COONS, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1826 in St. Louis, Missouri –1892 in St. Louis). Benjamin Franklin Coons, merchant, led wagon trains to Santa Fe in 1846, 1847, and 1848, and by September 1848 had established himself as a merchant in El Paso del Norte.
In 1848 th US Army announced that a military post would be established at the pass. It would be called "The Post Opposite El Paso" referring to El Paso del Norte. Taking advantage of the potential, Benjamin Franklin Coons (usually referred to as Mr. Franklin) acquired the Ponce ranch and began increasing its' facilities in anticipation of the Army's arrival in September, 1849. Leasing these facilities provided Coons with income in addition to his trading interests. He then proceeded to build a tavern, warehouse, stables, and store just west of the army post. and leased the main buildings and six acres to the United States government for $250 dollars a month as the site for the first military post in the area. The arrangement was short lived. 1850, Conns tried to bring a wagon train of goods to San Antonio. The first wagon train, plagued by unscrupulous drivers and a scarcity of water, took nearly five months to travel from San Antonio, and most of the shipment was ruined as a result. Also, that summer Coons absorbed a loss totalling nearly $18,000, having accepted several bills of credit that later proved to be forgeries. In 1851, following Coons' disastrous 1850 attempt to bring a wagon train of goods from San Antonio, the Army announced it was pulling it's troops out and moving them into New Mexico. Because Coons was unable to continue payments on the ranch, Ponce repossessed. He went to California in late 1850, regained a measure of financial security, and returned to El Paso early in 1851. Unfortunately for him, when the United States troops left Coons' Rancho in September, 1851, Coons lost his most reliable source of income and was soon forced to default on his property payments. His ranch repossessed, he returned to California to seek yet another fortune. He apparently achieved some measure of success herding sheep, moved back to St. Louis in 1856, and married Sophie Delor in 1859.
Although Coons stay here was brief, his memory lives on in the name of our Mount Franklin. The little village would be known as 'Franklin' for many years - even after it was incorporated as El Paso in 1873. The "Post Opposite El Paso" would return in 1853 by order of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. On March 8th, 1854 the post received it's official name, Fort Bliss, named for Lt. Colonel William Wallace Smith Bliss, formerly adjutant to Zachary Taylor. Bliss, who died in 1853, is buried at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery. (Source http://www.elpasohistory.com/elpasohist; http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcodb)
Benjamin Franklin Coons
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