Home » Illinois » Benton

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1910 2675 5
1920 7201 2
1930 10544 10544 --
1950 7848 1
1990 7216
2000 6880 6792 20* 1
2010 6976 56 3

Method of Exclusion

  • Violence Towards Newcomers
  • Private Bad Behavior
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Benton had a KKK rally in late 1990s. Their basketball team shouted at Carbondale’s black players. Benton students put graffiti on Carbondale’s bus. (Carbondale student, early 2000s)

“Let’s see, my son is twelve, so about fifteen years ago it was, a black butcher worked in Benton,” and moved there, “and now I don’t know this for sure, but it was said they burned him out.” (Taken in 2001 from a nearby resident)

In 1992, the one black student in Benton HS, a junior girl, accepted an invitation from a white football player to the junior/senior prom “and that was it. She was ostracized by the students.” She stuck it out for the rest of the school year and her family then moved. In about 1998, whites burned a cross on the lawn of an elderly resident of Benton because he had a black physical therapist from another town come to work on him in his home. (Taken in 2001 from a local teacher)

One Black visitor to the town reported harassment as recently as 2012.

*Although there were 20 Black residents in 2000, 17 of them were male, mostly between the ages of 18-44. Only two were under 18, and only one Black household was listed. This may be attributable to the residents of the Franklin County Jail.