Lake Daily Telegraph
Salt Lake City, Sunday, September 5, 1869
DEATH OF ELDER EZRA T. BENSON
Elder Ezra Taft Benson has passed away! In the vigor of life he was called to another sphere of labor. The news of his death came as unexpectedly as intelligence of any mournful event of the kind could do. Strong and robust looking, he seemed a man who might have lived for many years. But the summons to depart came suddenly and without premonitory warnings, startling Israel, among whom he was indeed a leader and a great man. The mourning for one so well-tried and full of integrity as Bro. Benson, is but natural; yet the confidence that the Saints have in the future before such as he, tells us “all is well.” We sympathetic with his family in their bereavement; so will many thousands—all of which is no doubt consoling; but their true consolation lies in the assurance they have, that he is not dead, but gone before to join the noble and holy band who have preceded him. Bro. Benson was a worker, stirring and active. His career was that of a man who having found truth, would cling to it, and count no sacrifice too great to extend it blessings to his fellow-beings, as the following brief biography will show for much of which we are indebted to the kindness of President George A. Smith.
Elder Benson was born in Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts, on the 22nd of February, 1811, making him at his death, fifty-eight years, six months and twelve days old. He was the eldest son of John and Chloe Benson. In early life he was engaged in farming. At twenty he married Pamelia, daughter of Jonathan H. and Lucina Andrus, of Northbridge, in his native county. In 1832 he commenced hotel keeping in Uxbridge,, which he continued at for some fiver years. In 1837 he moved to Salem, where he resided a year, when he started westward, which he had long had a desire to do. He stopped a short time at Griggsville, Illinois; then went to Lexington; and afterwards with a man named Isaac hill founded a town called Pike at the mouth of the Little Blue. In 1839 he went to Quincy in the same state, to seek a home, and there he first met the Latter-day Saints; and having become convinced of the truth of their doctrine, in 1840 he and his wife were baptized in Quincy, the preaching of Elders Orson Hyde and John E Page, who were starting on their mission to Jerusalem, having considerable influence in bringing him to that conclusion. In the fall of the same year he was ordained an Elder at a Conference held in Nauvoo which he attended; and soon after he was ordained a High Priest by President Hyrum Smith at Quincy, and appointed second Counselor to the President of a Stake formed there. In the spring of 1841 he moved to Nauvoo, bought a lot, improved it and built a log house on it. On June 1st of the next year he started on a mission to the Eastern States, and returned to Nauvoo in the fall of 1843. In May 1844 he again went east, remained until he received word of the death of the Prophet and Patriarch Joseph and Hyrum Smith, when he immediately returned to Nauvoo. In the fall succeeding he was set apart to be a member of the High Council; and in December again went on a mission during which he presided over the eastern Conferences until May following, when he was counselled to gather up the Saints and move with them to Nauvoo.
He worked on the Temple for the remainder of the summer and during the fall, faithfully bearing his part with those who had—like the ancient builder of the walls of Jerusalem—to watch and work, the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other—to guard against mobocrats.
With the first company of those who moved westward, he and his family were numbered. At Mount Pisgah he was appointed counselor to Father William Huntingdon, and there he was notified by letter from President Young that he was appointed to fill the place of John Page in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. With the main camp of the Saints he moved to Council Bluffs and was again sent East on a mission, returning in November, 1846.
In the spring of 1847 he accompanied President young as one of the Pioneers. Soon after their arrival in this Valley; he was sent back to meet the companies and tell the were a place of settlement had been found. He accompanied them to this Valley, and returned to the Missouri River with the Pioneers. He again went East on a mission, was absent several months, and on returning to Iowa was appointed to preside in Pottawattamie county, and associated with Presidents Orson Hyde and Geo. A Smith.
In 1849, he returned to the Valley, living through a dangerous sickness on the journey by the faith and prayers of the camp with whom he traveled. He was elected a member of the Provisional State of Deseret, previous of the organization of Utah as a Territory; and in 1851 was appointed a mission to Pottawattamie county to gather Saints from there to these valleys. He was elected a Councilor for Salt Lake County to the first session of the Territorial Legislature, in 1851–2. The following session he was returned as Representative for the same county; and sat during the two following sessions—those of 1853–4 and 1854–5—as Representative for Tooele County.
In 1856, in company with Elder Orson Pratt, he went on a mission to Europe, where he labored with great power and effect during the time of the Reformation in these valleys. During his mission he traveled and preached through England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; and visited and labored in Scandinavia.
In October of 1856, he returned from Europe, coming by way of the isthmus of Panama and through California, accompanied by several other Elders. In 1850 he was appointed till preside over Cache valley, where he resided to his death. When he went there he organized the militia of the county, and was elected Colonel; and when the brigade was formed—which is now the largest in the Territory and contains three regiments—he was elected Brigadier General.
He returned to the Legislature as Representative for Cache County, for the session of 1860–1; and as Councilor for each succeeding session, including that for 1869–70, to which he was elected by unanimous vote. With Elder Lorenzo Snow, and accompanied by Elders Joseph F. Smith and Wm. W. Cluff, he went on a mission to the Sandwich Islands, in 1864–5, and the boat in which they were landing at the islands having capsized, Br’s Snow being in a death like and insensible condition for some time, and Bro. Benson nearly in a similar state. Having successfully performed their mission they returned to Utah, this being the last time he left the Territory.
In conjunction with Pres. Lorin Farr and Bp. C. W. West, as contractors, he graded two hundred miles on the Pacific Railroad, and the difficulty in obtaining a satisfactory settlement, added additional labor and anxiety to his numerous cares and duties.
On Thursday last he left his home in Logan apparently in his usual health and in excellent spirts, and drove to Wellsville, where he remained during the night. Next morning he came to Brigham City and dined with Elder Lorenzo Snow, driving to Ogden in the afternoon. He reached President Farr’s about six o’clock in the evening, attended to one of his horses which was sick, and while on his way from Bro. Farr’s barn to the house, about seven o’clock, he fell on his right side. Bros. Crockett and Ephraim Turner being with him at the time. He breathed a few times and pulsation ceased. Judge A. F. Farr and others were promptly on the ground, and restoratives were immediately employed, but without effect, his spirit was gone. His body was taken to President Farr’s house, tenderly laid out and placed in a coffin, and forwarded to his family at Logan, with a suitable guard.
Yesterday the flags were at half-mast in this city, and everything manifested that the worth and integrity of Bro. Benson were well appreciated.
The sudden death of Bro. Benson will be subject of much conversation among the people. In its association with the almost as sudden death of Bro. Heber, of not very distant date, it will doubtless lead to a great deal of reflection. In noting one by one the old standard bearers passing away; we recognize “the hand of the Lord,” and the fact the both Heber and Ezra were robust men and likely enough to have lived each of them a score of years more than they did, we cannot by accept that there was a purpose in their unlooked for deaths. Withing the next ten years, there must, in the ordinary nature of events, be very great changes among us. Voices now familiar will be hushed and heard no more, and the people will have to ask themselves what they know of truth and how well they comprehend the principle of progress. Day by day teaches that the Eternal rules, and with Him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is but as a day. His great work is progress has the advancement of all His creations, and as circumstances demand He calls. His servants to aid; as their work is accomplished He calls them home. The mission revealed to Joseph has accomplished much; but there lies in the same path of progress a work reaching far beyond his day, and we look forward to a development more startling in its grandeur than anything yet seen among men. Clouded as may be the comprehension of men and obscurely as we may still grasp the future as looking through a glass darkly, nothing is more certain than the inspirations—that so spoke of the future—comprehend that there was a great fulness to be revealed. Anticipating this, looking forward to it, we expect to witness change succeed change, until the great work of Redemption is completed.
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