The Bentley and District Historical Society is beating the bushes for some long-lost information lately, and they just might want to talk to you.
“We’re doing a new history book. We started it in February of 2005. We had to redo it from the historical society’s book, which was finished in 1982 but there is only two directors left from then,” said chairman Stan Anderson. “To use that name, (Bentley and District Historical Society) we had to do a whole bunch of years worth of income taxes and finished that off in 2005 and we started a new society.”
Anderson said the society is actively researching all information related to the early years of Bentley including clubs, organizations and churches, as well as wading through more than 100 family submissions that they’ve already received.
While the original 1982 book sold out of its 600 first-run copies, Anderson said they managed to find one, which they immediately ripped apart and had photocopied to guard against any repeated stories. He also said that unfortunately, the first book only went back to 1953, leaving decades of untold recollections of the community.
“When they did the 1982 book, it was of the pioneer history. But the thing of it was if you didn’t live in Bentley before 1953, they wouldn’t let you put anything in the 1982 book,” he said. “So from 1953 to 2005, we’ve got 52 years of history and somebody should have wrote another book right after the first one. We’re having a lot of problems tracking down people who lived in Bentley in the 50s, because most have moved away long ago.”
One example of a diamond in the rough that the society has just discovered relates to the early history and development of the Gull Lake Golf Course. While the society scanned old newspapers, government records and county files, they found little or nothing until they recently heard from a woman in Leedale who remembered it well, especially in light of the fact the golf course was built on her brother’s land.
Anderson said the research currently underway has had a personal effect on him as well in that after searching for information on his ancestors for years, he managed to document the history of his great-grandfather – not only following his immigration to Canada at the age of 15 in 1886, but to his exact former home in Sweden.
Anderson said the society would ideally like to see the updated history book printed this fall however they’re still actively looking for more input from the public.
“We’re still taking submissions and we hope to have it printed this September. We don’t care if people lived in Bentley for one day or a hundred years,” he said. “If they lived there, if they worked there, we want the history and we don’t care if it’s one paragraph or 10 pages, we won’t turn anybody down. We want pictures and we want to know who’s in them if possible.”
If you happen to be one of those people, yet may be a bit reluctant to take the time to write out your entire family’s early history, the society would still like to talk to you, and they’ve even covered all the bases to do so.
“Some people are not comfortable in doing a write up, but they’ve got all kinds of history. You can talk to them, but they won’t do a write up,” Anderson said. “People like that – if they want to come forward, we have people that’ll write it all down for them. They don’t have to write anything, just give us your history. We’ll do it in their home, we’ll make an appointment to meet with them – just don’t be shy to come forward. We want your history. I feel by not putting your history in a book, you’re doing an injustice to your ancestors.”
Anderson said they are seeking details such as birth dates, full names of family members, exact land locations, and anything else that can shed light on the history of Bentley, all of which is being compiled voluntarily.
“It’s really fulfilling and it’s fulfilling for me to find information for somebody and give it to them. You get no satisfaction out of being paid for it,” he said. “We work at our own pace – we get a project and we start digging into it. We might have to come at it at a different angle at times, but we get it.”
For more information, or if you’d like to contribute to the new book, feel free to contact Anderson or any other member of the society. You can also contact Cora at 403-748-2146 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.