a beautiful park filled with all man-lie.-
of tropical plants, sweet smelling and
richly colored as are all tropical flowers. It
makes a beautiful and pleasant scene, and
at night when all Is lighted up by elec
tricity, and the regimental band Is playing.
It makes a scene really beautiful, as th
rich colorings of the flowers and the beauti
ful costumes of the senorltas, make a never
ending panorama and a never forgotten
General Torres' Hons.
Our next trip was to th residence of
General Luis EX Torres, commander of all
the federal troop for this district, com
prising the state of Blnaloa, Bonora and
lwer California. He ha on of th finest
Ad most beautiful rosldano la this city.
CATHEDRAL AT HEAMOSOXO. MEXICa
and his hospitality will never be forgotten.
We then went to see the old cathedral, an
unfinished structure, the seat of the bishop
ric of Bonora, and which, when finished,
will be one of th most Imposing buildings
in this part of the world. Our next trip
was to the penitentiary, a massive lot of
buildings, just about finished, where w
saw about 800 Taqul Indians who are to be
shipped to Tucatan, ' where several thou
sand have already been sent, the govern
ment desiring to get them as far away
from hero as possible, as they are deter
mined to do all the mischief they can. At
present, after behaving for some time, they
are again making trouble, killing and rob
bing wherever possible. Tb government
hopes by the end of this year to be well
rid of the entire tribe.
Our next trip was to the wster works,
- built on the side of a mountain which skirts
th town. Th water Is beautifully clear
and free from alkali.
Hermoslllo n Modern City.
Hermoslllo is quit a modern town, har
, Ing electrlo lights, street ears, cement side
walks, macadamised streets, telephones
and many other improvements. We also
paid a visit to the governor of the state,
Honorable Rafael Tsabal, a very pleasant
official, who showed us every courtesy.
The hotels her are all modern and up-to-dat.
and th larg business Ileuses carry
very large stocks of merchandise. Amer.
leans are well represented her In th
tat and have at least M.oOOOOO Invested.
Our next atop from Hermoslllo was Ouay
mas, about ninety miles south on th
Sonars) railway, aad situated oa bajr of
the same name. It Is a town of about
1,000 Inhabitants, and lies at the head of
one of the prettiest landlocked bays on
the western continent. The city Is old and
quaint, but with the building of the new
railroad from that point to Guadalajara,
and the building of the smeller, Guaymai
will make one of the most Important cities
In the republic A big modorn hotel, which
Is to be built by New Tork parties, will
make Guaymas a formidable rlvul for
California as winter resort, as the winters
here are mild, the climate Is magnificent
and boating, fishing and hunting can be
Indulged In to the heart's content. Fish
abound In the bay and such game as
rabbits, duck, quail, crane, etc., are In
Industrie of lonorn.
Mining has been the chief mainstay of
th state, but th uprising of the Taquls
has forced many mines to shut down for
th present. Farming Is also carried on
to a great extent, and the new railroad is
opening up a section of th country along
th Taqul river, which Is considered by ex
perts to be on of th finest and richest
In th world. Everything oan be raised
with very little car and attention, and of
most cereals two crops can be raided a
year. LOUIS HOSTETTER
A New Zeala&d Law
In New Zealand ft lnd holder may b
compelled, by law, tosell hi property to
th government at t&a valuatloA he plftoso
oa It tor taxation Xuxpos, ;
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