Sepia Saturday: Charlotte Bentley Kingsley

This Saturday's sepia: A few years ago I had reached a dead end in my sprawling genealogical research into my Bentley line: several sisters of my paternal great-grandfather (Charlotte, Margaret, Susannah) were pretty much untraceable other than a husband's surname. (This is not an uncommon problem, given women's inferior status until modern times. They were not named in censuses, for example...)

To those who are not genealogists, ancient apocryphal relatives may seem like a pointless trivia, but believe me, it is a thorn in the side if you give a rip for all that.

Anyway, in my ceaseless Googling (sorry, Bingers) I chanced upon a reference to a Charlotte Bentley in Livonia, Michigan, where my father's family had lived since the mid-1800s. The item turned out to be a review of a book, The Kingsley House, by Arliss Ryan. I was electrified, as furthermore I did know that Charlotte Bentley had married a Kingsley. I sent away for the book and upon receiving it found it was a slightly novelized history of the my great-grand-aunt and her descendents.

Astonished, I wrote to Ms. Ryan with my side of the family history, and she kindly responded, including these photos, so far the oldest I have in my possession of the Bentley clan, who arrived here in the 1640s from England. (I really need to get copies of some more from my South Carolina cousins!)

Charlotte is far from a happy character in The Kingsley House, and these photos indeed show her quite dour if not sad. Horace was a bit of a tyrant. Her request that she not be buried in the same cemetery was honored.


  1. What a find! Every genealogy fans fondest dream!
    Now I hope I hear from the author of the book about Mark Twain which might shed some light on one of my relatives.

  2. what an amazing discovery - how fabulous to suddenly have all that added in to your family history!