Thursday, March 5, 2015

52 Ancestors (plus!): Grace Gregor Bentley (1864 – 1929) Home is WhereFamily Is

Climbing My Family Tree: here Grace Gregor Bentley Lived
Where Grace Gregor Bentley (1864-1929) Lived
Image copyright to Google Maps
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Last year I did the 52 Ancestors Challenge with Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small Blog. This year she is continuing it, but is using themes for each week. I hadn’t thought to participate even though I knew I wanted to continue the ancestor bio sketches, albeit at a slower rate,  but she did tell me at the end of last year that I could drop in and out of it as I needed. This week her theme is “close to Home” and it seems to fit Grace Gregor, my great grand aunt, in an odd way. She moved huge distances in her life with her family, and for her, it seemed that as long as family was there, she was home. And, frankly, as I was writing it, this became more of a family entry than a person entry.

Grace Gregor was born in 1864 in Morriston in Puslinch Township, Wellington County in the British Province of Unified Canada (three years later that area would become Ontario, Canada when three provinces joined to become the nascent Dominion of Canada in the British Commonwealth). She was the fourth child and youngest daughter of Benjamin Gregor and Elizabeth Taylor; my great-grandmother Anna’s younger sister. They lived in Puslinch Township, where her father was worked as a farmer and laborer. Both her parents died before Grace was 17. Her oldest brother had moved to Burnside Township Michigan in the year before their father’s death on March 15, 1888, and when their parents died Grace, her older sister Anna, and younger brother Benjamin moved to Michigan to live with him in Goodland Township in Lapeer County. The 1884 Michigan Census showed Grace’s siblings living in the township of Goodland, in Lapeer County: James (27) worked in “lumber manufacturing”, Anna (24) was his housekeeper and Benjamin (17) attended school. The same document indicated that a female of 18, who had previously lived in the household, had married Anson Bentley on August 18, 1884.  

Grace married Anson in Burnside MI on August 18, 1884; their witnesses were Anson’s brother William and Grace’s sister Annie (my great-grandmother). Anson Jacob Bentley was the oldest son of George B. Bentley and Sarah Buck; he was born on 31 July 1856 in Dorchester, in Elgin County in the Unified Province of Canada.   [His younger siblings were Gertrud (born about 1863), William (born about 1866), Emma (born about 1870) and half-brother Duncan (born about 1876).]  He grew up in Canada. I’m uncertain of when he moved to Michigan, because his self-reported dates don’t really agree with some of the documentation I’ve found.

Grace and Anson lived and farmed in Burnside MI for about twenty years. All of their children were born in MI.  Grace and Anson had six children: Sarah E. (later known as “Essie” – I expect from her initials, “S.E.”), born May 16, 1884; George Gregor, born March 25, 1886; Gertrude G., born October 20, 1890; Benjamin F., born May 9, 1893; Josephine A., born November 8, 1898; and  Anson Buck, born 1902.  (Note: some trees on Ancestry showed one more short-lived child born after they left Michigan, but I’ve not found him independently yet.)

The 1900 census showed that Anson was a naturalized citizen. As of the late 1800’s a woman’s citizenship status was dependent on that of her husband, so Grace would have become a citizen when Anson did. I’ve not yet been able to determine when Anson became a citizen of the U.S. because, although he asserts in later census that he was in the USA by the 1860s, he is counted in the Canadian census and not the U.S. Census through 1881 and the 1890 census doesn’t exist. I haven’t found his naturalization documentation yet.

At some point between 1902 and 1905, Anson & Grace moved the whole family to Gove County, in western Kansas. According to the 1905 Kansas state Census, Anson & Grace and the family were homesteading and farming in or near Alanthus, in Larrabee Twp, Gove County (Alanthus was a farmers’ “post office” village, and has since become a ghost town). Their oldest daughter, Essie, was a school teacher but had been unemployed for 7 mos. of the prior year.

Climbing My Family Tree: Gove County Kansas by Chris Hartman
Gove County Kansas by Chris Hartman CC by 2.0
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Climbing My Family Tree: Monument Rocks in Gove County KS by Lane Pearman
Monument Rocks in Gove County KS by Lane Pearman CC by 2.0
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The Homestead Act was signed by President Lincoln in 1862. Under the provisions of the Act, a homesteader could claim 160 acres of public land by applying and paying a filing fee of 10 dollars at the nearest land office to claim the land temporarily. Then he or she (single women could apply too) had six months to begin living on the property. If the homesteaders lived on the 160 acres for five continuous years, built a residence and grew crops, they could then “prove up” or file for their deed for the property, by filling out forms describing the boundaries of the land and the improvements they had done to it and having two neighbors or friends sign as witnesses that the homesteaders thus vouching for the truth of his statements about the improvements to the land. After completion of this final form and payment of a $6 fee, the homesteader received the patent for the land, signed with the name of the current President of the United States. Another option was to purchase the land from the government for $1.25 per acres after living on the land for six months, building a home, and starting to grow crops.

I don’t yet know which method Anson and Grace chose. But it must have been successful, because, by the time of the 1910 Census, Anson owned their farm, although it was mortgaged at that time. The 1910 Census also shows that Grace’s oldest brother, James, his wife, and seven children farmed next door to them. James owned his property too, but in coming years would move his family to the next county over (Lane). It must have made the huge move easier for Grace to have her brother join her in her new home.

In 1908, Grace and Anson’s daughter Essie married Edward S. Allen, a native of Colorado; she was 24 and he was 30. By 1910, she and her new husband, Edward, were living in Pueblo, Colorado, where he was a shipping clerk for what looks to be the Commission House.

After the census in 1910, Grace and Anson’s middle daughter, Gertrude, married Leo Levi Baker. They were both 20 years old.

In or about 1912, Grace and Anson, and those of their children who remained at home, bought and moved to a ranch near Merna, Wyoming. Anson formed a partnership with his sons to run cattle on the ranch. At least by 1914 (per the Big Piney Examiner), Grace and Anson’s daughter Grace and her husband Leo lived in the nearby community of Daniel, Wyoming, and by 1920, farmed and ran cattle on a ranch down the road from A.J. (as Anson was now known) and Grace, and their sons Benjamin, Anson B., and their daughter Josephine.

Climbing My Family Tree: Bentley & Sons Cattle Brand, Big Piney, Wyoming
Bentley & Sons Cattle Brand, Big Piney, Wyoming
In the Public Domain
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On October 6, 1917, Grace and A.J.’s son George married Nan Ethel Wallace, in Kemmerer, Wyoming; he was 31 and she was 25. They lived in Wyoming through at least the mid-1920’s, then per the Pine Dale Roundup, lived in Oakland CA, and later, near Reno, Nevada.

A.J. and his sons dissolved their partnership in 1918, when the youngest, Benjamin, went to fight overseas during WW1. He served in the Army as a first sergeant in France through the end of the war. He returned to Wyoming after the war.

During the time the family lived near Merna, WY, there were hundreds of mentions of them in the local paper, The Big Piney Examiner. Most were small two-line mentions, describing one or more of the family “calling on” someone, attending a dance, going to summer school in Laramie (Josephine), riding for cattle, snowshoeing to the Post Office, or arriving from someplace on a coach.

On July 1, 1920, Grave & A.J.’s son Benjamin married Kathryn Cavanaugh in Quinter, KS in the presence of only immediate family and friends. They honeymooned in Colorado, then returned to their own ranch near Merna, Wyoming. Benjamin was described by the newspaper as “a prosperous young cattleman of the Cottonwood Valley and recently returned from overseas where he served as a sergeant in the army.” The article noted that his bride was “a charming young woman who has taught school in western Kansas for several years.”

By the time of the 1920 Census, Grace and A.J.’s daughter, Essie, her husband, and their three children had also moved into a farm, or ranch, in the same county as her parents.

On November 16, 1921, the doctor was called to the ranch because Grace had suffered “a stroke of paralysis”. Daughter Josephine’s wedding to Marshall Gordon Dunham, jr., was postponed due to her mother’s serious illness. The couple were finally married a very small ceremony at the house of her parents, conducted by Rev. Herbert C. Kimmel of the Big Piney Community Church on New Year’s Day morning, 1922, at 8:00 AM, followed by a “sumptuous wedding breakfast.” The newspaper said of the couple,"both parties are well and favorably known here, and have a host of friends who wish them a happy and prosperous wedded life….” They lived in the same county as her Josephine’s parents’ ranch for much of the early and mid-1920’s.

Throughout the 1920’s Grace travelled, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of one of her daughters, several times a year to visit her children and grandchildren, spread across the country, staying anywhere from two weeks to an entire season during the course of her visits.  Her trips to visit family took her to nearby towns in Wyoming, and as far away as California, Kansas, Colorado, and Idaho. I did not see a newspaper article mentioning an occasion in which A.J. travelled. He did host his sisters when they came to visit them in Wyoming, from Michigan and Kansas.

In 1923, when A.J. was 67 and Grace was 59, they gave up ranching and moved into Pinedale, WY, where A.J. opened a store, “The Bentley Fruit, Vegetable, and Grain Cash Store.”  In August of that year they celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary. He operated that store for five years. Within that time, he also became a city councilman.
Climbing My Family Tree: 1923 Ad for The Bentley Fruit, Vegetable, and Grain Cash Store in Pinedale WY
1923 Ad for The Bentley Fruit, Vegetable, and Grain Cash Store in Pinedale WY
in the public domain, Click to make Bigger

In or about February 1925, Grace and A.J.’s son, Benjamin, and his family moved to Olympia, Washington, where he found work as a longshoreman. His sister Essie and her family also moved to Olympia at or around the same time frame.

Tragically, Grace and A.J. received word in late February, 1926, that Benjamin had been killed in a freak accident at work. He had been hit by a timber being loaded onto a ship. It had knocked him into the water, and despite dredging the river, his body had not been found. His body wasn’t found until nine days later.  Examination by the coroner showed that he had been killed by the blow and not by drowning. The family was devastated, and in the weeks that followed, they pulled closer together – several of the ones who lived out-of town came to stay with their parents and siblings for several weeks.

It looks like his brother’s death brought home to Anson Buck how short life could be. He married Thelma Olynn Porter on September 14, 1926, at the home of her parents in 1926. Directly after the service the couple went to Pinedale, WY, where they received guests and congratulations at their parents’ home on September 15.

In October of that year Grace traveled to Twin Falls ID, with her daughter, Gertrude, to visit with her daughter Josephine’s family and to see Benjamin’s widow and his three children (Thomas, Dora Berenice, and Benjamin, Jr.). The number of Grace’s visits to family and the duration of the visits increased after Benjamin died.

In June 1928, Grace went back to Kansas, wither her daughter, Gertrude. She visited her grandchildren (Benjamin’s children) in Utica, KS, and her brother, James, whom she hadn’t seen in several years, and took a side trip back see their old home.

In early January, 1929, at age 72, A.J. decided to close his store and made a deal with Jasper Paulsen to take the property. He liquidated his stock throughout the month, and closed his store on January 17, 1929. Thereafter, he moved to Twin Falls ID, where Grace was spending her winter with their daughter and son-in-law, Josephine and Marshall Dunham. He was contemplating opening a new store in Swan Valley ID in the Spring.

Unfortunately, he lived only a month after closing his business. A.J. Bentley died on February 18, 1029, of bronchial pneumonia.

Grace survived him by only ten months. She had gone to Sparks NV to visit her son George’s family in the winter of 1929. On December 13, Grace’s daughter Gertrude received a message that her mother had had a stroke, and another the next evening, telling that Grace had died on December 14, 1929, at age 65. On December 26, 1929, the Pinedale Roundup newspaper noted that Grace was survived by her three daughters and two sons: “Mrs. E. S. Allen, Olympia Washington; George Bentley, Boise, Idaho; Mrs. Leo L. Baker, Daniel, Wyoming; Mrs. M.G. Dunham, Twin Falls, Idaho; and Anson B. Bentley, Twin Falls, Idaho. Ben F. Bentley preceded his mother in death three years ago. There are living fourteen grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Bentley.” 

Anson's and Grace’s estates were finally settled in 1948.

-          Essie and Edward Allen’s children were: Dorothy G, born about 1910; Virginia E., born about 1915; Hugh S., born about 1917; and Wlliam S., born about 1920.
-          George and Nan Ethel (Wallace) Bentley’s children were: George W., born about 1920, and Marjorie Nan, born about 1922.
-          Gertrude and Leo Baker’s children were: Harland Bentley Baker, 1915-1956, and Leo M., born about 1920.
-          Benjamin and Kathryn (Cavanaugh) Bentley’s children were: Thomas L., born about 1921; Dora Berenice, born about 1924; and Benjamin, Jr., born about 1926. Kathryn subsequently married Edward W. Gegg in Kansas and had another child named Don, bout about 1930.
-          Josephine A.  and Marshall Gordon Dunham’s children were: Marshall Gordon Dunham, jr., 1922-1958; Barbara, born about 1925; Daniel, born about 1937; and Joyce, born 1938.
-          Anson Buck and Thelma (Porter) Bentley didn’t have any children that I found. Anson B. later married Leona May Workman on 24 April 1934 in Coalville Utah. Their children were Verda Ann, born about 1935; Virgie Lou (Virginia, maybe?), born about 1937; and A Blaine, born about 1939.  I lost Anson & Leona after 1940, there may be more kids.


I’d like to find out more about Grace's and Anson’s Michigan and Kansas years.

I’d like to know how they met, why they decided to move to Kansas, and why they moved to Wyoming.

I’d like to know what happened to the kids in the rest of their lives.

I’d like to know if Grace ever saw her sister Anna (my great-grandmother) again after she moved to Kansas & on to Wyoming.

If anyone knows more about Grace and Anson and their life, or their kids, and are willing to share, please contact me by leaving a comment below or emailing me at the email address listed on my Contact Me page.

(If you want a fuller cite for anything below, just ask. All are digital copies.)

Canadian Census for 1861, 1871 & 1881; U.S. Census for 1880, 1900, 1910, 1220, 1930, & 1940, Michigan State Census for 1894; Kansas State Census for 1905; Michigan Marriage Records; Idaho Death Certificate; Idaho Findagrave Memorial # 101419295 and # 101419340; Washington Findagrave Memorial # 102686392 & # 5870615; Wyoming  Findagrave memorial # 40044921; Washington State Death Certificate; Western States Marriage Index Marriage ID #235344 & ID #235344; U.S, Findagrave Memorial  # 9332098;  Bellingham, Washington, City Directory (U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011) for 1927, 1929, 1935, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1945, 1947, & 1949; U.S. Social Security Index; WW1 & WW2 draft registrations for George, Benjamin, & Anson B.

Big Piney Examiner, Big Piney, Wyoming for June 25, 1914 (p.3); February 24, 2016; November 23, 1916;  January 17, 1918; January 3, 1918 (p.7); April 8, 1920; July 1, 1920 (p.3); January 5, 1922 (p.1); July 31, 1922;  October 4, 1923 (p.1); and February 21, 1929 (p.1). (Found at

Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale, Wyoming, for November 17, 1921 (p.7); June 28, 1923 (p.1)August 23, 1923 (p.7); November 15, 1923; August 20, 1925;  March 4, 1926 (p.5); September 2, 1926 (p.1); September 16, 1926 (p.1)October 7, 1926 (p.7);  March 31, 1927; June 16, 1927; June 7, 1928 (p.7); January 3, 1929 (p.7); January 17, 1929 (p.7); July 11, 1929 (p.7); December 26, 1929 (p. 8); December 19, 1929 (p. 1 & 7); and July 15, 1948 (p.2). (Found at

The Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA), Thursday, September 2, 1926, pp. 1 and 6 (found at

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