DEFOREST E. BENTLEY. Prominent among the Illinois colony of settlers in Clay county, and energetic and upright as a citizen, we introduce him whose name initiates this personal record.
Mr. Bentley, in becoming a resident of Clay county, Texas, was one of the colony above mentioned, and as advance man prospected the location and final settlement at Thornberry. For himself he purchased a tract of two hundred acres and at once began its reduction and cultivation in a modest, though successful, way. Grain, stock and fruit growing employ him and his ambitions and industrious family, and that they have done something toward beautifying and enlightening Clay county all acquaintances are forced to admit.
While Mr. Bentley came to this state from Illinois, his native state is New York and his native county Chautauqua. He was born near Ellington, February 26, 1854, of parents Perry and Sarah (Cartright) Bentley. The father became a carpenter and followed the trade as a young man but turned his attention to farming afterward and died in August, 1903, at the age of eighty- one years. He was born in Renssaelaer county, York state, and went to Chautauqua county as a boy. His wife died in 1866 and he then married Mary Cox, by whom he also reared a family and whom he also buried. His first children were: Harvey, of Chautauqua county, New York; Clem, who died young; Deforest E.; Nicholas, of Michigan; Margaret, of Ellington, New York, and Estelle, who died early in life. Of his second children, Ashley resides in Ellington, Arthur died at East Liverpool, Ohio, by accident; Nellie married Herbert Crook and resides near Ellington and the same place is the home of Eugene; Mildred, wife of Oscar Nelson, and Abbie who married a Frary also abide near that town.
The Bentleys are of English origin and the family is believed to be an old- established one of New England, as it was either Connecticut or Rhode Island that grandfather Bentley migrated to New York state.
D. E. Bentley acquired only a common school training. He learned farming from his father and started in life as such himself. At the age of fifteen years he, by day’s work, earned the money to buy a couple of calves and when they grew up into an ox team he traded them to his father for his time. For about six years he worked as a farm hand for wages and then rented land and began farming as extensively as his limited accumulations would permit. He started west in 1874 and stopped in Pike county, Illinois, where his first earnest efforts may be said to have been made and where, as the head of a family, his life work really began. He married July 4, 1876, and took his wife to a rented farm. Their combined labor and sensible economy put them in possession of a sum sufficient to establish them fairly comfortably in their new place in Texas and it was to escape the severe winters of the north and to acquire the cheap and fertile land of the Wichita country that induced their removal south.
Mrs. Bentley was, prior to her marriage, Miss Eliza Temple. Her parents were James and Sarah (Hawker) Temple,people of English birth, the former of Lincolnshire and the latter of Devonshire. The father was born March 3, 1813, and died May 8, 1875, while the mother’s birth occurred August 19, 1822, and her death October 27, 1886. They came to the United States about 1832. Their children were: Mary R., widow of Stephen Evans, of Griggsville, Illinois; Elizabeth, of Bellplain, Kansas; Mrs. William R. Wallace; Mrs. Bentley, and George F. Temple, of Abilene, Texas. Mrs. Bentley was educated in the Griggsville high school and taught four terms of country school while she was yet Eliza Temple. She is a lady of bright, active and alert mind and has shown her belief in the efficacy and power of education over ignorance by making personal sacrifices and enduring personal hardships for the sake of providing her children with an advanced education.
Mr. and Mrs. Bentley have nine children, namely: Charles, born June 8, 1877, resides near Chattanooga, Oklahoma; Margaret, born December 5, 1878, is the wife of Martin Stubbs, in charge of the government’s weather observations at Galveston, Texas. Mrs. Stubbs took a four-year course in Fort Worth University, where she met her future husband, one of the faculty of the institution. His duties have been so distributed as to give Mrs. Stubbs an opportunity for travel and she has visited the West Indies—San Domingo and Cuba—and talks most interestingly of life and conditions there. She and Mr. Stubbs were married June 5, 1902. Hattie, born December 7, 1880, was educated also at Fort Worth, and taught in the schools of her home vicinity. She was married August 22, 1905, to T. M. Runnells, of Illinois. She is now living in Oklahoma and expects Lawton to be her home. Her husband is a bright young man of good education and had been bookkeeper for a Chicago firm, until failing health compelled him to go south. He is now in connection with a lumber firm. Harvey, born October 31, 1882, is an invaluable assistant at the family home; George, born March 21, 1888; Mary, born February 21, 1891; John, born May 14, 1893; Lloyd, born November 17, 1897, are all members of the family circle.
The family of Mr. Bentley hold allegiance to the Methodist church. The parents have taught their children the lessons of the bible where right living and right action are set forth as cardinal principles of an upright life. They have strong faith in the lief to come and do the Master’s will by fearing God and keeping His commandments.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 512-513.