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Kenneth Mays
A historical sign is located at Whitney, Idaho.

Ezra Taft Benson, 13th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born Aug. 4, 1899, in Whitney, Franklin County, Idaho. He was named for his great-grandfather, Ezra T. Benson, who served as an apostle and was one of the original 1847 pioneers.

Kenneth Mays
This building in Preston, Idaho was once the Oneida Stake Academy.

Ezra Taft Benson was the oldest of 11 children born to George and Sarah Benson. The home on the Benson farm in which Ezra was born is still extant. As a youth, he went by the nickname “T.” His childhood on the farm required much labor. Beginning at age 4, he rode horses to herd livestock, drove teams of horses, milked cows and labored doing countless other chores to help the family (see William G. Hartley's essay in "The Presidents of the Church," edited by Leonard J. Arrington, page 422).

When Ezra was 12 years old, his father was called on a full-time mission to the Midwest. As the oldest child, the primary responsibility of helping his mother manage the farm fell upon Ezra.

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He later attend high school in Preston, Idaho, at the Oneida Stake Academy. One of his classmates from nearby Clifton, Idaho, was Harold B. Lee. According to an interpretive panel at the site, the academy was constructed of hand-hewn rock between 1890 and 1895. Built to provide a quality education in a context of faith, it was one of 35 such academies constructed by the church. The Oneida structure is one of the few surviving original academy buildings anywhere and the only one in Idaho.

In 2003, it was scheduled to be torn down but a concerned group raised $1.3 million to move the 1,659-ton stone structure several blocks. A process of renovation has continued ever since.