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Hanna, Benjamin J. F.

Born: 1825-02-24 Golconda, Illinois

Died: 1891-12-15 Washington, DC

Benjamin J. F. Hanna was a farmer, teacher, printer, newspaper publisher and editor, Odd Fellow, Mason, Presbyterian, Republican, and public servant. He grew up primarily in southern Illinois, in the region known as Little Egypt. His only education was attained in the log schoolhouses available in the locality. From 1841 to 1845, he farmed and taught school in the winter. Then, in 1845, he secured employment at a printing office in Sparta, Illinois, where he gained skills and insight into the printing trade. By 1849, he had purchased his own newspaper and relocated to Chester, Illinois, where he operated the Chester Herald. In August 1849, he wed Margaret Phillips, with whom he had five children. He became a member of the Odd Fellows in 1849 and eventually became a leading figure in the organization, attaining the rank of Grand Master for the state of Illinois. By 1850, he owned $1,000 in real estate. In January 1855, the members of the Illinois House of Representatives elected him assistant enrolling and engrossing clerk. In 1856, he sold his interest in the Chester Herald and moved to Alton, Illinois, where he became editor of the Alton Courier. In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, he left the Courier and began working on behalf of the Union. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him quartermaster of United States Volunteers at the rank of captain. He remained in this position until after the Civil War.

Alfred T. Andreas, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: Alfred T. Andreas, 1883), 3:1298; Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 213; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Chester, Randolph County, IL, 73; Illinois House Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 7; The Junction City Union (KS), 19 December 1891, 2:1.