This venerable and highly honored citizen of Raccoon township; represents
that class of noble American citizens who spend their lives in the rural
districts, the great producers, on whom the rest of the world depends, and
his life has been so active and carefully lived that success has attended
almost his every effort.
Benjamin F. Norfleet was born in Montgomery county, Tennessee, May 29, 1832, the son of Marmaduke and Malinda (McFadden) Norfleet, natives of Montgomery county. The subject's grandfather was James Norfleet, a native of North Carolina. He married in that state, but lived in Montgomery county, Tennessee, most of his life. He was a farmer and raised a good deal of fruit. He was noted for the fine apple and peach brandy which he made. He and his wife died in that county. They were the parents of three sons and four daughters. He was of Welsh descent. There were three brothers of the Norfleet family who came to America, namely: James, Marmaduke and Starkey. They settled in North Carolina. The subject's grandfather, David McFadden, was a native of Ireland. He married Elizabeth Elliott. He came to America shortly after they were married. He came first to this country and in six months sent for his wife. He settled in Montgomery county, Tennessee, on the Red river. He got six hundred and forty acres of government land. He cleared a great deal of the land and built a fine home on it. He was a farmer and a successful business man. They lived the rest of their lives in Montgomery county and reared a large family. The subject's father and mother were both born in Montgomery county, Tennessee. The former was educated in the home schools and was a self-learned man and became a good scholar. He was a carpenter and farmer. In 1855, he went to Stewart county, Tennessee; and bought a farm there. He was Justice of the Peace, was active in Democratic politics. He and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mrs. Norfleet died in Stewart county, Tennessee. They were the parents of thirteen children, namely: Benjamin Franklin, our subject; David, a farmer in Stewart county, Tennessee; Henry A., a farmer in Stewart county, Tennessee; George, a farmer in the same county; Virginia, who lives in the same county; Josephine L. also lives in that county; Mary Elizabeth became a resident of Williamson county, Illinois, where she died. The rest of the children are all deceased.
The subject of this sketch had only a limited education, obtained in the subscription schools. He lived at home until he was twenty-two years of age. He was united in marriage October 10, 1855, to Josephine Hamlett, of Montgomery county, Tennessee, the daughter of James and Jane (Atkins) Hamlett, the former of North Carolina, and the latter of Montgomery county, Tennessee, to which county the former went when ten years of age. He was a carpenter and cabinet maker, and he and his wife lived in that county the rest of their lives. They were the parents of eight children, namely: James, deceased; Frank is a carpenter in Marshall, Texas; Mary Jane is deceased; the fourth child died in infancy; Jackson is deceased; Josephine, the subject's wife; Maria, of Nashville, Tennessee; Margaret, of Clarksville, Tennessee.
Eleven children have been born to the subject and wife, one of whom is deceased, namely: Emma is the wife of F. G. Boggs, of Raccoon township, whose sketch appears in full on another page of this volume; Marmaduke, a farmer in Raccoon township, married Lucy Boggs; Edgar, who is connected with "The Houston Post," at Houston, Texas, married Belle Clayburn; Ella died young; Jefferson, who married Minnie Brown, is a farmer at Springfield, Illinois; Dora, who married Ira Richardson, lives at Muskogee, Oklahoma; Thomas M., who is an engineer in a coal mine at Springfield, Illinois, married Hattie Few; Sidney, a carpenter living at St. Louis, Missouri, married Nettie Stader; Beulah, the widow of William Stewart, lives at Centralia, Illinois; Benjamin F., Jr., who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, married a Miss McMurphy. He is a well known professor in that city, being connected with a correspondence school there. Starkey, the youngest child, who married Ava Davis, is a farmer at Muskogee, Oklahoma.
After our subject married he and his wife lived in Montgomery county, Tennessee, until 1865, when he went to Trenton, Kentucky, where he purchased a farm. He also worked at the carpenter's trade until 1870. He came to Marion county, Illinois, locating in Raccoon township, on Tennessee Prairie, where he rented land for one year and bought eighty acres in section 22 and twenty acres in section 27, on which he built a house and lived there for twenty years, when he bought his present place of forty acres known as the Wesley Willis place in Raccoon township. He has worked at the carpenter's trade since he was sixteen years old, and, being thus naturally gifted, he became a very fine workman. He has worked at his trade with much success. He has been a most excellent farmer. He retired in 1905. He learned his trade from his father. A great deal of the time he preferred to rent his land and follow carpentry.
Mr. Norfleet has served as Highway Commissioner for five years, and two terms as school trustee; also two terms as director. He is a Democrat in his political relations. Mrs. Norfleet is a member of the Christian church and the subject is a member of the Free Will Baptist church. Members of the Norfleet family are well known in Marion county and they have a modern and nicely furnished home.
Extracted 10 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 332-333.