Samuel Otis Bennion, of the First Quorum of the
Seventy and President of the Central States Mission, was born June 9, 1874,
at Taylorsville, Salt Lake county, Utah, the son of John R. Bennion and
Emma Jane Terry.
He was baptized when about eight years old and was
later ordained a Deacon and presided over the quorum of Deacons of which
he was a member. In due course of time he was ordained an Elder and later
In 1898 (August 25th) he married Miss Charlotte Towler
of Mill Creek Ward, Salt Lake County, Utah. The couple had two children.
President Bennion had received a good education in his younger days and
in his early married years provided for his family by sheep ranching and
the farming business.
He was called on a mission to the Central States
and left for his field of labor Nov. 9, 1904; after laboring as a traveling
Elder for six months, he was chosen to preside over the South Texas conference
and acted in that capacity until he was selected as secretary of the Mission,
in November, 1905. He held that position until he was appointed president
of the Central States Mission in October, 1906. In March, 1907, under the
direction of President Joseph F. Smith and counselors, he moved the headquarters of the Mission from Kansas City, Mo., to Independence, Mo., which was the
first time the Church had an established residence at Independence since
the expulsion of the Saints from that county by the mob in 1833.
Under the direction of Pres. Bennion the Church
built or bought some splendid meeting houses in different parts of the
Central States Mission, notably at Independence, where a fine chapel was
erected in 1914; a printing plant building was also erected there in 1915
and a good mission home was built in 1917. In addition to this the Church
purchased a substantial chapel at St. Louis, Mo., and erected a fine
school building and a magnificent meeting house at Kelsey, Texas. Another
meeting house has been built at Enoch, Texas, and others in different parts
of the mission. President Bennion's mission was a most successful one,
and the Central States Mission with headquarters at Independence, Jackson
county, Missouri, grew rapidly under his leadership.
In January, 1931, the Texas Mission was formed
out of the states of Texas and Louisiana, which had constituted a part
of the Central States Mission. Pres. Bennion remained in the mission field
until Jan. 20, 1934. At the April Conference in 1933 he was sustained as
one of the First Council of Seventies, and was ordained to that office
April 13, 1933, by Pres. Heber J. Grant.
While Pres. Bennion had charge of the Central States
Mission he made it a rule to visit the missionaries from one end of the
mission to the other every ninety days, and saw them in their fields of
labor, heard their reports, gave them instructions, and as a result saw
many thousands of people baptized into the Church. The mission was always
self-sustaining financially, and large sums of money were sent to the headquarters
of the Church from the tithes of the mission, after the expenses and building
programs that were carried on in the mission field itself had been cared
On April 1, 1934, Elder Bennion was appointed general
manager and vice president of the Deseret News.
Elder Bennion continued to serve the Church and his
God as a General Authority until his death March 8, 1945 at Salt Lake City,