Monday, February 11, 2013

Hillorious Kester Bender (1850-1922)

                         From Volume XII of "The Pennsylvania German", originally published in 1912.

   If you've followed this site for any length of time, the above gentleman may look familiar to you. The intriguingly named Hillorious K. Bender of Northampton County, Pennsylvania was a one-term state representative that was first profiled here back in July of 2011, and since that time he's remained one of the more elusive figures I've had to research! In the nearly two years since he was first featured here, Mr. Bender's article has received two updates, one centering on the discovery of the above portrait of him and the second mentioning his previously unknown date of death. Even after these small updates to his profile, Bender's article remained "bare-bones" as it were, with little new information coming to light on him!
   I'm proud to relate that the above statement has changed, thanks to Mr. Bender's great-grandson David Kester Bender, who kindly left a note on Hillorious's original article here on the site! After some e-mail correspondence, David supplied me with an extensive lineage on the history of his family, which included a detailed write-up on Hillorious and his seven children. In addition to the Bender genealogy, David also provided me with a few family photos that featured Hillorious, his wife Harriet, as well as their grandchildren. And with that introduction, I take pleasure in noting that this obscure Northampton County educator and legislator now has a "proper" biography here on the site, and this revamped profile on Mr. Bender wouldn't have come to fruition without David's kind help and interest in regards to the life of his interestingly named great-grandfather!
   A lifelong resident of the Keystone State, Hillorious Kester Bender was born on April 9, 1850 in Hamilton Township, Pennsylvania, one of nine children born to John Feyn and Sophia Kester Bender. A descendant of an established Pennsylvania German family, Bender received his unusual first and middle names in honor of one of his maternal uncles, Hillorious Kester (1828-1847), who died aged eighteen in 1847. Our subject (born three years after his uncle's passing) was bestowed this unusual name, which is a spelling variation on the name "Hilarius", a pope (and later Saint) who headed the Roman Catholic Church from 461-468.
   Hillorious K. Bender received his education in schools native to the Monroe County area and was later a student at the Stroudsburg Academy. Bender is also noted as having private schooling under the Rev. Kirby Davis in Stroudsburg as well as the Rev. D.E. Schoedler in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania. After completing his primary education, Bender became a school teacher and served as such in various schools throughout his native Monroe County.
  On February 20, 1875, Hillorious Bender married Harriet Ann Flyte, a native of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. This union eventually produced seven children, who are listed as follows in the order of their birth: Cora Elizabeth (1876-1957), Stanley Waldo (born June 1878), Norman Oscar (1880-1964), Mabel Sophia (1881-1891), Lula Gertrude (1885-1968), Mary Ellen (1887-1973) and William Raymond (1891-1944). All of the Bender children lived to adulthood, with the exception of Mabel, who is recorded in the Bender family genealogy as dying of measles at age ten. 
   While Hillorious Bender found distinction as an educator and state legislator, the Bender family genealogy notes that his children gained notoriety in a number of different vocations. Cora, Stanley and Lula Gertrude Bender followed in their father's footsteps and became teachers, with all three being employed at various schools in throughout the Northampton County area. Norman Oscar became engaged as a printer as a young man and held positions on the staff of the Bangor Daily News and later the Monroe Democrat. Mary Ellen Bender also became a teacher, later removing to New Jersey and is responsible for preparing and writing the Bender family genealogy mentioned in this article. Hillorious' youngest child William Raymond served with distinction during the First World War, holding rank with the Chemical Warfare Service in the U.S. Army and after leaving the military studied and taught at the Lafayette College, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Hillorious and Harriet Bender circa 1876 (courtesy of David K. Bender).

   In 1886 the Bender family removed to the village of East Bangor in Northampton County, where Hillorious had secured the post of Principal of schools. Bender served as principal for fifteen years, and in July 1899 began a six-year tenure as Superintendent of Schools for the county of Northampton. Resources give note that Bender's teaching career lasted over thirty-three years, and after leaving the position of Superintendent, Bender began employment with two educational textbook publishing companies, the J.P. Lippincott Co.,  based in Philadelphia, and Ginn and Company, based in New York and Boston.
  While his career as an educator and school superintendent is one of note, Hillorious K. Bender also maintained active involvement in the political affairs of East Bangor, serving as Burgess of that town and later as president of the borough council. In November 1910 he won election to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Northampton County,   defeating his opponent Dalvin M. Leopold by a vote of  7,509 to 5, 972. A snippet featuring those election results appeared in the 1911 Smull's Legislative Handbook of Pennsylvania and is posted below.

  Taking his seat in January 1911, Bender was named to the legislative committees on Education, Public Roads, Accounts, and Legislative Apportionment. His term in the Pennsylvania legislature concluded in 1913 and he was not a candidate for reelection.
  After leaving the legislature, Bender continued to work as an agent for Ginn and Co., while also teaching in the "Washington, Upper Mt. Bethel and Plainfield townships". Bender is also recorded as being a Freemason and served as a past Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons Chapter #274. 

         From the Proceedings of the Grand Holy Royal Arch Chapter of Pennsylvania, published in 1922.

   On March 13, 1918, Harriet Ann Flyte Bender, Hillorious' wife of forty-three years, died of an unknown illness. He later remarried to Ms. Ella Weston, a resident of Bangor, Pennsylvania, about whom little is known. Hillorious K. Bender survived his wife Harriet by four years, dying at age 72 on May 8, 1922 in East Bangor. His second wife Ella survived him by fourteen years, dying on May 27, 1936. Both Hillorious and Harriet Bender were interred at the East Bangor Cemetery, which is also the resting place of his daughter Mabel. 

                      Hillorious Bender and his grandchildren, Janet Lange Bender and John McRae  
                                                                                    (courtesy of David Bender).

  As stated in the introduction to Bender's profile here, it is very seldom that I'm afforded such access to the life, lineage, and history of one of the people I'm going to write about. Because of the extensive correspondence with David about the life of his interestingly named great-grandfather, Hillorious Kester Bender now has the substantial write-up that I had initially envisioned doing for him back in July 2011. Again, many thanks to David Bender for permitting me to use the above-mentioned photos, as well as educating me in the interesting lineage of his extended family!! 

    Hillorious Bender's pocket watch (also shown in the above portrait with his grandchildren).
             (photo courtesy of David Bender.)

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