Black Sheep, Black Sheep – Where Are You? – Williams Co, OH


Pamela Pattison Lash

When researching a family, one may find information that indicates an individual broke the rules of society and became known as "the black sheep". Such is the case with this genealogical detailing of this breaking with convention by a father and later by his son.


The story begins in Rockhill Twp, Bucks Co, PA with the will of John Benner Sr, husband of Mary Magdalena Bos, proved on 3 June 1812.  “I give unto all my children to be equally divided between them or their lawful representatives with this express proviso that the share of my son Conrad Benner shall remain in the hands of my herein named executor during the term of his natural life and of which said sum of money he shall receive yearly lawful interest and after his decease I give and order his said share or parts of estate to be equally divided between all his lawful children or their lawful representatives.” 

            This Conrad Benner (1776-after 1853) first married Elizabeth Walter, 31 July 1797 and the names of their known children, all born in Bucks Co, PA, are found in Tohickon Union Church records.  These children were as follows: Catherine Keller, Michael, Adam, John, Elizabeth Yeagley.  Conrad and his family moved from Bucks Co, PA to Salem Twp, Columbiana Co, OH c1807.  There must have been some trouble brewing between Conrad and his father as evidenced by the father’s will of 1812.  Sometime before 1820 Conrad’s wife died and on 27 Feb 1820 the 43-year old widower Conrad married the 15-year old Susannah Daniels in Columbiana Co, OH (1805 PA-aft 1860 pos Washington Twp, Whitley Co, IN).

            Despite whatever Conrad did or did not do, he must have regained favor with his mother, because upon her death, 24 Dec 1828, Mary Magdalene Bos Benner mentioned him directly in her will.  “I give and bequeath unto my son Conrad Benner the sum of 200 pounds lawful money and the interest accrued thereon from the date of settlement of my late husband, John Benner, and that after the above mentioned legacy is paid as well as my just debts and funeral expenses then the remainder or residue thereof shall be equally divided and paid by my executor to my seven children: John, Henry, Conrad, Adam, Ann Cloe, Catherine, and Elizabeth.

            Conrad traveled back to Bucks Co and signed a release for his inheritance on 20 June 1831 stating that he lived in Knox Twp, Columbiana Co, OH and that is where he is found in the 1840 federal census records.  Conrad and Susannah Daniels Benner had the following known children, most born in Columbiana Co: Samuel (1823-aft 1865; m. Eliza Yeagley, 3 June 1846, Stark Co, OH); Anna (c. Oct 1825 – 19 Oct 1896, Whitley Co, IN; m. Phillip Holler); Conrad Jr. (1828 –aft 1860, Sugar Creek Twp, Boone Co, IN; m. Rachel E. Stewart, 25 Apr 1847, Columbiana Co); Delilah (25 Mar 1832 – 16 Sept 1874, Wms Co, OH; m1 Enos Yeagley, 11 May 1848, Wms Co [V2p102]; m2 George W. Smith, 26 Jul 1856, Wms Co [V2p168]); David (1834 - ; m Sarah Jane Smith, 1 Apr 1858, Wms Co [V3p5]).  According to Eliza Yeagley Benner’s obit, she and her husband Samuel came to Wms Co in 1846 so it may be that all of Conrad Benner’s second family made the move here at that time.

            From the 1850 Springfield Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p98 one finds Samuel Benner (27 OH), Eliza (26 OH), Judson (1/12 OH), Coonrod Sr. (79 PA), Susannah (47 PA), David (16 OH).  Next door is Conrad’s daughter Delilah, husband Enos Yeagley and their family.  Closeby is Conrad’s son, Conrad Jr. with his wife and children.

            Conrad Sr. may have left Wms Co c1853 to take up residence in Huntington Co, IN.  This needs to be further investigated.  His son Conrad Jr. is in Boone Co, IN 1860 census, and David disappears but son Samuel and daughter Delilah remain here.  Delilah’s second husband George Smith later moved to Miltonvale, Cloud Co, KS after her death and her son Enos Braden Yeagley Jr., relocated to Salinas, KS.

            On 12 Jan 1855 Samuel Benner’s brother-in-law, Enos Yeagley, died in Tiffin Twp, Defiance Co, OH, and Samuel along with John Coy and John Arnold, administrator, put up money as sureity for Enos’ real estate.  Samuel, who was owed $6.20 from a note he held against this estate, was paid on 2 May 1855.  Possibly Enos Yeagley and Samuel’s wife, Eliza, were related in addition to being in-laws.  By the 1860 Springfield Twp census p67, Samuel and family were enumerated as Samuel (39 OH), Eliza (39 OH), Judson (10 OH), Alva J. (8 OH), Anson (6 OH), Wilson P (4 OH), and Hiram McDaniels (14 OH), farm laborer.

            According to Eliza Yeagley Benner’s obituary, “Bryan Press”, 25 Dec 1898, the couple had nine children but only four have been determined to date: Judson H. (Aug 1850 – 15 Apr1929, DeKalb Co, IN; m Mrs. Elizabeth Waters Kline, 12 Sept 1875, Henry Co, OH); Alva J. (1852-bet 1860/1863); Anson D. (21 Jan 1854 – 22 Jan 1941, Wms Co; bur Brown Cem; m1 Mary Hardy, 25 Oct 1879, Henry Co, OH; m2 Amelia Schouer, c1886; divorced); Wilson P (1856-bet1870-1898).

            On 30 Sept 1861 Anthony D. Yeagley, son of John and Hannah Yeagley, died in Springfield Twp.  There may be a possible relationship between this Anthony and Samuel Benner’s wife, Eliza. Anthony left three young children, Elizabeth Melissa, Caroline M, and Davenport C. plus widow Tamer S. (Haines) Yeagley.  Samuel Benner was named as guardian for these minors on 25 Apr 1863 and resigned his duty on 11 May 1863.  A concerned party, Valentine Huffman, appeared before the local court stating that Samuel had misrepresented himself as the children’s guardian and that he had removed to North Burton, Mahoning Co, OH, with widow Tamer and her children.

            Eliza Benner, Samuel’s wife, placed a notice in the Bryan Democrat, 25 Feb 1864, for her runaway husband, Samuel. “From Springfield Twp, Wms Co, Samuel Benner and a widow named Taymer Yeagley.  She had 3 children - one boy and 2 girls- whom they took with them.  He left his wife and 3 helpless children.  He is about 5”9” tall, light auburn hair, red-colored heavy beard and short mustache.  She is small woman, dark complexion, black hair and eyes, and slim face.  Any information that will lead to the detection of their whereabouts will be thankfully received and liberally rewarded.  Mrs. Eliza Benner, Evansport, Defiance Co, OH.”  This article gives the reader a better picture of the physical appearance of Samuel and the runaway widow, Tamer plus the bitterness and desperate feelings of Eliza. 

            According to the Wms Co, OH Civil and Criminal Court Records, Journal 6 p464-465 on 28 Feb 1865 Eliza Benner appeared seeking a divorce from Samuel, stating that he resided in the home of Joseph Haines of Smith Twp, Mahoning Co, OH, and had committed adultery with Tamer S. Yeagley. Eliza received custody of 3 minor children, alimony in the form of an 80-acre farm, Sec 35, Springfield Twp plus $1,000 and livestock.  According to the Wms Co Atlases 1864, 1874, 1894 this property bears the name of S. Benner but by 1904 JH (Judson H) Benner is registered as the owner.  From the 1867 personal property taxpayers, Eliza Benner of Springfield Twp is listed, so Eliza must have chosen to keep her married name.  Many women who divorced in that time period wanted to revert to their maiden names even if they had children.  In the 1870 Springfield Twp census p4 Eliza Benner is head of household at age 50 along with her 3 sons, Judson, Anson, and Wilson.  In 1880 she is part of the Anson Benner household as his mother, age 59 with indication that both her parents were born in NJ.

            Eliza Yeagley Benner was born near Palmyra, Portage Co, OH, 13 Nov 1820 and died in Stryker at the home of her son, Judson, on 23 Dec 1898.  Seven of her nine children had died before her death.  Wms Co, OH Death Record (V3p98) lists her as a widow.  Her obituary does not mention her divorce but states that she was “a kind and loving mother and a cheerful companion.” From 1865 there is nothing found to-date on what happened to the runaway husband, Samuel.

            Postscript: There is a Wms Co, OH marriage for Elizabeth Urquehart, daughter of John and Mary (Holmes) Urquehart, marrying a Samuel Benner, 20 May 1855 (V2p156).  Elizabeth’s father John wrote a will and upon his death, 19 Nov 1873, he lists as one of his heirs, his daughter Elizabeth and husband Samuel Benner.  Presumably this is a different Samuel from the one detailed above.


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