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Benjamin, county seat and first town organized in Knox County, is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and State Highway 6, eighty-three miles southwest of Wichita Falls. Hilory H. Bedford, president and controlling stockholder in the Wichita and Brazos Stock Company, founded the town in 1885 and named it for his son Benjamin, who had been killed by lightning. To encourage settlement in the region, Bedford gave each of his twelve fellow stockholders a fifty-acre tract of land and set aside forty additional acres for a town square. He was instrumental in the organization of Knox County in 1886, with Benjamin as the county seat. The town received its first mail service in 1884; Bedford was postmaster. In 1886 the Benjamin school was organized with R. P. Dimmitt, Mrs. Oliver, and Mrs. M. S. Berry as first teachers. Other early residents included W. P. Lane, who opened a saddle shop in 1885, Tom Isbell, the first sheriff of Knox County, and Dr. G. H. Beavers.
The courthouse was constructed in 1938 and the school buildings for the independent school system in 1942; both projects were built with Work Projects Administration labor. Other establishments in the county seat in 1986 included four churches, four service stations, a cafe, and the Knox County Museum. The museum, located at the courthouse, has an excellent barbed wire exhibit and numerous other frontier artifacts. Benjamin is the site of the colorful Moorhouse Park, dedicated by the state highway department in 1965. Four miles east of town is another popular tourist attraction known as the Narrows, a picturesque crest that separates the drainage basins of the Wichita River. The town, which was incorporated in 1928, is located on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and derives most of its income from farming, ranching, and oil. Benjamin had a population of 600 in 1940. It recorded 257 residents in 1980 and 225 in 1990. In 2000 the population was 264.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mrs. R. D. Gray, Early Days in Knox County (New York: Carleton, 1963). Knox County History Committee, Knox County History (Haskell, Texas: Haskell Free Press, 1966). Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982).
Edloe A. Jenkins
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