Underwood, J. Benson

From Lane Co Oregon

J. Benson Underwood (1838-1882) was regarded as a brilliant man with all the attributes necessary for success. He arrived in Lane County in 1860, and became a prominent lawyer, legislator, and property owner, with a family of four children. But he had lost it all before his death at age 44. “His greatest fault, which was perhaps the principal cause of his financial reverses and death, was the too-free use of strong drink,” said the Oregon State Journal. “The bereaved family have the sincere sympathy of the entire community.”

His brother was David C. Underwood.

[edit] Illustrated History of Lane County

J. Benson Underwood died at his residence in Eugene City, August 3, 1882, aged about forty-four years. Mr. Underwood came to Lane county in 1860 from Douglas county, where he had first located and remained a short time on his arrival in Oregon from the State of New York. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and practiced a short time with S. Ellsworth, then the leading lawyer of this portion of the State, under the firm name of Ellsworth & Underwood. In the fall of 1861 he accepted a clerkship in the office of the surveyor-general, then located in Eugene City, under B. J. Pengra, who had just been appointed by President Lincoln to supersede "W. W. Chapman. He held this position two or three years. In 1862 he was married. In June, 1884, he was elected a representative in the legislature on the republican ticket by the people of Lane county. In March, 1869, he was appointed United States postal agent for Oregon, Washington and Idaho by Postmaster General Creswell, which office he held eight years. During this period he visited Washington City on official business several times, and made one or two trips to Texas and other southern states, in pursuit of mail robbers. He traveled almost continuously and visited every part of the Pacific coast frequently. At one time he was a principal partner in the Eugene City flouring mills and owned several other buildings besides the finest private residence in the town. For many years he was a prominent figure in the politics of the State and the leading business man of the county. He was intellectual and brilliant in a high degree, and, under more favorable circumstances might have risen to the highest stations of honor and power in the State and Nation. He was not only intellectually bright, but was bold, energetic and persevering and possessed of much tact and a fine address — all the qualities necessary to secure the highest success in life.

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