Benjamin Franklin Vawter

standing: seated: Mary Elizabeth, Benjamin Vawter

Mary Elizabeth Bright (1837-1907) was the daughter of Caleb Bright (1800-1864) who was the father of Charles Edward Bright (1841-1931) who was the father of Clarence Eugene Bright (1882-1956) who was the father of Neil Bright (1919-2012) who was the grandfather of Curt Bright.

Benjamin Franklin Vawter

 By Joyce Richey

Submitted to Kansas Pioneers

The Topeka Genealogical Society, 1976

Benjamin Franklin Vawter, pages 336-337

Jephta Dudly Vawter, pages 297-298

Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Vawter, son of Jeptha D. and Sarah M. (Foster) Vawter, was born 10 February 1835.  Married first on 29 September 1856 to Mary E. Bright, daughter of Caleb and Kazia [Kezia] Bright (a relative of Daniel Boone) of Shubert, Nebraska, born March 2 or 12, 1837.  She joined the Christian Church at age 16.  They moved to Kansas in the fall of 1859 and resided in Shawnee County until their deaths.  The celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary before she died, March 13, 1907.  Their children, three of whom were born in Tazewell Co., Illinois, one adopted in Kansas were  Bethena Ellen, born 16 December 1857, died 20 December 1942; married Joseph Robinson, Auburn, Kansas; married Parker W. Perry, a farmer and stock trader of Wakarusa.  Chalres Henry, born 28 October 1861, died 9 December 1938; married Lucinda Catherine Ecker, born 29 September 1856.  Clara Ruth, adopted.  She was found on the Waveland School steps and was adopted by B. F. Vawter.  She was approximately 12 hours old when found, was wrapped in ragged underware in a shoe box.  Church was held in the building; and B. F. had gone there eaarly to start the fires for Sunday School.  He saw steps in the snow leading to the window.  The box with the baby inside had been placed inside through the window.  She later married William Kelly.

(The following information was given by Mrs. Junie Garrett in March 1972 as she talked about her grandparents, Ben and Mary Vawter to Mrs. Mary Garrett.)

Mary (Bright) and Ben Vawter built the house now lived in by Floyd Fisher, situated at the south end of Wakarusa, Kansas, on the east side of the street across from the Presbyterian Church.  Mary died in this house.  Mary had a stomach tumor.  Ben remarried to Phoebe Taylor, mother of Lloyd Taylor.  This marriage did not last long, as she left Ben.  She later became sick with cancer and died a week or so before Ben did.  Sometime after Phoebe left, Ben got so he couldn’t walk and Uncle Charlie took care of him.  He had a bad leg and went on a cane when he could.  (Uncle Charley was the son of Ben).

To back up some in history, Ben and Mary built the original part of the Garrett farm house, later selling the farm for $5,000 to Parker and Amy Perry and the Vawters moved to Auburn, Kansas and bought the house now owned by “Stahley”.  The house, a white frame, two story building is directly east from the stone Baptist church building on Washington Street in Auburn, on the southeast corner.

They did not like living there, so they built the house in Wakarusa and moved there, we mentioned above.  Ben’s first wife, Mary Bright, was a large woman, big boned.

The following is from an article in the “Carbondilian.”

“Tuesday, at noon, Mr. Ben Vawter or better known as Uncle Ben was seen to leave toward Topeka and at midnight the operator was surprised to notice Uncle Ben (stepping as spry as if he was 20) assisting a lady off the midnight train.  But, lo, he was surprised to find that the lady was a new bride whom Grandpa Vawter had found in Topeka.  (Phoebe Taylor)  But the surprise was returned when along toward the hour of midnight, Uncle Ben heard a horrible nosie in the yard and opeing the door found a large number of boys on his porch and the girls standing under the shade of the old maple tree.  After considerable urging and hints of a smoke, Uncle Ben gave the leader a good sized bill with the request that he look after the change.  But the bill fell into the hands of a Buffalo.  True to his lodge, it was turned into the treasury.  Since then Uncle Ben has been heard to softly whistle, “Goodbye, Mr. Greenback, Goodbye.”

Benjamin Franklin Vawter died 13 January 1916.  Both B. F. and Mary (Bright) Vawter are buried at Shawnee cemetery, Wakarusa, Kansas.

Mary Garrett

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