Sarah Dunkley Benson

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Sarah Sophia Dunkley Benson was the mother of Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She was born on June 29, 1878, in Franklin, Idaho, the sixth child of Joseph and Margaret Dunkley. When she was ten, her family moved to Whitney, Idaho. She was given the nickname “little mother” due to her personality to lead and influence her friends and siblings. She graduated from Oneida Stake Academy in Preston, Idaho, and organized and taught a summer school there. She developed her talents to sing, play guitar, and sew while in her teens, and she and her sister Kate were close friends to twins Addie and Florence Benson.

Sarah soon caught the attention of the Benson twins’ older brother George, and they were married on October 19, 1898. They moved into a two-room home George had built for her. She and her first child, Ezra Taft, came perilously close to dying at his birth, but survived. She bore ten more children and the family lived in this small home on their farm for thirty years. Throughout the years, her husband added to and remodeled the home to meet their needs. They later moved into a new home a little over a mile from their farm.

She was a dedicated member of the Church and supported her husband when he served a mission to the Midwest. Each of her eleven children served missions. She served as Relief Society president, sang in the choir, and served in various other callings.

In 1932 she was diagnosed with cancer and consequently endured major surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. She died on June 1, 1933.


Leonard Arrington, Susan Arrington Madsen, and Emily Madsen Jones, Mothers of the Prophets, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009).