Henry B. Eyring

A Legacy of Testimony

That is how a legacy of testimony is created, preserved, and transmitted in a family. It isn’t easy, but ordinary people have done it. Like many of you, I had such ancestors. One was my great-grandfather John Bennion. We cannot duplicate what he did because the world has changed, but we can learn from it.

He was a convert to the Church from Wales. He, his wife, and his children came into the Salt Lake Valley in one of the early companies of pioneers. We know something of his life because after that time he kept a journal, making a short entry nearly every day. We have the journals from 1855 to 1877. They were published in one bound volume because his descendants hoped to transmit that legacy of testimony. My mother was one of them. Her last labor before she died was to transform the day books in which he’d written into a manuscript for publication.

His short entries don’t have much preaching in them. He doesn’t testify that he knew Brigham Young was a prophet. He just records having answered “yes” every time the prophet called him on a mission from “over Jordan” to the Muddy mission, then on to a mission back to Wales. He also answered “yes” to the call to ride into the canyons to track Johnston’s army and the call to take his family south when the army invaded the valley. There is even a family legend that the reason he died so close to the day when Brigham Young was buried was to follow the prophet one more time.

The fact that he wrote every day makes clear to me that he knew his ordinary life was historic because it was part of the building of Zion in the latter days. The few entries which record his testimony seem to appear when death took a child. His testimony is to me more powerful because he offered it when his soul was tried.

Learn more about John Bennion’s missionary service