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Avis Augusta Smith

Avis Augusta Smith

Female 1901 - 1981  (80 years)

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  • Name Avis Augusta Smith  [1, 2
    Born 4 Apr 1901  Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Female 
    Died 7 Nov 1981  St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Bert and Ida Smith had a neighbor named Tom Avis, whom they greatly admired. They vowed to name their first child after him, Tom if it was a boy, and Avis if it was a girl. This is how Avis acquired her unusual first name.Thomas Avis was a railroad agent in Odessa. His father was from England.  Her middle name, Augusta, was given to her in rememberance of her grandfather, Augustus Elliott.  LaVonne Bennett found the following "tidbits" related to the Avis family who was so admired by Bert and Ida Smith. In the Thursday, March 12, 1903 edition of the LAKE ODESSA WAVE newspaper, in a column titled 'Local Splinters': "Homer and Lola Avis were at Lansing Saturday, taking music lessons." The IONIA DAILEY STANDARD, dated April 8, 1909 notes that "Miss Lola Avis is home from Olivet College for Easter vacation." Lola and Homer were the children of Tom and Gertrude Avis, according to the 1900 census.

      Avis was an excellent student, and attended Michigan State University, as had her father.  Avis's degree was in Human Ecology (Home Economics). She had also studied chemistry, but said that she was told as a woman that she would not be considered qualified to teach this.

      In a letter Avis wrote to her oldest granddaughter, Melinda McLemore, after Melinda started college in 1978, Avis recounted her own experiences: "I can remember when I graduated--my Latin teacher wanted me to go to Western Michigan or Kalmazoo College in Kalamazoo, and I wanted to go. But my folks wanted me to go to M.S.U at East Lansing, about 12 miles from home. Then I could help in the store on Saturdays.  At the end of the first year, my counselor convinced me that the world was going scientific, and that I should return. I am glad that I did stay with science. But the college was so BIG. 2,000--Ha! I never felt completely at home on that big, sprawling campus." In a later letter she wrote: "The math would frighten me now-as it did when I was a freshman. I loved French. Had a native teacher."

      On June 2, 1925, the following letter was sent to Miss Avis Smith, Cass City, Michigan, from W.W. Warner, Superintendent of Saginaw, East Side, Public Schools:

      My dear Miss Smith:

      Since our interview I have learned from the present outlook at Central Junior High that we are quite likely to have a "Clothing" program in full or in part still unprovided for next year.

      I am inclined to think we can use you to advantage on this program. I am therefore enclosing you an appointment card. This carries a salary of $1475. By properly signing the card and returning it to this office, and you yourself retaining this letter as evidence of your appointment you will have a legal contract. Sincerely yours, W.W. Warner

      The following year, the Board of Education of Saginaw, Michigan once again employed Avis A. Smith as teacher in its public schools "....commencing September 1, 1926, and agrees to pay as wages for such services and work at the rate of $157.50 per month....."

      She was offered a renewal of her contract for the period of September 1, 1927 to July 1, 1928 under the same terms, but at the increased rate of $160 per month. However, she chose to resign at this time, perhaps because of her recent marriage. She received the following letter in response to her resignation:

      Saginaw Public Schools Office of the Superintendent Saginaw, Michigan

      August Twenty Second Nineteen Twenty Seven

      Mrs. Avis Benkelman Box 35 Cass City, Michigan

      Dear Mrs. Benkelman

      This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter resigning your position with us. I shall be glad to present this to the Board at our next meeting and have no doubt they will accept it. We are sorry to lose your from our school system and wish to thank you for your good work done in the past.

      Very sincerely yours,

      Harold Steele Superintendent

      Although she no longer taught, Avis stayed active and involved with education. She and several close friends from a social group for University Women were tireless volunteers. A pet project was the Rawson Memorial Library (endowed by the Dentist her husband worked for). Her support was remembered many years after she had moved away from Cass City. In a letter dated June 10, 1988 to Melinda Strong, acknowledging a donation made to the Rawson Library in memory of her grandparents, Barbara Hutchison, Director noted that "Your grandparents were indeed well known in Cass City and avid supporters of the library. Your grandmother served on the library board in the 1950's and 60's and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the outstanding library service that the community enjoys today. They would have been very pleased with the lovely library that we have now. " She also served as treasurer of the Cass City Chapter of the Michigan State College Alumni Association (Cass City Chronicle, Friday, Feb. 8, 1952, Page twelve, column six, M.S.C. Alumni Dinner.)

      Cass City Chronicle
      March 10, 1939
      Local Happenings, Page Four

      Mrs. B.F. Benkelman, Jr., and Mrs. Grant Patterson were joint hostesses at a dessert bridge Thursday evening in the Benkelman home on Woodland Avenue. Bridge was played at eight tables, honors being won by Mrs. Warren Wood, Mrs. A. Hesburn and Mrs. D.A. Krug.

      Avis and her husband, Ben Benkelman of Cass City, Michigan retired in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she died, November 7, 1981.

      Her obituary, as published in the St. Petersburg newspaper, follows:

      Benkelman, Avis A., 80, of 7901 40th Av. N., died Saturday (Nov. 7, 1981). Born in Lake Odessa, Mich., she came here in 1968 from Cass City, Mich., where she was a school teacher. She was a member of the Seminole United Methodist Church. Survivors include her husband, Benjamin F.; a daughter Bonnie McLemore, Barrington, Ill., and three granddaughters. National Cremation Society.

      Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically
    Person ID I18  Strong Family Tree
    Last Modified 30 Apr 2016 

    Father William Bertis Smith,   b. 20 Jun 1868, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 May 1940, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Mother Ida Alice Elliott,   b. 13 Dec 1866, Seneca County, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Jan 1946, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 11 May 1898  Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Documents
    Smith, Avis Augusta Bible Records, p 2 of 4
    Smith, Avis Augusta Bible Records, p 2 of 4
    Family Register page listing her parents, William Bert Smith and Ida Alice Elliott
    Family ID F17  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Jr.,   b. 17 Nov 1899, Jaqua, Cheyenne County, Kansas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Mar 1998, Houston, Harris County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 98 years) 
    Married 24 Aug 1926  Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 4
    • Per the Certificate of Marriage between Ben F. Benkelman and Avis A. Smith, the couple were joined in marriage at Grand Ledge, County of Eaton, Michigan, on the 24th day of August, A.D. 1926, in the presence of Wm B. Smith and Ida Smith of Grand Ledge (the bride's parents) as witnesses. The clergyman officiating was Ernst R. Lactham, Pastor of the Congregational Church.
    Children 
     1. Living
    Documents
    Smith, Avis Augusta marriage to Ben Benkelman
    Smith, Avis Augusta marriage to Ben Benkelman
    Marriage License issued in Eaton County, Michigan
    Smith, Avis Augusta Family Bible, p 4 of 4
    Smith, Avis Augusta Family Bible, p 4 of 4
    Marriages information, listing the marriage of Avis to Ben Benkelman, as well as the marriage of their only child, Bonnie
    Benkelman, Ben and Avis Home, 1920's through 1940's
    Benkelman, Ben and Avis Home, 1920's through 1940's
    The home of Ben and Avis Benkelman, 4354 Woodland, Cass City, Michigan ca 1940's
    Benkelman, Ben and Avis Home, 1940's through 1960's
    Benkelman, Ben and Avis Home, 1940's through 1960's
    The Benkelman Home on West Street in Cass City. This was the home the Benkelman's moved to when Bonnie was in High School, and this photo of it was taken in the late 1950's.
    Benkelman, Ben and Avis, Lake Huron Weekend Cottage
    Benkelman, Ben and Avis, Lake Huron Weekend Cottage
    Ben and Avis's summer cottage, Sand Point, Caseville, Michigan on Huron Bay
    Last Modified 9 Dec 2006 
    Family ID F12  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 24 Aug 1926 - Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Smith, Avis ca 1906
    Smith, Avis ca 1906
    Avis Augusta Smith was the eldest child of Bert and Ida Smith, born in 1901 in Odessa Township, Michigan.
    Smith, Avis ca 1907
    Smith, Avis ca 1907
    This photograph was probably taken after the Smith family moved to Grand Ledge, Michigan, probably around the time that Avis's younger sister Ilo was born.
    Smith, Avis Augusta ca 1920's
    Smith, Avis Augusta ca 1920's
    Avis Smith, sometime prior to her marriage to Ben Benkelman
    Smith, Avis ca 1923
    Smith, Avis ca 1923
    Wife of Ben Benkelman
    B. 1901 Michigan D. 1981 Florida
    This is the photo from the Michigan State University 1923 Annual
    Benkelman, Benjamin F. Sr. ca 1920's with his children and their spouses
    Benkelman, Benjamin F. Sr. ca 1920's with his children and their spouses
    Back Row, L to R:
    Bill Carpenter, Ben Benkelman, Sr., Ben Benkelman, Jr., Jim Pease, Minnie Benkelman, Eustace Ball, Harold Benkelman in the late 1920's.

    Front Row, L to R:
    Mae Benkelman Carpenter, Lois Benkelman Pease, Ruth Benkelman Ball, Isabel Fletcher Benkelman, Avis Smith Benkelman
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    Jesse, Minnie ca 1960, with her childrens' spouses on her 95th birthday
    Jesse, Minnie ca 1960, with her childrens' spouses on her 95th birthday
    Minnie Jesse Benkelman, celebrating her 95th birthday, posed with the spouses of her children

    Standing, l to r: Eustace Ball, Avis Benkelman, Bill Carpenter

    Seated: Isabel Benkelman, Minnie

    Benkelman, Benjamin Franklin Jr. ca 1976 with wife Avis (nee Smith)
    Benkelman, Benjamin Franklin Jr. ca 1976 with wife Avis (nee Smith)
    Ben and Avis ready to depart on a Cruise in celebration of their Golden Wedding anniversary, 1976

    Documents
    Smith, Avis Augusta
    Smith, Avis Augusta
    Certified Copy of Record of Birth, Ionia County, Michigan, issued 6 July 1944
    Smith, Avis Augusta Bible Records, p 1 of 4
    Smith, Avis Augusta Bible Records, p 1 of 4
    Presentation page of Avis Smith's family bible, presented to her by her parents on Christmas Day, 1920, a few months before her 19th birthday. The bible was published by National Bible Press in Philadelphia, PA, and was a Red Letter Art Edition, King James Version. No publication date was indicated. Only the pages relating to her parents, births and marriages were completed. Deaths were not entered.
    Smith, Avis Augusta Bible Records, p 3 of 4
    Smith, Avis Augusta Bible Records, p 3 of 4
    Children's names, listing Avis and her sister, Ila
    Grand Ledge, Michigan High School
    Grand Ledge, Michigan High School
    Avis and Ilo Smith were both graduates of Grand Ledge High School, which was located just a few blocks from their home
    Michigan State University Yearbook
    Michigan State University Yearbook
    This is a copy of page 57 from the 1923 Michigan State University Yearbook, the Wolverine, showing Avis Augusta Smith and some classmates. Other individuals pictured are Charlotte Blanche Siebert, Earl Adam Sindecuse, Henry Franklin Small, Harry George Smith, Colonel Francis Snyder, Margaret Elizabeth Snyder, Carl Walter Soderbeck, John Franklin Spalding, and Robert Dugan Spencer.
    Smith, Avis Augusta
    Smith, Avis Augusta
    1925 Employment offer from Central Junior High, Saginaw, Michigan, to Avis Smith from W. W. Warner, Superintendent
    Smith, Avis Augusta
    Smith, Avis Augusta
    Teacher's Contract, Saginaw, Michigan, 1926-1927
    Smith, Avis Augusta (Mrs. Ben Benkelman Jr)
    Smith, Avis Augusta (Mrs. Ben Benkelman Jr)
    Teacher's Contract, Saginaw, Michigan, 1927-1928
    Smith, Avis Augusta (Mrs. Ben Benkelman Jr)
    Smith, Avis Augusta (Mrs. Ben Benkelman Jr)
    Acceptance of Resignation by the Saginaw Board of Education
    Sandham, John Insurance Policy
    Sandham, John Insurance Policy
    Ben and Avis purchased this insurance policy from John A. Sandham, an agent for Lincoln Life Insurance, in 1932
    Smith, Avis Augusta (Mrs. Ben Benkelman Jr.)
    Smith, Avis Augusta (Mrs. Ben Benkelman Jr.)
    State of Floria, Certificate of Death

    Headstones
    Benkelman, Benjamin, Jr. and Avis (Smith)
    Benkelman, Benjamin, Jr. and Avis (Smith)

  • Sources 
    1. [S383] State of Michigan, Record of Birth.

    2. [S81] Family Register, The Holy Bible, National Bible Press, Philadelphia, Pa. Presented to Avis Smith by her parents, December 25, 1920.

    3. [S149] Bennett, Lavonne (lib@iserv.net)-Ionia County, Mich. Genealogist and Researcher, Supplied by LaVonne Bennett (Reliability: 3).

    4. [S38] State of Michigan, Marriage License, (Eaton County, Mich Marriage License of Ben F. Benkelman Jr to Avis A. Smith, No. 155).