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John Bennyworth

John Bennyworth built the first sugar mill in Pawnee County and was one of the pioneers in manufacturing sugar from sorghum cane.

On June 6, 1818, John Bennyworth was born in England. He came to America at age thirty and made his way to Illinois. While living there, Sarah Fletcher became his bride on November 23, 1837. She was born in Kentucky in 1821. The couple raised twelve children, but only one outlived the parents.

Before coming to Pawnee County in 1877, John purchased land from the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad in Edwards and Pawnee Counties. In a short time, John became one of the largest wheat growers in Kansas, with fourteen hundred and sixty acres under cultivation.

Three years after arriving in Larned, John built the first sugar mill in Kansas. In 1885, he moved his sugar mill to Kinsley, where it remained for three years. However, the process had become unprofitable, and the mill closed. John returned to Larned.

When asked “What is the difference between farming in Kansas and in Illinois” John replied, “he had owned and cultivated a farm of 1,000 acres in Macoupin county [sic] for over twenty-five years and had raised all sorts of crops . . . and had gained all the experience . Why leave? John believed he could get quality land cheaper farther west, and a longer growing season allowed him to cultivate a greater acreage and the climate. He was getting older and could do more work with less exertion.”1

John passed away from consumption in 1897, and Sarah died two years later. They share the same stone in Larned Cemetery.

The rest of the story: Of the twelve children born to John and Sarah, I could only locate seven burial sites. Six of the seven died as young adults, with two succumbing to consumption. Three are buried in Illinois, and three in Larned. Sara Ada Bennnyworth Bardick was the only child to outlive her parents and siblings.

1 The Larned Chronoscope April 14, 1882 p. 1

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