Sylvester R. Bentley’s Civil War Pension file comprises some 100 documents – including those associated with Ann Kitson Bentley’s Widow’s Pension claim following Sylvester’s 1873 death.
In 1889, Ann made a startling revelation about the conception of her first child, Edward N. Bentley. In a January 29, 1889 affidavit presented by her attorney, William W. Warner, of Allegan, Michigan to the Pension Bureau, Ann revealed that Sylvester was NOT the father of her first child, Edward N. Bentley, born April 7, 1855 in New York. Kitson and Bentley were married May 15, 1856.
See the transcript below of a portion of the second page of the affidavit. I’ve included all three scans of the document, also including the cover.
“…That Edward N. whose name appears herein before written was not her son by her said Husband Sylvester R. Bentley, but was born to her before she married said Sylvester R. Bentley that he was illegitimate is the result of a misfortune that befell her as she came across the water to this country in 1854. That she had not deemed it of importance or necessary to state this fact heretofore in her claim. to mention his birth nor of Andrew D. Bentley who was her son by said Sylvester R. Bentley, for the reason that she thought it was only necessary to state those of her children who were under 16 years of age at the date of her husbands – death – …”
I am unaware at present of any oral history within the family which might indicate what the nature was of this “misfortune” which befell Ann on her voyage to America in 1854. I’d be interested to hear if any of Edward Noel Bentley’s descendants know.