FRANK W. BENSON was born in Santa Clara, California and moved with his family to Portland, Oregon at the age of six. He attended the Portland Academy but returned to California to study at the University of the Pacific in San Jose, where he received both A.B. and M.A. degrees. He then took charge of a Methodist school in Wilbur, Oregon, and two years later won election as Douglas County Superintendent of Schools, a position that he held for four years before becoming President of a Normal School in Drain, Oregon. In 1892 Benson was elected Douglas County Clerk, winning reelection four years later. He also became a member of the Oregon Bar and practiced law in Roseburg. He won election as Secretary of State in 1906 and from that position succeeded to the governorship upon the resignation of George E. Chamberlain, who had taken a seat in the U.S. Senate. During Benson’s brief time as governor, he called the legislature into special session, during which funding was provided for building improvements and for some new facilities at the state penitentiary, the state institution for the mentally ill, and the retired soldiers’ home. Benson left office prior to completion of the term to which he had succeeded due to ill health. He recovered briefly and won reelection as Secretary of State in 1910 but died the following year in Redlands, California.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 14. New York: James T. White & Company.