The Bent Family – Hermit Lakes

Excerpt: Rio Grande Ripples
– Mabel Steele Wright

   It seems appropriate at this time to relate something of the Bent family with whom I was privileged to be closely associated for many years. Herbert C. Bent’s father, and grandfather to several of the Bent children in my little mountain school, was Charles Hammond Bent. He was by heritage endowed with an adventuresome spirit. His wife, Amanda Jane Carr Bent (Jennie), was of the same. The Carrs came to Boston in 1635 and the Bents in 1638. Both families were associated with the Massachusetts Bay Company. As time passed, members of both families sought new lands and fortunes with the result that Amanda Jane Carr and Charles Hammond Bent were married in Oswego, Kansas, December 23, 1868. While living there, he held various public offices, including that of legislative representative at the Capitol in Topeka. In passing, it is interesting to note that Charles and William Bent, who built and operated Bents’ Fort in southeastern Colorado (territory) in the 1830’s, were cousins. I remember Bert Bent saying that there was always a “Charles Bent” in the family — his eldest son a Charles.

   Mining fever apprently struck Charles Hammond Bent, as it did so many in those days, for he gathered together his family and goods in covered wagons and drove to Lake City, Colorado, in 1876, arriving shortly after a treaty had been made with the Ute Indians, whereby lands were made accessible for settlement by Whites. There Bent engaged in mining and also served in the State Legislature as representative from that area. He died in 1896, from the old ailment: Miners’ Consumption, and is buried in the Lake City cemetery. A peak next to Carson Peak is named for him.

   In the late 1890’s, his sons Herbert C. and Ralph H. and daughter Edith M. homesteaded land (the San Juan Ranch) west of the present Wright Ranch. About 1898, Herbert (the Bert I came to know so well) married Eva Morgan of Lake City, whom I never knew but of whom I write elsewhere. I did meet Edith Bent who married Ralph Whinnery, whose brother “Webb” was prominent in early day business in Lake City. After the death of his wife, Eva, in 1900, Bert married Deborah Mason in 1904. They lived in California for a number of years and then returned to Hermit where I met them.

   Grandmother Bent (Amanda Jane), Bert’s mother, came to stay with them at Hermit in 1927, and it was there in February, 1928, that she died, full of grace and years at eighty-five. Snow was deep that winter and trips by team and sled, long and arduous, and as little travel as possible was engaged in. It was managed. A casket was brought up from Creede, thirty miles away, and with a few neighbors in attendance (ten and twelve miles distant), after a brief and very sweet service in the Bent home, the little lady was laid to rest in a grave prepared in the deep-frozen earth, mainly by a teenaged grandson. Some mav be prone to think this funeral rather barbarous. It was not. It was simple and beautiful. When spring came Grandmother’s body was ex-humed and taken to Lake City and interred beside her husband, Charles Hammond Bent.

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