Whitney, Idaho Cemetery

Sign noting that Whitney is the birthplace of Ezra Taft Benson. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Sign noting that Whitney is the birthplace of Ezra Taft Benson. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

In southern Franklin County, Idaho is the small farming community of Whitney. It is nestled between the towns of Preston and Franklin. Named after Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve, Whitney is the place where Ezra Taft Benson was born to George and Sarah Benson on 4 August 1899.

Graves of George and Sarah Benson, parents of Ezra Taft Benson. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Graves of George and Sarah Benson, parents of Ezra Taft Benson. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

After a remarkable life of service to God and country, President Benson was laid to rest in the Whitney Cemetery following his passing on 30 May 1994. As a young man, Ezra Benson attended Oneida Stake Academy at nearby, Preston, Idaho. He served in the British Mission under President David O. McKay. Following his missionary service, Ezra graduated from BYU and married Flora Amussen. He received a master’s degree from Iowa State, thus becoming the first president of the Church to hold a graduate degree. He served as a stake president both in Idaho and Washington, D.C. before being called as an apostle. He was ordained and set apart as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve on 7 October 1943, the same day as Spencer W. Kimball.

Cemetery at Whitney, Idaho where President Ezra Taft Benson is buried. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Cemetery at Whitney, Idaho where President Ezra Taft Benson is buried. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Immediately following World War II, Ezra Taft Benson spent nearly a year in war-torn Europe coordinating the distribution of relief supplies and reopening missionary work. In the 1950s he was asked to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration and did so for the full eight years. President Benson served as President of the Church from 10 November 1985 to May 1994. Following his funeral in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, a motorcade took him to Franklin and his final resting place next to his beloved Flora, who had passed away on 14 August 1992.

Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Map & Directions

Just north of the Utah-Idaho border on U.S. 91 is the town of Franklin, Idaho. From Franklin, drive north on highway 91 for about 4-5 miles to Whitney. Turn east (right) on 1400 South followed by a quick left (north) on 1400 East Road. Continue north about 1/4 mile to the cemetery. The Benson plots are located in the northwest corner. The gps coordinates for the cemetery are: 42°04’41.10″ N; 111°50’31.71″ W.

Ownership Status

The little cemetery at unincorporated Whitney is associated with a Preston postal code, but public nonetheless. It is open seven days a week during daylight hours.

Photos

View of Whitney, Idaho from the cemetery. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
View of Whitney, Idaho from the cemetery. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Historical panel for the general public at Whitney, Idaho. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Historical panel for the general public at Whitney, Idaho. It is situated adjacent to the LDS church building located at the intersection of 1400 South and 1600 East Streets. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Headstone of Ezra Taft Benson and wife, Flora. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Presidents of the Church, Religion 345 student manual, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 212-231.

Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography, 1987.

Francis M. Gibbons, Ezra Taft Benson: Statesman, Patriot, Prophet of God, 1996.