A. V. Bentley
(July 15, 1816 - )

A. V. BENTLEY, who is at present the oldest living lawyer in De Ruyter, was born in that 
town July 15, 1816, and received the rudiments of an English education at the common 
schools which were efficient educators of the young at that date.  With limited opportunities, 
as were those of most young men of the time, he early developed a passion for books and 
by teaching in winters acquired the means of further prosecuting his studies. In the higher 
schools and academies he pursued the languages and natural sciences of which he 
became especially fond.  In this direction, he was aided and encouraged by Dr. HUBBARD 
SMITH, an early physician of De Ruyter.  Through a course of seven seasons he was 
engaged at intervals in teaching school in Madison and some of the adjoining counties.  In 
1839, Mr. BENTLEY entered the office of his brother Z. T. BENTLEY, Esq., at De Ruyter, 
afterwards known as Gen. BENTLEY, and commenced the study of the law with an 
allowance of four years for classical studies in abridgment of the regular legal course 
which was seven years.  He was admitted to the bar in 1842, at the July term of the old 
Supreme Court, the Hon. SAMUEL NELSON, Chief Justice, presiding, with ESEK COWEN 
and GREENE C. BRONSON associate justices.  Mr. BENTLEY opened an office at De 
Ruyter, and at once entered into a vigorous but friendly competition with his brother, Gen. 
BENTLEY, who kept a separate office, and with many other well known lawyers of Cortland 
and Chenango counties.  Within the next four years Mr. BENTLEY was elected a Justice of 
the Peace, (which at that time was a far more important office than at present,) by reason of 
his acknowledged ability and familiarity with legal principles, and with the exception of an 
interval of some two years, continued to be re-elected term after term covering a period of 
about thirty years.  During this time he was elected and served as an Associate Justice of the 
County sessions.  In the meantime his health had become impaired through an early physical 
infirmity, so that the field of more arduous practice became somewhat restricted; but his office 
business greatly increased, and to that he gave a large share of his attention.  As a real estate 
lawyer and conveyancer his experience and rapid business methods were proverbial, and as a 
safe counsellor his advice was sought in the most important transactions.  His ability, honesty 
and integrity of character drew many clients, whilst his natural disrelish of strifes and 
litigations caused him to advise in the interests of peace where peace could be honorably 
obtained.  His opinions as a legal counsellor and friend have been largely called into requisition, 
and none the less frequently by reason of his habit of often imparting advice without fee or 
reward save the satisfaction of doing good. 
    Mr. Bentley is a ready and fluent speaker, is well read in the law and possesses and 
continues to cultivate literary tastes and pursuits unusual among business men.  His apt and 
off-hand ability as a writer has often been called into service by others who have many times 
received the credit due to his quiet methods.  In 1861, under the administration of Mr. Lincoln 
he was appointed postmaster at De Ruyter, which position he has held ever since, enjoying the 
respect and confidence of the people and their descendants among whom he was born and 
has always lived.  In the early days of the anti-slavery cause he took a deep and active interest 
in the overthrow of the slave power which ruled the nation.  Throughout the rebellion his 
sympathies and efforts were enlisted on the side of the Union, and his voice was frequent and 
eloquent in its support.  Mr. BENTLEY is a pronounced republican; yet never obtrudes his 
opinions offensively on others.  In religion, he leans strongly to the free liberal sentiments of 
modern thinkers.  He discards authority and rests all questions of theology on their intrinsic 
merits and reasonableness.  His urbanity, dignity and courtesy towards all, have secured him the 
kind regards and esteem of of his neighbors and fellow men.  If he has not accumulated as 
large a property as some, he has the satisfaction of feeling that he has taken no man's farm for 
his fee, nor robbed the widow or orphan of their inheritance  In the sunset of life, he deems it 
better to leave the world with the world's blessing, rather than with the maledictions of those 
whose substance he has confiscated to enrich himself.  The likeness of Mr. BENTLEY does not 
appear in this volume among the pictures of some of the prominent men of De Ruyter; but the 
missing statue of Brutus was more remarked than the statues present of the other illustrious 
Romans. 
 
From "History of Chenango and Madison Counties, NY" starting on page 604. 
Transcribed by Sandy Goodspeed

Date: Saturday, July 31, 1999 11:15 AM

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