Biography of Lester H. Bentley

Lester H. Bentley, a prominent figure in both the legal and business realms of Milbank, South Dakota, is known for his active involvement in politics, civic affairs, and industrial ventures. Born in Minnesota in 1871, Bentley honed his skills through farm work and pursued a legal education at the University of Minnesota. Graduating in 1892, he embarked on a successful legal career in Montevideo before establishing himself in Milbank. Bentley’s expertise extends beyond law, as he holds positions in various financial institutions and industrial enterprises. With his remarkable acumen and progressive mindset, Bentley has left an indelible mark on his profession and the community.

LESTER H. BENTLEY, who is actively engaged in the practice of his profession in Milbank, is also engaged in the real estate and loan business and is prominently identified with industrial affairs. He has been a factor in political and civic matters since coming to the state and commands unqualified esteem wherever known.

Mr. Bentley is a native of Minnesota, having been born in Viola, Olmsted County, on the 29th of January, 1871, and being a son of A. L. and Tamar (Wiltse) Bentley. In 1881, they settled on a homestead near Andover, Day County, South Dakota, and there Lester learned every detail of farm work, driving cattle to break the original sod. Lester H. was reared to the sturdy discipline of the farm in Day County, and his preliminary educational discipline was secured in the district schools, while he later continued his studies in the high school at Montevideo, Chippewa County, Minnesota, where he was graduated as a member of the class of 1889. He shortly afterward began the study of law in the office of Smith & Fosnes, of that place, and in September 1889, entered the University of Minnesota, where he spent one year in the academic course and was then matriculated in the law department of the same institution, being graduated in the spring of 1892, with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, while he was simultaneously admitted to the bar. Soon afterward, he engaged in the active work of his profession in Montevideo, where he entered into a professional partnership with C. A. Fosnes, with whom he was associated until 1893 when he came to Milbank, where he has since resided and where he has gained high prestige in his profession and marked success in business connections.

In 1892, he stumped Minnesota in the interests of the Republican party, of whose principles he is a staunch advocate, and at each ensuing campaign, his services have been in requisition. He is an attorney for a large number of financial institutions and has personally identified himself with prominent industrial concerns. He was one of the organizers of the Wagner Milling Company of Milbank, of which he is still a stockholder, and is also one of the interested principals in the Wagner-Bentley Cattle Ranch Company, while he is vice-president and a large stockholder of the People’s Kanmare Dry Coal Company of Kanmare, North Dakota. He owns and is president of the First State Bank of Strandburg, Grant County, South Dakota. He is also identified with the farming and stock-growing industry and is a man of marked business acumen and progressive ideas, his executive and administrative powers being exceptionally pronounced. He is an agent for large and valuable tracts of farming and grazing land in Assiniboia, and during the year 1902, sold more than a million dollars’ worth of land in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Assiniboia, while he also has the best of facilities for the extending of financial loans upon real estate security. In the fall of 1902, his name was brought prominently before the people of the state in connection with the office of railroad commissioner, for which he was a candidate for the nomination on the Republican ticket, and is an earnest worker in his party. With his manifold professional and business interests, he considers himself favored in having “escaped” public office. Fraternally, he is identified with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Modern Woodmen of America. Mr. Bentley has one of the finest residences in Grant County, which he completed in 1903 at a cost of about ten thousand dollars.

On the 6th of May 1893, the marriage of Mr. Bentley to Miss Mabel I. Taylor, of Alexandria, Minnesota, was solemnized. She was born and reared in that state. They have two children, Lester H. Jr. and Charles E.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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