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Sallie Bennett Papers Regarding World War I Flying Ace Louis Bennett, Jr.

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.1590

Scope and Contents

Personal correspondence, legal and financial papers, diary, and newspaper clippings of Mrs. Sallie Maxwell Bennett of Weston, wife of Louis Bennett, Sr., the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1908. The collection concerns the career of her son, Louis Bennett, Jr., particularly his student days at Yale, his pioneer efforts to organize the West Virginia Flying Corps, his service in the Royal Air Force [RAF], and his subsequent death in World War I. Additional topics include Mrs. Bennett's effort to memorialize her son, family affairs, and a South American trip in 1915. Correspondents include Louis Bennett, Sr. and Jr., and John W. Davis.

See also C619 of Oral History Sound Archives, which contains one audio cassette and typed transcript of an interview with David B. McKinley by Wayne Sheets regarding the life and times of Sallie Maxwell Bennett. Louis Bennett, Jr. and Agra are discussed as well.

Series 1. Biographical Information; 1917-1919, 1980-ca. 2000 (includes facsimiles); box 1, folder 1. Includes mostly photocopies of narrative information on the life of Louis Bennett, Jr. For more historical narrative of Louis Bennett, Jr. and the Bennett family, consult the Newspaper Clippings series.

Series 2. General Correspondence; 1908-1917; box 1, folders 2-13. Includes letters, telegrams, clippings, receipts, etc. Topics include family affairs, Yale College, and the West Virginia Flying Corps in 1917, among other subjects. Correspondents include primarily Mr. Louis Bennett, Mrs. Louis Bennett [Sallie], their son Louis Bennett, Jr., and daughter Agra.

Series 3. Outgoing Letters; 1917-1918; box 1, folders 14-18. Includes primarily letters by Louis Bennett, Jr. on Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force [RAF] stationery describing adventures in London, military matters, impatience in Shotwick, and military life and combat on the Western Front as a pilot in the 40th Squadron, RAF.

Series 4. Incoming Letters; 1918; box 1, folder 19 - box 2, folder 3. Includes letters, clippings, photographs, and other material. Letters are from Louis Bennett, Jr.'s immediate family, friends, fellow aviators, girl friends, and others regarding personal and military matters, etc.

Series 5. General; 1914-1920, undated; box 2, folders 4-9. Includes miscellaneous material regarding Louis Bennett, Jr., such as combat reports, personal ephemera, RAF Graduation Certificate, transit and burial permit, etc.

Series 6. General Correspondence--Bennett Family; 1915-1926; box 2, folder 10 - box 7, folder 2. Includes primarily letters to and from Mrs. Louis Bennett, but other family members as well, about the personal, financial, and legal affairs of the Bennett family. Many letters are testimonials and condolences regarding Louis Bennett, Jr. by his friends in England and the military. Correspondence after 1918 primarily documents Mrs. Louis Bennett's efforts in England and Europe to find the facts regarding her son's fate, and her efforts to memorialize her son and other aviators of WWI; for the latter, she corresponded with the British Air Ministry, among other military and governmental authorities. The variety of letterhead of US east coast, British Isles, and European hotels document a very peripatetic Mrs. Bennett. Letters are arranged in chronological order. Also includes a travel diary of Mrs. Bennett.

Series 7. Newspaper Clippings; 1914-1925, 1960 (includes facsimiles); box 7, folders 3-11. Contains loose clippings and clippings in scrapbook pages which document both Louis Bennett, Jr. and the Bennett family.

Series 8. Legal Papers; ca. 1918-1923; box 7, folder 12. Includes information on deeds and power of attorney; also includes agreement with the sculptor Augustus Lukeman for "heroic bronze statue".

Series 9. Financial Records; 1916-1926; box 7, folder 13 - box 8, folder 2. Includes appraisement and other documents relating to the Louis Bennett estate, insurance records, real estate records, balance sheets, receipts, etc.

Series 10. Publications; 1873-1882, 1907-1924; box 8, folders 3-5. Includes books and periodicals, mostly material about Louis Bennett, Jr.

Series 11. Greeting Cards; 1920, undated; box 8, folder 6.

Series 12. Calling Cards/Business Cards; ca. 1910-1925; box 8, folder 7. These cards appear to document primarily the personal and professional contacts of Mrs. Bennett, Louis Bennett, Jr.'s mother.

Series 13. Postcards; ca. 1910-1925; box 8, folder 8. Includes photo postcards. Subjects include portraits, landscapes, and WWI images.

Series 14. Ephemera; 1899-1924, undated (includes facsimiles); box 9, folders 1-4. Includes much Louis Bennett, Jr.-related material, such as his RAF Wallet (for wallet, see box 12).

Series 15. Photographs; 1904-1920, undated; box 9, folders 5-17. Includes photographs, postcards, and negatives. Subjects include a diverse range of material recording Louis Bennett, Jr.'s involvement in WWI, as well as the Bennett family. Mrs. Bennett's 1915 trip to South America is extensively documented.

Series 16. Artifacts; 1890s-1925, undated; boxes 10-10a. Includes checkbooks, a pin cushion, a sketchbook, newspaper clippings, a lock of hair, and other items.

Series 17. Dissertation; 2009; box 11. Contains Charles D. Dusch's Great War Aviation and Commemoration: Louis Bennett, Jr., Commander of the West Virginia Flying Corps (also available as an electronic resource at WVU Libraries).

Series 18. Miscellaneous; ca. 1916-1919; box 12. Contains glass plate negatives, Louis Bennett, Jr.'s RAF wallet, and his memo book.

Contents List:

Series 1. Biographical Information

Box 1; Folder 1; "Louis Bennett, Jr.; No. 40 Squadron, RFC/RAF" (Williams, George; Cross & Cockade Journal, Volume 21/Number 4/Winter 1980); 1980

Box 1; Folder 1; "Louis Bennett, Jr. Papers Elucidate West Virginia's Only WWI Flying Ace" (Newsletter of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection, Volume 13/Number 2/Spring 1998; 2 copies); 1998

Box 1; Folder 1; Manuscript Narrative History (Two leaves, seven pages by Mrs. Bennett regarding her son and family; was attached to letter of 10/16/1919 from G. Murray to Mrs. Bennett; original in box 3, folder 9; legibility poor.); 1917

Box 1; Folder 1; "Photographic Observations of a Day at West Virginia Flying Corps Camp" (Wheeling Sunday News; 7/29/1917); 1917/07

Box 1; Folder 1; "Address at Memorial Services; In Memory of Hon. Louis Bennett and Louis Bennett Jr., Who Died in Defense of Liberty" (Includes much historical information; Weston Democrat; 9/5/1919); 1919/09

Series 2. General Correspondence

Box 1; Folder 2; Correspondence (Includes 1910-11 prospectus regarding St. Luke's School of Wayne, PA, which Louis Bennett, Jr. attended.); 1908-1912

Box 1; Folder 3; Correspondence; 1913-1915

Box 1; Folder 4; Correspondence; 1916/01-1916/06

Box 1; Folder 5; Correspondence; 1916/07-1916/09

Box 1; Folder 6; Correspondence; 1916/10-1916/12

Box 1; Folder 7; Correspondence; 1916?

Box 1; Folder 8; Correspondence; 1917/01-1917/02

Box 1; Folder 9; Correspondence; 1917/03

Box 1; Folder 10; Correspondence (Includes samples of linen for aircraft from the Courtrai Manufacturing Co.); 1917/04-1917/07

Box 1; Folder 11; Correspondence; 1917/08-1917/09

Box 1; Folder 12; Correspondence; 1917/10

Box 1; Folder 13; Correspondence; 1917/11-1917/12

Series 3. Outgoing Letters

Box 1; Folder 14; Letters; 1918/01-1918/02

Box 1; Folder 15; Letters; 1918/04-1918/05

Box 1; Folder 16; Letters; 1918/06-1918/08

Box 1; Folder 17; Letters (6 items, 12 leaves; regarding the West Virginia Flying Corps, training with the Royal Flying Corps [in Canada], among other topics.); undated

Box 1; Folder 18; Letters (Typewritten and manuscript transcripts of letters written by Louis Bennett, Jr.); 1917-1918

Series 4. Incoming Letters

Box 1; Folder 19; Letters; 1918/01-1918/05

Box 1; Folder 20; Letters; 1918/06-1918/07/18

Box 2; Folder 1; Letters; 1918/07/18-1918/07/31

Box 2; Folder 2; Letters; 1918/08/01-1918/08/15

Box 2; Folder 3; Letters; 1918/08/16-1918/08/30

Series 5. General

Box 2; Folder 4; Combat Reports (Original carbon copies of army documents describing aerial combat in short narrative form, certifying the "kills" of Louis Bennett, Jr.); 1918

Box 2; Folder 4; List of Sorties of Louis Bennett, Jr.; 1918

Box 2; Folder 5; Receipts (Documents Louis Bennett, Jr.'s activities in England; includes receipts for the Savoy Hotel, railroad transport, stationery, photography, and bicycle storage; 9 leaves.); 1918

Box 2; Folder 6; Royal Flying Corps (Canada) -- Pass; 1917/10/11

Box 2; Folder 6; Royal Flying Corps (Canada) -- Discharge Certificate; 1918/01/20

Box 2; Folder 6; Royal Flying Corps (Canada) -- Official Permission to Travel; 1918/01/21

Box 2; Folder 6; Notarized Statements of Bennett, Jr.'s Birth and Citizenship; 1918/04/05

Box 2; Folder 6; Royal Air Force (RAF) -- Graduation Certificate; 1918/03/06

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- "Inventory and kit and effects of Lieutenant L. Bennett, 40 Squadron, R.A.F. reported missing 24th August 1918." (4 leaves); 1918

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Notary Document (For transfer of personal effects of Lt. Louis Bennett.); 1919/11/08

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Clipping with Note (Clipping of poem "The Volunteer's Mother" from Bennett, Jr.'s mother to Bennett, Jr. with note; 1 leaf.); 1918/01/28

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Testimonial/Memorial Letter (By Lt. Bennett's rigger and fitter regarding his character and exploits; other letters from the same correspondent can be found in the General Correspondence series; 2 leaves; 5 written pages.); 1918/08/26

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Telegram (Message informs Mrs. Bennett that her son Lt. Louis Bennett is reported missing; 1 leaf.); 1918/08/28

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Cablegrams from Mrs. Bennett to Alice Williams in London and 40th Squadron in France for information on her son reported missing (2 leaves); ca. 1918/08-1918/09

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Transit and Burial Permit (For burial of Lt. Bennett at Weston, WV.); 1920/4/10

Box 2; Folder 7; Death of Louis Bennett, Jr. -- List of Pallbearers; 1920

Box 2; Folder 8; Aviation Ephemera -- Advertising Card--Patterson Aviators Air Shows; ca. 1914-1915

Box 2; Folder 8; Aviation Ephemera -- Newsletter--"Patterson Aviators Bulletin" (Includes mostly articles about air shows; 1 leaf.); 1915/07

Box 2; Folder 8; Aviation Ephemera -- Prospectus--Federal Aircraft and Motor Corporation ("Flying; The Greatest 'Preparedness' Sport in the World"); ca. 1914-1915

Box 2; Folder 9; Miscellaneous, Related to Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Linen Samples; undated

Box 2; Folder 9; Miscellaneous, Related to Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Aero Club Dues Card; 1916

Box 2; Folder 9; Miscellaneous, Related to Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Naval History Society Dues Receipt; 1918

Box 2; Folder 9; Miscellaneous, Related to Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Prospectus Card and Invoice for Automobile Tires (3 items); 1917

Box 2; Folder 9; Miscellaneous, Related to Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Advertising for Novels of E. Oppenheim (5 items); 1917

Box 2; Folder 9; Miscellaneous, Related to Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Classification Card from Local War Department Board; 1918

Box 2; Folder 9; West Virginia Aircraft Company--Financial Statements (2 items); 1918/05/01

Series 6. General Correspondence--Bennett Family

Box 2; Folder 10; Correspondence (includes photo portrait of Alice Williams); 1918/02-1918/06

Box 2; Folder 11; Correspondence; 1918/07

Box 2; Folder 12; Correspondence; 1918/08

Box 2; Folder 13; Correspondence; 1918/09/02-1918/09/18

Box 2; Folder 14; Correspondence; 1918/09/20-1918/09/30

Box 2; Folder 15; Correspondence; 1918/10/01-1918/10/08

Box 2; Folder 16; Correspondence; 1918/10/10-1918/10/19

Box 2; Folder 17; Correspondence; 1918/10/20-1918/10/24

Box 2; Folder 18; Correspondence; 1918/10/25-1918/10/31

Box 2; Folder 19; Correspondence; 1918/11-1918/12

Box 2; Folder 20; Correspondence; 1919/01-1919/03

Box 2; Folder 21; Correspondence; 1919/04

Box 3; Folder 1; Correspondence (a lock of Louis Bennett's hair, originally in this folder, has been moved to box 10); 1919/05-1919/06

Box 3; Folder 2; Correspondence; 1919/07/02-1919/07/15

Box 3; Folder 3; Correspondence; 1919/07/21-1919/07/31

Box 3; Folder 4; Correspondence; 1919/08/01-1919/08/21

Box 3; Folder 5; Correspondence; 1919/08/23-1919/08/28

Box 3; Folder 6; Correspondence; 1919/09/01-1919/09/10

Box 3; Folder 7; Correspondence; 1919/09/11-1919/09/23

Box 3; Folder 8; Correspondence; 1919/09/24-1919/09/29

Box 3; Folder 9; Correspondence (Letter of 1919/10/16 from G. Murray to Mrs. Bennett includes clipping regarding West Virginia Flying corps listing membership and detailing activities; also includes manuscript narrative history of two leaves by Mrs. Bennett of her son and family [photocopy in box 1, folder 1].); 1919/10/01-1919/10/16

Box 3; Folder 10; Correspondence; 1919/10/19-1919/10/29

Box 3; Folder 11; Correspondence; 1919/11

Box 3; Folder 12; Correspondence; 1919/12/01-1919/12/20

Box 3; Folder 13; Correspondence; 1919/12/21-1919/12/31

Box 4; Folder 1; Correspondence; 1920/01-1920/02

Box 4; Folder 2; Correspondence; 1920/03-1920/05

Box 4; Folder 3; Correspondence; 1920/06-1920/09

Box 4; Folder 4; Correspondence; 1920/10-1920/12

Box 4; Folder 5; Correspondence (Letter of 1921/10/28 from Air Ministry, London, to Mrs. Louis Bennett, includes two "British War and Victory Medals"; they are multi-colored pieces of cloth 4 inches and 5 inches long respectively; a tag labeled "Victory Medal Riband" was found pinned to the 4 inch ribbon.); 1921/01-1921/10

Box 4; Folder 6; Correspondence; 1921/11-1921/12

Box 4; Folder 7; Correspondence (Several clippings dating from 1921/12 were discovered with the correspondence of 1922; subject matter concerns primarily the gift of Mrs. Bennett to the city of Weston the Bennett home on Court Ave., Weston, WV.); 1922/01-1922/03

Box 4; Folder 8; Correspondence; 1922/04-1922/05

Box 4; Folder 9; Correspondence; 1922/05/18-1922/05/26

Box 4; Folder 10; Correspondence (Regarding dedication of memorial stained glass window at Westminster Abbey for fallen British airmen, a gift of Mrs. Bennett; includes 3 passes, 1 program, and thank you letter from Hon. Frederick Guest, Secretary of State for Air.); 1922/05/26

Box 4; Folder 11; Correspondence (Includes clippings regarding dedication of memorial stained glass window.); 1922/05/29-1922/06

Box 4; Folder 12; Correspondence; 1922/07-1922/09

Box 4; Folder 13; Correspondence; 1922/10-1922/12

Box 4; Folder 14; Correspondence (Contains correspondence with Emil Merkelbach, a German balloonist who witnessed Lt. Louis Bennett's final sortie and downing.); 1922/11-1923/01

Box 5; Folder 1; Correspondence; 1923/01-1923/03

Box 5; Folder 2; Correspondence; 1923/04-1923/05

Box 5; Folder 3; Correspondence; 1923/06-1923/07

Box 5; Folder 4; Correspondence; 1923/08

Box 5; Folder 5; Correspondence; 1923/09

Box 5; Folder 6; Correspondence; 1923/10-1923/12

Box 5; Folder 7; Correspondence; 1924/01-1924/06

Box 5; Folder 8; Correspondence; 1924/09-1924/11

Box 5; Folder 9; Correspondence; 1924/11-1924/12

Box 5; Folder 10; Correspondence; 1925/01-1925/03

Box 5; Folder 11; Correspondence; 1925/04-1925/06/16

Box 5; Folder 12; Correspondence (Includes clipping on dedication of the sculpture "The American Aviator'', gift of Mrs. Louis Bennett.); 1925/06/20-1925/08

Box 6; Folder 1; Correspondence; 1925/09-1925/12

Box 6; Folder 2; Correspondence; 1926/01-1926/02

Box 6; Folder 3; Correspondence; 1926/03-1926/04

Box 6; Folder 4; Correspondence; 1926/05-1926/06

Box 6; Folder 5; Correspondence; 1926/07-1926/09

Box 6; Folder 6; Correspondence; 1926/10

Box 6; Folder 7; Correspondence (Letter of 1926/11/07 from Ruth Smith to Mrs. Bennett includes 1922 clipping regarding the memorial stained glass window at Westminster Abbey for fallen British airmen, a gift of Mrs. Bennett.); 1926/11-1926/12

Box 6; Folders 8-12; Correspondence; undated

Box 7; Folders 1-2; Travel Diary of Mrs. Bennett (An extensive typescript account by Mrs. Bennett detailing her travel experiences in Central and South America; photographs in this collection apparently document this trip.); 1915

Series 7. Newspaper Clippings

Box 7; Folder 3; Louis Bennett, Jr. (Contains photocopies of all original clippings regarding Louis Bennett, Jr. in this collection from box 7, folders 4-7.); 1914-1925

Box 7; Folder 4; Scrapbooks (2 collations); ca. 1920s

Box 7; Folders 5-7; Loose Clippings; ca. 1914-1925, 1960

Box 7; Folder 8; Bennett Family (Contains photocopies of original clippings regarding other Bennett family members from box 7, folders 9-10.); ca. 1920

Box 7; Folders 9-10; Bennett Family--Original Clippings; ca. 1920

Box 7; Folder 11; Newspaper Clippings (From The San Francisco Examiner and The Evening Mail.); 1914-1915

Series 8. Legal Papers

Box 7; Folder 12; General (Includes information on deeds and power of attorney; also includes agreement with the sculptor Augustus Lukeman for "heroic bronze statue", 1923.); ca. 1918-1923

Series 9. Financial Records

Box 7; Folder 13; General (Includes appraisement and other documents relating to the Louis Bennett estate, insurance records, real estate records, balance sheets, receipts, etc.); 1916-1919

Box 8; Folders 1-2; ibid; 1916-1926

Series 10. Publications

Box 8; Folder 3; Yale University--Directory; 1915-1916

Box 8; Folder 3; Flyers--Descriptions of Memorial Stained Glass Window; ca. 1922

Box 8; Folder 3; Program--"Commemorative Exercises in Honor of the Yale Men Who Gave Their Lives in the War"; 1919/06/15

Box 8; Folder 3; Magazine--"Yale Courant"; 1916/10

Box 8; Folder 4; Program--"Banquet in Honour of General Robert Georges Neville"; 1921/01/05

Box 8; Folder 4; Seating List--Neville Banquet; 1921/01/05

Box 8; Folder 4; Booklet--"Sentence Making" (English book inscribed "L. Bennett"); 1913

Box 8; Folder 4; Magazine--"The American Legion Weekly" (includes article regarding gift of Bennett family's Weston home to the American Legion); 1924/05/23

Box 8; Folder 4; Magazine--"Yale Alumni Weekly" (includes photo and listing of Louis Bennett, Jr.); 1919/06

Box 8; Folder 4; Newsletter--"The Parish Record" (Wheeling, WV); 1920/02

Box 8; Folder 4a; Book--"Courage" (inscribed "For Louis from Mother March 24 1907 Palm Sunday"); 1907

Box 8; Folder 4a; Book--"The Book of Common Prayer" (inscribed "Louis Bennett, Jr. 1917"); 1917

Box 8; Folder 5; Book--"How to Read Character" (phrenology text); 1882

Box 8; Folder 5; Booklet--"Phrenological Character of Louis Bennett Given at Fowler & Wells, Phrenological Cabinet" (analysis in manuscript of several pages); 1873/08/15

Series 11. Greeting Cards

Box 8; Folder 6; Miscellaneous Greeting Cards; 1920, undated

Series 12. Calling Cards/Business Cards

Box 8; Folder 7; Miscellaneous Calling Cards/Business Cards (These cards appear to document primarily the personal and professional contacts of Mrs. Bennett, Louis Bennett, Jr.'s mother.); ca. 1910-1925

Series 13. Postcards

Box 8; Folder 8; Portraits (1 envelope; includes Harvey Holstein, Wilfred Gilbert, unidentified women, and group of musicians; 6 items); undated

Box 8; Folder 8; US Atlantic Coast (7 items); undated

Box 8; Folder 8; France (4 items); 1919, undated

Box 8; Folder 8; World War I (WWI) (2 envelopes; 11 items); 1919, undated

Box 8; Folder 8; Mountain Landscape (these appear to be personal photographs documenting a road trip) (10 items); undated

Box 8; Folder 8; Miscellaneous (6 items); 1915, undated

Box 8; Folder 8; Booklet--"Versailles et les Trianons" (12 cards with extensive annotations by Mrs. Bennett); 1919

Series 14. Ephemera

Box 9; Folder 1; Miscellaneous (includes receipts, membership cards, ticket stub, prescription, book call slips, etc.); ca. 1910-1920

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Travel Prospectuses in French ("La Bretagne"; "Circuit d'Alsace et de Lorraine"; 2 items); undated

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Democratic National Convention (apparently Mrs. Bennett was a participant; includes 9 delegate passes; 4 ribbons; 1 certificate); 1924

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Receipts (from Pacific Motor Car Exchange; 2 items); 1912

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Receipts (from Marlborough-Blenheim and Hotel Traymore; Atlantic City, NJ); 1918

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Passport Application (for Mrs. Bennett); undated

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Memo Book (blank); 1899

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Memo Book--Mrs. Bennett; undated

Box 9; Folder 1a; Miscellaneous -- Ribbons (2 duplicate items; WV state seal in red on white cloth); undated

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Account Book--National Grand Bank (one item; one entry); 1916

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Calling Cards and Leather Card Case; undated

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Automobile Related--Certificates of Registration (3 items; for Pennsylvania and New York); 1913, 1916

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Automobile Related-Membership Cards (American Automobile Association; International Automobile League); 1913, 1914

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Membership Card--Aero Club of America; 1916

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Announcement Card--Memorial Church at Wavrin (5 items); ca. 1918-1919

Box 9; Folder 2; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Stamps (U.S. and Canadian postage, found in calling card case); undated

Box 9; Folder 3; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Dance Cards--Yale University (3 items); 1916, 1917

Box 9; Folder 4; Cards -- Found Inside RAF Wallet (Includes Aero Club of America Membership Card and Aero Club of America Foreign Service Committee Card; 4 items.); 1918

Box 9; Folder 4; Calling Cards -- Found Inside RAF Wallet (Includes cards that apparently document Lt. Louis Bennett's contacts in London. Also includes a facsimile set.); 1918

Box 9; Folder 4; Photographs -- Found Inside RAF Wallet (Includes facsimiles of 12 small photographs, apparently of family and friends; originals have been moved to separate storage; they can be viewed in West Virginia History OnView by searching for "1590" combined with "wallet".); 1918

Series 15. Photographs

Box 9; Folder 5; Lt. Louis Bennett -- WWI and Other (Includes facsimiles of a diverse range of material documenting primarily Lt. Louis Bennett's involvement in WWI; includes portraits of Louis and his friends, West Virginia Flying Corps, etc.; also includes pictures of Louis in his car; most of the original print photographs have been moved to separate storage; they can be viewed in West Virginia History OnView by searching for "1590".); ca. 1917-1918

Box 9; Folder 6; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Candid Portraits--WWI--Unidentified (10 items in 2 envelopes); ca. 1917-1918

Box 9; Folder 6; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Friends of LB, Jr. (5 items); ca. 1910-1918

Box 9; Folder 6; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Airplane Factory (11 items); ca. 1910-1920

Box 9; Folder 6; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- LB's Car? (2 items); undated

Box 9; Folder 6; Louis Bennett, Jr.-Related -- Soldier on Horseback (3 copies of image) (currently missing); undated

Box 9; Folder 7; Portraits--Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Portrait (1 item, mounted); undated

Box 9; Folder 7; Portraits--Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Portrait--Candid (1 item; 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"; good pose with friend and car, but lacking detail); ca. 1910-1915

Box 9; Folder 7; Portraits--Louis Bennett, Jr. -- Portraits--Candid (9 items; 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"; one of these prints is of Louis Bennett; others are unidentified); ca. 1910-1915

Box 9; Folder 8; Portraits--Louis Bennett, Sr. (Contains 2 mounted portraits and 1 print portrait of LB, Sr.; 1 candid portrait of LB, Sr. in a car; and 1 candid group portrait with unidentified subjects.); 1904, undated

Box 9; Folder 9; Portraits--Bennett Family -- Mrs. Sally M. Bennett--Portrait (3 items; 2 images); undated

Box 9; Folder 9; Portraits--Bennett Family -- Agra Bennett (Daughter of Mrs. Bennett; 4 mounted portraits); undated

Box 9; Folder 9; Portraits--Bennett Family -- Agra Bennett with Pet Dog (1 item); undated

Box 9; Folder 10; Bennett Family--Vacation (?) (The items in this folder are related by subject matter and physical format.) -- Prints (8 items; 2 of these include Louis Bennett, Jr.); ca. 1910-1915

Box 9; Folder 10; Bennett Family--Vacation (?) (The items in this folder are related by subject matter and physical format.) -- Negatives (12 items; 3 1/2" x 5 1/2"); ca. 1910-1915

Box 9; Folder 11a; South American Trip--Identified Prints (59 items; prints documenting the landscape and people of South America; these images apparently taken by Mrs. Sallie Bennett on trip to South America; see her travel diary in box 7, folders 1-2.); 1915

Box 9; Folder 11b; South American Trip--Portraits--Unidentified (16 items); 1915

Box 9; Folder 11c; South American Trip--Postcards--Identified (14 items); 1915

Box 9; Folder 12; South American Trip--Unidentified Prints (85 items); 1915

Box 9; Folder 13; Miscellaneous Prints (includes 3 1/2" x 4 1/2" book of miniature photographs of Paris, France, ca. 1907); ca. 1905-1920

Box 9; Folder 14; Miscellaneous Prints -- General (29 items in 2 envelopes); ca. 1910-1920

Box 9; Folder 14; Miscellaneous Prints -- Candid Portraits (3 items); ca. 1910-1920

Box 9; Folder 14; Miscellaneous Prints -- Ocean Voyage (LB seems to be a subject in one of these pictures; what appears to be an old wooden Norwegian church is in evidence in this grouping as well; 15 items); ca. 1910-1918

Box 9; Folder 14; Miscellaneous Prints -- Atlantic City, NJ (Includes boat on shoreline with people, inscribed, perhaps humorously, "survivors of torpedoed SS Carolina"; parade; 2 items); 1918

Box 9; Folder 14; Miscellaneous Prints -- Unidentified Candid (1 item); undated

Box 9; Folder 15; Portrait--Mary Bennett (5 1/2" x 9"; Sallie's sister; 1 item); undated

Box 9; Folder 16; Portrait--Lt. Galloway Cheston (Sig. R.C.A.S. of U.S. Army; attached 206 Squadron; missing in action; includes description of him); 1918

Box 9; Folder 17; Negatives -- South America (2 envelopes; see travel diary in box 7, folders 1-2); 1915

Box 9; Folder 17; Negatives -- Unidentified (5 envelopes); undated

Series 16. Artifacts

Box 10; Folders 1-2; Checkbooks with Stubs; ca. 1910-1925

Box 10; Folder 3; Leather Handkerchief Case; undated

Box 10; Folder 4; Wallets; undated

Box 10; Folder 5; Memo Book (very little content), Hair, Sewing Items; undated

Box 10; Folder 6; Sketchbook--WV Scenes (3 1/2" x 8"; not much artistic value); 1890s

Box 10a; Lock of Louis Bennett's Hair (originally found with one of the letters in box 3, folder 1; also includes photocopies of that letter and its accompanying materials); ca. 1919

Series 17. Dissertation

Box 11; Folders 1-6; Charles D. Dusch's Great War Aviation and Commemoration: Louis Bennett, Jr., Commander of the West Virginia Flying Corps (also available as an electronic resource at WVU Libraries); 2009

Series 18. Miscellaneous

Box 12; Glass Plate Negatives (Contains two portraits of Lt. Louis Bennett as RAF pilot [facsimiles are in box 9, folder 5]; and one is an image of text for dedication of church near Wavrin, near Lille, France.); ca. 1917-1919

Box 12; Louis Bennett, Jr.'s RAF Wallet (brown/black; 3" x 4 1/2"; labeled "Mr. Louis Bennett, Jr., R.A.F."; contents of the wallet can be found in box 9, folder 4, and in West Virginia History OnView); ca. 1916-1918

Box 12; Louis Bennett, Jr.'s Memo Book (red; 2 1/2" x 4 1/2"; title page labeled "Louis Bennett, Jr., R.A.F., Dec. 25th 1917; contains addresses of contacts in London, etc.); 1917-1918

Dates

  • 1873-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1904-1926

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Louis Bennett, Jr. became World War I's 12th ranked American flying ace. In his brief, meteoric career, he scored three aircraft and nine balloons in ten days, described by one author as "undoubtedly, one of the most brilliant records of the air war".

Louis Bennett, Jr. was born 22 September 1894 in Weston, West Virginia, son of Louis Bennett and Sallie Maxwell Bennett. It was a West Virginia family of wealth and prominence. Growing up in Weston, he was described as bright, likeable, and headstrong, with mechanical inclinations. He had his own car and motorcycle when 12 years old, and is said to have frequently raised the dust on his town's dirt streets with best friend Paul Hoskins.

He attended Cutler and St. Luke's preparatory schools in Pennsylvania, entering Yale University in 1913. He was apparently active in athletics and popular with women.

Interested in early aviation, Louis took pilot training from the Burgess Company at Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1917 the Governor of West Virginia approved Louis Bennett's idea of a West Virginia Flying Corps, with intent of joining the unit to the United States Air Service. Refused by the US Army, the unit disbanded. Impatient to join the air war, Louis decided to join the British Royal Flying Corps, departing for Toronto on 5 October 1917 for training. Receiving his commission on 21 January 1918, he sailed for England.

Arriving in London on 25 February, he was sent to Flying School, receiving his Graduation Certificate on 6 March. Stationed to No. 90 Squadron, a Home Defense unit of little action, Bennett became impatient and sought transfer to a fighting squadron on the Western Front. His efforts rewarded, Louis received assignment to No. 40 Squadron at Bryas on 21 July 1918, and flew his first offensive patrol on 30 July.

The fireworks really began on 15 August when Bennett began his impressive string of victories. After killing a German balloon on the 17th, Bennett caught "balloon fever". "He (Bennett) immediately set out to down every captive balloon in the area and we were all talking about it in the squadron ... each of us knew he was expendable". With his solo destruction of four balloons on 19 August, Louis Bennett had become an ace in the space of only four days!

His final sortie on the 24th cost the enemy two balloons before anti-aircraft brought his machine down in flames. Apparently the Germans so respected his courage that they burned their hands pulling him out of his burning aircraft. He died in a German field hospital at Wavrin, with burns from waist to neck, a head wound, and a broken leg, calling for his parents.

Historical information for this biography was obtained from: Williams, George H. "Louis Bennett, Jr.; No. 40 Squadron, RFC/RAF," Cross & Cockade Journal 21 (1980): 331-351.

Extent

4.75 Linear Feet (Summary: 4 ft. 8 1/2 in. (9 doc cases, 5 in. each); (3 doc cases, 2 1/2 in. each); (1 artifact box, 4 in.))

Overview

Personal correspondence, legal and financial papers, diary, and newspaper clippings of Mrs. Sallie Maxwell Bennett of Weston, wife of Louis Bennett, Sr., the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1908. The collection concerns the career of her son, Louis Bennett, Jr., particularly his student days at Yale, his pioneer efforts to organize the West Virginia Flying Corps, his service in the Royal Air Force [RAF], and his subsequent death in World War I. Additional topics include Mrs. Bennett's effort to memorialize her son, family affairs, and a South American trip in 1915. Correspondents include Louis Bennett, Sr. and Jr., and John W. Davis.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Separated Materials

"Weston Legionnaire" (These publications can be found in the pamphlet collection, under "P7253".):

June 1923; Vol. 1, No. 6

July 1923; Vol. 1, No. 7

October 1923; Vol. 1, No. 10

November 1923; Vol. 1, No. 11

March 1924; Vol. 2, No. 3

February 1925; Vol. 3, No. 2

November 1926; Vol. 4, No. 11

"Arrow Head Tribe, LSA [Lone Scouts of America]"; Weston, WV (These publications can be found in the pamphlet collection, under "P7459".):

April 1, 1920; Vol. 1, No. 1

May 1920; Vol. 2 [sic]

June 1920; Vol. 3 [sic]

The original photographs in the RAF Wallet have been moved to separate storage; they can be viewed in West Virginia History OnView by searching for "1590" combined with "wallet"; a facsimile set of all of these photographs have been inserted into box 9, folder 4.

Most of the original print photographs documenting Lt. Louis Bennett and his involvement in WWI have been moved to separate storage; they can be viewed in West Virginia History OnView by searching for "1590"; a facsimile set has been inserted into box 9, folder 5.
Title
Sallie Bennett Papers Regarding World War I Flying Ace Louis Bennett, Jr., 1873-2009
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536