Benjamin Proctor, a son of Captain Nicholas Proctor and Nannie Smith, was born in 1760 in Rowan County, North Carolina. As a young child, he was seriously maimed in both arms, which would make him ineligible for military service. After his family moved to Fort Boonesboro, Kentucky, however, he volunteered for the military in 1776 at the age of 16, and served for a year under the command of the famous frontiersman, Col. Daniel Boone, and then for four years at Estell’s Station under Capt. James Estell.
Although unable to engage in combat, Benjamin provided valuable service as a scout and spy at the request of the famed frontier military leader, George Rodgers Clark. He excelled in this capacity of finding out the movements and intentions of the Indians. Benjamin had as many as eight brothers, some of whom were with him as he performed his military service. During this time, he was also a member of a party that rescued Col. Boone after having been taken captive by the Indians.
On the frontier, the War was fought mostly against the Indian tribes, who were at times fighting as allies of the British; at other times, they were fighting for territory, booty, captives or revenge. Although Benjamin and his peers were frontiersman and never wore military uniforms, they were just as much Revolutionary soldiers as any of George Washington’s soldiers. A granddaughter of one of the brothers said that all of the brothers were about six feet tall and “active,” at a time when the average male was about five feet six inches tall. They stood out in a crowd.
After the War, Benjamin Proctor, despite his disability, courted and won Susannah Shirley, the daughter of Michael Shirley and Kate France of Estell’s Station, Kentucky. Although she was nine years younger than he, they were married at Estell’s Station on March 3, 1787. During their 63-year marriage they became the parents of eleven children. In 1808, Benjamin moved his rapidly-growing family to Missouri, which was then part of the Louisiana Territory. He became a circuit minister for the Methodist Church and his name appears as “Minister of the Gospel” on early Cole County (Missouri) marriage records. Several of Benjamin’s brothers had also been appointed as Methodist ministers in the area.
The 1830 census shows Benjamin, his wife and four children living in Cole County. He applied for his Revolutionary War service pension in 1833 and received $80 per year from the government until he died. By 1840, he moved his family to Benton County, Missouri where they lived until his death on July 4, 1850 at the age of 90. His wife Susannah continued to collect a widow’s pension until she died in May 1859 at the age of 91. Both Benjamin and Susannah are buried in Warsaw, Benton County, Missouri, although the exact location is unknown. Their grave markers are located at the Union Cemetery in Cole Camp, MO.