General Info

Originally home to Chippewa and Sioux Indians, Benton County was first settled in 1848 by David Gilman who established a trading post. Benton County was named after Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri senator who assisted with the Homestead Act. Settlement grew along the Mississippi River as it was a prime means of transportation of goods and excellent source of power. Towns and townships were organized and Benton County continued to grow. Between 1856 and 1859 the county seat was moved from Sauk Rapids to Watab, and back to Sauk Rapids. Sauk Rapids remained the county seat until 1901 when voters moved it to Foley, today’s county seat. Early industry in Benton County included agriculture and dairy farming, lumbering, logging, granite mining and manufacturing. As timber and granite resources were exhausted, agriculture and manufacturing have become recent industry staples. Today Benton County is home to approximately 40,193 residents.