Benjamin Franklin Auxier, SR
A Bum Rap?

by Carol Lee Yarbrough

            Benjamin Franklin Auxier, son of Abraham and Nancy Harris Auxier, was born in April 1797 in Virginia and died February 4, 1867 in Hamilton Co., IL.  He arrived in Southern Illinois abt 1811-1816 with his parents who migrated from Southwestern Virginia to what was then White County, IL.  The Auxier family settled in an area of White County that would become part of Hamilton County when the new county was formed from parts of White County February 8, 1821. Abraham was one of the very early pioneers of this area.  He settled northwest of present McLeansboro, near Auxier Creek before 1816.  The creek and Auxier’s Prairie were named for him. 1.

This wilderness area in Illinois presented many challenges for the Abraham Auxier family, not so unique to other early pioneers.  All but one challenge, that is, that threatened the financial security of this family.  Soon after their arrival the Auxier family had a brush with the law that probably influenced young Benjamin for the rest of his life.

On November 12, 1816, an intruder entered their home and stole 28 Spanish milled dollars, a string of colored beads, two rings and other items. Abraham, along with friend Archibald Standifer and young son Benjamin, felt sure they knew who the culprit was.  They soon visited the home of Thomas Mays and he reported that Salley Compton had given him 10 Spanish dollars in payment for a debt.  Abraham recognized the coins and after a search of Salley’s room, the other items were found.

Now, the case would seem to be cut and dry but it, instead, became the focus of the community that pitted neighbor against neighbor.  Those involved in the incident were Thomas Mays, Archibald Standifer, Thomas Rutledge, George McKenzie, Isham and Lydia Harrel, John Farmer, Daniel Hay, John Armstrong, Samuel Craig, Henry Hall, James Young, John B. Compton, Andrew Vance, John M. Graham, and John Taylor.

By the time the case made it to the early Court at Carmi, Illinois on May 5, 1817, at risk was the financial security and reputation of the Auxier family and the future and reputation of Sally Compton and that of one, John B. Compton. In the end, Salley Compton was found not guilty of the theft and John B. Compton was found guilty of perjury. 2.

Benjamin Auxier may have perceived the trial as a far cry from justice.  He may have learned to become more reliant on his own initiative when it came to “justice”.

In Goodspeed’s History of Hamilton County, Illinois, the unknown author states “Benjamin Auxier is well remembered from a difficulty he had with a man named Grant, occasioned by jealousy of the latter with reference to some woman whose name is not to appear in this history.  In connection with the affair Grant swore he would kill Auxier, and Auxier, wishing neither to be killed nor to kill Grant, caught him in the woods, bound him to a log with a strong withe across his neck, and put out both his eyes.” 3

            Did this statement assure Benjamin’s place in history? Or did he get a bum rap?

            Benjamin married Elizabeth the daughter of his father’s friend, Archibald Standifer and his wife, Priscellah Bolin, on April 22, 1819 in White County, Illinois.  Shortly after his father died in 1830, Benjamin and many other relatives decided to make a new beginning – in Shelby County Illinois.  Among those families were Archibald and Priscellah Standifer and their children, except for Job Standerfer who remained in Hamilton County.  Job was married to Mary Daily, daughter of John and Polly Maulding Daily, and she probably wanted to remain close to her family.  Others were the John Taylor family, Evan and Eli Waller families, and the young James Bolin family. (James was married to Nancy Taylor in November 28, 1821 in Wayne Co., IL.  She was the sister to Polly Taylor who married Nathan Garrison). Benjamin Auxier’s young siblings accompanied him.  They were Desiah A., John, Matilda, and Rachel.  His brother Samuel was married by 1830 to Nelly Harris in Hamilton County was found in Shelby County at an early date also. He and his wife may have made this trip with the other family members in 1830 also.  These families were all related in some way. 4 & 5

            Among the group were several young children and infants.  No doubt their wagons were heavily loaded with their personal belongings.  Since it was winter, their food supply may have been short and certainly they weren’t prepared for what lay ahead.  Snow began falling and continued throughout the winter.  The conditions were so terrible, it became known as the “winter of the deep snow”.  In some places the drifts were from six to seven feet.  The roads disappeared in the winter wonder, as did fences and land marks.  People all over Illinois were freezing and starving to death – kept prisoners in their own homes.

            But our little group of hearty pioneers, slowly moved forward to the north.  They drove over “stakes and ridered fences” toward their final destination – Jonathan Creek township in Shelby Co., Illinois.  On their way, they passed an Amish settlement.  The women and children were suffering and needed shelter and food.  The Amish farmer turned down the men of the group when they asked for help.  But Benjamin Auxier would not be denied!  After spending a few minutes alone with the farmer and “threatening to throw him down”, the Amish man and his wife became the most amicable hosts.  Benjamin saved the families and the children were given milk. 6

            Benjamin Auxier and his family continued to live in Shelby County for many years.  We find him on the 1830 Census in the 5th precinct. In 1835/1836 he is listed as a customer of the Gordon and Thornton Co. Store of Shelbyville.  In 1840, he is still in Shelby (no township listed).  He has not been found on any 1850 census.  But by 1860, he had returned to Dahlgren, Hamilton County. 7

            Benjamin purchased government lands in Shelby County.  In August 10, 1838 he bought land which was located in W1/2 NE, 22/12N/4E (80 acres); NENE , 22/12N/4E/N (40 acres) and NWNW, 23/12N/4E/N (40 acres) for a total of 160 acres.  Later on October 10, 1840 he purchased 80 more acres located at W1/2 NC, 26/12N/4E/N and 40 more acres in SWSE 14/12N/4E/N 3rd meridian.8

            In Shelby County, Illinois probate records, it is noted that Benjamin Auxier purchased property from the estate of Jacob V. Sawyer who died intestate about October 29, 1843.  His estate was appraised and his personal property sold on January 10, 1844.  Also, purchasing property from that estate was Daniel G. Carter, Benjamin’s son-in-law. On November 13, 1844, Benjamin purchased property from the estate of Joseph Carter, SR. who died intestate and who estate was appraised October 22, 1844.9 In other probate records we find that Benjamin purchased property from the estate of Jane Dazel, whose Will was probated November 16, 1846 in Shelby County.  Benjamin’s brother, John Auxier, posted bond for the estate. 10 

            Upon his return to Dahlgren (his father Abraham is buried in the Shelton Cemetery there) before 1860, Benjamin purchased land from Joseph Shelton.  Shelton had bought the land from the Federal Government.11  It was in this same vicinity that Benjamin had spent his youth.

            Benjamin and Elizabeth Standifer Auxier reared two fine sons who served honorably in the Civil War. Benjamin Franklin Auxer, JR. was known as “Frank”.  He served as private in Company K of the Illinois 50th Infantry from December 1, 1864 until July 13, 1865 when he was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky.  His residence at that time was given as Okaw, Shelby County, Illinois. 12  Benjamin’s son Samuel Benton Auxer, known as “Benton” enlisted in July 1862 at the Cisco Grocery, north of Shelbyville, in Shelby County.  He served in Company I of 126th Illinois Volunteer Infantry as a private. 13   His third son, James Madison did not fare so well in his military service.  I believe him to be the James M. Auser who enlisted in the 126th Illinois Infantry as a Private on August 15, 1862 in Shelbyville.  On September 4, 1862, he mustered into Comapny K.  He deserted on June 30, 1863.14

            At the time of Benjamin’s death in 1867, a woman named Art Green was living with Benjamin and Elizabeth in Dahlgren.  Nothing is known of this woman except that she was 42 years old and had a sizeable estate for the times.  She was also “insane”.  Benjamin made provisions for this lady in his hand written Will, which were carried out by his son, Benjamin “Frank” Auxier.15

            Benjamin did not leave a formal Will; instead eight few days before he died he wrote down “on a sheet of paper” the last requests he would make in this life and only when it became obvious to him that he was not going to win this last fight.  On February 4, 1867, he left a hand written Will and Testament that provided for his wife, Elizabeth, and all of his children: Frank, Benton, James Madison, Sarah Mahoney and Polly Ann Craig and Cynthia Carter.  His long time friend and brother-in-law, Job Standerfer, administered his estate.16

            Benjamin died in Hamilton County on February 4, 1867 and, like his father, is buried in Shelton cemetery.  Elizabeth died two years later in Hamilton County on November 18, 1869 and is buried in Jonathan Creek cemetery,  Moultrie County, Illinois.

            And so ends my story of Benjamin Auxier.  A bum rap?  You decide.


1.   The Founding Pioneers
by Ralph S. Harrelson for Illinois Magazine, February 1978

2.   Abraham Auxier – Incident in Illinois by Judith Tickel Need,
      pub. Auxier Newsletter, November 1998 
For the complete article, click here!!

3.   Goodspeed’s History of Hamilton County, Illinois; pub. 1887; p. 249

4.   History of the Bolin Family; 1939 by H. E. Bracken; p. 107.9/107.10

5.   Combined History of Shelby and Moultrie Counties – pub. 1881

6.   History of the Bolin Family, ibid. 

7.   Illinois: 1820 White Co. Census; 1830 Shelby County Census; 1840 Shelby County Census; 1860 Hamilton 
     County Census.

8.   Illinois Federal Land Grants

9.   Shelby County, Illinois Probate Journal I 1839-1849; by Shelby Co. Historical Society, Journal I, pp. 32, 40

10. Shelby County, Illinois Probate Journal II 1843, 1845-1850, Part I;  by Shelby Co. Historical Society; p. 19

11. History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory Prepared by Continental Historical   
      Bureau of Mt. Vernon, Illinois, December, 1960  (On this Website).

12. Illinois Civil War Data

13. Illinois Civil War Data from Auxier Homepage.

14.  Illinois Civil War Data

      15. Illinois 1870 Census; B. F. Auxer, Jr.
              35/34: B. F. Auxier, age 37 m, Carpenter, $1100, $140, b. I:
              Nancy, age 33 f, Keeping House, b. IL
              Landsan, age 15 m, b. IL
              Marry, age 12, f, b. IL
           John, age 10, m. b. IL
           Allice, age 7, f, b. IL
           Cloyed, age 2,m, b. IL
           GREEN A., age 45, f, $1100, $700, b. IL Insane

16. Benjamin Auxier Will; Probate File, Hamilton Co., IL; Box 19, File#4 – April 18, 1867. (See Wills - this website)

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