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Hon. William F. Benson. One of the most responsible offices under the jurisdiction of the State of Kansas is that of state bank commissioner and examiner. One of the best appointments – best because it was based entirely on fitness rather than for purely political reasons–made by former Governor George H. Hodges brought to this office William F. Benson, who had performed its varied and delicate duties for the past two years.
Mr. Benson went into office with practical experience that made him almost at once master of all the details entrusted to his charge. Comparatively few understand the responsibilities of the office and the power that goes with it. A commissioner can be absolutely honest and yet if not level headed and experienced is liable to cause incalculable damage to individnals, to banks and to the state. Because of his experience as a practical banker, his intimate knowledge of financial matters and his well known probity, regardless of political creed, Mr. Benson is eminently qualified to conserve the best interests of his official position.
Moreover, to mention some particulars of his personal career, he had been a resident of Kansas for thirty-eight years. Born in Vermont August 12, 1859, he removed with his parents to Oneida County, New York, when nine years old, and was reared to manhood there, obtaining an academical education.
From New York in November, 1878, the Benson family removed to Butler County, Kansas, where the father Joel Benson followed farming and stock raising, and where after a useful and honorable career his life came to its proper and natural close.
It was with farming that William F. Benson occupied himself for a number of years after reaching his majority. He found public affairs to his liking, and his record was one that commended him to the confidence of the citizens of Butler County, who in 1892 elected him county treasurer. After leaving that office he was cashier of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of El Dorado for eight years while the ensuing ten years were spent as active vice president of the Citizens State Bank of the same place.
In the meantime he was several times honored by other posts of public honor and trust. He was twice elected to the State Senate from the Twenty-fifth Senatorial District, serving from 1896 to 1900 and from 1904 to 1908. While Senator Benson was not often heard in public debate, he became known as an indefatigable worker in committees, where his sound practical judgment carried weight and accomplished much good. Hon. George H. Hodges, who later became governor, was also a member of the Senate at this time, and the personal esteem he felt for Mr. Benson together with the belief that the man should fit the office, led to his prevailing upon Mr. Benson to become state bank commissioner when Mr. Hodges entered upon his duties as governor.
In 1915 Mr. Benson was one of the Kansas Commissioners at the world’s fairs at San Francisco and San Diego. In politics he is a democrat, and fraternally is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of the Mystic Shrine, of the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America.
In 1880 he married Miss Margaret Farley. Their four children are Frank A., George J., Florence and Bernice.