Elizabeth Gollaher Benson was born in Clinton Co. Ill. on Dec 30, 1831. She and her people were members of the Latter Day Saint Church and when the Saints were preparing to move West, her father was sent to Pautowatomie County Iowa to help the people get their wagons ready for the long trip he being a blacksmith. While she was here she became acquainted with Apostle Ezra T. Benson who had been sent there to gather the Saints and lead them to Utah.
While her father was helping the saints repair their wagons he also constructed a carriage which he used for himself and family to cross the plains. It was made in the style of an old time hack with a long seat down each side which could be folded over and used for a bed at night. This must have been quite a luxury for the pioneers. But it seems that Elizabeth's family didn't all have the opportunity to ride in the carriage because she later told her children how she and her sisters made for themselves bloomers and dresses with skirts to their knees to assure comfort and ease in their long treck through the dust and sage brush.
The family arrived in Utah in 1849 and were sent to Toole to help settle there.
Elizabeth was a wonderful seamstress and made clothes for the settlers. She and her sisters spent their leisure time making fancy patch work quilts and selling them to help with the family needs. Her father had a cow who would not allow a man to milk her so he told Elizabeth that she could have the cow if she would take care of her. She accepted the proposition and twenty years later she was the proud owner of thirty head of cattle, the increase from the unruly cow.
Elizabeth had four sisters. They were an outstanding family in Utah because they were the only children there who had red hair. Her hair was a lovely dark auburn color and naturally wavy and curley. When she was quite an old lady, one time after her daughter Edith had shampooed her hair Edith she (Edith) curled it around her finger and made ringlets which delighted her grandchildren. A lady she was indeed. She was very sweet and refined in manner and very careful always of her personal appearance. No matter how poor she was or how full of pain from her rhumatism she always wore a nice clean dress. For best she had a black satin dress with a little white lace jabot in front at the neck and she always had a pretty clean white apron to wear. Her clothes were always kept in good condition.
Two years after her arrival in Utah, Apostle Benson was sent to Toole to work with the Saints there and they were married. She resided in Salt Lake until 1860, then came to Logan Cache County and remained there until her death.
At the age of 37 she was left a widow with seven children to rear and support, the eldest being only fourteen years old and the youngest eight weeks. The eldest boy, Fred took a mule and a horse to the canyons and worked with men to earn what he could to help support his mother and her children. She worked hard taking in boarders and sewing for people & doing anything she could to make a livelyhood.
Poverty often stared her in the face. The baby had to stay in the house all one winter because she didn't have any shoes to wear. When something happened outside that she wanted to see her mother would wrap her in a blanket & carry her outside. Beside poverty Elizabeth had ill health to struggle against. She was afflicted with rhumatism and many years of her life she was a helpless invalid.
When her daughter Edith was twelve years old she and her little sister Lizzy had to do all the house work between school hours. On wash day they would get up early and scrub the dirty clothes on a corugated washboard, then boil them in soapy water then they would put them in a tub of clear rince water & let the stand until after school when they would rince them wring them out and hang them on a line to dry. Edith said she scrubbed clothes and washed dishes when she was only ten years old and was too small to reach the table without standing on a chair.
One of the brothers would stay with the sick mother while the other boys worked in the canyons, and the smaller children were in school. It was a great worry to have these young boys driving into the canyon to bring out the winter supply of wood and it was always a relief to see them coming home.
When Elizabeth was well, besides caring for her own family she always found time and energy to help any of her neighbors who might be in trouble. She was always willing to go and help the sick no matter what time of day or night she was called. And she always managed to have a little jar of preserves to take with her.
She was faithful to her church and when the first Relief Society was organized in Logan May 18, 1868, she was chosen to act as first counseler to the President. A reorganization took place May 18, 1874 and she was made President. In 1877 a Stake Organization was effected and she was made Stake President. This offices she successfully filled for eighteen years, being released then because of her ill health. She also worked faithfully as one of the first ordinance workers in the Logan Temple.
She lived a very useful life and was firm in her convictions when she died at the age of 72, May 4, 1903 at the home of her daughter Lizzy in Wellsville Utah. Her body was transfered to Logan and rested at the home of her daughter Edith. She was buried in the Logan cemetery by the side of her eldest daughter Luella who preceded her in death.
History of Elizabeth Gollaher Benson
Written by Karma P. Parkinson, a grandaughter & daughter of Edith Benson Parkinson from information received from her mother & her aunt, Lizzy Benson Owen, & some things she remembered. Written about 1924.
Transcribed from a photocopy of handwritten version from the author, Sept. 2000, by Benson Y. Parkinson.