When the State of Illinois joined the Union in 1818, Franklin County, Illinois was originally mapped out at twice its current size. In time, this large county was cut in half with one half remaining Franklin County and the other half becoming the new Williamson County. After the split, Franklin County officials began the process of creating the county seat. They plotted out a twenty acre site from donated land and it was this site that would eventually become the city of Benton, Illinois.
Throughout its history Benton grew from a fledgling village to an incorporated city, due to the coal mining industry, the railroads that were built through the city, and the robust farming community that developed nearby. Another distinction that the city is known for is the fact that Benton was the site of the final public hanging in the state of Illinois. Today, Benton, Illinois has 7,000 residents and still serves as the county seat of Franklin County, Illinois.