Pamelia and Adeline Andrus Benson
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. 336–40

    Adeline Andrus Benson, . . . 2nd wife of the pioneer Apostle Ezra T. Benson, suffered much for the gospel’s sake. Though frail and delicate in bodily strength, her ardent faith fanned stronger and brighter the flames of her testimony with each passing year of her life. Quiet and reserved, her sweet womanliness bespoke her refined and cultivated nature. As a young girl, in the fall of 1843, she came forward for baptism in Westfield, Massachusetts where a small branch of the church was organized. Together with a few others she was at that time baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of the strong feeling of antipathy in that locality against the “Mormons,” Adeline, with other new converts in company with Ezra T. Benson, joined the main body of the Church in Nauvoo.

    Adeline was overjoyed to see her sister Pamelia who had married young Ezra Benson in Massachusetts twelve years before in 1831. Pamelia, too was a woman of high character.

    The sisters had been reared in comfortable and genteel surroundings. Their parents were cultured, well-to-do, God fearing people. A school teacher, Pamelia had a mind of her own–an inquiring mind. She had recognized the truthfulness of the gospel message as she heard it expounded by Sidney Rigdon. She had eagerly accepted the new faith. The fact that Adeline had been baptized a member made Pamelia’s cup full to overflowing.

    In the fall of 1843 Adeline desired to have Patriarch Hyrum Smith give her a blessing. Accompanied by Pamelia and Ezra T. Benson she went to his home. After the blessing was given, the Patriarch, in his fatherly way, talked to them about the newly revealed law of celestial marriage and explained the principle to them. “There would be sacrifice,” he said, “and there would be persecution because of it.” Their belief that this life was a continuation of the pre-existent life, that in God’s plan of eternal progression, the spirits, in the pre-existent state, could only progress to this world as they had mortal bodies created for them, to multiply and replenish the earth” because to the Latter-day Saints a sacred duty. The principle of plurality of wives in the law of celestial marriage was inaugurated to quickly build up God’s kingdom upon the earth.

    Struggling against persecution, poverty, disease, and the hardship of frontier life, these early builders of the church were to evidence such character, sincerity and devotion to principle as the world has seldom witnessed. Their accomplishments under such dire conditions have not been equaled in the records of history. Every mortal act they performed was done with a single purpose–to express their love of God and build upon the earth a righteous kingdom in preparation for the second coming of the Savior, which the ancient and modern prophets had foretold.

    The ties which bound Pamelia and Adeline grew stronger when Adeline in plural marriage became the second wife of Ezra T. Benson on April 27, 1844. With calm assurance that all would be well, they endured the Nauvoo expulsion without complaint. Pamelia sold her costly shawl for “means” to go west. Again we repeat a statement of praise given by Ezra T. Benson about his wives, Pamelia and Adeline, when he said that no matter how hard and rough the way, he had never heard a murmur pass their lips. To leave Nauvoo, which overlooked the Mississippi River, surrounded by wooded sections of land where rain soaked the earth bringing forth budding flowers and a velvet carpet of green; to journey across the forbidding plains to a country bleak, gray and unproductive, there to make a home, without an expression of grief or discouragement; surely this revealed the noble character and the staunch faith of these choice women.

    During the flight from Nauvoo in rain, mud and sleet they reached Richardson’s Point where Pamelia gave birth to her daughter Isabella in the cold frosty morning of March 9, 1846. The rain poured in under the tent, surrounding her where she lay. Brush and willows were gathered and placed under the bed to raise it up to keep her and the baby dry. Less than two months later at Garden Grove, Adeline had her first child, a son in their home, a wagon box. He was named George Taft Benson. Adeline’s faith and determination overcame her frailties and so before long they happily moved on from Garden Grove, which was a habitat of rattle snakes, to Mount Pisgah where they settled long enough to assist in breaking the land and planting corn and vegetables for those who would follow after. During this period they subsisted for weeks on parched meal and buttermilk; yet they kept in good health and the babies grew and thrived.

    Pamelia and Adeline with their children arrived in Salt Lake City October 2, 1847 in the company presided over by Charles Coulson Rich. This was about the time their husband arrived back in Winter Quarters to assist in the exodus of Saints to the West. Kind friends aided the sister until Elder Benson’s return in 1849.

    Pamelia became the mother of ten children. Adeline had only three. Her family may have been small in number, but through this faithful good woman, Adeline Andrus, and her husband, Ezra T. Benson has come a line of faithful children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

- End -