Thomas “Tom” B Bentley was born in Virginia around 1832.

Thomas Bentley and two brothers, Lewis and George, were bought as a slaves in Virginia and they were brought to Henderson to work on Alexander B Barret’s farm. Alex Barret (1811-1861) owned hundreds of acres of farm land and 140 slaves according to the 1860 US census slave schedule.

Thomas married Harriett Ellis (1828-1920) around January 1863 while they were both slaves. Harriett Ellis first married Lovelace Vance, a slave to Sam Stites. Stites sold Vance to a Mr Burbank and Harriett and Lovelace were not allowed to ever see each other again. Records indicate they had three children, a son, Frank Vance, and twins, Henry and Henrietta. It was five years after their forced separation before Harriett married Thomas Bentley in about 1863.

Harriett’s children with Lovelace Vance:
Frank Vance (~1855-1911)
Henry Vance (~1858 – )
Harriett Vance (~1858 – )

Thomas and Lewis Bentley, and Woodson Barrett, all enlisted at the same time in Co B 118th United States Colored Infantry on 23 August 1864.

As was customary at the time, Thomas Bentley enlisted under his master’s name so Thomas Bentley is listed as Thomas Barrett in records.

The 118th USC infantry was part of the excavation of the Dutch Gap Canal, in Dutch Gap, VA. The soldiers used shovels to dig a channel. The 118th, under commanding officer Captain John A Philbrook and First Sergeant William Breckenridge, then traveled to White Ranch Texas after the surrender of Lee. Thomas Bentley was honorably discharged at White Ranch, Texas on 6 February 1866 and returned to Henderson, KY.

Thomas and Harriett lived at 1107 N Elm where they raised their children:
George Bentley (6 Nov 1865 – 1878)
Georgianna Bentley Banks (6 Nov 1865- 17 May 1942)
Thomas Bentley (17 March 1869- )

Thomas worked as a wagoner at Mr. George Ellis’ Grocery on Main Street.

Thomas died 24 February 1889 after freezing outside while returning home from work. Thomas was buried in Barrett Cemetery.

Bentley Pension Card

Thomas Bentley (Co B 118th USC Inf) Pension File:
Widow: Bentley, Harriett
Widow Pension Application No: 405,657
Widow Pension Certificate No: 708,328
Google Drive PDF <— Pension File


Thomas Bentley Find a Grave

Harriett Bentley Find a Grave

Georgianna Bentley Bank Find a Grave

City of Henderson Cemetery – Anna Banks