History Record View

Title: Hon. Benj. F. Gregory
File Attachment:
Attachment Type:

Hon. Benj. F. Gregory, son of James and Elizabeth Lee Gregory, was born in Lawrence county, Indiana, April 1, 1816. With his parents, he moved from Lawrence county to Shelby county in 1822. In 1831 they moved to Warren county. He was one of ten children who lived to years of maturity. He was educated in the common schools and attended Wabash College. He was considered a remarkably bright pupil. His Latin professor at Wabash wishing to test his ability, allowed him to memorize the whole Latin grammar in two weeks, thereby sowing the seeds of his after nervousness. He taught school in Warren and Fountain counties and studied law at night and during vacations. He also read law in the office of his brother, Judge R. C. Gregory, of Lafayette. After he was admitted to the bar to practice law, he opened an office at newport. In 1839 he married Hannah E. Hefley and established himself in a law office in Williamsport, Indiana. In his county and in his state, he was a leading lawyer, a leading spirit in politics of the county and state and a man of integrity and honor.

He was elected treasurer of the county, which office he filled with integrity and to the satisfaction of his friends. He was elected several terms to the Legislature and held that office when Morton was governor of Indiana, and by his counsels and his political policies greatly aided Morton in preventing Indiana from seceding from the Union. He was Morton's warm personal friend. When in the Legislature, he was chairman of the educational committee and at the instance of Mr. Gregory, Prof. J. P. Koonse, then a resident of Williamsport, framed the present free school law almost as we have it today. By the aid of Prof. Smart, Prof. Hoss and others, Mr. Gregory was enabled to give to Indiana a system of free schools second to no other state in the Union.

It was to Mr. Gregory's untiring energy and labor, more than to any other man, to whom Williamsport is indebted for her county seat and court house today. These efforts were put forth when great efforts were made to change the county seat. At conventions, rallies, and all public meetings all over the assembly would be calls for "Gregory" because he spoke with so much enthusiasm that he put life and fire into the meetings.

He was a devout Christian. However arduous his labors were during the week, Sunday found him in the Methodist class room, the public service and in the Sabbath school, of which he was superintendent some thirty years. He was also always found in the weekly prayer meeting. He loved all churches, but he ardently loved the Methodist church and was an untiring worker for the advancement of her interests.

In 1872, Warren county brought him forward at the Republican nominating convention as their candidate for congressional honors. The leadership fell to another, and "Ben," as he was familiarly called, went to work with a than any man. In 1872 he was elected one of the state presidential electors than any man. In 1872 he was elected one of teh state presidential electors and was the one chosen to carry the vote of the state to Washington City. He was known, loved and trusted by almost every man, woman and child in his county.

He was a kind and loving husband and father. Few men ever toiled more incessantly for their loved ones. His industry was remarkable and indeed it was his fault, as he overtaxed his brain until it could bear the strain no longer, and nervous prostration and death was the result. His friend of thirty years standing, Rev. John L. Smith, said at his funeral, "To my own community I may say 'know ye not brethren that a prince and a mighty one is fallen in our Israel today?" He repeated the poem, changing the name,

"Oh! Gregory, the man, the brother,
And art thou gone and gone forever,
And hast thou crossed that unknown river
Life's dreary bound!
Like thee where shall we find another
The world around?"

At his death, as at the death of his son John, the whole community mourned. He was the father of three sons two of whom, John and Benjamin Robert, attained the years of manhood. He was a good financier and amassed a competence, but was honest in all his dealings and even those who had personal differences with him could leave their widows and orphans to his guardian care with full assurance that they would never be wronged. In his palatial home in Williamsport, March 7, 1874, he fell asleep, one of America's uncrowned kings.

[Page 964-966.]

Date: 1/1/1913
Origin: Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties Indiana
Author: Thomas A. Clifton, Editor
Record ID: 00000963
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

Information in this record is provided for personal research purposes only and may not be reproduced for publication. If you have questions about copyright issues contact the archive source listed above.