Willis Benson Machen1,2,3

ID# 2497, (1810 - 1893)
FatherHenry Ballinger Machen4 (8 May 1776 - 11 Apr 1861)
MotherNancy Tarrant4 (6 Sep 1783 - 1852)

Key Events:

Birth: 5 Apr 1810, Caldwell Co., Kentucky5,6,7,8
Marriage: Margaret Aurelia Lyon9,10
Marriage: Eliza N. Dobbins11,12
Marriage: Victoria Theresa Mims, 10 Sep 185913,14,15
Death: 29 Sep 1893, Hopkinsville, Kentucky16,17,18
Burial: Riverview Cemetery, Eddyville, Kentucky1,19

Spouse: Margaret Aurelia Lyon (about 1820 - around 1856)
     Children:

  • Mary I. Machen52 (abt 1839 - )
  • Henry L. Machen53,52 (abt 1842 - )
  • Edward C. Machen53,52 (abt 1846 - )
  • Willis B. Machen52 (abt 1849 - bef 1860)
  • John L. Machen53,54 (abt 1853 - )
  • Mary E. Machen53 (abt 1855 - )

Spouse: Eliza N. Dobbins ( - 7 Feb 1858)
     Child:

  • Elizabeth Machen53 (abt 1858 - )

Spouse:Victoria Theresa Mims (26 Sep 1838 - 24 May 1895)
     Children:

  • Minnie Machen4,55,51 (1860 - )
  • Maggie Machen56 (6 Apr 1862 - 20 Sep 1864)
  • Frank P. Machen4,54,51 (abt 1866 - bef 1937)
  • Willis Benson Machen Jr.4,55,51 (1 May 1869 - )
  • Charles Victor Machen4,55,51 (abt 1873 - )
  • Albert S. Machen57 (abt Feb 1876 - Oct 1876)
  • Marjorie Machen4 (say 1881 - )
ChartsDescendants of Linah and Rebeccah (Davis) Mims

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     
Willis Benson Machen
official Congressional portrait
Willis Benson Machen was born on 5 Apr 1810 in Caldwell Co., Kentucky.5,6,7,8 He was probably the male age 10 to 16 listed in the household of his father, Henry Ballinger Machen, in the 1820 Federal Census of Caldwell Co., Kentucky.20
     His early training was one common to farm boys, attending the county schools in the winter and working on the farm in summer, but at the age of twenty he entered Cumberland College at Princeton, Kentucky.11,21
     Willis married first Margaret Aurelia Lyon, daughter of Chittenden Lyon and Nancy Vaughn.9,10

Partnership with Caleb Cobb --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     Leaving school, Willis formed a partnership with Caleb Clark Cobb by late 1833 which appears to have been engaged primarily in the iron business. The partners, who in later deeds used the firm name Cobb & Machen, purchased seven parcels of land in Caldwell Co. between 1833 and 1838. Except for one lot in Eddyville, they were all tracts of land, totaling almost 3,300 acres, apparently purchased for iron ore and coal for iron making. They also owned two tracts in Livingston Co. totaling nearly 1200 acres, one of them the site of the Livingston Forge. There may have been others, but the property records for that county have not been examined. Willis apparently left the iron business to take up mercantile interests about the end of this period.22,23

Mercantile and Law --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     In 1838 he entered the mercantile business, supposedly with no capital but a good name. Meeting with reverses, he failed after three years, but was said to have paid all his debts. He then went to contracting and building turnpikes at which he was successful. But after being severely injured he withdrew from hard labor, and in 1843, began the study of law. He was admitted to the bar, and almost immediately built up a large clientage, practicing until 1850 in both Lyon and Caldwell Counties.11,24,25
     According to local lore, "White Hall," the home of Willis's some-time parter, was sold at the court house door when Robert fell on hard times after the War. It was supposedly purchased by Willis, who later sold it to the state as part of the prison grounds, where it became the prison hospital.26
     Willis appeared on the 1840 Federal Census of Caldwell Co., Kentucky, with a household consisting of one white male under age 5 (an unknown son?), and one between 30 and 40 (himself); one female under 5 (daughter Mary), and one between 20 and 30 (Margaret Aurelia Lyon); and one male and two female slaves.3
     He was named an executor in the will of John H. Mims dated 3 Mar 1850.27
     Willis and Margaret appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of 2nd District, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, enumerated 24 Jul 1850, reporting real estate of $900 and three slaves. Their children Mary, Henry and Edward were listed as living with them.28,29

Retiring to Farming --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     On 20 Sep 1850 Willis bought a 400 acre part of "White House Farm" from Robert Livingston Cobb and Gideon Dyer Cobb Jr., for $3,300.30 He then retired to assume the management of his farm. His fine brick residence was situated on a small hill, at the foot of which ran the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, and the Cumberland River, and on either side not over a mile distant were the towns of Eddyville and Kuttawa.11,31,32,33

Political Service --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     He served as a member of the convention that framed the constitution of Kentucky, and in 1853 defeated his popular opponent, George W. Barbour, for the State Senate. He was elected to the lower house in 1855, 1860, and 1861.34,35,36
     After the outbreak of the war he was elected by the convention while at Russellville, a member of the Provisional State Government, and served as chairman of that body for some months. He was then elected a member of the Confederate Congress by soldiers in the field and residents of his district, and served two terms. He was reelected by the soldiers in the field alone the second time, and was a member of that body at the close of the war, when he made his escape to Canada. He was soon after joined by his family, but was pardoned in three months by President Andrew Johnson, and returned home.37,38,36
     In 1872, upon the death of Garret Davis, he was first appointed and then elected to fill Davis' un-expired term in the United States Senate. In 1870, he was very strongly urged to accept the nomination for governor, but declined as there was a question as to his eligibility. He later refused to allow his name to be raised before conventions for that office, although endorsed by many of the State's newspapers. In 1882, he was appointed by Gov. Blackburn one of the State railroad commissioners, which position he held two years.34,39,36

Death of Wives and Remarriage --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     His wife died around 1856.40,41,42,43
     Willis married second Eliza N. Dobbins, daughter of Thomas Dobbins and Mary Annapola Jorden Cresap.11,12 She died on 7 Feb 1858.44,45,46,47
     Willis married third Victoria Theresa Mims, daughter of John H. Mims and Caroline Hanson Cresap, on 10 Sep 1859.13,14,15
     Willis and Victoria appeared on the 1860 Federal Census of Eddyville, Lyon Co., Kentucky, enumerated 14 Aug 1860, reporting real estate of $23,500 and personal estate of $70,040. His children Henry, Edward, John, Mary and Elizabeth were listed as living with them, as was Elizabeth Gracey, orphaned daughter of Mathew Lyon Gracey and Maria Tilford, but not a relative of Willis and Victoria. He reported 26 slaves in 6 slave houses, of which one, a 13 year-old male, was reported as a fugitive.48,49
     Willis and Victoria appeared on the 1870 Federal Census of District No. 1, Eddyville, Lyon Co., Kentucky, enumerated 5 Jun 1870, reporting real estate of $17,000 and personal estate of $1100. Their children Minnie, Frank and Willis, and his son John by a previous marriage were listed as living with them.50
     Willis and Victoria appeared on the 1880 Federal Census of Eddyville, Lyon Co., Kentucky, enumerated 1 Jun 1880. Their children Minnie, Frank, Willis and Charles were listed as living with them.51
     Willis died on 29 Sep 1893 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, at age 83.16,17,18 He was buried in Riverview Cemetery, Eddyville, Kentucky.1,19

Citations

  1. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893).
  2. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360, shows name as Willis Benson Machen.
  3. [S1793] Willis B. Machen household, 1840 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  4. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, and reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885) shows same.
  5. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, shows date, as 5th, county, and state, and reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885) shows same, and notes birthplace in Caldwell Co. was later in Lyon Co.
  6. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893), shows date, as 10th, county, and state.
  7. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #7932701, Willis Benson Machen, shows date, as 10th.
  8. [S1817] Willis B. Machen household, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, shows age 40 and state.
  9. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885) shows this was his first marriage.
  10. [S1817] Willis B. Machen household, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, shows them in the same household, apparently as husband and wife.
  11. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885) shows this information.
  12. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #6656702, Eliza N Dobbins Machen, shows as her as wife of W. B. Machen.
  13. [S2003] John Mims Family Bible, shows date.
  14. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360, shows year.
  15. [S1808] Willis B. Machen household, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows them in same household, apparently as husband and wife.
  16. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360, shows year, as 1894.
  17. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893), shows date, with year as 1893, town, and state.
  18. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #7932701, Willis Benson Machen, shows date, with year as 1893.
  19. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #7932701, Willis Benson Machen.
  20. [S2962] Henry Machen household, 1820 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  21. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893), shows attended the common schools and then Cumberland College, Princeton, Kentucky.
  22. [S4543] Battle, Perrin and Kniffin, Kentucky - A History of the State, pg 860, shows Machen was engaged in the manufacture of iron with Caleb in Livingston Co. for seven years before entering the mercantile business in 1838.
  23. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, G:233-4, Spallswood D. Crewshaw to Caleb C. Cobb & Willis B Machen dated 27 Sep 1833, $250 for 1000 ac. on Livingston Ck.; H:188-9, John Scott to same dated 20 May 1836, $200 for 200 ac. on Livingston Ck.; H:265-6, Cadwallader Wallace & wife Ruth to same dated 12 Sep 1836, $1000 for 1000 ac. on Big Eddy Ck. and 1000 ac. on Livingston Ck.; H:301-2, James Clark & wife Mary to C. C. Cobb & W. B. Machen dated 26 Nov 1836, $300 for lot #9 in Eddyville; H:317-8, A. Harpending to Caleb C. Cobb & Willis B. Machen "under the firm of Cobb & Machen" dated 16 Jan 1837, $500 for     517 ac. on Livingston Ck.; M:301-2, John F. Henry & wife Lucy S. to same dated 2 Mar 1838, $520 for 3 tracts totalling 512½ ac.; I:42-3, Samuel Glenn to Cobb & Machen of Livingston Co. dated 20 Dec 1838, $50 for 50 ac. on Spring Ck.; and K:249-51, C. C. Cobb to     Robt L. Cobb, David R. Bell & Gideon D. Cobb dated 2 Aug 1841, item #16, 666 2/3 ac. in Livingston Co. on Livingston Ck. where Livingston Forge was located, and item #17, 291 ac., part of 517 ac. tract in Livingston Co. on Livingston Ck. patented to A. Harpending and conveyed by him to Cobb & Machen.
  24. [S1793] Willis B. Machen household, 1840 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, shows the only person employed, apparently Willis, as employed in commerce.
  25. [S1817] Willis B. Machen household, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, shows occupation as lawyer.
  26. [S3400] Cunningham, Castle, pp 23-4, describes sale at court house door and Machen's sale to the state.
  27. [S875] Caldwell Co. Wills,, B:118, John H. Mims Will, 19 Aug 1850.
  28. [S1817] Willis B. Machen household, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  29. [S1743] Willis B. Machen, owner, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, slave schedule.
  30. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, P:85-6, Robert L. Cobb & wife Cornelia, & Gideon D. Cobb to Willis B. Machen dated 20 Sep 1850; Q:310-1, R. L. & G. D. Cobb, surviving partners of Cobb, Bell & Co. to Noah Fulks dated 27 Sep 1852, $600 for 200 ac. on Tennessee River; and Robert L. Cobb & Gideon D. Cobb, late partners under firm of R. L. & G. D. Cobb, and Cornelia B. Cobb to Thomas J. Floumoy, surviving partner of Floumoy & Son dated 1 May 1856, $1560 for one moiety of lot#2 in donation part of Princeton.
  31. [S1808] Willis B. Machen household, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows occupation as farmer.
  32. [S1805] W. B. Machen household, 1870 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows occupation as farmer.
  33. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360, shows he was a wealthy land owner.
  34. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360, shows he was prominent in state and national politics.
  35. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893), shows he was delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1849; member, State senate 1854; member, State house of representatives 1856, and 1860.
  36. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885).
  37. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360, shows he was a member of the Confederate Congress.
  38. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893), shows he was elected to the First and Second Confederate Congresses.
  39. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Machen, Willis Benson, (1810 - 1893), shows he was appointed as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Garrett Davis and served from September 27, 1872, to March 3, 1873.
  40. [S1817] Willis B. Machen household, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, shows she was still living.
  41. [S1808] Willis B. Machen household, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows Willis' third wife in the household.
  42. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, provides marriage date for Victoria in 1859, and reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885) shows Willis married three times, first to Margaret, then to Eliza, and third to Victoria.
  43. [S225] It appears that at least Elizabeth, age 2 in the 1860 census, was the child of Willis' second wife, so Margaret must have died in time for Willis to have remarried by 1858. But it is possible that she died as early as Jul 1850, after the 1850 census.
  44. [S1808] Willis B. Machen household, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows Elizabeth at age 2 and Victoria, Willis' third wife, in the household.
  45. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, provides marriage date for Victoria in Sep 1859, and reports Battle, Perrin & Kniffin, Kentucky: A History of the State 2nd ed., (Caldwell Co.: 1885) shows Willis married three times, first to Margaret, then to Eliza, and third to Victoria.
  46. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #6656702, Eliza N Dobbins Machen, shows death Feb. 7.
  47. [S225] It appears that at least Elizabeth, age 2 in the 1860 census, was
    Eliza's child since there would not appear to have been time for Willis to marry twice by Sep 1859, when he married Victoria. So Eliza must have died after Elizabeth's birth in late 1857 or early 1858, and some time before Sep 1859.
  48. [S1808] Willis B. Machen household, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky.
  49. [S414] Willis B. Machen, owner, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, slave schedule.
  50. [S1805] W. B. Machen household, 1870 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky.
  51. [S1670] Willis B. Machen household, 1880 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky.
  52. [S1817] Willis B. Machen household, 1850 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, they appear in household, apparently as parent and child.
  53. [S1808] Willis B. Machen household, 1860 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows them in same household, apparently as parent and child.
  54. [S1805] W. B. Machen household, 1870 U.S. Census, Lyon Co., Kentucky, shows then in household, apparently as parent and child.
  55. [S736] Cresap and Cresap, History of the Cresaps, pg 360.
  56. [S2081] Maggie Machen grave marker, Eddyville Cemetery.
  57. [S1938] Albert S. Machen, death register.