I grew up in Ithaca, which is located in the heart of upstate New York's Finger Lakes District. It is a community noted for its sunsets and waterfalls. While there I attended East Hill Elementary and the New Junior High Program, now known as the Alternative Community School. While at the New Program I got my one and only piece of poetry (co-authored with Ward Puryear) published in the local paper. I also spent a year at Ithaca High School before quitting to graduate a year early through the state's college credit high school diploma program.
Although my parents were Southern I have a decidedly Northern appetite for playing ice hockey and going cross-country skiing. I like to hike and go camping with my son Joshua. I have been bicycling for a long time. In 1999 I completed the Fabulous 4th Metric Century ride which starts in Tryon. Because my dad had a farm and was a veterinarian I developed an interest in planting and pets while young. Right now we have a dog (Lincoln) and two cats (Ollie, and ZekeBenson). I have also taken up building wood furniture using traditional hand-tools and techniques. I have never considered myself a runner, but for some reason it has become another hobby -- so much so that on October 5, 2002 I ran and completed the St. George marathon, in October 2004 I completed the Amsterdam Marathon, and in April 2006 I finished the Charlottesville marathon. In 1978 I started school at Empire State College. I moved on to the University of Virginia during the 1980s. While there I met my wife Vicki, who is from Waynesboro, Virginia. Our son Josh now lives in Asheville with his wife and son Kane. During the last few years of grad school I taught architects, engineers, facilities planners, and other technical types how to use computer-aided drafting and design programs such as AutoCAD, DataCAD, and Intergraph Microstation. I have been teaching in the History Department at Furman since 1990. After arriving at Furman I was inducted as an alumni initiate of Pi Kappa Phi. In September 1997 we moved to Tryon, North Carolina. We have an older (circa 1905) house that will require the maximum home repair skills to maintain. We think it has a ghost or two. It goes almost without saying that I spend most of my waking hours thinking about the civil war era and the larger arc of nineteenth century American history. One of my most recent projects is the Secession Era Editorials Project. In June 1998 I was awarded the university's meritorious teaching award. In September 2005 we had a new addition to the household, our new daughter Eleanor.
I have four brothers that I like to boast about. Lauck Benson is a banjo-playing fiend and computer database expert, currently consulting for Uniform Information Services, Inc.. Thane Benson is a jack-of-all-trades,but right now is working as an electrician. He is active in his local of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers AFL-CIO, and was recently called up for duty with the naval reserves SeaBee unit NMCB-133. He is my definitive source for home improvement advice. Jake Benson is an expert in paper-marbling and bookbinding and is fluent in both Arabic and Turkish. After working for several years as a book conservationist in Greensboro, North Carolina, with Information Technologies, Inc. A couple of years ago he moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he has his own book conservation and artwork business. Ross Benson is a former motorcycle racer (AMA cross-country series) with several amateur championships under his belt. He currently owns his own speciality motorcycle suspension service HyGear, Inc. in Lansing, New York.
As soon as more of my friends and benefactors get home pages I'll say something about them too. Some of the most interesting play music with the Horseflies and Donna the Buffalo. They have also organized a summer event in Trumansburg, N.Y. called the Grassroots Festival. If you like good bagels, check out my friend Greg's bagel empire at the Collegetown Bagels/Ithaca Bakery.