Thursday, October 23, 2008

Otho Bentley 1884 1965

In September of 1965 my cousin, Yvonne, died.  She was 14 and so was I.  It was the first funeral that I remember attendning.  I remember  Uncle Elbert's death in 1962, but we children were not allowed to go to the service.  Someone stayed at Poppy and Granny's house with us (my siblings and other cousins).  It seemed like the whole church group came to the house afterward and ate dinner. I was 11. 

Yvonne's death was so unexpected.  The next month on October 23, 1965, my grandfather died.

Otho Bentley was the seventh child of John Martin and Malinda Addington Bentley. 

His siblings were Josephine, twins John Vint and William, Nancy Ann, Elbert, Mary, Florence Caldonia, Surrilda Jane, Cora Lee and Laura Belle.

The earliest picture I have seen of Poppy is this one:

I believe these pictures were taken about 1905 so he would have been about 21.  It could have been earlier since he married Sadie Collier about 1902.

Sadie was the daughter of Willis Kirk and Mary Ellen Adams Collier.  Both Willis and Mary Ellen were kin to me.  Mary through the Adams and Webbs (Granny's family) and Willis through the Halls, Caudills and Webbs (again Granny's family).  So Sadie was my 2nd cousin three times removed.
 Sadie and Otho lived at and ran the boarding house at Jenkins.

The Boarding House at Jenkins, Kentucky (from the Consolidated Coal Company photographs at the Kentucky Virtual Libray from Kentucky archives)
Sadie did the laundry, cooking and cleaning.  Otho had a team of horses and brought lumber in to Jenkins that they used to build the miner's homes and other building in town.  He was so successful at this endeavor that he bought a second wagon and team of horses. 
Stella was born on January 14, 1904 in Letcher County.
Willie was born on March 3, 1906 in Letcher County.
The family moved to Letitia, Greenup County, Kentucky. Nettie was born on December 27, 1907 in Letitia.
Atha was born January 23, 1910 in Greenup County.
The 1910 Census listed them living on Schultz Road dwelling 207, Family 209:
Otho Bentley, 24 married 7 years, farmer
     Sadie 20
     Stella 6
     William D.  4
     Nettie 2
     Atha  3 months
Sadie did not like living in Greenup and wanted to return to the mountains.  A man came along looking for land and farms.  Sadie sold him their farm.  Poppy was up on the roof and Sadie told him she had found a buyer.  They packed up their things into a wagon and horses drew them along toward home.  They did not go back to Jenkins, but settled in Millstone up the road behind Uncle D. V.'s house.  The house is no longer there, but this is the location where it was.
Laura Jane was born January 19, 1912 in Letcher county.
This picture was taken about 1913.
 Willie, Nettie, Laura Jane, Atha and Stella.
Sadie had a neighbor girl, Nancy Alice Hall, help in the home with the cooking, cleaning and laundry.
On July 30, 1914 May Bentley was stillborn.
Sadie was pregnant again right away. On February 3, 1915 she went into labor after she was kicked in the stomach by a cow.  Little Mary Bentley was born, but five days later on February 8, 1915 her mother, Sadie died from complications.  Little Mary was struggling to live, too.
On April 1, 1915 Otho married Nancy Alice Hall.  Little Mary died in July of 1915.
On January 13, 1916 Lettie Malinda was born to Otho and Nancy.
Sabrina was born on February 13, 1918.
On September 12, 1918 Otho filled out his World War I draft registration.  He listed his nearest relative as "Mrs. Sadie Bentley."  The card described him as medium height, medium build, gray eyes and dark hair.
Lake Bentley was born on December 21, 1919 in Letcher County.
The 1920 Census shows the family as dwelling 18 family 19
Otho Bentley, head, 33
     Nancy A. wife, 20
     Stella E.  14
     Willie  son 12
     Nettie, daughter, 10
     Atha 8
     Laura  6
     Lettie  3
     Sabrina  1
     Georgia 0/12
Georgia was little Lake.  On her birth certificate she was listed as "Baby" Bentley.  Apparently, she was originally going to be named Georgia.  Later, she had her name legally changed to Lake Erie, which is the name we all knew her by.  She was listed as 0/12 because she was less than a month old when the census was taken in January 1920.
Apparently the family had moved from up above Uncle D. V.'s house.  They were not at the home where most of the kids grew up and remembered from the right hand fork of Millstone.  This was a house on the right fork on Craft land.  The Craft's were Nancy Alice Hall's mother's family.  Their neighbors in this census were: 
11 William and Virginia Hall
12  William and Mary Taylor
13  Tidel and Ibby Laive
14 Ben and Sarah Craft Franklin
15  Enoch Craft and Polly Ann Caudill
16 Druscilla Craft Adams
17  Randolph Holbrook
18  James and Victoria Crace
19  Otho and Nancy Alice Bentley
20  Elbert and Sabrina Craft Bentley
21  Arch C. and Pricy Adkins Craft
22  Maylon and Polly Ann Craft Hall
23  Martin and Nannie Bentley
24  Joe and Mick Hampton
25  Newberry and Dixie Meade
At some point the family moved to the house on the right fork where most of the children grew up.  It is owned by Paul Hampton now.  It is where all the pictures of Poppy and the twins were taken.
Opal was born on December 8, 1921.
Cora was born on January 12, 1924.
Wilma Imogene Bentley was born on June 12, 1926.

James Martin "Joe" Bentley was born on August 22, 1926.
Daniel Van "D.V." Bentley was born on November 10, 1930.
On April 14, 1930 the Census found them in dwelling 322 family number 328.
Otho Bentley, head, farm, 45, married at 18, coal miner at the coal tipple.
     Nannie, wife of head, 31, married at 16
     Lettie, daughter, 14
     Sabrina, daughter, 12
     Lake, daugther 10
     Opal, daughter 8
     Cora, daughter, 6
     Wilma, daughter 3
     Joseph son 1 year 8 months.
Green, Junior, grandson, 7
     James, grandson, 5
On November 19, 1930 Daniel Van "D.V. " Bentley was born.
On January 17, 1932 Anna Sue was born.
John Vint was born on November 15, 1934
Otho Bentley, Jr. was born on May 25, 1937.
On June 30, 1939 Nancy had twins:  Can Morgan and James Martin Bentley.
Freddy was born on July 12, 1941.
Jerry was born on May 28, 1943.

I wasnt to make little videos of the family.  It is part of the way I want to put stories together about our family.  If I were doing one on Poppy, I would have Randy Travis' song "I thought he Walked on Water" as the background music.  It goes: 

He wore starched white shirts buttoned at the neck,

And he'd sit in the shade and watch the chickens peck.

And his teeth were gone, but what the heck,
I thought that he walked on water.

He said he was a cowboy when he was young.
He could handle a rope and he was good with a gun.
And my mamas daddy was his oldest son,--
And I thought that he walked on water.

If the storys told, only heaven knows.
But his hat seemed to me like an old halo.
And although his wings, they were never seen.
I thought that he walked on water.

Then he tied a cord to the end of a mop,
And said, son, heres a pony, keep her at a trot.
And Id ride in circles while he laughed alot.
Then Id flop down beside him.

And he was ninety years old in sixty-three
And I loved him and he loved me.
And lord, I cried the day he died,
cause I thought that he walked on water.
I know he could be mean. I heard him talk ugly to Granny not long before he died. I heard him talk about when he died he wanted to be buried by Sadie and that there was no room for Granny there.  He said Sadie was his wife and that's where he wanted to be. I didn't understand what was going on at that time. I heard Granny say that she would see that he was buried there and she would be, too, if there were room, but if not she would be buried somewhere else. I knew they had been married for 50 years and I didn't undertand his preoccupation with Sadie over Granny. But that was a blip in time compared to thinking of him as just Poppy.

I remember my walks with Poppy.  He wore that starched white shirt and a suit coat.  He wore a hat and carried a cane.  And we walked.  I would beg to go with him when he was going and the two of us would go down the road.  We probably didn't walk much further than the forks and back, but he knew everyone and talked to each house where someone was outside on their porch or working in their garden.  I just remember loving to walk along when he went out on these excursions.  I don't remember if we talked ourselves, but I suppose the way my granddaughter chatters to me, we surely did.

I remember him sitting in his rocker on the front porch smoking a cigatette.  Folks who came in would lean against the bannister or sit in a straight backed chair beside him and talk.  They would watch the cars go by and wave at folks.  The women were on the porch at the wooden swing. We kids were on the porch at the metal swing.  The porch would be full of people with so many conversations going on.

Poppy started having strokes.  We would get called in and visit sometimes at the hospital or if he were well enough at the house.  Now he spent time in the bed in the center bedroom or would sit in a chair by the fireplace.  This is where I would hear him talking loudly and gruffly to Granny.

He always looked the same to me.  From when I first remember him to when he died.  He passed away on his father's birthday, October 23, 1965.  His funeral was at the Little Elizabeth Old Regular Baptist church at the right hand fork of Millstone.  He laid in his home in the days before his funeral.  He was buried by Sadie in the Chunk Craft cemetery.  Later, there was room for Granny so that he was buried between both wives.

On the day of his funeral I wrote the first family history down. I went from listening to family stories to trying to preserve them.  That was 43 years ago.


  1. Thank You for a job well done.
    My Daddy, Isaac (Bob) Craft is with them in the Chunk Craft Cemetery.

  2. Thank you. I have other things you might like to see, if you will write to me at