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A man of the cloth and the steel he wields

W. H. Bennington: Gambler, Scoundrelly Politician, Horse Lover, Boodler, Spy, Shotgun Slayer of Felines, Mental Scientist and Typewriter Designer.

“And Satan Appeared in Kansas City…”

A collection of news clippings from 1891-1908 tracing the activities of one Wesley (AKA: William) H. Bennington in the years up to his first *five* typewriter companies.

1891-01-23-KG 1891-08-12-TA 1891-10-07-TA 1892-02-17-TAFor the first 3 years of his active political life, Bennington appears to have been a well-liked and active member of his city’s “People’s Party” movement, taking on posts of responsibility and organizing meetings. It’s only in 1894 that the tone starts to sour…

1894-09-19-TABennington enters the race for office on his party’s ticket, running for a judicial spot. The announcement is ominously titled “And Satan Appeared in Kansas City…”

Then, almost immediately, he starts wagering about the outcome of the race, oddly betting on the Republicans to win:

1894-10-02-TSJHe wagers his typewriter against a bike owned by a newspaper publisher, but the bet isn’t taken. Then the real oddities begin:

1894-10-24-TAApparently the Republicans win, and Bennington has managed to find a sucker to take his wager:

1894-11-13-TSJA year later, he trades some land for some horses:

1895-12-07-WKWMore political shenanigans arise in 1896 as Bennington releases a letter throwing shadow on another politician:

1896-09-11-TSJA month after this, he’s stirring up trouble out of town:

1896-10-14-TASomething is fishy, and his party knows it. On October 29, the hammer comes down:

1896-10-29-KCDJ A “Boodler” is defined in Mirriam-Webster as “a political grafter”. Bennington appears to drop out of sight for a couple of years, but soon he’s back in politics – not a guy who gives up easily:

1900-10-02-TSJApparently the populist is now throwing his weight behind the Fusion party, the party he was accused of spying for two years before:

1900-10-11-PHPolitics is not to be his fate, though. A shotgun and some hungry cats see to this:

1901-07-22-TSJHow’s that for an argument against being your own lawyer? Later in 1901, he’s decided to make a wash of things, and becomes an officer of the National Mental Science movement, and prepares to pull up stakes for Missouri:

1901-12-04-SPGOnce he’s settled in Kansas City, he starts his first typewriter Company, but it isn’t the “Bennington Typewriter Co.”, not just yet. First, he starts the “New Era Typewriter Co.” So, there’s a possibility of yet another Bennington machine, but I rather think that first machine ended up being the Model 1 of 1903.

1902-04-22-TSJ“Bennington Typewriter Co.” first appears in Minnesota, just barely months later:

1902-08-27-MJHis patent is then issued:

1904-06-15-TSJ

In August, Bennington’s concerns in Ohio are in trouble. Wait, Ohio? Does that make typewriter company #3 all going at once in different states, “raising capital to build a factory”?

1904-08-04-BCDAnd soon, Bennington incorporates yet again, this time in Arizona, so #4 in a row:

1905-10-04-AZR1905-11-16-AZR

And then, less than a month later, he starts up in Indiana so #5 in a row:

1905-11-15-IGNote that part about “one of the machines was exhibited in the arbitration room of the court house and many people called to see it.” There you have the second documented sighting of the actual Bennington No. 1. It really, really existed. There are *4* documented sightings of an actual machine.

We know much of the rest after this point, but a couple things we didn’t know (but I had guessed) were:

1908-04-20-MDMBennington arrested for fraud in 1908. There’s that “William” alias again..

1956-07-05-bennington4saleA Bennington “old-style” typewriter was sold used for $20 in Clearfield, PA. in 1956. They *are* floating around out there! (thanks for finding this, Mark!)

There’s more, still digging…

Updated: August 9, 2016 — 12:20 pm

4 Comments

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  1. My god… the more you uncover, the more he’s turning into a Sith Lord

  2. It seems like con men just can’t stay out of the game for long. The thrill of the chase and all that…

  3. If I recall my history correctly regarding stocks, a lot of companies existed solely for the purpose of selling stock. Sometimes, a product was in development, but the main focus was elsewhere. I believe in the 1920s, wealthy figures would promote a stock they secretly owned, watch the price go up, and then sell, leaving the uniformed with paper. I’m certain that even a number of typewriter enterprises fall into this category. Would like to see a Bennington though!

    1. The irony is that his legacy probably would be worth a fortune someday, if anyone ever collected a full set. :D

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