Early Chapel, Benson, Vermont
The first branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state of Vermont was organized near present-day Benson, Rutland County. Jared Carter, an early missionary of the Church, was instrumental in converting enough members to establish that branch. He was also an important factor in providing a building in which the Saints of that area could worship.
Jared Carter was born on June 14, 1801 in Killingworth, Connecticut to Gideon Carter and Johanna Sims. He was the fifth of six children. When he was nine years of age, his family moved to Benson, Vermont. Later, as an adult, Carter moved to New York State near Colesville (now Nineveh). There he was introduced to the Church and was baptized by Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Carter soon left New York and moved to Ohio with the Colesville Saints. Shortly after being ordained an elder, Carter was appointed to be a missionary in the eastern United States. He left Ohio on September 22, 1831. He and Ebenezer Page traveled to Benson, Vermont, where Carter had lived when he was a boy, hoping to share the message of the Restoration with Carter’s family and friends. Jared Carter experienced much success at Benson. Twenty-seven people in the area chose to join the church, and their chapel, which had been a part of the denomination known as Free Will Baptists, became a Latter-day Saint meeting place.
That chapel still stands. It is now a house that has been renovated and enlarged from the earlier stone church/schoolhouse. It was built by in about 1826. As noted above, the stone church became the meeting place of the Latter-day Saints in Benson until 1833, when the Saints left Benson to gather with the main body of the Church in Ohio and Missouri. Jared Carter stayed with the Saints through the Nauvoo period of Church history. Following the death of the Prophet in 1844, Carter affiliated with the followers of James J. Strang for a while. After leaving that group, he returned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but stayed in Illinois rather than go west. He died in DeKalb, IL on July 6, 1849. He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery at DeKalb. Jared Carter is mentioned in four sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 79 is addressed directly to him.
Map and Directions
Larry E. Dahl gives the following directions to find the old chapel: “Travel west on Lake Road from Benson 2.7 miles where the road turns left onto Carter Street. Proceed two miles south on Carter Street, then turn right onto Temple Road (unmarked). One-half mile along Temple Road is the house, on the north side of the road, at the point where Temple Road meets Herrick Road.” (Reference below.)
The old Benson chapel/schoolhouse is privately owned and not open for tours. Please respect the privacy of the owners by not asking to see the interior of the house.
Articles & Resources
Larry E. Dahl, in LaMar C. Berrett, ed., Sacred Places Vol. 1, 128-129.
Susan Easton Black, “Jared Carter”, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, 53.
Tait, Lisa Olsen, “‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 2021-07-09.