William Lewis Benge

Albemarle County, Virginia, USA
Death 7 Oct 1780 (aged 20–21)
Cherokee County, South Carolina, USA
Burial Blacksburg, Cherokee County, South Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 129177531 · View Source
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On October 7, 1780 the foundation that would forever change the world was established. Fewer than one thousand American Heroes, through skill, luck, and the leadership of cunning strategists, defeated Patrick Ferguson, a brilliant star of the British military might. William Lewis Benge was one of the Heroes who fought and died in the Battle of King's Mountain.

His participation in the Battle of King's Mountain was documented in the "The Patriots at Kings Mountain" by Bobby Gilmer Moss which, along with "King's Mountain And Its Heroes: History Of The Battle Of King's Mountain, October 7th, 1780, And The Events Which Led To It" by Lyman Copeland Draper, Anthony Allaire, and Isaac Shelby, has long been recognized as the definitive listing of the participants. From the Roster:

•Benge, David

•Benge, Obediah Martin

•Benge, William


•Lewis, James Martin, Lieutenant (w)

•Lewis, Joel, Captain (w)

•Lewis, Micajah, Major (w)

William Benge was the son of John Benge and Elizabeth Lewis. Elizabeth Lewis was the daughter of William Terrell Lewis, DAR Ancestor Number A070183, and Sarah Martin hence the connection to the members of the Lewis family listed. The Obediah Martin Benge on the Roster was William's brother and the David Benge, his first cousin. David Benge was the son of Thomas Benge and Susannah Lewis. Thomas and John were brothers and Elizabeth and Susannah Lewis were sisters.

After the death of Elizabeth Lewis Benge, John Benge married Elizabeth Wut Teh Watts, a Cherokee woman who had been married to Nathaniel Gist and bore Gist a son,
George Sequoyah Gist. Sequoyah devised a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. Wikipedia states, "This was the only time in recorded history that a member of a Pre-literate people independently created an effective writing system.[1][4] After seeing its worth, the people of the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825. Their literacy rate quickly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers.[1]"

The union of John Benge and Elizabeth Wut Teh Watts produced children. Robert Benge was a son from this union, thus a half brother to William (same fathers, different mothers). The following is NOT my work NOR my research: it comes from a contributor to ancestry.com:

"If you don't watch out, Captain Benge will get you" Chronology of Robert Benge, aka Chief Bench Copyrighted by Don Chesnut, 1997 Robert Benge was born circa 1760 probably in the Cherokee village Toquo to John Benge and Wurteh, a Cherokee. Robert grew up to be the most notorious Cherokee in history. He was so feared in the central Appalachian areas of present-day Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, that the settlers admonished their children by saying, "if you don't watch out, Captain Benge will get you."

Toquo was a Cherokee village on the Little Tennessee River in present-day southeastern Tennessee. Robert grew up as a Cherokee, but with his red hair, European look, and his good command of English, he could also pass as a pure Euro-American. He used this double identity to good effect in his raids against the settlers. He was known as Captain Benge, Chief Benge, Chief Bench, or just The Bench. If he had a Cherokee name, it is not known. Robert's father was John Benge, an Indian trader who lived among the Cherokee, and his mother was Wurteh who was part of an influential Cherokee family. [Robert's pedigree can be found in the genealogy database, "Our Ancestors."] John was previously married to Elizabeth Lewis, daughter of William Terrell Lewis and Sarah Martin, a prominent family originally from Virginia. Elizabeth's sister, Susannah Lewis married John's brother, Thomas Benge.

John and Elizabeth had several children at their home in western North Carolina. These were William Lewis, Sarah, and Obadiah Martin. Apparently, John was also living with Wurteh at his home with the Cherokee (probably Toquo) and had several children born there. These were Robert, Utana "the Tail," Lucy, and Tashliske. After Elizabeth and the Lewis family found out about John's Cherokee family, their marriage was dissolved and Elizabeth latter remarried John Fielder and had other children. Wurteh also had a child from a man whose last name was Gist or Guess and their child became known to history as Sequoyah. Robert and Sequoyah were half brothers.

The following is a chronology of events that may help us put together something about the life of Robert Benge. If you have any additional information, please let me know. Date unknown, circa 1777: John Benge, Wurteh, and their family moved with Dragging Canoe to the south near the southern border of Tennessee [from Evans, 1976]. Date unknown, after 1777: Robert Benge lived at Running Water Town in Tennessee next to the northwestern border of Georgia. Here he was befriended by the Shawnee Chiksika, an older brother of Tecumseh. A small group of Ohio Shawnee were there to assist Dragging Canoe in his efforts against the whites. Robert and several Cherokee joined the Shawnee in their attacks against white settlements especially in the upper Holston River area of northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. Robert was thought to be Shawnee by some because of his association with this band. His skills in these raids elevated his rank among certain of the Cherokee and Shawnee [from Evans, 1976].

June 29, 1785: The cabin of Archibald Scott and Fannie Dickenson Scott (of Castle's Woods) on Wallen Creek in present-day Lee County, Virginia was attacked by thirteen Indians coming from Wallen Ridge. At nighttime the Indians broke down the door and shot Archibald who died. The Indians then tomahawked and scalped all four of the children. They carried Mrs. Scott outside, packed their booty and then burned the house. At this time she heard the name Benge spoken several times by some of the Indians. A white man with the Indians told her that he was Hargus [what is his last name?] and had taken up with the Indians (he had committed a crime and joined the Indians to escape punishment). During the night they headed north, crossed Wallen Ridge, and headed up the Powell River valley. By daybreak they entered Big Stone Gap and went up a tributary to the north flowing from Black Mountain near the present-day Kentucky-Virginia line. On the northern side of Black Mountain in present-day Kentucky, the chief divided the booty equally and sent a party of nine to head for the Clinch River settlements in order to steal horses. The other four traveled northward.

On the eleventh day of the attack, the four Indians stopped at their rendevous to wait for the other nine. Three went hunting leaving Mrs. Scott with the oldest of the group. She escaped from the lone Indian and traveled through the rugged wilderness for many days traveling along the Big Sandy River, through the gorge at Pine Mountain and finally, on August 11, 1785 she broke through the wilderness at New Garden in the upper part of the Clinch River. [from Addington, 1966, p. 88-96; sources were: Virginia State Papers, vol. IV, p. 40; Freeman's journal, Philadelphia [Dec. 15, 1785]; and Journal of Francis Asbury] [It is unknown whether Robert Benge was a member of this Indian party.]

1788: John Sevier led a group of whites to attack Cherokee towns. Robert saved many of the Cherokee of Ustalli (Ustally) Town by evacuating them before and during the attack. Ustalli was located in southwestern North Carolina on the Hiwassee River very close to present-day Tennessee. Five of the Cherokee rearguard were killed while trying to bide time for the evacuees, and the white militia captured one young boy. John Sevier and his men burned the town and attempted to run down the evacuees. Benge set up an ambush at the mouth of Valley River which delayed the attackers and allowed the Cherokee to reach safety. However, at this point, the little boy who had been captured was "brutally murdered" by Thomas Christian who was quoted assaying "Nits make lice."

Sevier and his men went to the Cherokee village of Coota-cloochee and started to burn down about a hundred acres of corn. However, the Cherokee John Watts, with four hundred Cherokee warriors arrived, forcing a retreat of Sevier's men [from Evans, 1976].

Explanation of Relationships:

•Benge, David (first cousin) DAR Ancestor Number A009075
Find A Grave Memorial# 16327956

•Benge, Obediah Martin


•Lewis, James Martin, Lieutenant (w) (uncle)
DAR Ancestor Number A069994

•Lewis, Joel, Captain (w) (uncle)
DAR Ancestor Number A070000
Find A Grave Memorial# 7347866

•Lewis, Micajah, Major (w) (uncle)
DAR Ancestor Number A070184

•Lewis, William Terrill (uncle)
Find A Grave Memorial# 31514108

May this memorial serve as an expression of the gratitude we owe William Benge and his family members for braving the unknown to help build a new country: our America.


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Created by: Vonnie L Cantrell
  • Added: 4 May 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 129177531
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Lewis Benge (1759–7 Oct 1780), Find a Grave Memorial no. 129177531, citing Kings Mountain Battleground Cemetery, Blacksburg, Cherokee County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Vonnie L Cantrell (contributor 47192880) .