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C.N. Bentley, whose home is on section 21, Harlem township, is one of the venerable figures of the pioneer gatherings of Stephenson county. It indeed has few if any residents whose settlement antedates his own. He knows what it means to open up a new country to civilization, and he is now living in the peace and comfort that follows a long and useful career.
Eldred Bentley, the grandfather of the subject of this article, was born in Rhode Island, but spent the greater part of his life in Rensselaer county, New York, and died in Chautauqua county of that state in 1851, at the age of ninety-three. His wife, Nata, was an own sister of that Ethan Allen, who linked his name with fame beyond divorce in the capture of the fort at Ticonderoga at the opening of the Revolutionary struggle. Eldred Bentley, Jr., the father of C. N. Bentley, was born in Rensselaer county in 1793, and died in Chautauqua county in 1843.
Mr. Bentley was born in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, July 24th, 1826, and of his brothers and sisters mention is briefly made. John lives in Winnebago county, and Eldred at Ellington, Chautauqua county, New York. Louisa married Norman Carr, and died in Ellington in 1891. Jemima married Mr. Jeffords, and died in Pennsylvania in 1896. Sarah died at Ellington while still a young girl, and Nancy, who had become the wife of Mr. Ralph, died in Chautauqua county in 1856.
Mr. Bentley married Alecta Smith in Fredonia, New York, in July, 1844. She is a daughter of Jeriel Smith, who came to this county, settled in Harlem township, and died in 1857. She bore her husband five children, and died in October, 1889, leaving behind her precious memories as a wife and mother. Their oldest son, Lewis, 1845, served with distinction throughout the Civil war in the 46th Illinois Volunteer Infantry; and after the war returned home in February, 1866, only to be killed by a vicious horse the following June. Jane, 1847, became the wife of H. B. Price, a resident of Freeport, and died in 1895, leaving three sons and two daughters. Alva was born in New York, and was accidentally scalded to death after reaching Illinois, at the age of twenty months. George J. who was born in Winslow, Illinois, is a lawyer of considerable prominence at Cripple Creek, Colorado. Lydia, 1860, died when four years old. Charles C. married Theresa Mulnix, and resides with his father. He is the parent of five children. Violet Electa is the oldest, Chloe the second child and Cecil N. and Charles C. are twins. Dewey, the youngest child, bears the name of the hero of Manila.
Mr. Bentley is serving his twenty-fifth year as school trustee of his home district, and his judgment on school matters is almost beyond question by the people of the neighborhood. He has served four years as constable, and highway commissioner one or more terms. It has never been in his mind, however, to seek any kind of a political office beyond those local positions that had to do most immediately with home affairs.