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1880 U.S. Census
Obituary from the Batavia Daily News
CallNumber: CS / 71 / C989 1889
Note: ssing of Almighty God of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make public and declare this to be my last will and testament. Namely-- First. I will and direct that my just debts and funeral and customary expenses be paid out of my property. Second. I give and bequeath to Mrs. Jennie Adams of Batavia, N.Y. my parlor cook stove. Third. I give and bequeath to the First Baptist Church of Batavia N.Y. formerly situated on Jackson Street and now situated on Main Street, the sum of Two Hundred Dollars. Fourth. I give devise and bequeath all the rest residue and remainder of my property to my sister Grace Wilcox of Clifford Oswego County, New York and my niece Lettie A. Adams of Battle Creek Michigan to be equally divided between them, share and share alike. I hereby nominate and appoint my friend W. Harris Day of Batavia New York to be the executor of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 6th day of August, 1890. Mrs. Delight Benham ____________________________________________ Batavia Daily News 5 July 1898 Mrs. Delight Benham of Batavia Mrs. Delight Benham, a lifelong resident of Genesee county, died at her home, No. 19 Evans Street, at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon, aged 79 years. She is survived by one sister, Mrs. Grace Wilcox of Clifford; one niece Miss Lettie Fuller of Grand Rapids, Mich., and four nephews, Edgar J. Adams of Batavia, Ebbott Y. Wilcox of Newark Valley, John A. Adams of Albion, Mich., and Yates A. Adams of Battle Creek, Mich. The funeral will be held from the house at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon. _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ Blog posted Dec. 16, 2010 I begin with little background. This story began with my writing about Delight Adams Benham, my 2nd great-grandaunt. Her name was sweet, and because of that I was curious about her. Armed with quite a few documents, and then a will, I decided to try and find additional information. I previously posted "Delight Adams Benham and Is There a Story?" and soon I indeed discovered there was a story. It unfolds below, minutes after I saw the first newspaper article. The headline, "Alleged Wife-Poisoning" really caught my eye, and I thought there could be a connection to my Delight Benham. At least the "murderer" and Delight shared the same surname of Benham and they lived in the same county of Genesee in New York. I hadn't come across the name of Florence Tout Benham, the poisoned wife, but I ultimately learned everything about her. The story begins with the elopement of a orphaned 16 year old, wealthy girl, Florence Tout, and Howard C. Benham, both of Byron, New York in 1892. Her wealthy father died years before, and left $30,000 to Florence, once she reached 16. After a honeymoon to the Thousand Islands in New York, they settled into married life. Howard was about seven years older than his bride, and had worked as a cashier and bookkeeper. Howard's father, Martin, was appointed to care for her estate. The young couple moved to Batavia, New York. They had plenty of money and should have had a happy life. But something went terribly wrong on December 26, 1896. The young wife died after a number of days of being very ill. Some said she died of a heart failure, and then the rumors floated around that the death was due to unnatural causes. The autopsy failed to reveal a case of poisoning, but when a drug clerk claimed that Howard had purchased prussic acid twice, and that that clerk failed to record the sale, was he telling the truth? Soon, nobody could agree on the cause, including doctors. On January 9, 1897, Howard was arrested at 4:30 in the morning. The case soon created great excitement in the town, then the county and state, and details were reported in the New York Times as events occurred. To move the story along, I'll use the New York Times captions of their almost daily recaps of the trial of Mr. Benham. June, 21, 1897: Opening of trial (continual daily front page reports); July 29, 1897: Sentenced to chair; July 30, 1897: To appeal; Sept. 11, 1897: Request for new trial denied; May, 16, 1899: Date fixed for second trial; June, 13, 1899: Case in High Court - whole front page; Sept. 22, 1899: To have new trial; Oct. 24, 1899: To be electrocuted; Dec. 29, 1899: Gov. Roosevelt grants stay to Feb. 12; New trial approved; May 31, 1900: Trial now on; June 21, 1900: Found Not Guilty! I can only wonder how my 2nd great-grandaunt dealt with this tragic event. Delight's husband, then deceased, was a brother to Howard's grandfather. Delight was the wife of the granduncle of Howard, and I believe they met at some point, after all, they lived in the same area and shared the same surname. However, Delight died 1 1/2 years after the murder / death of Florence T. Benham. I'm not sure why Delight chose not to leave any of her estate to her Benham step-sons, who had removed to Colorado, many years prior. It was because of the will and her not naming the step-sons that I decided to investigate and learn why. I found a whole new story. There is so much more to tell; such as Howard's death, his father's death, the insurance problems, the 2nd wife's problem. These may be addressed in another blog. Sources Used: Ruth McEvoy Collection Pgs. 27-32 Listing of all the New York Times articles for the Benham Family. (This was a unbelievable find, and proved very valuable in my research. I am unable to find any information on Ruth McEvoy.) American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Volume 30 Page 57 (Google Books) First sentences below. To read more, click on above link. "Buffalo, N. Y.. Jan. 18.— The sensation in this vicinity, in drug circles as well as out, is the Batavia poisoning case. Howard C. Benham of that town is in jail accused of murdering his young wife with prussic acid after attempting her life with morphine." Fulton History (For newspaper articles) Fulton History From the New York State Bar Association The New York Court of Appeals Report People v. Benham (Note: I couldn't locate this wonderful source again.) ______________________ ______________________ Follow-up for Howard C. Benham and his family: “As for the motive for the crime, it was said that (Howard) Benham desired to be free from his wife, not only that he might inherit $30,000 that she possessed, but that he might marry a young woman with whom he was said to be desperately in love.” Howard was found not guilty in June, 1900, and tried to put his life in order. He desperately wanted to be in vaudeville and had signed a contract. The show was cancelled because there were too many protests in Buffalo against him. Other headlines state, he moved to Cleveland, tried to recover control of wife’s property from his step-father-in-law. In January 1901, Howard “reported married in Indianapolis to millionaire, Esther (Estelle) Crum.” The new Mrs. Benham says she fell in love with (Howard from a) picture from trial. On June 27, 1901 a paper reported he (Howard) was ill in Ohio with Typhoid fever, and it was reported two weeks later that he died in Columbus, Ohio, and was buried back home in Byron, New York. The story continues to be sad, for his property went to the lawyers, not to their son. Martin C. Benham (Howard's father): Howard’s father, Martin C. Benham had his own problems. And headlines as well. Martin moved in with the young couple, Florence and Howard, and was hired to handle their finances and to be the guardian of Florence. Everything seems to be fine, until after the murder and the arrest of his son in January 1897. Per the New York Times, March 20, 1897, “Batavia, N.Y., March 19.—Martin C. Benham, father of Howard, the alleged wife murder, made three attempts to take his own life yesterday. Mr. Benham has been gradually breaking down mentally since his son’s arrest.” Per the Democrat and Chronicle, Sept. 29, 1897 of Rochester, NY. – The headline: “Contest Over the Account of Martin C. Benham as Guardian.” He was in court because of possible misuse of the money, as there was a shortage in his accounts of $2,449.12. The headlines from March 1897 to January 1901 ran from, “Mind said Failing,” “Condition improved,” “Not insane,” “Health now excellent,” “Mentally confused,” “Declared insane,” “Home,” “Ill,” “in Jail on Contempt, then released on health reasons,” “Worse – Confined to bed,” “To be Freed Today,” “Has pneumonia – now at home,” and four days later “Died.” Other Family Members: Howard’s second wife eloped with a Cincinnati lawyer, per paper dated 12-7-1903. Mrs. Martin C. Benham (Howard’s mother) died December 1911. All of Howard’s sisters died young, all three under 35 years of age.
Note: "I Mrs. Delight Benham of Batavia Genesee County, N.Y. being by the ble
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