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Our Founder

Elbert Benjamine C.C. Zain

Elbert Benjamine
C.C. Zain
Dec. 12, 1882 - Nov. 18, 1951

Elbert Benjamine was born at 5:55 a.m. on December 12, 1882 near Adel, Iowa. The exact coordinates of his birth are 94ºW00´; 41ºN37´.

Accurately portraying the character of a person's life is a daunting task. During the process of determining what to include in this biography that did not fall into the realm of hearsay, Doris Chase Doane happened to send four boxes of books and documents to The Church of Light office. Within one of the boxes was a file labeled Elbert Benjamine biographical material. Treasures were seems Doris, who worked side by side with Elbert Benjamine, has been very good at recording thoughts and preserving pictures and documents for the Church. For this we extend a hearty thanks!

A Family Tree

Elbert Benjamine with Mother and Father

Elbert Benjamine
with Mother and Father

All good stories begin with lots of "begats" and it seems this story will be no different! Among the items we discovered was a four-page excerpt from a publication entitled Historical and Biographical Record of Iowa (circa 1894). Based on how much the people at CofL headquarters enjoyed this information, the decision was made to include the entire excerpt. Additionally it provides a solid basis for understanding the social, political, cultural and geographical roots of the individual who grew to write The Brotherhood of Light Lessons and founded The Church of Light.

Elbert Benjamine is not his birth name. He was born Benjamin P. Williams. The reason for this is that according to Doris' notes his beliefs and ideas were unlike the view of his parents. When he got into the work of bringing The Brotherhood of Light principles and philosophy into the open he changed his name from Benjamine P. Williams to Elbert Benjamine.

Circa 1886

Circa 1886

"DR. WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS, one of the most prominent medical practitioners of Iowa, having a very extensive practice in Adel and throughout the surrounding country, was born in Dallas county on the 9th of August, 1856, a representative of a family that has been connected with the history of this locality since early pioneer days.

"The Williams family, in the paternal line, is of Welsh origin, and in America can be traced back to Revolutionary times. Jeremiah Williams, the great-grandfather of the Doctor, came from Wales to America during our Revolutionary period. He enlisted in the Revolutionary war and served over three years, and was wounded at the battle of Stony Point, when that fort was taken from the British. After the close of that war he married Mary Ann and settled in South Carolina in 1807. He removed to Franklin County, Indiana, on what was afterward known as Williams creek, where his remaining days were passed. He had one daughter and seven sons, to wit: Mary Ann, Samuel, William E., John, Milburn, George, James and Thomas.

House where Elbert Benjamine lived from age 6 until he left home

House where Elbert Benjamine lived
from age 6 until he left home

"John was born June 3, 1796, in South Carolina, moved with his parents in 1807 to Franklin county, Indiana, and in the fall of 1819, after his marriage, settled near Connersville, in Fayette county, that State. In 1824 he removed to Vermilion county, same State, where he continued to reside for ten years, when he changed his residence to Warren county, also in that State, and in 1853 he came to Dallas county, Iowa. For his wife he married, October 14, 1819, Miss Elizabeth McCormick, who was born March 29, 1800, in Preble county, Ohio. Her father was born and reared in Ireland, emigrated to this country at the close of the Revolutionary war, was married in Maryland to Miss Catharine Drennen, moved to Ohio and finally to Fayette county, Indiana. He had eight sons and six daughters-Sarah, Ann, Samuel, John, William, Joseph, Elizabeth, James, Jane, Robert, Lewis, Katharine, David and Mary. Mrs. Williams died May 7, 1865, and in October, 1866, Mr. Williams married Nancy A. Gross. He died July 28, 1878, a highly respected citizen, at the age of eighty-two years, one month and twenty-five days. He was a successful farmer, and although he had never had any schooling-not being able even to write his own name-he managed to accumulate a considerable fortune.

Elbert Benjamine's Grandmother who largely raised him. Sitting in her kitchen at age 70.

Elbert Benjamine's
Grandmother who
largely raised him.
Sitting in her kitchen
at age 70.

"Ephraim Williams, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Fayette county, Indiana, two miles north of Connersville, August 25, 1822, and in 1824 his parents removed to Vermilion county, that State, and in 1835 to Warren county, as already mentioned, where, September i8, 1845, he married Elizabeth Parker. In September, 1850, he moved to Iowa, stopping first in Wapello county, to pass the winter there and look up a location for a permanent residence somewhere in this State; and during the following April he moved to Dallas county, where in time five of his children were born. Altogether, during life, he had five sons and three daughters, to-wit: James Warren, Riley Thompson, Sarah Catharine, Martha Jane, Rachel Ann, William Johnston, Thomas Marion and Ora Clark. Six of these are yet living.

"In 1854, in connection with his brother Enos and brother-in-law, James Parker, he erected the first steam saw and grist mill in Dallas county, four and a half miles southeast of Adel, under the firm name of Williams & Parker. For fourteen years he made his home near the mill, which he operated, and then settled a mile south of Adel, where he continued to make his residence for ten years. In 1880 he came to the city, which is now his place of abode. He has been a prominent factor in the development and progress of this region, and is one of the influential citizens.

Recreation for a young Elbert Benjamine in Summer 1906

Recreation for a young
Elbert Benjamine
Summer 1906

"Dr. Williams, whose name introduces this sketch, passed his boyhood days at his parental home, continuing there until his marriage, during which time he obtained a good English education, which he continued in the high school of Adel. October 26, 1881, he was married to Miss Emma Greene, daughter of Hon. Benjamin Greene, and they have one son, Benjamin P., who is now twelve years old.

"For three years after his marriage the Doctor engaged in the dairy business and then took up the study of medicine, entering Rush Medical College at Chicago, where he graduated in 1887. Subsequently he pursued a post-graduate course in New York. In 1894 he went abroad, spending three months in Europe, taking a post-graduate course in Berlin and making a special study of surgery. Returning to Iowa he has since engaged in the practice of his favorite calling. He has been a deep and close student of all the branches of his profession, sparing neither labor nor expense in perfecting himself, and today his superior ability is recognized both by the profession and the public. He has recently purchased the entire outfit, interest and practice of Dr. T. J. Caldwell, the pioneer physician of this section of Iowa, and few practitioners in the State have a more extensive practice than he enjoys. He has recently been appointed consulting physician of the Iowa Christian Sanitarium at Des Moines.

"In his political views he is a stalwart Republican. His first presidential vote was cast for R. B. Hayes. He is a prominent member of the order of Knights of Pythias, and he and his wife are active workers in the Christian Church, doing all in their power to promote the cause and insure the upbuilding of the church in this locality. Honored and esteemed by those who know him, the Doctor well merits the high regard in which he is held."

Young Elbert accompanied his father on many of the long buggy rides to and from visiting patients. During these travels his father shared the vast knowledge and understanding of the natural world with his son. Elbert Benjamine was known as a natural seer. His naturally keen insight into the inner workings of nature combined with the knowledge given him by his father provided a most excellent balance for the education of the man who would be known as C.C. Zain. One can see in his early training the logical progression and preparation for his role in assisting the evolution of The Religion of the Stars, which claims that "True Religion and True Science are One".

According to a Church of Light press release dated December 8, 1951:

Zion Canyon 1924

Zion Canyon 1924

"He first cast his own horoscope in July 1900, and for 51 years he carried the word of astrology to thousands of students....

"Receiving his formal education at Iowa State University, he specialized to become a naturalist. But the powers that be had other plans, and his great work turned out to be the writing of the above books [The Brotherhood of Light Lessons]. However, he was a nature student all of his life and for 25 years he served as President of the Southern California Nature Club, organizing and conducting field trips for the group. There is probably no trail in the mountains of the Western United States that does not bear the imprint of this great Sagittarian. He was also instrumental in establishing a Bird Sanctuary at Los Angeles, California.

"Most of this life he occupied the lecture platform, and the last two years found him taking evangelistic tours about the country. It was through these trips that so many students of astrology and occultism came to know and love him."


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