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The Biography of Susan Elizabeth Bench Wall — Part 2

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.

John Longman Bench and his 3rd wife Clara Ann Steer
John Longman Bench and his 3rd wife Clara Ann Steer

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.

George G. Cannon
George G. Cannon

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.

Ann Longman
Ann Longman

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.


To read part one, click here. Find The Hipster Historian on Facebook & on Instagram. #onfleekfamilyhistory

 

        

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The Biography of Susan Elizabeth Bench Wall — Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the story of Susan Elizabeth Bench, the polygamist who escaped to Mexico after being arrested for the crime of bigamy. Today, we bring you more from Susan, but instead of a first-person narrative story written by myself, we bring you the words of Susan herself, taken from her biography. If you have a biography or journal entry from one of your relatives that you would like to share, e-mail us at thehipsterhistorian (at) gmail (dot) com or share with us on our Facebook page here. Now, without further ado, Part 1 of the biography of Susan Elizabeth Bench Wall.
Susan Elizabeth Bench Wall
Susan Elizabeth Bench Wall
“I was born on the 19th of October 1864 at Manti, Utah, the daughter of John L. Bench and Mariah Kirby, of England, pioneers of 1852. I lived there through childhood and enjoyed my parents and grandparents very much. As a child, I remember going to Salt Lake City (Utah) with father and mother to the April and October conference (of the LDS Church). It would take us four days each way with horse and buggy or wagon. We would stay at grandmother Kirby’s. She made her home there-after years had married a man by the name of John Picknell who had a butcher business.
Grandfather (William Bench, 1815-1875) Bench worked all day at blacksmithing, but at the end of the day’s work, Eliza Bench, a cousin, and I would race to meet him as he came home. We had many pleasant romps with him, black and dirty, as he was, he would kick us all as we would try to grab him around the legs. He would run and we would chase him home. Grandmother always had an apple or cookie waiting for us as we went in with him.

 

William Bench (1815 - 1875)
William Bench (1815 – 1875)

Often father would go to his friend and we would ride with him or sit on the back of the wagon and let our feet hang out. I remember mother would go; she would always wait on the side of the canal if it was full of water until he returned because she was frightened of water. As a small child she would take me out and we would wait until father came back. I went to school up to the eighth grade. My parents always saw to it that I attended out (sic) duties such as going to Sunday School, Mutual, Sacrament Meeting. When I was older I sang in the ward choir. We sang at the dedication of the Manti Temple and our choir was known as a very good choir—the best of its time. I did some temple work, baptismal word for the dead and father baptized me for 500 souls one time.

Manti Utah Mormon Temple
Manti Utah Mormon Temple

I was fourteen years old when mother took sick on the ninth of January 1878. She was only sick for three weeks and died on the 21st of January. Her health had been poor and father contributed it to hardships in early life. Father was left along with only myself and my two brothers, John L., 8 years and William Edward, 2 years. Mother had had two other boys, Charles Watson and Urban Lorenzo but they had died in infancy. Mother died of rheumatic fever. I was old enough to know how to do a few things but mother had made the mistake in not teaching me to cook and I did not know much about it, so I kept house and did the best I could for father and the boys.

Susan's Mother, Maria Watson Kirby
Susan’s Mother, Maria Watson Kirby

Join us next week when we continue the story of Susan Elizabeth Bench.


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