A couple of weeks ago, we bought Part 1 of the biography of Susan Elizabeth Bench. Today we are feature part two of her biography, written by her own hand. We last left off when Susan’s mother, Maria Watson Kirby had passed away. In this section of her biography, we learn more about her father’s mission and what he brought home from it.
Note: This particular entry does have a disturbing recollection in it, please be aware of that in your reading and understand the time and place of which this was written.
In 1882 father (John Longman Bench) was called on a mission to England. He was to go for two years. We all went to see him off in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both boys were to live with our Bench grandparents in Manti and I was to live in Salt Lake City and work. Father left on the 16th of October, three days before my 18th birthday. As long as I live I will remember that day. There were sixty-three elders at the depot to go to the European mission. I felt like I had not a soul on earth. Just as father kissed me goodbye George G. Cannon, who had been bidding the elders God speed, saw me standing along crying, he came over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t cry, the Lord will return your father to you.” And he did in two years time.
Before leaving, however, father found me a home to live in and work for the winter. A man by the name of J. S. Lewis and family. I only stayed two weeks. I am sorry to say he had been very free with me, so I left the home one night just at supper time. I bundled up my belongings and waited until the family was all around the table, then I left and went to my Grandmother’s Kirby. I had four blocks to walk along after dark, but I knew I was not alone for I felt all the time my guardian angel had charge of me. Grandma had gone out so I sat there on the doorstep until she returned. I told her my story, between sobs. Then, next morning she went with me across the street to Mrs. Mary Weiler, a dear friend of grandma’s and I was hired out for $5.00 a week. She kept boarders, mostly students at the U. of U. (University of Utah). I lived with her family for a year and a half and was treated like one of them. Mrs. Weiler was a wonderful woman. She taught me so many things in housekeeping and cooking. I took care of my money and was able to send father five dollars when I could and I kept my two brothers in shoes and other clothes.
Grandmother Ann Bench (née Longman) was not well so I was asked to come to Manti, Utah to help take care of the boys, which I did. On returning home I went to work for a Mrs. Laurnrency Laury for four months at $5.00 a week. In 1884, father returned home from his mission and he brought with him a very sweet girl by the name of Lavisa Griffin, whom he married 24th of April 1885 in the Logan Temple. Our family had a loving mother once again for a time. We were all very happy for about two years but fate did come our way again for she passed away in 1886, November 21, leaving us without a mother again. While she was with us I did some temple work. During these days I had some social life. I went with a crowd of young people, the nicest in Manti. One, especially, a young man Jay Jensen and a fine fellow whom I kept company with as you would call a boyfriend now. We had some very good times together.