History of Pamelia Andrus Benson
Pamelia Andrus was born 21 Oct 1809 at Windsor, Hartford, Conn. the daughter of Jonathan Harvey Andrus and Lucina Parsons. Her birth is not recorded in the Vital Records of Windsor, nor is there a record of her baptism in the First Congregational Church of Windsor. However, her father did own property in Windsor between 1812 and 1814. Pamelia stated on 11 Dec 1845 (Nauvoo Temple Record) that she was born in Windsor, Hartford, Conn. on 21 Oct 1809.
At Uxbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts, Pamelia Andrus & Ezra T. Benson had their intention of marriage read the 11th of Dec 1831. (Vital Records of Uxbridge) They were married at Uxbridge 1 Jan 1832. Pamelia began a life of traveling from one town to another with her husband in his great desire to go to the Western part of the United States.
Charles Augustus Benson, their first child was born in Uxbridge 26 Sept 1832 and died there, age 1 year and 18 days, on 13 Oct 1833. (Vital Record Uxbridge) In his autobiography, written years later in 1847, Ezra T. Benson refers to this first child by name of Ezra Taft Benson. Perhaps this because they were to name their third child, a son, Charles Augustus Benson also.
Pamelia’s arms were empty until after they had moved to Holland, Massachusetts, and here her first daughter, Chloe Jane Benson was born in 1835; lived seven months and died with croup.
Again the Bensons moved, this time to Philadelphia, then to Salem and then to Griggsville, Pike, Illinois, where their third child and second son, Charles Augustus Benson, was born 3 July 1836, and this child lived to come across the plains with them. With her small son in her arms, Pamelia went home to her friends and kin for a long visit and returned in 1838.
The Bensons next home was in Quincy, Illinois, and here Ezra T. Benson rented a piece of land and built a house for his family. He and Pamelia and Charley moved in, and Ezra T. Benson planted fruit trees on the lot and fenced it in.
Vital Records of Windsor Hartford, Connecticut
First Congregational Church of Windsor
Deeds of Windsor
Vital Records of Uxbridge, Worcester, Mass.
Nauvoo Temple Records at the Genealogical Society
Journal History of the L. D. S. Church, Historian’s Office
Obituaries, Deseret News
Marriages and Sealings at Winter Quarters
In Quincy, the Bensons first heard about Mormonism, and Pamelia attended the missionary meetings with her husband. It was Pamelia who first became convinced of the truth of the doctrines of the L.D.S. Church. One day after attending a meeting, Pamelia took down the Bible and turned to First Corinthians, Twelfth Chapter, where Paul says, “God had placed in the church, Apostles, prophets, etc.” And, she said, such men were in the church anciently and she did not see why such should not be so now, and she firmly believed Joseph was a Prophet of God.
After attending a meeting in Quincy where Orson Hyde and John E. Page had preached, there were tears in Pamelia’s eyes as she approved of her husband giving one of them fifty cents to help him on his way. Pamelia was the first of this couple to make up her mind to be baptized, and so, on the 19th of July in 1840, near Quincy, Illinois, they were both baptized in the Mississippi River.
About the first of March in 1841, Ezra T. Benson went to Nauvoo to consult with Joseph Smith about moving there. Pamelia was expecting another child. While Ezra T. Benson was gone, she gave birth prematurely to twin boys, who lived only a few hours then expired.
Soon after this, the Bensons moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. Again Pamelia was uprooted from her home, and with her only living child, Charley, went with her husband. In Nauvoo, Ezra T. Benson built a small log house for Pamelia.
From the autobiography of Fanny Parks Taggart, who tells of living with the Bensons when their next child, Emma Pamelia, was born 28 Feb 1843, she states that she stayed with them all winter in Nauvoo.
Most of Pamelia’s husband’s trips away from her had been of short duration. However, in the spring of 1842, Ezra T. Benson started on a mission to the Eastern States, leaving Pamelia with her little son, Charley, and infant daughter, Emma Pamelia. While her husband was away, Pamelia and the children had the measles and were very sick.
Ezra T. Benson returned in the fall of 1843 and built a brick house for his family. It was a two story adobe brick home with a cellar, a very nice house.
While Ezra T. Benson had been on his mission to the Eastern States in 1843, he baptized Pamelia’s sister, Adeline Andrus, in Westfield, Mass. on 15 Aug 1843. The Saints were persecuted in Westfield and were advised to go to Nauvoo. Pamelia made Adeline welcome in their home.
Soon Pamelia was faced with her first decision of sharing her husband in plural marriage with her own younger sister, Adeline. As Pamelia had accepted the gospel back in Quincy, Illinois, Pamelia accepted the law of plural marriage. Ezra T. Benson and Adeline Andrus were married 27 Apr 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Soon Ezra T. Benson was called to preside over the Boston mission. It must have been a comfort to Pamelia to have her sister share the loneliness of being parted from Ezra T. Benson for a long time.
When Ezra T. Benson returned to Nauvoo in 1845, he observed all the work that had been done on the temple while he was away, and he now helped work on the Nauvoo Temple and stood guard at night. The attic story was dedicated on 30 Nov 1845 and he took Pamelia & Adeline for their endowments.
Next, Ezra T. Benson and Pamelia worked in the temple helping give ordinance work for other couples.
As early as 25 April 1845, Brigham Young had written a letter to Hugh J. Anderson, governor of the state of Maine. In this letter Brigham Young asked the Governor of Maine to call a special session of the Maine state legislature to furnish a place in Maine where the Mormons could come and live unmolested.
But Governor Anderson never answered Brigham Young’s letter, and a few months later the Mormon’s fled Illinois. When Brigham Young started the exodus from Nauvoo, he requested Ezra T. Benson to come with him. Both Pamelia & Adeline were expecting babies, but they knew they had to leave their comfortable home, so the advertised the house for sale.
“A house and one third of a lot on Parley’s east of Main Street near Mr. Oakleys. The house is 20 feet by 30, two stories high. A good well of water on the premises, terms low for Cash. Inquire of E. T. Benson on Monson Street between Fulmer and Warshaw Streets or G. W. Potter near the Post Office.”
This was the comfortable home the sisters had to leave on the 9th of February 1846 when they loaded their wagon with flour, corn, sugar, coffee and tea and some bedding, and the Benson family left with Brigham Young. They left all their furniture and belongings standing in their brick home.
Once across the Mississippi, a sever storm came up and the wagons sunk into the mud. They stopped near Richarson’s Point, Iowa. It rained very hard, and, with nothing but a tent to cover her and her bed raised on brush to keep her from the water, Pamelia gave birth to Isabella Benson while the Twelve sat in Council at Pres. Young’s Markee where they wrote to the trustees at Nauvoo to gather up all the milch cows, sheep, oxen and mules and from 50 to 100 pigs in cages for the next camp to come out. They also wrote to Orson Hyde to stay in Nauvoo to dedicate the temple if they did not return... (J. H. 9 Mar 1846)
Pamelia and Adeline were to remain at Kanesville, now Council Bluffs, until the summer of 1847, when Adeline was the first to leave for the Great Salt Lake Valley. She was in a list of persons who were organized into companies for crossing the plains from the Missouri River in the summer of 1847. The list gives the following names, ages and dates and places of birth:In the Charles C. Rich Company (J. H. 21 June 1847)
Adeline B. Benson 34 18 Mar 1813 Hartford, Conn.
Samuel G. Benson 1 1 May 1846 Garden Grove, Indian
(Later called George Taft Benson)
John Perry 48 20 June 1799 Hereford, England
Ann Perry 47 21 Feb 1800 Hereford, England
Elizabeth Melissa Perry 10 27 Dec 1837 Hereford, England
(The Perry family were Eliza Ann Perry Benson’s father, mother and sister)
Pamelia and her children were to remain at Kanesville (Council Bluffs, Iowa) with Eliza Ann Perry Benson, and Eliza Ann’s little daughter, Alice Eliza Benson. It would be two years before they came across the plains in 1849 in the Ezra T. Benson Company.
In the 1852 Bishops report, the Benson family lived in the 13th Ward in Salt Lake City. That part of the early 13th Ward record which is preserved does not contain their names, however.
In 1851, they were to leave Salt Lake City to run a grist mill in Tooele, Utah. They returned to Salt Lake City in 1853 and Ezra T. Benson started to build a lovely home on the corner of South Temple and Main Streets just opposite the Temple.
The Big House was large enough for all of them, but Pres. Brigham Young was a colonizer and he needed a strong, reliable man to make a permanent settlement in Cache Valley, so the whole family packed up again and went north to Logan.
It was starting all over again in hostile territory. There were very few homes there. Ezra T. Benson built a long log cabin and each wife and children had their own section. It was not very roomy, but they managed. Besides their other chores, the wives planted potatoes and stored them in the cellar, and they made their own soap.
In 1863, they had a very dry spring and the Indians were very hostile, killing and wounding men in settlements close to Logan. They stole good horses and killed beef on the range, just taking what they could carry with them and leaving the rest to spoil. The men had to keep a very strong guard at night.
In 1869, quite unexpectedly, Ezra T. Benson died. Now each wife had to provide for herself. Pamelia’s daughters, Pamelia Emma & Isabella were married, only Lottie was at home with her. Pamelia’s later life was marred by a great tragedy. On 18 Feb 1873 at Logan, her only son, Charley was killed. Pamelia lived only four years after this, dying 14 Sept 1877 at Logan, Utah. She is buried in the Benson burial plot in Logan Cemetery.
From the Deseret News, 26:536. “Funeral services: The obsequies of Sister Pamelia Benson, relicit of the late Apostle, E. T. Benson, took place on Monday 17 Sept in the basement of the new Tabernacle at Logan. Pres. John Taylor and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve were present, and the assemblage of relatives and friends was large as was also the cortege which followed the remains of the departed to the cemetery. Sister Benson was much respected.”
The first wife, Pamelia, welcomed the new wives into the family and found room for them in whatever place they lived whether small or large. When their husband was away on various missions, she not only worried about food for herself and her children, but was concerned with food for the other wives and their children also.
She was a peacemaker and a teacher to the younger wives in cooking, sewing and helping them with their babies, especially in times of sickness. She was a mother figure, nurse and doctor to any who were ill in the household.
As each younger wife came into the household, she realized she was getting older, and saw the lines in her face deepen, and counted more gray hairs in her crown, for surly she was a queenly woman reigning over her families with respect from her husband and the other wives. She had suffered longer than any of them. Not one of them had known their husband as long as she had, and knew of all his trials and tribulations. Yet she could rejoice with all of them when they found that, working together, they obtained their dream, a land where they were free of religious persecution.
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