CHESTER WILLIAM BENSHOOF
Chester William Benshoof, actively engaged in law practice in Riverside during the past twenty-three years, has built up an extensive and gratifying clientele and has also served as United States Commissioner for sixteen years. He was born on a farm near Muscatine, Iowa, September 5, `1869, a son of Evan Benshoof, who was born in Pennsylvania of Pennsylvania Dutch stock and belonged to a family represented in the Revolutionary War. Evan Benshoof was a lad of twelve years when in 1844 he left the Keystone state in company with his parents, going westward to Iowa when the region was practically a wilderness. He helped his father hew a farm out of the woods, later developing a farm for himself out of raw Iowa prairie land, and there resided throughout the remainder of his life. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Calista Allbee, was born in Vermont, of Massachusetts colonial ancestry, her family having crossed the Atlantic from England soon after the landing of the Pilgrims. Two of her ancestors participated in the Revolutionary War, Colonel Ebenezer Bancroft, who fought at Bunker Hill, and his brother, Captain James Bancroft, who served in the Long Island campaign. The Allbee family moved to Iowa in 1857, and the father of Calista helped build the first bridge over the Mississippi River at Davenport. Mr. and Mrs. Evan Benshoof were the parents of four children, three of whom survive.
Chester W. Benshoof, the youngest of the family, was reared on the home farm in southwestern Iowa and attended the public schools of that state. He and his father “batched” in 1875 in an eight by twelve shanty while the Iowa farm was broken out of the prairie, and at the age of nine years Chester drove three horses attached to a fourteen-inch plow. At the age of fourteen he received a man’s wage on the thresher. He spent six years as a carpenter and builder in Iowa, returning in 1902 to care for his father who was ill. For six months he remained on the home place devoting all his spare time to the study of law. For two years prior to his admission to the bar he taught school. His public school education was supplemented by study at the Iowa State College at Ames, while his professional training was acquired in the law department of the State University of Iowa, from which he was graduated with the degree of LL. B. in 1905, being admitted to the bar at Iowa City in the same year. He began practice in association with his cousin at Muscatine, Iowa, but at the end of four years came to Riverside, California, where he has continued in the work of his chosen profession since December, 1909. His first law partner here was W. H. Ellis, with whom he practiced under the firm name of Benshoof & Ellis until Mr. Ellis was appointed justice of the peace. Later for a period of eighteen months Mr. Benshoof was a partner of J. L. Granttham, under the name of Benshoof & Granttham, but since June, 1919, he has practiced independently, maintaining a suite of offices in the First National Bank Building at 3883 Main Street in Riverside. He was appointed and served as police judge of Riverside during 1915-16 and has been United States Commissioner here for the past sixteen years.
At Davenport, Iowa, June 29, 1904, Mr. Benshoof married M. Ella Taylor, a native of Iowa and a daughter of James A. Taylor, who was a railroad man. Three children were born to the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Benshoof, but the only living is Robert E., now twenty-one years of age.
An earlier biographer wrote: “Mr. Benshoof has ever been ready to put his time at the disposal of local movements and organizations working in the interest of the general welfare of the community… He was an ardent war worker, and was a member of the Attorney’s questionnaire committee and a leader in many of the local drives.” He belongs to the Lions Club and along strictly professional lines has membership in the Riverside County, California State and American Bar Associations. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Christian Church, in which he has served as chairman of the board for many years and to which his wife also belongs. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America and with the following Masonic bodies: Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, F. & A. M; Riverside Chapter, No. 67, R. A. M., of which he is past high priest; and Riverside Commandery, No. 28, K. T., of which he is past commander. Mr. Benshoof is the owner of a large library and has made a hobby of work along mechanical lines, possessing marked inventive ability. In social, fraternal, civic and professional circles of Riverside his name is a familiar and respected one.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 343-345, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.