Bentley, Viola Belle Van Metre; Clay 1859

Pioneer Woman Dies Thursday - Taken from the Isabel News, Isabel, SD, Dec. 16, 1927

The Community was shocked to hear of the death of Mrs. L.D. Bentley, Sr. Thursday night at eleven o’clock. Mrs. Bentley had been about that day and stopped in at the News office after returning from the train. She visited a few minutes here and left for her home. On reaching the Big 4 Land office she was taken sick and sat down there to rest a few minutes. Her condition became worse and she was taken home in a car. After supper Dr. Sargent was called and found that her pulse was very weak, and her death resulted from heart failure a few hours later.

Funeral services were conducted at the Congregational church Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock, Rev. Smith officiating. The Order of Eastern Star, of which Mrs. Bentley was a member attended in a body and their service and tribute of flowers to the departed sister was impressive. Rev. Smith, in an appealingly beautiful sermon, honored the long, useful life of the pioneer woman and consoled the heartaches of those whom she left behind. The choir sang several hymns and Mrs. Conrath sang that beautiful hymn, "The Home of the Soul." The body was laid to rest beside that of her son in Hill View cemetery.

Viola Belle Van Metre was born on Nov. 14, 1859 at Vermillion, S. D. Her mother, Mary Van Metre, was born at Ft. George, S.D. and her father, Art Van Metre, was born at Martinsburg, VA. She was the first child to be born in Dakota Territory whose father was white.

At Vermillion she went to the white log schoolhouse, which was the first school in Dakota. In her early girlhood she joined the church and throughout her life was an active member.

On March 14, 1877 she was married to Louis D. Bentley at Vermillion. In 1879 the happy young couple feeling the urge to "move west" went to Dry Island in Brule County and the following year moved to the little settlement of Pierre. On Dec. 24, 1881, a son, Arthur C. arrived to bless the home.

In 1882, began the journey in "the covered wagon" for what is now called Ekalaka, Mont. It was in this territory that "Dad" Bentley kept the family in provisions from the sale of buffalo meat, which was hauled over the trackless prairies and disposed of in Miles City. They returned to Ft. Pierre. At this place three more children were born, Roy, Estellene, and L.D. Jr. In 1901 they moved to the ranch on the Moreau River. When Isabel started in 1910, they came to town and opened the Pioneer Store, which later they sold.

Mrs. Bentley was a very active woman during her entire life. She was among the best posted on early

South Dakota history and was an eye witness to many of outstanding events of historical importance.

Her early life was lived when personal effort of the highest order was necessary to succeed.

Of the immediate relative to mourn her loss are her husband, L.D. Bentley, Sr, her children, one daughter, Mrs. Thos. J. Holt, two sons, Roy and L.D. Jr. Her son, Arthur C., preceded her to the great beyond on May 25th 1927.

Out of town relatives who attended the funeral were Mrs. Dan Powell, Eagle Butte; Mrs. Louis Mack, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Clamore, Ridgeview; Mr. Luther Williams, Minneapolis. There is also one sister, Mrs. Waldron, Lashburn, Canada.


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