Life Sketch of Frank Andrus
by Eleanora Benson Allen
Before I start the life story of my father, Frank Andrus Benson, I would like to begin with a short sketch about his father, Ezra Taft Benson, given to me by Margaret R. Benson:
The Saints, under desperate, terrifying conditions, had
been expelled from Nauvoo. In their hour of distress, the Lord, through Brigham
Young, gave them instructions and comforting counsel for their journey. (Sec 136
D & C) The section begins: “The Word & Will of the Lord..and calls Ezra
T. Benson and Erastus Snow to organize a company of Saints and lead them to the
West. (136-12) Ezra T. Benson came to this assignment highly qualified. He was
a member of the Council of the Twelve. He had joined the church in 1840 after
laboring as a farmer, businessman, postmaster, and hotel keeper in the East. A
restlessness stirred him constantly until he moved west and came in contact
with the church. Once a member, positions of responsibility came quickly.
Within a year he was ordained a High Priest and appointed Second Counselor in
the Stake at
Ezra Benson worked on the temple in Nauvoo and stood
guard at night to keep off the mobs. In 1846, after expulsion from Nauvoo,
Frank Andrus Benson was born in
Aunt Pamelia, the first wife of Ezra Taft Benson, and Adeline, his second wife, were sisters. Pamelia joined the church first, in Quincy, Illinois, July, 1840. Grandfather Ezra T., joined later in the same month. They moved to Nauvoo in 1841. Adeline joined the church after her sister and husband had left Mass. Adeline had a young man that she had gone with for a number of years. When she joined the church, he couldn’t believe in her faith, so their courtship ceased and she left Mass. for Nauvoo to be near her sister, and where the head of the church was located. She became the second wife of her older sister’s husband April 25, 1844. Only two years later they were forced to leave their beautiful red brick home in Nauvoo at the threat of death. Both sisters were expecting babies at that time but they were forced to go the pioneer trail in search of a new land and peace. (When my son, Benson, was in Nauvoo some years ago, he was shown the Benson home and it is still very lovely) Most of the homes in Nauvoo at that time were made of red brick.
To this age of concern over civil rights and individual freedoms, it is difficult to realize that these freedoms were not always guaranteed to all in our United States.
When Frank was nearly three years of age, his father was called to go on a mission to Europe, with Orson Pratt. They left Salt Lake City in April, 1856, and returned to Utah in Jan 19, 1858. Father said that this was the first time he had any recollection of whom his father might be.
When the Bensons had been in Utah but eight years, in 1855, they built diagonally opposite the Temple block on the southeast corner, a most beautiful two-story adobe home, located on the Benson homestead. This home cost $12,000 to build, which was a small fortune at that time. This home was destined to play an indispensable role in the building of Salt Lake as a metropolitan city. Eventually the home was replaced by the Central Hotel, then Templeton Hotel Bldg., the Zions National Bank, and now the towering Kennecott Building is located there.
They had just finished and moved into their new home; the apple, pears, plum, and cherry trees had been planted in the orchard, or garden as they called it, when Ezra Taft Benson received a call to move to Cache Valley and become the presiding authority of this young community. Elder Pratt said of Grandfather at that time, “Ezra Benson will go anytime or anywhere he is called to go by church leaders.”
I am sure it was hard for Ezra Benson to leave Salt Lake. In history, we read so much about the hardships and great things the pioneer men were called to do, but little is written about the heartaches, trial, disappointment, hard work, and sorrow of our pioneer women. Imagine what this move must have meant to the two sisters. Father said he remembered how his mother Adeline and Aunt Pamela cried in Salt Lake at this time, and for years. We must remember, they had been driven from their home in Nauvoo; crossed the plains; each had given birth to babies on the trek; and they had lived in log cabins again in Salt Lake. Now they were called to move from a lovely home and go back to pioneer life with its hardships and lack of comforts the new home would provide. The trials and work were theirs again in making a new home. Their home in Salt Lake was sold to Daniel H. Wells. It became the home where the elite were entertained when they came to Utah.
The Bensons arrived in Cache Valley in March, 1860. Young Frank was just seven years old. There were near 150 families in Cache Valley when they arrived. The settlements in the valley had been previously named and renamed by Ezra Taft Benson and Orson Hyde.
Young Frank received all of the education that was possible to receive from the schools of that day and that an educated mother could give him. I don’t think there were many words that he could not spell or give the meaning of, or any arithmetic problems he could not work. He learned so many lessons by song or verse, especially his Geography and History lessons. He also made the most of his opportunities. Father would become quite disturbed when his children would make mistakes in their English, and would not stand for the crude or vulgar words to be said.
Following are a few stories related by Frank A. Benson to his oldest granddaughter, Helen H. Passey:
F.M. Cowley and Frank A. Benson, while on their mission to the Southern States in Virginia, had an appointment to hold a meeting at the Birch Schoolhouse. When they arrived at the school to conduct the meeting, a Methodist minister was holding a service with the congregation that had assembled. Elder Cowley and Elder Benson were astonished, but not wanting to be outdone, they decided on a plan. There was a large oak tree a short distance from the schoolhouse. The missionaries found some boards and set them up as seats, then they started singing “High On the Mountain Top”. Both boys had beautiful voices and the congregation, a few at a time, filed out of the building and took seats under the shade of the tree, and the meeting continued. A short time later, a group who were anti-Mormon, tarred and feathered the tree and posted a sign stating that the Elders might expect the same treatment if they should return to hold another meeting. Shortly after, lightening struck the tree and splintered it to bits. This was a testimony to these young men. They knew they were being watched over and cared for by a stronger power than man.
In the Spring of 1915, at the Benson home at 141 W 1st So. In Logan, Utah, we had a visitor from West Virginia. This man had been a Baptist minister whom Frank and his companion had converted to the church many years before. He came to go to the Temple and visit with that boy who had brought the Gospel message to him, and to tell him of the happiness it had brought into his life.
Adeline Benson, wife of Elder Ezra T. Benson and mother of Frank, and Sister Hendricks were camped at Garfield, boiling salt for their winter seasoning. This was a routine chore. While they were performing this task, the men were in the canyon cutting wood. Busy at her work, Adeline glanced at the rocks a short distance away and saw a large animal crouching there. She walked over to the wagon and told Sister Hendricks, “We have company.” The animal crawled stealthily through the rocks toward them. The women took their babies to their arms and started to sing. When they stopped singing, the animal would get up and start toward them. While they continued singing the animal would lie down quietly. They sang for two long hours, and all at once the animal was gone. When the men returned, they examined the tracks left on the ground and found them to be those of a large mountain lion. Adeline had a cow tied to the back of the wagon, when the lion appeared the frightened animal broke loose and left. They didn’t find her for months.
When Salt Lake City was in its early stages of settlement, Adeline Benson was taking good care of three small potatoes that she planned to plant in her new garden. She cut each in four pieces, making twelve sets. Three of the plants died and nine matured. From the nine hills she dug a large dishpan of potatoes. They ate some and kept the rest for planting the next spring. From this pan of seed, she raised ten bushel. That Fall Apostle Benson returned to Salt Lake with some of his family, and they all ate from the harvest of potatoes. One day Adeline told them that they had better save the potatoes that were left for seed the next spring. Elder Benson went to the trap door where the potatoes were kept and told Adeline there were plenty left, and there was no reason why they couldn’t continue to eat them. They used them for awhile longer. Adeline then closed the trap door, saving she had known hunger and she was going to save the rest. Her husband said, “Let’s eat what we have, and I’ll buy seed when spring comes.” Adeline refused. The next spring seed potatoes could not be purchased anywhere, for any price, but this gentle woman had enough seed so as to have a good harvest in the fall.
The following is told by Franks daughter, Edna B. Ward.
When Frank was a young boy, the Indians were constantly on the warpath, causing trouble for the settlers, The last fight between the settlers and the Indians was at Battle Creek near Preston, Idaho. After this battle a number of Indian children were left orphans. The relatives of these children sold them to the settlers. Apostle Ezra T. Benson, father of Frank, bought an Indian boy and an Indian girl. He paid fifty pounds of flour for each of them. They named the boy Sam and the little girl Nellie. Ezra T. Benson brought these two children home to Adeline, Frank’s mother, and they were reared by her. They were sent to school and both learned to read and write. They both grew to adulthood. The always thought that they would sometime marry. Nellie was a sweet, kind girl, and she became very much in love with her foster brother, Frank. He considered her just one of the family. When he brought his bride, Amanda Eliason, to his widowed mother’s home to live, it was too much for Nellie. She left her home and went to live with another of the Benson families. Nellie didn’t live long after Frank’s marriage. She is buried in the northeast corner of the Benson plot in the Logan cemetery.
The fall father was eighty years of age, he helped haul all of the beets on the farm. One day, as he was returning home, he met a man walking towards town. Father stopped his team and asked the seemingly old man if he would like a ride. As the man climbed into the beet wagon with great effort, he said, “I tell you son, when you get as old as I am you will find out how hard it is to get into a wagon.” “Yes”, said father, “No doubt I will. Just how old are you Mr.?” “I am 65 years old”, the man replied. Father looked at him with a twinkle in his eye and said, “you see I will be 80 years old in one more month.” His passenger couldn’t believe that a man of father’s age could be so active.
As a young man, Frank was always noted for driving the fastest and best teams of horses in town. On Sunday evening, as he and his best girl were driving along the main highway north of Logan, a driver came out of the side road and gave chase to them. His girlfriend kept telling him, “Oh Frank, please slow down your horses I think are trying to tell you something.” Frank replied, “If he has anything to say to me he can say it when we get to Logan.” To his surprise, when he stopped in Logan the other party did have something to say to him. He had been racing with the County Sheriff. He was fined for fast driving along a public highway.
Father told me of a time when he and Sam, the Indian boy, went to Corinne, Utah, to get salt. While they were there Sam was able to get liquor. Frank tried to get him to stop drinking and he became angry. Sam was much larger and a little older than Frank. He began to beat Frank, and if the men hadn’t come to Frank’s aid, Sam would have killed him. Shortly after, Sam left Logan and went to the Salmon River country in Idaho. They never heard from Sam personally again.
It was a common thing for the Indians to gather on the Logan Tabernacle Square. They would exchange their furs and hides for cash, and then they would buy liquor, if possible. When they were able to obtain liquor, the settlers became very much afraid, as the Indians would start their blood curdling war calls and shouts that echoed over the small community of Logan.
Elder Ezra T. Benson, as leader in the valley, had told the people to give the Indians what they asked for, to keep the peace. They would demand so much flour, so many beans, salt, and sweets. Foods were scarce in the valley but the food was fathered together and given to the Indians, even if the settlers had to do without. The sweets were mostly sorghum, which was a poor grade of homemade molasses. One evening during a visit of the Indians to the Tabernacle Square, Grandmother Adeline was alone with the two young boys, George and Frank, when a drunken Indian with his face covered with war paint, came to their kitchen window and pressed his nose against the window pane. The boys were terrified. But Adeline, the pioneer woman that she was, went to the window and shook her fist in his face and made him understand that she was not afraid. He stood there looking at them for awhile, with his nose pressed against the window, then turned and walked to a pile of wood a short distance away and sat down and moved his head back and forth, with Adeline still at the window. Finally he arose and walked drunkenly away. Our grandmother was only a fraction over five feet in height. One realizes that protection from above was ever near these pioneer families.
When Ezra T. Benson returned from trips out of the valley, he often brought little gifts to his children. These gifts were very special to them. One time, he brought sticks of candy to each child. Young Frank took his to school so his friends could have a taste. This was a very special treat to children who had very few sweets, and most of them had never seen a stick of candy before. Another time, Frank’s father brought home some matches or “pop sticks” as they were called. Frank was given a few of the mysterious pop sticks and his first thought was to show his friends what he could do with them. They gathered at the lot at Main and Center street in Logan, where the first Security Bank is now located. There was a hay yard at this corner and they gathered a little pile of hay, intending to have just a small blaze, just enough to show the boys what the pop sticks could do. Father lit one of the matches, and it wasn’t many minutes until all of the hay was ablaze. This was told to me by Ezra Ricks, a lifetime friend. He was one of the boys that came to see Frank’s pop sticks. Fires were started by flint and steel, or borrowing a few coals from a neighbor.
Frank said his father brought an orange for each child one time. He always remembered his first orange and said never in his life did he taste anything so delicious as his first orange.
The summer Frank was 13 the men of Logan were improving the road into Logan Canyon. This became necessary so they could bring logs and rock to build fireplaces and homes, and the need for more wood to burn to keep their homes warm. Frank and another boy were to do the fishing for the camp. One day a mother bear and he two cubs came into camp seeking food. The men killed the mother bear and captured the two small cubs. They gave one to each of the boys. The boys had many happy hours with the cubs when they were not fishing. Father said they were as playful as puppies. Frank brought his cub home and had it for some time, but it soon became larger and the neighbors became concerned about having the bear around. Frank took the bear into the canyon and turned it free. He said there were tears shed, and he continued to look for the bear every time he went to the canyon.
We used to go to the canyon with father when we were children in the 3-seated bedlow, or white-topped covered wagon. He would tell about things that happened in the canyon when he was growing up. One time they were making the road at the point in the road near where the Logan City dam is now and dug into a rattle snake den. The men killed over 200 snakes of all sizes with shovels, sticks and stones. The boys removed some of the rattlers from the tails of the larger snakes and put them on strips of hide to take home to show the other boys.
There was the large, lazy fish they could not tempt. They tried every kid of fly, bug, worms, and grasshoppers every day but nothing would tempt it. There was a story or happening for every turn we too in the road and the river.
Ezra Taft Benson would often take one of his boys with him when he went on trips to Brigham City, Ogden, and sometimes even to Salt Lake City. The boys were to care for the horses during their travels. The times spent with their father were precious moments in the lives of these children, as they had so little time with their father. He was called away from their home so often for church duties, and government and business affairs.
On September 2, 1869, Frank left Logan with his father and Alvin Crockett, their destination was Ogden, Utah, where they were to meet at the Lorin Farr home. They stopped overnight at Brother Maughns in Wellsville. Early the next morning they were on their way to Brigham City to visit Lorenzo Snow where they had their noon meal and changed the team of horses. Toward evening, just before they arrived at the Loren Farr home in Ogden, one of the horses became sick with colic. Ezra T. Benson bled the horse as soon as they could get in unharnessed. This was a common practice for both man and animal, to be bled for any ailment they might have. It was supposed to be a certain cure-all for everything. When Ezra T. Benson had finished the treatment he handed the halter rope to his son, Frank, and told him to walk the horse and not let it lie down or roll. There was a young boy standing near, and as Ezra T. passed the picked up the boy and placed him on the horse’s back, then he turned from the barn to go to the Farr home with Mr. Crockett and William Turner. There was a small ditch just a short distance from the barn, and as Frank’s father stepped across the kitchen, he slumped to the ground as in a faint. They did everything that was possible for them to do. They carried him into the Farr home where he died of a heart attack a short time later. That was a terrible shock to Frank, a teenage boy nearing his 16th birthday. He said how he had always loved and honored this wonderful father with all of his heart. This happened on September 3rd, 1869, just a little more than 9 years after the Bensons had moved to Logan, This was to have been a business meeting to settle affairs with the railroad company for work these men had contracted to do and had finished.
There were hundreds of Indians and all of the people in the valley that could possibly be there at the funeral service for Ezra Taft Benson, This was the largest gathering ever held in the Cache Valley up to this time. Frank said of his father, he tried to treat all people, no matter what color his skin might be, as his brother.
Frank’s older brother, George T., was married to Louisa Ballif on 20 Dec., 1867, two years before his father’s death.
After Frank returned from his mission to Virginia, he became mail carrier for the village of Benson Ward, Trenton, Clarkston and Newton in Cache Valley. In summer he would take the mail on horseback or wagon. In the winter he would go by bobsled or horseback. In summer he would ford the Bear River. In winter he would cross on the ice. The snow would be so keep they could go over the top of the fences. He always said there is nothing as cold as riding a horse in below zero weather.
Frank owned a team of horses that were exceptional at treading snow. That means they were able to walk on the deep-crusted snow without stumbling or floundering. When there were blizzards, and that was often, Frank would put the lines down on the dashboard and let the horses use their heads. They always found their way home to Logan through the blinding snow. When Frank had delivered the mail and was ready to return home, there would usually be a line of men with their teams and bobsleds waiting to follow in his tracks back to Logan. Frank’s wages were $30 a month on this job. It seems such a little, but was a good deal of real money in those years, as money was hard to come by.
Not all was work or calamity, however. Festivities were enjoyed with unhibited husto. Dances were a unanimous favorite. Brigham Young had said, “if you wish to dance, dance, and you are just as much prepared for a prayer meeting after dancing as you ever were, if you are Saints.” The dances started at sundown with potluck dinner at midnight and leftovers eaten for breakfast. They always had programs and singing at these parties. The children would stay awake as long as they could, then they would sleep through the din on benches against the walls of the meeting house, wrapped in quilts. Music and rhythm were provided by tissue paper put over combs and blown through, by fiddles, mouth organs, jews harps, or anything that would twang. Another form of entertainment was their home talent plays. Dramatic forms were very popular and very important, and performed under real adverse conditions. There were also sledging, picnics, wool-picking bees, candy pulls, and quilting bees–all amusements of younger days of Frank, and how he loved to sing and dance.
It was at one of these parties that Frank met Amanda Elliason. She had moved with her family from Grantsville, where they had located after joining the Church in Sweden and coming west. Frank Andrus Benson and Amanda Charlotta Eliason were married the 9th of December, 1880.
Amanda was the daughter of Andrew and Hedvig Eliason, the oldest child of a family of eleven children, eight girls and three boys. Amanda was a beautiful girl, with very even features and long wavy dark brown hair that came to her knees. She had to wrap it around her arm to comb it completely. Her complexion was so clear and fresh all of her life. She had the sweetest, kindest smile that I will never forget, and beautiful large blue eyes.
Frank Benson was 5 ft. 8 in. tall. He was a handsome man, perfect profile. Dark, snappy brown eyes, and very dark brown hair. Father had a happy, clean sense of humor. Mother was more quiet and sedate.
The Frank Benson family lived all of their lives at 141 W 1st So., Logan, Utah, across the street from the old B. Y. College. This was the home Ezra Taft Benson had built for his second wife, Adeline, Frank’s mother. It was a 6 room house with dining area and kitchen in one room. The house faced to the south. There were two small bedrooms west from the kitchen. The living room was east of the kitchen. Southeast of the living room was Grandmother Adeline’s room, and the northeast corner was Frank and Amanda’s room. There were three fireplaces in this home, one in the kitchen, living room and Adeline’s bedroom. At the north side of the house was a large summer kitchen porch, on this porch was the family pump. The cooking and canning in the summer was done in the summer kitchen. There was also a garden east of the house where fruit trees had been planted.
Adeline shared her home with her son Frank the remaining years of her life, which were 16. The only time Adeline was away from it for any length of time was when she went to Whitney, Idaho, to homestead land for her oldest son, George T.
Near the turn of the century, electricity came to Logan. We had one drop light put into each room in the old home. How wonderful it was when they turned on the light. They were not very bright compared to the lights of today, but there never has been a light more bright or more beautiful. There were no more smoky coal-oil lamps to fill and clean or wicks to trim.
Near this time, father bought our piano from the B.Y. College. As a family, we would gather around while mother played the church songs and we would all sing. Some of the other songs we sang were “Tenting Tonight”, “Two Little Girls in Blue,” “The Good Old Summer Time,” “Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight,” “Home Sweet Home,” and others. My father had a beautiful tenor voice. We learned to harmonize and would sing as we rode in bob sleigh, wagon or buggy.
When Father was able to get land in Logan Canyon, our vacations were at our summer home there. Many wonderful hours were spent going fishing with Father. He used a long can fishing pole and could catch fish when no one else could. In the winter time it was bob sleigh riding. Mother would heat bricks or large rocks in the cook stove oven so we could keep warm in the cold winter air. Father would fill the bob sleigh with his children and the neighbor’s children that were lucky enough to have ice skates and we would be off to the ponds or lakes. It was cold and the snow was deep, but we loved every minute of it.
I was just one year old when Grandmother Adeline passed away. She told Amanda before she passed away how much she loved her and what a wonderful daughter she had been to her. She also said that if possible she would come back and tell Amanda about over there.
I was nearly five years of age when Frank and Amanda decided to build a new home for their growing family of nine children. They rented a little 3-room home on the back lot of Grandmother Quinney next door. Mother, Eva, Karl, Helen and Eleanora moved into this house. Father, Jean, Blanche, Edna, Hedvig, Frank Jr., had their beds in the loft of our large barn at the back of the home place. All meals, baths, washing, and ironing, were taken care of at the rented home. Plans were made and it wasn’t long until the old home was being torn down. The adobes in the old home were carefully taken down one by one and cleaned and saved to line the new home. The children of our family that were able, helped clean them. The adobes in the old house were used to line the new two-story home up to the square. These adobe bricks were 3 inches high, 5 inches wide and 11 inches long. They made the home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Plans were finished and they were ready to start the new home the first part of May. It had a living room, library, dinning room kitchen, pantry, and bath on the first floor. Upstairs were 5 bedrooms, 3 large rooms and 2 smaller ones, and one bath. The house was not completely finished when we moved in. Winter was very near and it became too cold for Frank and the children to sleep in the loft of the barn. How wonderful it was. I’ll never forget our first Thanksgiving in the new home. I know there never was a happier family.
Another bright memory was when the Circus came to Logan. Getting up at daybreak to see the Circus trains pull into town and the unloading of them, with their circus activity and smell. Then the big parade with their bands, animals and clowns.
Frank would take the family and a large 2 gallon can of lemonade and we were off to the big tent. Amanda always said that Circus lemonade wasn’t sanitary. I know our lemonade with it’s tinkling ice was the envy of all around us. After the last big show came to pulling down of the big tents and the loading of the trains. Each one knew just what he was supposed to do, especially the elephants. Circus day in the summertime compared with Christmas in the winter and the highlights of the year, with Christmas as the happiest of the year.
We had a special supper on each Christmas Eve. For those that had learned to like them, it was fried Eastern oysters and oyster stew. It was always Eastern oysters. The thought of a new doll, new dress, mittens, and other things made it almost impossible to sleep the night before Christmas.
Amanda’s sisters would always come down on Christmas Eve with a special gift for each one of us. Frank would arise early Christmas morning and start the fires in the kitchen stove and the large heater in the living room. When the rooms were warm, he would come to the stairs and shake the silver sleigh bells that were used on the horses when we rode in the cutter. Our individual presents were placed on the table where we were accustomed to set at mealtime. The family games were under the Christmas tree, with candy, one orange, and nuts in our stocking. Each Christmas day we all went to Grandfather Eliason’s home for our Christmas dinner. The Eliason home had so many beautiful, priceless things in this big home everywhere. (So many touch-me-nots) Home was always the happiest place to return to.
Frank had a dairy and we used to deliver milk night and morning to his many customers. We would rise early, especially on school days, to milk and get it delivered and home and to school on time. The cows had to be milked by hand. We were all good milkers, except Eva and Jean, who had extra work to do in the home. We didn’t have paper cartons, just one quart, 2 quart and gallon cans, and they had to be washed and cleaned after each delivery. When we had finished 8th grade we graduated from the milking and the milk route.
In the summertime we would take our picnic and go early to do our milking in the beautiful pasture with its wild flowers, streams, trees, and flowing well. They were happy times. The neighborhood children were always anxious to go with us to do our milking, and also to deliver the milk in the one-horse drawn milk wagon.
I remember as a child, tithing was paid with produce. When the tenth load of hay was being loaded, father would always have us tramp it more and pile it higher. The best animal was picked for tithing. These were taken to the tithing yard in town. That’s how we learned about tithing. Frank believed in an honest tithe.
As children we had good riding horses. We rode bareback until we were large enough to saddle our horse safely. We also had our bicycle to ride. We seemed to have so many things that other children did not have.
Frank and Ezra Ricks were partners in the cattle business for years. They raised their cattle in Cache Valley, and each spring they would trail them to Star Valley to graze, then return with them before the first snowfall in the fall. They remained the truest of friends all of their lives.
For years in the summertime, before the automobile was common, men from Brigham City, Utah, would load their double box wagon with the berries and fruits from the area and come to Logan to peddle them from house to house. A good number of these men would stay in the corrals at the Benson home. Frank would charge them $1.00 a night for feed for the horses and the men would sleep in the hayloft in the big barn. They would bring apricots, cherries, and sometimes betties in July. Later in the summer, it would be peaches, pears and tomatoes and melons. We were always supplied with the best of their fruits.
Frank had a great love for animals, especially horses. One evening one of these peddlers became angry with one of his horses and began to whip it and to curse the frightened animal, using the Lord’s name in vain. Frank told him to stop beating the animal or he would use a whip on him, and to get off of his property because he would not stand for such language on it.
Not many years ago Alma Sonne, assistant to the Twelve Apostles, came to the Idaho Falls South Stake for Conference. I had known him when he was President of the First National Bank in Logan. I went up to speak to him after the meeting and told him I was Frank Benson’s daughter. He said, “You should be proud of that father. His word was as good as his bond.”
We had little trouble or sorrow in our home until the 10th child, Adeline, was born. I, Eleanora, went to the neighbors to play. The children at this home were coming down with whooping cough. Their mother wasn’t aware of it so I was exposed and came down with whooping cough. There were six of us in the family who had not had whooping cough. When Adeline was 2 months old she died of the disease. We all had it very hard.
Frank and Amanda decided to take us on a trip to the mountains, as they said it would help us to be in the open air and sunshine. We were gone 10 days and I will never forget the happy time we had. The wonderful meals, with Father doing most of the cooking. He could make the best biscuits in the big iron-covered biscuit pan. All of the cooking utensils were of iron so they could be covered with coals for cooking.
Frank and Amanda were the parents of 11 children. Their first child, Eva Amanda was born on 6 July, 1882, in Logan, Utah. She was blond complexion with golden hair and the largest dark blue eyes. She never married. She received her education at the Utah State College. She was one of their star basketball players. Basketball was entirely a girl’s game at first.
Their second child was another girl named Anna Eugenia, or Jean as she was called all of her life. She had dark brown eyes and black hair. She resembled her Grandmother Adeline and in her grandmother’s eyes she could do no wrong. She was born 3 Jan, 1885. As a child she was never very well, and grandmother was sure they would never raise her. She lived to be 83 years of age and became the mother of 8 children.
The third child, another daughter was named Blanche and called Bea. She was born 7 May, 1888, and resembled her mother in many ways. Her hair was long, brown and curley. She had the beautiful complexion of her mother and blue eyes. She was her father’s special daughter and she spent so much time with him.
The fourth girl, Edna, was born 19 October, 1890, and had the dark eyes and ahri of her father. She was petite and dainty and very pretty, the dramatic one of the family. When she was in the 8th grade her teacher wanted to adopt her.
The 5th daughter, Hedvig, was named after Amanda’s mother. It was a Swedish name. She had one of the most perfect dispositions of anyone I have ever known. She had long brown hair and eyes that one would always remember. She was born 15 April, 1892, and had a beautiful soprano voice.
Just 2 years later their first son was born, 30 April, 1894. Imagine what a stir he made in the family after 5 sisters. He was named after his father, Frank Andrus Benson, Jr. His features were very much like those of his father. His complexion was blonde like his mother. He was a special man in many ways.
On Monday 30 November, 1896, I was born, and named Eleanora after my mothers’ sister whom they called Nora. I was the ugliest one in the family.
Karl Eliason Benson, the second son, was born 21 April, 1899. He became very ill when just a baby and the doctor told his parents that he would not live. Through the care of our mother, and the blessings of our Father in Heaven, he lived to be a joy and support to his parents and family.
Twenty months later, on 26 December, 1901, our little Helen was born, with large brown eyes and brown curly hair. She had an ear for music and could play most any tune she heard, by ear. One wondered how her little fingers could reach the keys. She died 11 Feb., 1909 just a little over 7 years old, of leukemia.
The 10th child an 8th daughter was born 14 March, 1904. He name was Adeline Brooks after Frank’s mother. She had the same coloring and eyes as her oldest sister, Eva. She died of whooping cough of 5 May, 1904.
The last and 11th child 3rd boy, George Taft Benson, was born 17 August, 1905. He was named after Frank’s only brother. His profile resembled his grandfather, Ezra T. Benson. When but a child he had polio, and as a result became a cripple with a hunched back. This was a drawback to him the remainder of his life. He died Feb., 1942.
This is my father’s family. We were all educated at either the BY College or the Utah State Agriculture College in Logan.
The following article was written by Serge P. Benson, nephew of Frank A. Benson, and published in the Logan Journal.
“Looking back just 50 years, when a boy of six, my ideal of a man was one who was strong, full of life, a lover of nature and all living creatures. A man who was true to himself and his fellow men. Always in life, honesty and honor have been the outstanding qualities in a man. My ideals have not changed after 50 long years have passed.”
“I think now of my impressions at the early age of 6, of a young man about 30 who possessed those sterling qualities of manhood. Many a day I have ridden the mountain ranges and fished the mountain streams by his side. I have gathered up the wilk chickens as he shot them. Many a juicy steak of venison have I enjoyed that was brought down the mountains by this real man. He not only fished and hunted but studied wild life. He knew where the deer roamed at all seasons of the year, likewise did he know just what parts of the day the fish were feeding. Many times he would be sitting by Logan River manufacturing his own fly hook after studying the fish to see just what they were feeding on. People often wondered why this man could catch fish when they refused to bit for others. I have seen him walk up the stream behind other fisherman who were not getting a raise, and he would soon have his limit.
“About the year 1890 we went up the old Cub River east of Franklin, Idaho, for fish. We met a number of sportsmen who informed us the fish were not biting at all. My brother and I were fearful of our man turning back, but he said, “We will catch fish.” We went to Willow Flat. He no more than made his first cast when out came a beautiful native mountain trout. You may not believe it, but it is nevertheless true, that this real man of nature caught those speckled beauties faster than my older brother and I could clean them and he continued until he had a dishpan full. His fishing was always done with hood and line. He never dynamited or damaged them in any way.”
“He loved our majestic mountains and their beautiful clear streams. One of the first canyon homes in our wonderful Logan Canyon was built by him. Many of you have seen rustic chairs and bridges across the river made by him and his artistic family of boys and girls. Those children would be an honor to any man and wife. All are honest, industrious, and among the best citizenry of the west. In my 56 years of association with this man, I have never heard him tell a vulgar story or take a drink of any of the things forbidden by God our Father.”
“His example has been above reproach. He has held a number of prominent positions but is of a retiring nature. If more of those who hold positions were more like him, our people would be glad to follow and aid in any good cause.”
“Last year I called to see an aged friend of mine. He was being cared for by this fine man. I shall never forget the picture. With sleeves rolled up he was administering comfort to his best friend and chum. They were about the same ago of 79 years, and yet with almost the love and tenderness of a woman, he was bathing and rubbing his boyhood companion. They told me it had been 70 years since they became friends. They wee business partners and not once in 40 years did they quarrel or speak cross words to each other.”
“In the year 1933 we went to this good man’s 80th birthday dinner. We found him hale and hearty, able to help in many things on his farm. As we sat in his living room the question was asked, “What do you attribute your long life and health to?” He answered, “I have always kept the Word of Wisdom, with good food, plenty of work, and proper exercise, I have kept myself fit for my work.” He took us to a back room of his home, and there showed us an iron bar put across the top of a high doorway. He reached up, took hold of the rod, and chinned it several times, just the same as he did as a young man. Remember this was on his 80th birthday anniversary.”
“He said a few nights ago I felt a pain in my limbs at about 2 a.m., caused by some overwork. I got up and went to my trapeze bar and exercised by back and limbs and the pain was gone and I went back to bed and rested the rest of the night”
“Do you want to live long and well? If you do, follow this good man’s ways. Be honest in your dealings with all men. No knock at this man’s door every startled him. He wronged no man and had no fear. Others may speak at his bier. Not so with me–I want him to hear them while he still lives. I want you to know him as I know him. His name is Frank A. Benson. He lived at 141 West 1st So., Logan, Utah. The following lines were written of him:
The Humble Great
He lived his life, and never knew
The work that God had fashioned him to do-
Yet something seemed to whisper all day long-
Be happy at your labor, and be strong
Humble your post, but let your neighbors see
How truly great a working man can be
Strange whispering this? And yet it held him fast.
Purse poor at first, purse poor unto the last.
He sang at his toil bright bits of song
Befriended all who passed his way along
Lived cleanly, bravely, till his fellow clan
Envied and praised his merits as a man.
He never sought by trickery to gain
The false enjoyments cunning men obtain.
He laughed and loved, played fairly and was kind,
And never let life’s bitter sour his mind
As if that voice kept whispering “Be true,
And show the world the good one man can do.”
I think of him as one God singled out,
Always in working clothes he walked about
And kept him poor of purse
yet made him wise
In all to which gold often blinds our eyes
And held him fast to be untinged that we
Might learn how fine the humble man can be.
We had very little trouble or sorrow in our home for many years until in June of 1921. Amanda was at the home of her daughter, Eleanora, in Nampa, Idaho, to be with her at the birth of her 2nd child, Jeanne. We received word that her daughter, Hedvig was ill at her home in Manti, Utah, and wanted to be brought home to Logan. Mother left for Logan that evening on the train, to be there to help her darling daughter. Hedvig had had the flu while carrying her second son, Keith, and it had affected her heart. She did not improve, so was taken to the hospital and died on 29 July, 1921. She is buried in father’s plot in Logan.
In the spring of 1922 Amanda went to her daughter Blanche’s home in Lewiston, as she was ill. While there, Amanda became ill with strep infection and blood poisoning set in. She died at Lewiston, Utah, 12 March 1922. I was called Sunday afternoon and took the train with my son, Sidney, and baby daughter, Jeanne. Mother passed away at 11 o’clock Sunday evening. Two of our loved ones had left in little more than 6 months.
Sixteen years later in the Logan paper on 7 May, 1937, it appeared that Frank A. Benson, one of Logan’s finest citizens died at his home Tuesday night following a long illness. He would of reached his 84 milestone on 16 October. His was a life of devotion to God and his family, and to his friends. It was also one of varied experiences. He has known all the life that a pioneer has known, the terror of Indians, the ache of long, hard labor, and the endurance of hardships. He also lived to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and all the luxuries that the average man to today enjoys. Especially has he been blessed with great love and sincere friendship. No family could ever have been more devoted and more appreciative of a fine father. Until the last year, this man walked our city streets with a firm step, and erect body, a sparling eye, and a kind smile for everyone. When we saw him we usually knew he was on his way to visit someone in distress or someone who was lonely. Those who knew him best loved him most. Always he had striven to be well and strong. He ate wisely, in fact he kept the Word of Wisdom, and exercised to keep his body in trim as he called it.
During these many years of health he worked as a tiller of the soil, and was a successful farmer. He has also been an ardent church working, holding the following offices. In the presidency of High Priest Quorum, President of the first Mutual Organization of Logan; at one time President of the Home Missionary organization or Stake and Ward Teachers; he fulfilled a mission to the Southern States. About 2 years ago Uncle Frank, as he was lovingly called by many friends, met with an accident which injury resulted in the disease of cancer which claimed his life.
The great love of his children was manifest during his long illness. In health they arranged trips and parties for him, in sickness they gave him all that medical science, physical comfort and true love could give. His illness has been made easier by his children and visits of many friends, that he always greeted with a smile and was ready to crack a joke. He appreciated the groups and also the individuals who brought their music and singing to the home to bring him cheer. Especially the choir, choruses and band of the High School across the street from his home. He was blessed with a keep sense of humor. He enjoyed life.
Frank A. Benson was born in
Funeral services were held Sunday after at in the Logan L.D.S. First Ward Chapel,
with burial in
(Eleanona Benson Allen)
7th child & 6th daughter
Retyped & Submitted by
Ann Benson Potter