Service of Dedication, Sunday, May 25, 2008,
Bentley Cemetery, Alexander County, North Carolina
By The Sons of Confederate Veterans, Rocky Face Rangers Camp 1948,
with The Order of the Confederate Rose, Chapter 27, Southern Cross
We are gathered here today to dedicate the grave stones of three courageous men who answered the call to Confederate service in the War Between the States and to pay homage to them for their sacrifice. The three Confederate veterans being remembered today as we dedicate their new grave stones are Pvt. Joseph Bentley and two of his sons, Pvt. Nathan Bentley and Pvt. James Bentley.
Joseph Bentley was born in what was then Burke County, before the counties of Alexander and Caldwell was formed, on the 800 acre plantation belonging to his father, Moses Bentley, which lay on both sides of the Upper Little River, the same river which now separates Alexander county from Caldwell County and stretched eastward to Isaac‘s creek.. My great-great-grandfather, Moses Bentley Jr., who married Caroline Ann Sloop, was a brother of Joseph Bentley’s.
Moses Bentley Sr. was born 1766 in Rowan (now Davie) county, NC, while his parents, Benjamin and Jane Bentley, were residing in the Bear Creek section of the county several miles south of the present county seat of Mocksville. About 1782 Benjamin moved his family to the Cedar Knob/Black Oak Ridge section of the South Yadkin River in Iredell County, NC, which is in present day Alexander County. At one time a part of this land was annexed to Wilkes County and later to Alexander County.
On 20 May 1794 Moses Bentley purchased 100 acres of land from Abner Baker for 100 pounds which was situated on the waters of the South Fork of the Yadkin River and on the west side of the Rocky Faced Mountain (presently located in Alexander County). This land, originally granted to John McLean, joined Abner Baker and Aaron Fortner. Witnesses to this transaction, recorded 14 February 1797, were Isaac Baker and Jas. (James) Roberts. After selling his South Yadkin river land in western Iredell (now Alexander) county, Moses moved his family to the Upper Little River area of Burke County (now Caldwell and Alexander counties). Moses’ plantation lay on both sides of the Upper Little River, the river now dividing the present day counties of Caldwell and Alexander. Moses Bentley wrote his will 16 May 1827 which was offered for probate at the October session of Burke county court by John Kelly, a subscribing witness to the will. Moses Bentley (Jr.) qualified as executor of his father’s will. No copy of Moses Bentley’s will now exists in the Burke County courthouse or the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, NC. However, the settlement of Moses Bentley’s estate, located in the NC state archives, is quite extensive as to naming his chidren and heirs, land dispersement, sale of his personal property, and monies owed to and from his estate.
Burke County was formed 1777 from Rowan County. In April, 1865, a detachment of Union troops from General Stoneman’s command threw records from the courthouse and burned them. Deeds and wills were included. Some original wills probated prior to 1865 survived and are in the State Archives; included are copies of wills from other sources such as North Carolina Supreme Court original case papers. As of June 1, 1986, original wills proved after 1868 remained in the custody of the county clerk of superior court.
Moses Bentley Jr. appears to have relinquished the right to settle his father’s estate as his brothers, Hugh and Benjamin S. Bentley, began collecting debts owed to the estate and paying debts due to others. In January 1830 the Burke county court appointed three commissioners, Lewis Payne, Abner Payne, and Harrison Turner; to settle the estate of Moses Bentley with his executors, Hugh and Benjamin S. Bentley. At the January 1831 term of court these commissioners along with Babel Sherrill and Joseph Starnes were appointed to divide part of Moses Bentley’s land with his sons, Hugh, Moses and Joseph Bentley. These three sons were to receive 200 acres of land as was bequeathed to them by their father’s will. The commissioners, after surveying and dividing the land 18 February 1831, allotted to Hugh Bentley 195 acres lying on both sides of Upper Little River and stretching eastward to Isaac’s creek. Moses Jr. received 216 acres that join Hugh’s land and also lay on both sides of the river. Joseph received 232 acres on Isaac’s creek which joined the land of Moses Jr. and Hugh. This land appears to lay north of Rink Dam on Little River and west of Barrett’s Mountain in present day Alexander county. The land Joseph received may be the same land where the Bentley family cemetery is located and where many of the older family members are buried, including Moses Bentley Sr.’s widow, Mary Campbell Bentley, who died in 1875 at the age of 110.
Joseph Bentley’s grandfather, Benjamin Bentley, was born about 1745-1746 in Frederick County, Maryland, a son of Thomas and Hannah (maiden name unknown) Bentley. About 1765 Thomas Bentley moved his family to that part of old Rowan County, NC, to settle in the lower “forks of the Yadkin” area which is now in southern Davie County on Bear Creek, several miles south of Mocksville. Here Thomas and Benjamin first appear in North Carolina records in the 1768 Morgan Bryan’s tax list for the forks of the Yadkin at one poll each. Benjamin was probably married at this time and may have been living separately from his parents. Here the two-story log Bentley House was located until it was lost to teen-age arsonists on 17 February 2005. Located here in the first known Davie County community was the Bentley post office and trading post. Benjamin Bentley was appointed Constable of the “lower end of the forks of the Yadkin” from 16 February 1771 to 7 February 1772 by the Sheriff of Rowan County. Many of Benjamin’s descendants would later enter areas of law enforcement including today’s Sheriff of Alexander County, Hayden Bentley.
About the year 1782 or 1783 Benjamin Bentley moved his family to the Cedar Run/Cedar Knob area of Iredell County, NC. This area was later cut off from Iredell to form Wilkes County and even later the area was cut off from Wilkes County to form Alexander County. Benjamin’s extensive plantation was located on the South Yadkin River and Bentley’s Branch in the northeastern part of today’s Alexander county between the community of Vashti and the Cove Gap.
At the first court session of newly formed Iredell County in 1788 Benjamin Bentley, Adam Hall, and others were appointed a road jury to lay off the Cove Gap road.
During the time Benjamin moved his family to Iredell County his parents, Thomas and Hannah Bentley along with his brother Daniel, moved to the Indian Creek area of eastern Lincoln County, NC. This is where Thomas Bentley died in 1789. Thomas was the immigrant Bentley ancestor to come to America, settling in Frederick County, Maryland (today’s Carroll County) on Bentley’s Branch of Great Pipe Creek and receiving his first land grant for 50 acres named Hill Spring on 28 July 1744. Thomas sold his land holdings to Jacob banker and he and his wife Hannah and children moved to what is now Davie County, NC, about 1765. The Maryland land is now part of the historic Union Mills complex.
Benjamin Bentley died intestate before 15 March 1839. On this date his son, Squire Bentley, as administrator of the estate, held a public sale of Benjamin’s property. His widow, Jane Holman Bentley, was alive at this time as she purchased items at the sale.
Joseph Bentley married Clarissa Presnell in what is now Alexander county in 1836. They were the parents of eight known children: Serena Bentley who married William S. James; Hugh B. Bentley (also a Confederate veteran) who married Anna Presnell; Nathan Bentley, who married Rittie Austin, daughter of his father’s sister, Margaret Bentley who married William Austin; Moses Bentley; James Bentley, who married Susan Adaline Austin, daughter of William and Margaret (Bentley) Austin; Susan Bentley who never married; Mary Bentley who married Moses Teague,; and Joseph Bentley Jr. who married Sarah Hollar.
Pvt. Joseph Bentley, whose occupation was that of a carpenter in Alexander County, enlisted as a Private on May 29, 1861 at the age of 48 in Company A, 7th Infantry Regiment North Carolina. He was discharged from Company A, 7th Infantry Regiment North Carolina on 09 April 1862 for having furnished a substitute.
The following is found in the Statesville Landmark:
Joseph Bentley, aged about 90 years, died to-day at his home in Wittenberg township. He was one of the oldest citizens of the county. Taylorsville, N. C., Feb. 3, 1897.Pvt. Nathan Bentley, son of Joseph and Clarissa Bentley, of Alexander county, enlisted in Carteret County, NC, as a Private on 17 October 1861 at the age of 22 in Company A, 7th Infantry Regiment North Carolina, leaving at home his wife, Rittie, and daughter, Margaret. Returning home from the war he and Rittie had five more children: James Wesley, who married Genelia Austin; William A., who married Amanada Elizabeth Fox; Joseph Monroe, Nathan Columbus, and Candace Vessie, who married Elijah Monroe Hollar. First born Margaret Bentley never married.
Pvt. James Bentley, son of Joseph and Clarissa Bentley, enlisted at Camp Vance, North Carolina, as a Private in Company K, 7 Regiment North Carolina on 1 November 1863. Returning home from the war he married Susan Adaline Austin. They had three children: Clarissa Clementine Bentley, who married Sylvanus Walker; Ellis McDaniel Bentley, who married first Ella Fox, and second Lunda Omi Bentley; and John W. Bentley.
Many descendants of Pvt. Joseph Bentley and his sons, Pvt. Nathan Bentley and Pvt. James Bentley, still reside in the area west of Barrett’s Mountain in Alexander County in a community once named “Bentley” in which was once located the Bentley Post Office and where the Bentley cemetery still remains. The descendants of these brave men can be proud of them for fulfilling their duties not only to their families but also to the Southern cause when they were called. May they always be remembered for this and may they eternally rest in peace.
James W. Miller, Jr.
510 Clover Church Road
Granite Falls, North Carolina 28630