Researching the Ancestors of John R. Bentley, Jr.


Bentley Family Photo Album: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 (added on Feb. 7, 2008)


(click on any US Census image below to see the full size image in a new window)

1930 US Census

On April 7, 1930, John R. Bentley, Sr. and his sons John Jr. and Edward were living together in an apartment building at 9920 Harper, which was on the block between Gratiot Ave. and Cadillac Blvd. on Detroit's near east side in Ward 19. John Sr. paid $60 for the monthly apartment rent and owned a radio set.

John Sr. (age 49) was a widower who was employed as a Streetcar Inspector by the Detroit Street Railways. His son, John Jr. (age 19), was a Yardman for the same employer. They lived less than a block from the DSR's Gratiot Carhouse at Gratiot and Harper (closed in 1954) and less than a mile from the DSR Carhouse (built in 1921) which was located at the corner of Shoemaker and St. Jean, so it is highly likely that they worked out of one or the other of these two places. [source]

His other son, Edward (age 17), was not employed and there were no others living with them at that time. Edward had not attended school during that school year.

John Sr. was born in New York state and at age 22, he had married a woman who had been born in Michigan. Both sons had been born in Michigan.

This paragraph was added on Jan. 6, 2008:

In 1930, John R. Bentley, Sr.'s son, James L. Bentley (22 yrs.), was living at his mother-in-law's home with his wife (the former Eleanor Robson) and newborn son James L. Bentley, Jr. Their address was 6103 Lemay Avenue, which was located just south of Harper, between Gratiot and Connor Avenues in Detroit. [click to view the US Census record]

This paragraph was added on Jan. 5, 2008:

In 1930, John R. Bentley, Sr.'s brother, James, was still living at living at 11744 Wade Avenue, with his two sons (James Jr. - 19 yrs. and Elmer - 18 yrs,), one daughter (Alice - 15 yrs) and his mother, Mary (76 yrs.). Abbie, his wife, had died sometime within the previous two years. [click to view the US Census record]

This section was added on Jan. 5, 2008:

1928-1929 Detroit City Directory [now available on-line]

Polk's 1928-1929 Detroit City Directory was published late in 1928 and it shows a John Bentley and a James Bentley living at 9522 Bessemore Avenue, just two blocks northwest of Gratiot and Harper Avenues in Detroit. John's occupation is listed as "machinist" and James is a "car washer" for the Detroit Street Railways (DSR). I can safely assume that these two are father and son since we know that James was working for the DSR two years later (from the 1930 US Census, above) and that they both share the same address. From the abbreviations in front of the street address, we know that John owned the house on Bessemore (h = householder) and that his son resided or roomed there (r = roomer or resident).

In the 1920 US Census (below) we were able to find the names of John's older brother, James, and his family. In 1928, James and his family were living at 11744 Wade Avenue, and the Directory lists his wife Abbie and their son James Junior. Their place was located near the intersection of Connor and Harper Avenues, about 1 mile away from John's home. James Sr. is listed as being a "brass molder" and his son is a "package collector" for the J.L. Hudson Department Store. Like his brother John, James Sr. also owned his home, unlike 1920, when the US Census record indicates that both were renting their homes.

It is not clear to me whether or how James (Vera) Bentley may be related to the others. He was a laborer and they lived at 11758 Wade, which was the house right next door to James and Abbie Bentley. The 1930 US Census record shows that the house at 11758 Wade was being rented by Vera Grimshaw, who in the 1928 Directory was identified as being the widow of George Grimshaw and owning the home she lived in at 13231 Mayfield Avenue.

John's other brothers, Edward, Elmer and William are possibly also listed in the 1928 Detroit Directory (there were no listings that could have matched any of his sisters under their maiden name):

This paragraph was added on Jan. 6, 2008:
Mary Frances (Bentley) Hamilton confirms that Edward was a painter and his wife's name was Frances, therefore, it is her great-uncle who is listed as living at 1095 Ashland Avenue. She also says that Elmer was known as "Dick", which might mean that his middle name could have been Richard.

1920 US Census

On January 7, 1920, John Bentley (age 38) and his wife Francis (sic) (age 37) were living in a rented downstairs flat at 1293 Belvidere, which was one block north of Jefferson Ave. and four blocks west of Cadillac Blvd. on Detroit's lower east side in Ward 19 (just west of Waterworks Park).

Frances was born in Michigan, as were both of her parents.

Living with them were their sons James (12), John Jr. (9) and Edward (7), all of whom were born in Michigan and had been recently attending school.

John Sr. was employed as a "foreman" at the "Car Barns" of one of the predecessors of the Detroit Street Railways, which bought out Detroit's private streetcar companies in 1921-1922. Their home on Belvidere was located about one mile from each of the following:

a) Concord Carhouse (Kercheval at Concord, closed 1932)
b) Kercheval Carhouse (St. Jean at Kercheval, closed 1928)
c) East Jefferson Carhouse (St. Jean and Jefferson, closed 1951) [source]

The same census sheet show that living together in the upstairs rental flat at 1293 1/2 Belvidere was the family of James (42) and Abbie (36) Bentley. They had three children: James (8), Elmore (6) and Alice (5). James the elder was a "Molder" in a "Foundry" and was born in New York state as were his parents. His wife and children were all born in Michigan, as were Abbie's parents.

Based on the information he gave to the 1930 and 1920 census takers, John Bentley Sr. was probably born sometime between Jan. 7 and April 7, 1881 in the state of New York.

1910 US Census

On April 20, 1910, John R. Bentley (age 27) and his wife Frances (age 27) were living at 737 Monroe St., a four-unit apartment building near the corner of Joseph Campau, in Ward 11, just east of downtown Detroit. John's occupation is identified as "Electrician" for the "Street Car Company".

At that time, Monroe Street extended east from downtown all the way to Elmwood Cemetery and it was the fifth street as you went north on Joseph Campau from Jefferson. Detroit's street address numbering system was totally revised in 1920 and then in the late 1950s this area underwent "urban renewal", so the 737 Monroe St. address would have been several hundred feet southeast of present-day 2799 Macomb St.

By April 1910, John and Frances had been married for 7 years and she had given birth to three children, with James L. (2) being the only one to have survived.

We now know that John and Frances were married sometime between April 21, 1902 and April 20, 1903. With the benefit of hindsight, we also know that Frances was pregnant at the time of the 1910 Census with her next child, John Randolph, Jr. who would be born on September 16th.

NOTE: In the index of the 1910 US Census, John R. Bentley is listed as "John R. Bantley" and "John R. Bently" and James L Bentley is listed as "James L. Bantley" and "James L. Bently".

1900 US Census


On June 6, 1900, John R. Bentley (age 18, born July 1881 in New York) was living at 933 Larned St. near the corner of Mt. Elliott Ave., in Ward 13, just east of downtown Detroit. John's occupation is identified as "Pedler" (sic).

John was living with his parents, Elmore Bentley (occupation: Brass Molder, age 49, born Aug. 1850 in Ohio) and his wife Mary J. (age 47, born May 1852 in New York), who had been married for 30 years. Elmore's father was born in Ohio and his mother was born in England. Mary's father was born in New York and her mother was born in Ireland. Mary had given birth to 12 children, 10 of whom were still living.

The 1900 census record indicates that 9 of their children were living with them at that time:

1) Catherine, F, b. Aug 1876 in NY, 23, single
2) James, M, b. Feb 1877 in NY, 23, single
3) John, M, b. July 1881 in NY, 18, single
4) Sarah, F, b. March 1882 in NY, 18, single
5) Elmore, M, April 1884 in NY, 16, single
6) William, M, b. Oct 1887 in NY, 12, single
7) Gertrude, F, b. Oct 1890 in NY, 9, single
8) Margaret, F, b. Feb 1892 in MI, 8, single
9) Edward, M, b. Nov 1896 in MI, 5, single

The children's birth locations suggest that Elmore and Mary moved their family from New York to Michigan sometime between Oct 1890 and Feb 1892.



This census record also indicates that a boarder lived with them by the name of Isaac Moore. The census taker's handwriting suggests something different for Isaac's last name, but if you study his handwriting on the third line down from his (----- Albert, Boarder), you will see that the "er" in Albert and the "e" in Boarder are written like the last two letters in Isaac's surname. Isaac was born in March 1875 and was 25 years old single man with a listed occupation of "Lumber man". He was born in New York as was his father, while his mother was born in Ireland. This suggests that he could possibly be related to Mary.


Miles family - 1900 Census record

Searching in the 1900 US Census for Frances Miles, the future wife of John R. Bentley Sr., we find her living at home with her parents and siblings, including James L. Bentley's future wife, Abbie!

James Miles (age 57, born Aug 1843 in Michigan, both parents born in Ireland) and his wife, Abbie (age 51, born April 1849 in Michigan, both parents born in Germany) resided at 668 Woodbridge, just east of Joseph Campau and less than six blocks away from the Bentley family. Abbie had given birth to 10 children, all of whom were still living.

The 1900 census record indicates that 6 of their children were living with them at that time:

1) Bernad (sic, Bernard?), M, b. Feb 1875 in MI, 25, single
2) Francis (sic), F, b. Oct 1881 in MI, 18, single
3) Abbie, F, b. Oct 1883 in MI, 16, single
4) John W., M, b. Apr 1886 in MI, 14, single
5) Henry J., M, May 1888 in MI, 12, single
6) Charles E., M, b. Jan 1894 in MI, 6, single

1907 Marriage Record

Searching for "Elmer Bently" on the site (exact spelling OFF) produced a lot of hits.  Included in the results is the 1880 US Census record for Elmer (Elmore) Bently (Bentley) (see below) and also this record of his son's marriage:

This is the marriage record of his son, who was identified in the 1900 Census record as "Elmore", born April 1884 in NY, age 16 and single. We now have solid evidence that Mary's maiden name was MOORE, making it all the more likely that their 1900 boarder was a relative of hers.

1890 US Census

The records for this census were lost and only fragments survive. No information is available at on any Bentley surnames (or variants) that match this family.

1880 US Census

On June 14, 1880, Elmer (sic) (age 29) and Mary (age 27) Bently (sic) were residing in Brockport, Monroe County, New York, which is about 15 miles west of the city of Rochester. Elmer's occupation is given as "Blacksmith".

Four children are listed as living with them, along with one boarder who has a very familiar surname:

1) Annie, F, 10 yrs., daughter, single
2) Mary, F, 8 yrs., daughter, single
3) Kate, F, 4 yrs., daughter, single (revised on Jan. 6, 2008)
4) James, M, 3 yrs., son, single
5) Ella MOORE, F, 21 yrs., sister, single, born in NY as were both parents


There's that MOORE name again!

1880 is a good time to see if we can find a possible connection between the two MOORE sisters, Ella (21) and Mary (27) and Isaac, who would have been about 5 years old then.


Isaac F. Moore (age 5) appears in the 1880 US Census living with his parents John (29) and Harriet (21) in Elmira, Chemung County, New York (about 80 miles to the southeast of Brockport). Siblings include Asa B.(M, 6 yrs.), William F. (M, 1 yr.) and Elroy (M, 2 months). John and Harriet were both born in New York as were both of their parents.

From all of this it is highly probable that Mary and Ella Moore were the sisters of John Moore and that Isaac was residing with his Aunt Mary in Detroit at the time of the 1900 US Census. The only discrepancy is that in 1900 Isaac indicated his mother was born in Ireland while in 1880, Harriet is shown as having been born in New York.

Unfortunately, I am unable to readily find a record in either the 1870 or 1860 US Census that shows a John, Mary and Ella Moore all living under the same roof.

[to be continued?]


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