Cauthorn, Benjamin Ross


Born in Virginia on 19 March 1840 to Alfred and Emily (Broocke) Cauthorn, Benjamin Ross Cauthorn grew up in Missouri. His parents left Virginia and moved west soon after his birth. The Cauthorn family numbered twelve children and lived in Missouri for fifteen years. Alfred worked as a tailor, while Benjamin and his siblings were employed as clerks.

In 1865, twenty-five-year-old Benjamin accompanied his entire family to Oregon. Benjamin’s niece, Anna Cauthorn Williamson, explained sixty years later why the family had emigrated: “The motive that influenced them most to move was the desire to get away from the unpleasantness arising from the Civil War and the division between brothers and sisters. Uncle Ben left his family in Missouri and when the war ended he went back to them.”

Benjamin married Ruth Kirtley, a native of Kentucky, in 1862. The couple had six children, five of which survived to adulthood. Their oldest child, Lettie, who is mentioned in Benjamin’s diary, passed away by 1870. Benjamin operated a dry goods store and also farmed. When he died on 15 October 1902 in Mexico, Missouri, the Cauthorn household included Ruth, three of Benjamin’s adult children, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.


1850 Missouri Census (Alfred Cauthorn, AudrainCounty, 154).

1860 Missouri Census (B.R. Cauthorn, Mexico, AudrainCounty, 731).

1870 Missouri Census (Benjamin Cauthorn, Salt RiverTownship, AudrainCounty, 540).

1880 Missouri Census (Benjamin Cauthorn, Salt River Township, Audrain County, E.D. 4, sheet 11).

1900 Missouri Census (Benjamin Cauthorn, 51 Range 9, Audrain County, E.D. 10, sheet 7).

Bryan, William S., and Robert Rose. A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri.St. Louis: Bryan, Brand & Company, 1876.

Hodges, Nadine, and Mrs. Howard W. Woodruff. Missouri Pioneers. Vol. X. Kansas City, MO: 1971.

Oral History from Descendants of Richard Cawthorne (courtesy of Sara van Perre).