The Benjamin Cemetery isn’t big but it has some pioneer graves and a great view from up on a hill.
On October 20, 1850, sixteen members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) arrived at the banks of the Peteetneet Creek with a mandate td establish a new settlement. They had
been chosen by Brigham Young and had journeyed from Salt Lake City, sixty miles to the north. The settlers built a small fort at approximately 300 North between Main Street and 100 West. In 1851 more families arrived
and the settlement was named Payson, after one of the first settlers, James Pace. The Payson Post Office was established in 1852 and the town incorporated in 1853. The Walker Indian War of 1853 disrupted the settlement for a time, but relations between the settlers and the Utes were fairly peaceful. The only other conflict was during the Black Hawk War of 1865. The fort was enlarged during the 1850s. An adobe wall (partially completed) became the back wall of the cabins, which faced the interior. A tithing office, bowery, well and visitor campground were located in the central square of the fort. Though the fort was demolished, markers were placed by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) to mark the four corners in 1931. The cautious settlers were slow to build permanent homes outside of the fort.
Early names were Peteetneet, Fort Peteetneet, Pacen for James Pace, and then Pacen was changed to Payson when the town was incorporated.
A small town at the base of West Mountain and named for it, West Mountain, Utah is just west of Payson and Benjamin.
A monument at the chapel in West Mountain reads:
The first inhabitants of West Mountain were a band of ancient Fremont Indians from 300-1000 A.D. They recorded their existence on rock art near the north point.
The first recorded Mormon settlers were George and Eliza Rust. Other settlers in the 1800′s were William McBeth, Jesse and Amanda Knight, Wallace S. Clark, Andrew Hendrickson, Freeman and Carol Tanner, Pardon and Clarissa Wedd and James S. and Diana McBeth, whoes home still stands across the street from this monument.
In the early 1900′s, few moved into the area. In 1916 Strawberry Water became available for irrigation that made possible the growth that was to come.
West Mountain Mormons attended church in a Payson ward until January 16, 1949, when the West Ward was created with Abner Baird as Bishop. Dephin S. Hiatt was the second Bishop and under his direction the West Ward Chapel was built. West Ward members concentrated their efforts in cash and labor and on April 25, 1954 this chapel was dedicated by Elder Richard L. Evans.
West Mountain has seen many changes since the Ancient Indians and early pioneers settled the land. There presently exists four West Mountain Wards. After every division there were tears of parting but here the Kingdom still thrives, all sharing in the blessings and heritage of West Mountain.
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There are plenty of geocaches up there to keep you entertained, but be careful what time of year you go if you’re going to hike around at all because we call it spider mountain for a good reason, every bush, tree or rock has a spider on it, some bushes have hundreds. That was in July.
There’s a fun road that takes you up to the top, it’s a dirt road but it’s graded and you can take pretty much anything up there.
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