(Photo by January from "A Stranger Passed This Way")
Benjamin Cartwright went to sea as a young man, eventually becoming First Mate in the Merchant Marines under the command of Captain Abel Stoddard. After Captain Stoddard loses his commission, he and Ben open a ship's chandlery shop in Boston, Massachusetts. In the meantime, Ben falls in love with the captain's daughter, Elizabeth, and they marry. Sadly, Elizabeth later dies just a few minutes after giving birth to Ben's first son, Adam.
Ben decides to fullfill a life-long dream of going West, and leaves on the journey with baby Adam. Four to five years later, Ben is working in Illinois and meets and marries a woman from Sweden named Inger Borgstrom. Ben, Inger and Adam join a wagon train crossing the prairie to continue the journey westward. During the trip, Inger gives birth to Ben's second son, Eric, whom Adam nicknames Hoss. When Hoss is still a baby, Inger is killed by Indians who attack the travelers at a way station.
Ben, Adam and Hoss finally settle down in Nevada and begin building a ranch called The Ponderosa, named after the pine trees that grow there. Ben then travels to New Orleans to inform the wife of a ranchhand that her husband has been killed in an accident. Ben falls in love with the widow, Marie, and marries for the third time. He takes her back to the ranch, where she eventually presents him with his third son, Joe. When Joe is five years old, Marie is thrown from a horse and killed, and Ben finds himself a widower for the third time.
Standing at 6'1", with silver gray hair and a booming voice, Ben is a formidable man, both in business (cattle, timber. mining) and politics (at one time he was asked to run for governer of Nevada). He is also a stern but loving father. His 3 sons mean more to him than anything else on earth, and The Ponderosa is his legacy to them.
A Ponderosa Pine