BETA

Family history moments: 'Not a coincidence'

In July 1993, I made a quick visit to Picton, Ontario, to see for myself where my great-great-grandfather, Wilson Bentley, had lived.

I checked into the Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast, a charming house constructed of large pine logs. I then began my investigations in town, asking questions about Bentley residents, making telephone calls, visiting the library and archives and locating local cemeteries.I visited the cemetery at Milford Pond, where three-quarters of the graves had been destroyed in a flood. I wandered behind a farmhouse in Milford and found about a dozen gravestones. It was at the Cherry Valley Cemetery where I, after saying an earnest prayer, discoverd a huge granite monolith bearing the name Bentley. I took photographs, then made rubbings of the gravestones with paper and crayons purchased from the nearby small country store.

Workers at the local archives did research for me since I was to be in Picton such a short time. Three children of Wilson and Miriam Jackson Bentley were discovered, which had been unknown to our family.

But the success of my journey did not end with my return home. On Sept. 18, 1994, I received a call from Richard Bentley of Kent, Ohio. He explained that he knew we were related and that it was incredible how he had found me. Richard had stayed at the Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast in Picton while researching the Bentley name. He mentioned the Bentleys to Marj York, the owner of the cabin, and she excitedly told him that a lady had spent a day in town more than a year before and that she thought the lady had been trying to locate the Bentleys. They looked in her guest book and found my name, address and telephone number.

Wilson's children, Samuel and Henry, are the great-grandfathers respectively of Richard and me. Since our telephone conversation Richard has sent me several pictures dating from 1854 and information updating my family pedigree chart for this lost line of the Bentley family. Similarly, I have helped him. Coincidence? I don't believe so. The Lord wants our families to find each other and gain knowledge of who we are and why we're here.

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