Benson, John Ben, 1913-1972

Alternative names
Birth 1913-10-12
Death 1972-07-02

Biographical notes:

John Ben "Benny" Benson (1913-1972) designed Alaska's flag at age 13. Benny received news that his design of eight gold stars on a blue background won a contest sponsored by the American Legion in 1927. He was attending the Jesse Lee Methodist Mission home and school in Seward at the time. Benny's flag design earned him an inscribed watch, a $1,000 scholarship to the school of his choice, and was adopted by the Territorial Government and the State of Alaska as the official flag. Benny was born in Chignik Alaska to an Aleut-Russian mother and a Swedish fisherman father. His mother died of pneumonia when he was three years old. His father sent him and his younger siblings to the Mission located at Unalaska. In 1925 the Mission moved to Seward, Alaska. Benny's father purchased Ugaiushak Island where he and Benny trapped blue foxes until the fur market crashed in 1934. In 1938 Benny moved to Seattle and used his scholarship to attend diesel school. While living in Seattle he married and had two daughters, Charlotte Benson Irvin and Anna Mae Benson Bell. He ran diesel tenders and during the wartime he helped build Coast Guard picket boats in a Kirkland, Washington shipyard. He then raised mink for several years before returning to Kodiak, Alaska with his daughters. He fished for a year or so and then learned airplane mechanics. Benny donated the watch he won in the flag contest to the Alaska State Museum in 1963. [From Ben Benson, Designer of Alaska's Flag Tells of Early Life in the Aleutians, by Miriam J. Angell, June 27, 1961].

From the description of Benny Benson Alaska flag collection. (Alaska State Library). WorldCat record id: 652534626


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  • Flags--History
  • State songs


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  • Unalaska (Alaska) (as recorded)
  • Alaska (as recorded)