Friday, September 30, 2016

Merchant, Legislator, and Public Servant Ezra Monson [otd 09/30]

Ezra Monson. Family archives.
Store owner, and Idaho Senator and Representative Ezra Peter Monson was born September 30, 1874 in Richmond, Utah. Richmond is located about thirteen miles north of Logan, and five miles from the Idaho state line. Ezra’s father came to the U. S. from Norway in 1857, after his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He continued to Utah as a member of one of the “pushcart companies.” He then married another convert, who was from Sweden.

The family moved to Franklin, Idaho, when Ezra was fourteen years old. Franklin was the first white settlement in what became the Territory and then state of Idaho. Of course, for many years, everyone thought the town was in Utah [blog, January 10]. Monson attended college in Logan for a short time, and married his school sweetheart in 1895. Starting in late 1897, Ezra served two years and a few months as an LDS missionary in Alabama and Florida. About a year after his return, he landed a job as Head Bookkeeper for a lumber company with headquarters east of The Dalles, Oregon.

In late 1908, Monson returned to Franklin and opened a large general store. He also took an active part not only in the LDS church there, but also the school system. Almost immediately, he joined the Franklin school board to begin a long period of service on that body. Then, in 1910, he helped organize the “Oneida County School Trustees’ Association.” The goals of the new organization were “to promote the cause of education, raise the standard of our school system and educate the school trustees of the several districts as to the responsibilities and duties.”

However, three years later, the Idaho legislature split Franklin County off from Oneida, with Preston as the county seat. It’s not clear what happened to the Association at that point. Monson kept busy by taking on the position of Secretary to the Idaho Pioneers' Association at Franklin.

Ezra was also very active in the state Republican Party, serving on many different committees over the years. In 1916, he began the first of two terms in the Idaho House of Representatives. Hawley’s History noted that, for the second term, “He did not seek reelection and never left his town during the campaign but the record which he had already made brought him a large vote.”

After his two terms in the House, Monson served a term in the state Senate, where he Chaired the Committee on Finance. He did not run for re-election. However, the Idaho Statesman reported  (Jan 28, Feb 13, 1923), “Ezra P. Monson of Preston will fill the chair in the house of representatives of the Seventeenth state legislature, made vacant by the resignation of Thomas Preston, if the house concurs in the appointment of Mr. Monson by the governor.”
Blackfoot City Hall. [Hawley]
The appointment was approved, and Ezra filled the House seat for that session. The following month, however, President Warren G. Harding appointed Monson to be the Receiver (basically, the Cashier or Treasurer) of the U. S. Land Office in Blackfoot (Idaho Statesman, Boise, February 13, 1923).

Monson moved his family to Blackfoot to handle this position. But two years later, the Federal government combined the offices of Receiver and Register (Clerk, essentially), leaving Ezra without a job. He therefore opened a grocery store in Blackfoot. Then, in 1931, Monson was himself appointed to the combined Register/Receiver position (Idaho Statesman, October 11, 1931). Ezra remained at that position until his retirement.

Upon his retirement, he moved back Utah, and passed away in Logan, on May 17, 1941.
References: [Blue], [Hawley]
“Oneida County Holds School Convention, The Telegram, Salt Lake City, Utah (March 21, 1910).

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