Caroline Bentley History

About Caroline Bentley

Miss Caroline Bentley was born in 1866 to Mary E. Agate Bentley and James R. Bentley. Her family moved to New Lenox in 1905 into an old home south of the E.J. & E. tracks. Two years later they bought the beautiful white house on South Cedar Road, which today is known as the Bentley House. Although it was pretty to look at, it had no running water, no electricity, and no inside plumbing until between 1924 and 1930.

In 1908, Miss Bentley graduated from Joliet Township High School, and began teaching in New Lenox Grade School. She stopped teaching for a while to attend Northern Illinois University, from which she got her teaching certificate, and returned to New Lenox to teach.

Miss Bentley's father, James R. Bentley worked a 240 acre farm in New Lenox Township, he raised cattle. From 1916 to 1928 he was State Representative for Will County. Miss Bentley's mother passed away in 1951.

Miss Bentley dressed stylishly and wore the prettiest hats. In her young years she enjoyed bicycling and riding horses. She traveled whenever possible, visiting San Antonio and the Alamo in 1934, and took a planned trip to Cuba with her Aunt in 1955. Music was one of her favorite hobbies, she played the piano very well too. Miss Bentley and her mother both did lovely needlepoint work, such as afghans, which they gave away as presents.

In 1965 Miss Bentley donated $5000 to Silver Cross Hospital for the planned addition. 1967 was a bad year for Miss Bentley - she fell and broke her hip, which put her in the hospital from October through February 1968. She was transferred to the America Nursing Home until June 1968. When she finally did get back home, she was confined to a wheelchair.

An open house was held in 1966 to celebrate Miss Bentley's 80th birthday, requesting this take place instead of holding a wake at her death.

She died in 1970 at the age of 84. In her will, Miss Bentley made provisions for the New Lenox District to receive the net proceeds from the sale of her two farms in her estate totaling 480 acres. The will specified these proceeds be placed in a special memorial trust fund in memory of Caroline, James and Mary her parents, and Beulah her sister, to be used by the School District to construct permanent school facilities and part to be set up as Bentley Scholarship Fund for Lincoln Way High School. The gift amounted to $520,000.

Thanks to this thoughtful and generous lady, the children of New Lenox School District continue to receive the highest standards of education.