The business was started by R.S. Fulton in 1890. W.D. Benton, a nephew of Fulton’s joined his uncle just after 1900. The two operated the agency until Mr. Fulton’s death in 1942. Benton purchased the agency and ran it until his death in 1945. Not unlike “It’s a Wonderful Life” W.D.’s daughter Billie Whitaker ran the agency for seven months until her brother Henry Benton returned from the war. (A side note to further the “It’s a Wonderful Life” reference: Henry Benton gave up his Command Pilot seat on a B-24 mission over Germany, so that another pilot could be eligible for a battlefield promotion. That pilot: Jimmy Stewart.)
The agency, now involved with Real Estate as well as Insurance, remained a family business. The insurance side was eventually purchased by William “Bill” Benton from his mother. Bill continued the partnership with his grandfather Henry Hynds, and in 1983 purchased the Real Estate operation after Mr. Hynds’ death.
In 1994 the Benton Agency and the Luttrell Agency of Howe merged operations. In 1996 Harold Brown also joined Benton and Luttrell in the Insurance operation.
Today the Agency home is Van Alstyne, operating as the Benton Luttrell Company, and Benton Luttrell Real Estate, remaining family owned for an impressive 129 years.
When you’ve been in business that long, your office should look like a museum. I will say, the conference room did not disappoint. W.D. Benton was also employed with the Leader Publishing Company at the turn of the century. The room has several items from that time frame. Bill was quick to point out a stand up desk at one end of the room. The same desk is in a picture he has of W.D. from the early 1900s. What was intended to be a short 20 minute interview, turned in to an hour and a half long history lesson.