Olive Mary Knight Benson and Her Children
by Minnie Egan Anderson
excerpted from John Henry Evans and Minnie Egan Anderson, Ezra Taft Benson: Pioneer—Statesman—Saint (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1947), pp. 349–51

    Olive Mary Knight was married to Ezra T. Benson, July, 1851. She was known to her friends and acquaintances as Mary. Born January 24, 1830 in Worchester, England, the daughter of James and Maria Wallace Knight, she accepted the Gospel in her native land and as she expressed her feelings “traveled to America and crossed the hot, sultry, dreaded plains to Utah without fear of harm or molestation.” The boat on which she sailed across the Atlantic was driven off its course for many miles by heavy storms, yet her indomitable courage and faith did not fail her. Unused as she was to the hard life of pioneering and menace of Indians, she told her children often of the happy pleasant time she experienced in the trek to the Rocky Mountains. She arrived in Salt Lake Valley on Sunday, October 13, 1850 having crossed the plains in Bishop Edward Hunter’s company.

    Olive Mary Knight and Ezra T. Benson were the parents of seven children. Quiet and unassuming, and of medium height, her sparkling brown eyes and black hair gave color and charm to her personality. Ambitious and spiritual be nature, she was called to serve as the president of the first Relief Society organized in Logan.

    Ofttimes in a facetious and teasing manner her children would say “Mother, is the Church worth all the sacrifices that you have made for it?” Her answer would come back quickly and with fervor, “Do you think I would have trudged across the plains in blistering heat if I hadn’t been sure of its divine origin?”

    When Ezra T. Benson attended the celebration at Promontory Point in honor of the completion of the railroad Mary Knight went with him to care for his needs.

    After the death of her husband, Mary supported her little family alone. She struggled valiantly to give them the necessities of life and rear them to be honorable men and women. Her oldest child at the demise of Ezra T. Benson was 16 years of age and there were six other children younger. No moment was ever wasted. She had a small farm and track of land. The land was rented and from this farm her family received their support. Lorenzo Taft Benson her fourth child and the last living member of her family is now 84 years of age. He remembers clearly his father. He recalls with pleasure the thrills he experienced as a child when he was allowed to go with his father on a short trip. He tells of his father’s kindness and of his firm expectance of obedience. He remembers that his mother always managed to have a beef to kill for winter and the cellar piled high with provisions grown on the farm.

    On her death bed her mind remained keen and clear. Among the last words she uttered were spoken to Lorenzo when she gave him this admonition, “Lorenzo, be a good Mormon.” She died March 27, 1905 at 75 years of age.

    Her sons learned from practical application under the tutelage of their thrifty mother of the art of tilling the soil. Their rows like their lives were straight and true. Joseph used the hours he could spare from his farm to work in the House of the Lord. For many years he served as an officiator in the Logan Temple.

    Don Carlos, the youngest child, viewed the world from the first time three weeks after his father’s death. He was denied the privilege of acquaintanceship with his illustrious father whose death occurred on September 3, 1869. Influenced by his mother’s faithful teachings he left for a mission in 1899 laboring in the North Kentucky Conference. He became its president in April 1900. Holding fast to the faith of his father, he executed diligently, with sympathy and wisdom, the duties delegated to him as Sheriff of Cache County an office he held for several years.

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