George T. Benson

Progressive Men of Southern Idaho (Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., 1904), 690–92.

    For nearly twenty years a resident of Oneida county, and during all but ten of them being the bishop of the Whitney ward in the Church of Latter Day Saints, George T. Benson, of Whitney, Idaho, has been a large and inportant contributor to the growth and development of the county; and although his church work has had precedence over everything else, he has shown himself to be also a progressive man of business and a leader of thought in public affairs. His parents were Ezra T. and Adelina B. (Andrus) Benson, natives of Connecticut, who were converted to the Mormon faith soon after 1840 in their native state, whence they soon afterward emigrated separately to Nauvoo, Ill., where they were married not long after their arrival.


    Making their home at Nauvoo until the spring of 1846, they then joined the first company of their faith to make the long and trying trip across the plains to the new home of the church on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. While on this trip they halted at Garden Grove, Iowa, and there, on May 1, 1846, their son, George T. Benson, was born. From that place the father proceeded to the new country and was one of the first 128 men who arrived at and occupied the site of the permanent Zion of the church, then the dream of the faithful, now the established result of their labors and the magnificent center of its power. The mother came over “the plains across” with a later train and with her infant in her arms reached her destination in October.

    Taking up land for a home, they engaged in farming, and later the father built grist and sawmills in the Tooele Valley, nor far from the prospective city of Salt Lake, which he operated for a number of years, always, however, making his home in the city. From the time of his conversion to Mormonism he has been active and zealous in its work. He was ordained an apostle in 1848 at Winter Quarters, and was long one of the principal men of the organization in Utah. In 1860 he moved to Logan, being one of the first settlers at that place, and was called to preside over the Cache Valley church organizations as an apostle. From that time he has devoted the greater part of his life to church work, but he has also had business interests, and owned and farmed land at Logan.

    In partnership with H. Thatcher, he built the first gristmill in the Cache Valley, and, under the firm name of Thatcher & Benson, he aided in conducting it vigorously and profitably for a number of years, being connected with the enterprise at the time of his death on September 1, 1869. His widow survived him for thirty years, passing away on April 20, 1899, and their remains are buried at Logan.

    Their son, George T. Benson, attended school at Salt Lake in his boyhood and early youth, and, after removing with his parents to Logan at the age of sixteen, he there finished his education with such facilities as were attainable. He then worked with his father on the farm until his marriage in 1867, when he began farming for himself near Logan, expecting to always make that place his home. But, in July, 1884, he was called to be counsellor to Bishop Parkinson of the Preston ward, and once removed to that town, where he bought land two and one-half miles east of the town and again engaged in farming. Here he has since made his home. He continued to serve Bishop Parkinson as counsellor until 1889, when Whitney ward was set apart. He was then made counsellor to Bishop Chadwick of that ward, and when Bishop Chadwick retired in 1893 Mr. Benson was ordained as his successor.

    He is still in the active discharge of his duties as bishop of his ward, and under his management the affairs of the church in this territory have been thriving and prosperous. He is well fitted by nature and attainments for his position, and is beloved by every person in the ward, which is three miles square and contains a population of sixty-two families and 350 persons. On December 20, 1867, Mr. Benson married with Miss Louisa Ballif, a native of Switzerland, the daughter of Serge L. and Elise (Lecoultre) Ballif, of the same nativity as herself. The marriage was solemnized at Salt Lake City.

    Mrs. Benson’s parents became converts to the Mormon faith in their native land and came to America in 1854, making their way by the usual route and means to Utah and settling at Salt Lake, where they remained until 1860. They then removed to Logan, being among the first settlers at that place, where the mother died on May 13, 1872, and the father continued to [p.692] be engaged in farming operations until his death on April 20, 1901. Mr. and Mrs. Benson have had thirteen children, Louisa; Ezra T., who died on August 28, 1871, aged three weeks; Elise; George T.; Serge B.; Adeline and Florence (twins); William K., who died on February 28, 1882, aged three weeks; Frank T.; Marie, who died on March 6, 1891, aged four years and seven months; Carmen; Jenny; and Kathinka.  

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