Benjamin Franklin Stewart, 7th Ten

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN STEWART (7th Ten) was born October 12, 1817, in Jackson Township, Monroe County, Ohio, a son of Philander Barrett and Sarah Scott Stewart. His parents were well-to-do farmers who also operated a mill. When Benjamin was six years of age, his father was accidentally drowned in the Ohio River. Soon after this, financial reverses made it necessary for the mother and her children to leave their home. They moved to Illinois.
In 1837 Benjamin married his childhood sweetheart, Polly Richardson. They moved to Van Buren, Iowa, came in contact with elders of the Mormon Church, and Polly was baptized. Three years later Benjamin was also baptized, and they moved to Winter Quarters with the main body of the church. Here Benjamin was chosen to go west with the first company of Utah pioneers, as a scout.
On June 12, 1847, the pioneers reached the Platte River, which was unusually high. After repeated attempts of conveying the company across the river, a boat was made for ferrying the wagons over. Some Missourians bound for Oregon offered to pay the Mormons for ferrying their wagons across. Numerous other companies would pass this way, so the Mormons left nine men at the river. This was called "Mormon Ferry", and was located near present day Casper, Wyoming.
Benjamin F. Stewart was one of the men left to operate the ferry. His wife and children (traveling with the Abraham O. Smoot company) joined him a few weeks later, and they traveled to Utah together. They first settled at Mill Creek, where he started a sawmill. Then he was named a member of the exploration expedition headed by Parley P. Pratt, which investigated the prospect of extending settlements to southern Utah.
He moved his family to Payson March 21, 1852, and operated a sawmill here. He also had an interest in the nail factory in Payson. On September 6, 1858, he married Elizabeth Davis as a plural wife.
B. F. Stewart was the first justice of the peace in Payson. He served as alderman under Mayor David Crockett during the terms of 1853-54 and 1855-56, then as city councilman during the terms of 1857-58 and 1859-60. He was mayor of Payson for two two-year terms, 1863-64 and 1865-66.
About 1865 he and his brother Andrew Jackson Stewart, and others, surveyed land approximately three miles north of Payson, and laid a foundation for a town. The land was part of an Indian Reservation that had been established in 1854. It was opened for homesteading in 1865-66 when the Indians were moved to the Uinta Reservation.
His home in the new townsite housed the first school and the first store. He drilled the first artesian well. In 1871 he was named presiding elder, and the town was named Benjamin in his honor.
On June 22, 1885, when he was 67 years of age, he was struck and killed by lightning while sitting in his buggy hear his home. The frightened horse ran away and took him to a place near the cemetery.


(Susie S. Hand)

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra S. Bray