After the death of Fred Benson, who led the Berwyn Heights (Citizen) Association from 1915-21, the Benson family remained a significant presence in Berwyn Heights. As stockholders in the Berwyn Heights (Building & Improvement) Company, Margaret and her son Clarence continued to sell lots in Berwyn Heights. Margaret was active in the Berwyn Presbyterian Church and, in 1940, was the first woman to run for the Berwyn Heights Town Council (then functioning as a Board of Commissioners). She fell short by  2 votes.

The eldest son Howard Livingston Benson (1890-1938) worked as a manager for Chase Bank in several locations throughout Central America. In Panama he married Sarah Veysett and they had 5 children. Howard Benson was on the verge of opening his own bank, when his promising career was cut short by the banking crisis of 1933, during which President Franklin Roosevelt closed all banks to stop the run on banks. The children were sent to live with their grandmother in Berwyn  Heights and graduated from Hyattsville High School. Howard followed them later. He was elected to the Berwyn Heights Board of Commissioners in May 1938, but died of a heart attack during a hunting and fishing trip in August 1938.

The second son Clarence C. Benson (1891-1951), a 1914 West Point Graduate, had an illustrious career as a U.S. Army cavalry officer and was a pioneer of tank warfare. During World War II, he served as a combat officer in North Africa and the China-India-Burma theatre and, in 1943, was awarded the Silver Star for distinguished service and the Oak Leaf Cluster for gallantry in action.

Margeret Benson survived her husband and her three children. She  died in Berwyn Heights in 1958 at age 90, and is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Author: Kerstin Harper
Sources: James Benson family tree; Town of Berwyn Heights records

One response

  1. In Sep 1945 Clarence Benson wrote to his nephew, Henry, about the prospects of developing some BH lots for profit. He was cautionary with regards to finances but all the same recommended two former customers: Mr Burnette, carpenter, had just recently purchased two adjacent lots and Mr Elfman, mason. Clarence also mentioned Ray Burch, postmaster and real estate agent. Ray was “well connected” and could be helpful to any future development plans. Henry went to U of Md on the GI Bill instead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: