By Philip Wayne Ercanbrack: Third great grand-son of Benjamin Benson
My name is Benjamin Benson, I was born in 1773 in Maple, Rensselaer, New York. I was a farmer most of my life and also learned the trade of Millwright to help support our family of 12 children with my wife, Keziah Messenger.
In the year of 1795, when I was 22 years old and living in the Town of Pompey, County of Onondaga, New York, I, being a very curious man, often wondered where all the Indians or native Americans originated. I made it a matter of prayer. I experienced a vision of an angel that appeared to me in a dream. He showed me an ancient record that was deposited in the earth and said it was a record of a people that came from Jerusalem. They were the forefathers of the Indians and that the record would be brought to light in a few short years. Then from a distance the angel then showed me the man who had been chosen to bring forth the record and said about him, “He is not yet born.”
We moved our family more than 1,000 miles from Allegany County, New York to Clinton County, Indiana by floating the Allegany and Ohio Rivers. I engaged in clearing timbered land, farmed, built saw and grist mills, encountered Indian raids and endured all the struggles of frontier life. In 1832, while living in Indiana, missionaries from the restored Church of Jesus Christ converted our whole family to the Church.
It all started when our daughter, Polly Benson, had a dream that she was doing the family washing out by our big shade tree near our home. In the dream she saw two men walking towards her with little satchels. She said that she heard a voice that told her, “Whatever those men are bringing you, accept it for it is true.”
So vivid was the dream that sometime later when she was actually doing the family wash, she saw two Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints approaching and recognized them as the two men in her dream. She quickly invited them into the family home. My wife and I were happy to welcome them and we were anxious to hear their message about the restored gospel, Joseph Smith, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
We readily accepted their teachings and soon joined the faith. I had been prepared to hear and accept the gospel truths years earlier. Following our conversion we committed to travel 800 miles by ox team to Jackson County, Missouri to be with the rest of the saints. We experienced all the persecutions and atrocities committed upon the members of the Church at the merciless hands of our persecutors.
Years later, in 1837 when I was 64 years old, while in Far West, Missouri, I had a private conversation with the Prophet Joseph Smith and related the whole experience to him of my dream many years earlier. He was very interested. He asked me to record everything that I had seen in the dream in detail and give him a copy, which I did a short time thereafter.
Eventually we finally were driven from Missouri, crossed the Mississippi River and settled in Warsaw, Illinois. I was 65 years old and now I had to start all over again. But my family and I had a close relationship with Joseph Smith and we supported him fully. I helped build the City of Nauvoo and worked on the Temple there. I also served on the Nauvoo High Council. Great was my sorrow at the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum in 1844.
Our family moved west with the saints in 1846 sorrowfully leaving the city we had helped to build. The journey was very hard on me. I was not young anymore and the rigors of the journey overcame me.
At the age of 73, I passed away near Winter Quarters. My wife and other family members continued on west and eventually reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1852. They first settled in Springville then later helped initiate the settlement of Fayette, Utah and worked on the Manti Temple.
It is my testimony that the Lord lives and that Joseph Smith is his prophet. How privileged I am to have known Brother Joseph and to have been baptized in the restored Church of Jesus Christ.