About four miles northwest of Bonaparte on the Iowa Mormon Trail is the small village of Bentonsport. It is situated on the north bank of the Des Moines River in Van Buren County. Bentonsport was once an important port-of-call for Des Moines River steamers.
In 1836, the site was established as a trading post operated by Charles Sanford. Originally known as the Ross Settlement, the name was later changed to Benton’s Port, in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri.
By the time the Mormon pioneers came through Bentonsport, several flour and saw mills had been constructed and were in use. A number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found employment there.
Being a river town, Bentonsport has had its share of serious flooding. Two of the worst were 1851 and 1903. Presently, Bentonsport has a riverside village of little shops, an Indian artifact museum, historic bridge, perennial garden and festivals.