What’s in a name?
Benoni Preston Pratt.
I’ve always found that a curious name, and one shared by my 3rd great grandfather (1821-1885), and his grandson, my great-grandfather. As per the website “Think Baby Names,” the name Benoni is of Hebrew origin and means “son of my sorrow.” I don’t have any idea if the older Benoni’s parents had a religious connection to that name, but since his father’s name was Hosea, also a Hebrew and Biblical name, it is possible.
As a side note, as a young man, my great-grandfather shortened his name to Nonie. In the 1900 census, he is listed as Benoni, a 16 year old son of Lansing T. Pratt, but in December 1906, his marriage record shows him as Nonie, and all of his documents from that time forward list him as Nonie.
I’ve recently written some about the different life paths of Benoni and his son Lansing here, and although there are still a lot of blanks in the life story I’m piecing together, the assumption that Benoni Pratt was a prominent citizen of all the communities in which he lived, remains very probable.
In the book History of Woodford County [Illinois], published in 1910 I found this mention of Benoni on page 217.
The town of Cruger was platted May 15 1856 by Benoni P. Pratt. It was named in honor of W.H. Cruger, who was vice-president and chief engineer of the railroad now known as the T.P. & W. The road was completed as far as Cruger in 1854, and the next year continued farther east. It was then that the first thots of a town were indulged in . The first warehouse was built by Mr. Kellogg and later Mr. King also erected one. The first store was opened by B.P. Pratt who came from Peoria. A postoffice was established with William Flager, the station agent, as postmaster. This postoffice was continued until August, 1909, when Cruger was attached to Eureka, as part of one of the rural routes. F. J. Schreiber, whose death occurred a few years ago, was for more than forty years postmaster of Cruger,. He was at that time the oldest acting postmaster in the United States in point of years of service. The height of its business prosperity was reached when two general stores were in operation.
Benoni Preston Pratt died in 1885 in Chicago at the age of 63. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Warren, Jo Daviess, Illinois.