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Uncle Benjamin (1834-1883) was only 9 when his family joined its fortunes with those of the Mormons, and only 13 when they entered the Salt Lake Valley.

He married his first cousin,1 Martha Ann Bitner (1859-1883), in 1834. Like his big brother Uncle Amos, Benjamin remained monogamous through the lifetime of his first wife and then later took two plural wives, as Latter-day Saint men were expected to do, in those days. He had fifteen children in all, five with each wife.

According to his life sketch2 in Conquerors of the West, Uncle Benjamin “joined a volunteer cavalry to protect the mail and telegraph lines...” He and his family later ran a hotel and “Eating House” called “Neff’s Station at Dry Creek” fifteen miles south of East Mill Creek, between present-day Draper and South Jordan.
He was called as a missionary to his native Pennsylvania in 1875. Shortly after his arrival there, however, his health failed, and he was obliged to return home. Rumors persist in the family that when he died eight years later, it was by his own hand, out of despondency over chronic ill health.
1Martha was a daughter of Grandma Mary Barr Neff’s sister Anna Barr Musser Bitner Starr. Benjamin’s big brother, our Grandpa Franklin Neff, had already married Martha’s half-sister, Elizabeth Musser. Our Pennsylvania Dutch forebears clearly believed that matrimony, like charity, begins at home. We have a wonderful collection of pioneer letters written by Aunt Anna, Cousin/Aunt Martha, Cousin-sorta-Step-Grandma Elizabeth, and others, when you’re ready to read it. It’s called The Ox-Team Salvation.
2Florence C Youngberg, Conquerors of the West: Stalwart Mormon Pioneers. National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers (Salt Lake:1999), pp. 1766-69.

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