Benson, Somerset County

Created: Saturday, 28 March 2015 Last Updated: Saturday, 28 March 2015 Written by Administrator Print Email

Benson borough is one of the three boroughs of Paint township and is located in a bend of Stony creek. It was laid out by Emanuel Eash, in 1880, as the town of Bethel. A United Brethren church had been built here in 1874. The first dwelling house was built in 1880 by Hiram H. Boyts. The first store was opened by Tobias Mishler, who was also the first postmaster, a postoffice having been established in 1881 under the name of Holsoppel. J. W. Whisler succeeded Mr. Mishler, both in the mercantile business and the postoffice. John Hoover built a gristmill in 1881. A large steam flouring mill was built some years later by the Farmers’ Milling Company. A plant for the manufacture of fertilizers was operated by J. A. Boyer for some years in the earlier history of the town. He also operated a steam sawmill in the town. Such were the beginnings of the village of Benson, which, all things being considered, has had quite a rapid growth. In 1900 it had a population of two hundred and fifty.

In January, 1903, almost every business house in the place was destroyed by a fire, which started in the Farmers’ Milling Company’s mill at an hour when the entire town was still wrapped in slumber. The mill was destroyed. Three horses belonging to the milling company were burned to death. There was no fire department and the bucket lines could do nothing toward stopping the spread of the flames. Two dwelling houses and the general store of A. E. Cassler, in which the post office was located, quickly shared the fate of the mill. Two dwelling houses belonging to Leon Holsoppel, the Kautz Hotel, belonging to Mrs. Sue S. Holsoppel, and the large general store of Lewis Helsel all fell prey to the flames. The losses reached fully $50,000 somewhat less than one-half of which was covered by insurance. The gristmill, a three-story building, one hundred by eighty feet and well equipped, was not rebuilt. Another large mill has, however, been built since by the White oak Mill and Elevator Company.

Benson always has been a good business point, and notwithstanding the disaster that overtook it, has two hotels and eleven stores. It is also a shipping point on the railroad for a considerable territory. The First National Bank began business in 1905. The town was incorporated as Benson borough in 1892. William W. Wiand was the first burgess. He served two terms, and his successors have been W. H. Casler (two terms), Korah Kauffman, N. W. McAndrew, D. W. Border, James Casler (two terms).

(History of Bedford & Somerset Counties, PA; 1906)