An episode of frontier justice in Logan resulted in the lynching of a man named Charlie Benson. The crime went unpunished, although the act was labeled “deplorable” by local newspapers.
On Valentine’s Day in 1873, Logan residents were celebrating the day with a dance. A group of men had been drinking and were walking down Third Street, when one of them, Charlie Benson, drew a revolver and shot and killed another of the group, David W. Crockett. Several people saw the event—there was no doubt as to who was the killer.
Benson quickly left the scene of the crime in Logan and went to his mother’s house to get some supplies before attempting his escape that Friday night. In the meantime, Sheriff Alvin Crockett, the victim’s brother, worked with Logan Marshal Mark Fletcher to organize volunteers into search parties. Unknown to them, Charlie had taken refuge in the hay in Hezekiah Thatcher’s stone barn. On Tuesday morning, Benson crept out of the barn and made his way west to the outskirts of town.
In the meantime, one of the searchers had seen a dark silhouette running, and tracks were found in the snow. A hundred armed men followed the trail and cornered Benson in the willows about two miles southwest of Logan. Charlie gave up and was taken to jail in the basement of the Cache County Courthouse. But some community members were still angry, and a mob formed and stormed the courthouse, dragging Benson out into the cold. They threw a rope over the courthouse sign and hanged Charlie Benson in the middle of the morning on February 18, 1873.
Benson was buried in an unconsecrated grave on February 20, a day after his victim was buried in the city cemetery. The Salt Lake Daily Tribune wrote in an editorial on the twentieth, “The lynching of Charles A. Benson is an act to be deplored, no matter how deserving the criminal might have been. Society must be made secure at any cost, and if lynching once be countenanced there is no knowing where it may end . . . .” No one was ever prosecuted for the lynching.
See A.J. Simmonds, In “God’s Lap”: Cache Valley History as Told in the Newspaper Columns of A.J. Simmonds (Logan: The Herald Journal, 2004). Also see Deseret News, February 26, 1973, p. 7; and Salt Lake Daily Tribune, February 20, 1873, pp. 2 and 3. Historical editions of the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune may be found on the Utah Digital Newspapers.