By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
This week, we feature a card John Straley published between 1925-1930 titled “The Benton Circle,” shown in its original configuration at the intersection of St. John Avenue, Benton and Gladstone boulevards. The card shows the streetcar tracks for the No. 30 St. John streetcar, the Historic Hillcrest apartments, the traffic circle and the monument honoring former Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton.
The monument was placed through the efforts of Mrs. H. J. S. Seely and the Elizabeth Benton chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was dedicated on Nov. 20, 1915. Harriet Seely resided at 2015 Brooklyn Ave. and was instrumental in the drive to erect the monument. Seely’s roots to the revolution go back to her great-great-grandfather, Hanson Briscoe, who was appointed in 1776 by the Council of Safety to a committee to collect all gold and silver coin in St. Mary’s County, W.V., for use of the government in exchange for continental money.
On the north side of the Thomas Hart Benton monument, the plaque reads:
“Here where these rocky bluffs meet and turn aside the sweeping current of this mighty river, here where the Missouri, after pursuing her southern course for nearly two-thousand miles, turns eastward to meet the Mississippi, a great manufacturing and commercial community will congregate and less than a generation will see a great city.”
The plaque on the south side of the granite monument bears the image of Sen. Benton and reads:
“Thomas Hart Benton, Born Hillsborough NC, March 14, 1782, Died Washington DC, April 10, 1856. Teacher, Lawyer, Soldier, Editor, Scholar, Statesman, United States Senator from Missouri for thirty years 1820-1850. Called Apollo, Wild Buffalo, a gnarled oak, and old bullion, First and greatest statesman west of the Mississippi. To him is due the cheap land system, special standard, Oregon and California Transcontinental railway line. A national statesman who was never connected with a single act of personal dishonor or one unworthy act of legislature. A devoted husband and father.”