|Letter From A Soldier, Big Piney Examiner, Big Piney, Wyoming 1 August 1918|
I love finding things that give me a picture into my ancestors' history and/or the times or place. When I was researching my great-grand-aunt Grace Gregor Bentley, I found a letter to her from her middle son, Benjamin F. Bentley (my first cousin, twice removed), printed in the Big Piney Examiner (Big Piney, Wyoming) on August 1, 1918. In the letter, he describes his life in Camp MacArthur, Texas after he had joined the Army during WW1.
Benjamin later got to France with the army; he served about a year and by the end of the war was a 1st sergeant, according the news article about his death. He survived the war but died only eight years later in a horrible work-related accident in Olympia, Washington, where he worked as a longshoreman. He was hit in the head by a timber and knocked into the bay while he was helping to load a ship (the Nyhaug). Despite a round the clock search, his body was not recovered for nine days, He left behind a widow, Kathryn (Cavanaugh) Bentley and three children, Thomas L., born about 1921; Dora Berenice, born about 1924; and Benjamin, Jr., born about 1926.
"Letter From Soldier," 1 August 1918 Big Piney Examiner, p. 1; "Cavanaugh-Bentley", 1 July 1920 Big Piney Examiner, p. 3 (found at NewspaperArchive.com); "Accident Results in Death of Ben Bentley at Olympia," 2 September 1926 Pinedale Roundup, p.1 (found at NewspaperArchive.com); "Bay Gives up Body of Port Worker; Blow Caused Death," The Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA), Thursday, September 2, 1926, pp. 1 and 6 (found at GenealogyBank.com).