Mabel (Bennett) Mounts
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Mabel Belle (Bennett) Mounts (1892 - 1973)

Mabel Belle "Byie" Mounts formerly Bennett
Born in Canton, Lewis, Missouri, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 6 Nov 1915 in Olathe, Johnson, Kansas, USAmap
Descendants descendants
Mother of
Died in Marshall, Saline, Missouri, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 30 Oct 2014 | Last significant change: 14 Jan 2022
16:00: Jessica (Mounts) Hammond edited the Biography for Mabel Belle (Bennett) Mounts (1892-1973). (Improved a citation) [Thank Jessica for this]
This page has been accessed 615 times.



Childhood and teenage years

Mabel Belle Bennett [1][2] was born April 30, 1892[1], [3][4] to Charles Frank Bennett[5][4] and Sarah Elizabeth Smith.[1][4][6] She had an older sister, Elsie[4], born in 1888[7], and four younger siblings - Clarence (1896)[8], Ellis[4] (1898)[4][9], Forrest[4] (1900)[10] and Mildred (1902).[6]

She was born in Canton, Missouri[1], a small town on the Mississippi River in northeastern Missouri. When she was four years old, her family moved just over the river, to the small town of Adams, Illinois.[11][4][12] They lived there for at least six years, and then, eventually, the family moved back to the Canton area, to the town of Monticello. Mabel would spend much of her childhood and all of her adolescence in Monticello.[13][6]

She completed eighth grade in the Monticello area[14], and later, when she was seventeen, she taught at a small country schoolhouse.[6][13] Teaching, she found, was decidedly not for her. She later told her son that "she hated every minute of it."[13]

Maybe because she disliked teaching so very much, she decided to train in an entirely different field. She attended Chillicothe Business College in north central Missouri, where she learned typing, shorthand, and other secretarial skills.[13]

Marriage and motherhood

In 1914, when Mabel was twenty-two, she moved to Kansas City along with her parents and siblings.[15][8][16][17] A year later, on November 6, 1915[3], she married Benjamin Foraker Mounts.[18] Ben was twenty-seven[18], and she was twenty-three. They had no apparent reason to rush the wedding, but they chose an untraditional wedding day. The two of them went alone to Olathe, Kansas and were married by a justice of the peace.[3][13]

The courthouse wedding marked the beginning of a happy marriage. Their son wrote, "I have never known a more devoted couple. Byie [Mabel] worshipped Daddy. I honestly cannot remember one violent argument or 'falling out' between them as I was growing up. They talked everything out together and did nothing of importance until both of them were in complete agreement."[13] About thirty years after the wedding, Mabel kept a travel journal, and her words confirm her son's. She writes, casually, about making decisions together with her husband, who seems to be genuinely her friend and partner. On one day of their vacation, he wasn't feeling well, so Mabel went out exploring on her own, and she wrote, "To me there is so much of interest there to see and to do, and the things I saw alone were only half enjoyed."[19]

Ben Carol Mounts[2][20] was born a little over three years after their wedding, on February 10, 1918.[2] Years later, Benjamin Foraker told his son, Ben, about what a difficult birth it had been, and that "he thought that they were going to lose both her and [the baby]". Ben never knew if that was the reason his parents never had any more children. At any rate, Ben would remain his parents' first and only child.[13]

Shortly after her son's birth, Mabel stopped being known has Mabel and started being known as Byie. Her infant son gave her a new name. Or, really, her husband did, though he probably would have claimed it was all the baby. "As I understand it," her son wrote, "when, as a baby, I ceased crying and making gurgling sounds and began making noises that were half-way intelligible, I looked at my mother one day and said something like 'by.' It seems silly, but Daddy apparently thought that this was hilarious and began calling my mother 'Byie.'" The name stuck and soon nearly everyone who knew her - family and friends and acquaintances alike - were calling her Byie. The nickname even picked up a standard spelling - B-y-i-e.[13]

Ben described his mother as patient and affectionate and, as he put it, "almost the big sister I always wanted". Reading between the lines, it's clear that Byie's patience occasionally ran out. Ben was sensitive and creative and particularly talented at getting himself into trouble, the more outlandish the better. Ben writes about parents who really wanted to be supportive but also really, really wished their son would settle down and stop getting into embarrassing scrapes. (He did settle eventually, but they would have to wait until he was well into his late twenties.)[13]

The move to Marshall

Byie and Ben remained in Kansas City for about a decade after their marriage, and that kept them close their parents and siblings, both his and hers. They had frequent large family dinners and regular pinochle night with Ben's brother Harry and his wife Emma.[13] But in the fall of 1927, Byie and Ben left Kansas City for the central Missouri town of Marshall, so Ben could take a job supervising the maintenance and construction at Missouri Valley College.[13][21][22]

The family's first few months in Marshall were cold and lonely. It was an exceptionally harsh winter - Ben later said that "it was like moving to the North Pole" - and they missed their family back in Kansas City. They made the three hour drive back to Kansas City weekend after weekend.[13]

Abstracting work

Winter eventually ended, and the family soon settled into Marshall. Within a year after moving, Byie made use of her business school training and took a job with Bryant's Abstract Company.[13] Later, she left that workplace for Swisher's Abstract and Insurance Company. She would continue to work there their for several decades, all the way through the late 1940s.[23][13] The Mounts family and the Swisher family became good friends and remained close for the rest of their lives, long after Byie retired.[13]

Thanks in large part to Byie's abstracting work, the Mounts family wasn't hit especially hard by the Depression. When funds ran low at the college, Ben was put on leave for several years from the college, and, for awhile, he took work repairing cars and doing construction jobs instead. Byie never had to look for employment anywhere else. She remained a Swisher's employee all through the years of Depression and beyond.[13]

Travel, pets, and other hobbies

The family wasn't poor, but they were frugal. They liked to travel, and they did it as economically as they could. They stayed in tourist camps where they rented inexpensive cabins with few amenities. Byie would pack a box of food and supplies, and then she would make breakfast and dinner at the camps, rather than buying meals at restaurants on the road.[13] Eventually, about thirty years after their wedding, Byie and Ben went on their much delayed "honeymoon", a tour of much of southern United States. The trip involved a few more restaurant meals than their early travels. But they still stayed mostly in tourist camps when they could. She proclaimed the hotels too "snazzy." [19]

Probably because of all those road trips - and also, of course, because of Ben's work as a mechanic - the family had strong thoughts on models and makes of vehicles. In her travel journal that she wrote on their belated honeymoon, she kept up a running commentary on the good and not-so-good cars that she and Ben encountered. And she affectionately referred to their own car as "Little Ponty". Little Pony was a "he". She wrote, among other references to Little Ponty's adventures, "We almost 'dunked' Little Ponty, for the water came up over the run boards, but he waded bravely through." [19]

Ben and Little Ponty's predecessor, Ponty II

The family also banded together in their love of pets. She had a black cat named Dusty who, theoretically, belonged to her son.

But Dusty remained a much-loved member of the family long after her son had left home. She once mailed him a photo in which she and Ben posed with their cat, which she captioned, "Daddy and me and Dusty makes three." [13]

There is a photo of Byie's mother sleeping in a chair with a cat sleeping on her lap. So it's very possible she grew up in a family of cat lovers.

The Mounts family was one of the first on their block to own a radio[14], and they enjoyed sitting together in the evenings to listen. Byie's favorite program was Amos and Andy.[13] (Unfortunately, the show's humor, which was often built on offensive racial stereotypes, probably appealed to her. She was very much a woman of her times, and in her travel journal, she included many observations that would be considered emphatically racist today.)[19]

Byie tried her hand at gardening, but that may have been motivated more by frugality than entertainment. Her garden, unfortunately, met a sad end. The summer that she worked her hardest to grow food for canning was also the summer that Marshall was hit by unrelenting drought. She lost it all and was devastated.[13]

She would have made good use of the food in the garden if she could have. She was a good cook. Either she preferred to make dessert, or her son preferred to eat dessert. He wrote about her excellent homemade ice cream, and about the little pecan pies she sent in a shoebox when he was overseas with the war.[13]

The travel journal

She also, probably, liked to write. I don't have proof of this. I only have the single travel journal she kept on her second honeymoon. But it's not a journal of a woman who is unpracticed at writing. Her journal is vivid and witty, and it feels a bit like sitting down with her for a chat about her vacation. It turns out that conversation might have been a little snarky.

A few excerpts, both snarky and otherwise:

"Along the trail are many beautiful and peculiar rock formations. One called the 'Old Man of the Mountain' is a very close likeness to a human face. Our guide insisted that it resembles 'Pop-eye,' but I think its resemblance to a human being is better than that."
"Mountain Grove - where we found the grove, but looked in vain for the mountain. Willow Springs - with the springs very much in evidence."
"The only 'regular' [Civil War] grave stone we saw was marked with the name of a boy from Ohio, the date of his birth and when he was killed--and he was only sixteen years old. It seemed pitiful to me, and a lump came up in my throat as I thought of my own dear boy at the happy, care-free age of sixteen, and thought of those other parents of long ago, whose boy gave his all for a cause that he could only vaguely have understood."
"[The Gulf] looked just like it did ten years ago, and as I guess it has looked for thousands of years. The only way it looks different from the way it does at Padre Island is that the sand here is as white as sugar, and so glittering it hurts your eyes to look at it."
"Right then and there [watching the waves] was where I got the 'homesickest' for my boy that I had been on the whole trip, though he had seldom been out of my mind at any time. But I got to thinking of that other time, on Padre Island, when we were all out on the beach together - Daddy, Byie and Baby Boy, and the swell time we had, going in the water, cooking crabs; then the trip back over the causeway, with the waves swishing under us, and getting back to Corpus, and sweeping the sand out of the car - and well, I would have given a million dollars to have had my boy with me right then. Great stuff! to be mooning over some other guy on my honeymoon."
"We went all through the fort, and investigated it as well as we could, but our attention was considerably diverted by the mosquitoes, which were the most numerous, bloodthirsty and vicious of any I ever saw. They lit all over us and even dug in through our clothes. They seemed to be the sole defenders of the fort, but it would take a very brave army to raid it while they were there."
"From the attitude of our fat and genial host in regard to [the mosquitoes], one gets the impression that they are but an added charm of this charming country, and we accept them as such, and only swat them when he isn't looking, for fear of offending him."[19]

Emotional life

Her son confirmed the impression given by the journal. He wrote, "My mother had a wry sense of humor, and could be down right funny - when she wanted to be! Many people thought that she was very prim and proper - but Daddy and I knew better!"[19] The prim and proper part is probably what most of the world saw. She was introverted, and large, boisterous crowds wore her out. Sometimes, her siblings would come from Kansas City to stay in Marshall, and after a entire weekend of socializing, Byie would be exhausted. She usually went straight to bed as soon as her guests were gone.[13] Her tendency to withdraw may have been more than simple introversion. Her grandchildren believe it's possible that, at least at times, she suffered from clinical depression.

Byie's father was staunchly Baptist, and she likely grew up attending a Baptist church, but she didn't attend church regularly when her son was young. She sometimes asked Ben to pray the traditional "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer before bed, and she took him to Sunday school and church every once in a while. But, generally, in those years, her faith wasn't a part of her every day life.[13] It's likely that she became more involved with the church once she had fewer responsibilities at home. In 1957[24], when Byie was in her sixties, she and her husband were two of the founding members of Gill Memorial Baptist Church, and she became an "active [church] worker", according to her obituary.[1]


That same church was filled when it was time for her funeral.[13] Byie died on November 4, 1973[1], at the age of eighty-one, after a series of physical and mental problems.[13] She was buried in Ridge Park Cemetery in Marshall, and two names are inscribed on her tombstone - her given name - Mabel - and the name given to her by her infant son - Byie.[25]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Death of Mrs. Ben F. Mounts," The Democrat-News, Marshall, Missouri, 5 November 1973, page 7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Missouri Bureau of Vital Records, birth certificate, Ben Caroll[sic] Mounts, 10 February 1918.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Johnson County, Kansas, marriage license record no. 45829 (6 November 1915), Ben F. Mounts and Mabel Bennett; digital image held by Jessica Hammond.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 February 2020), Charles F Bennett, Burton township, Adams, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 101, sheet 10A, family 187, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,235.
  5. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 28 February 2020), memorial page for Charles Frank "Charlie" Bennett (10 Nov 1864–27 Dec 1952), Find A Grave Memorial no. 121952337, citing Mount Moriah Cemetery, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Jessica (contributor 48160479) .
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 February 2020), Chas F Bennett, Dickerson, Lewis, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 54, sheet 1B, family 16, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 792; FHL microfilm 1,374,805.
  7. "Missouri Death Certificates, 1910 - 1967," database with images, Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 27 March 2020), Elsie A. Edmonston, 5 November 1961, certificate number 1961_00041018, citing State Board of Health of Missouri, "Standard Certificate of Death", Elsie A. Edmonston, Jefferson City, Mo.: Missouri State Archives. Clarence E. Bennett was the informant. He was Elsie's brother.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918", database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 31 July 2020), Clarence Eugene Bennett, 1917-1918.
  9. "From Adams," The Quincy Daily Journal, 9 March 1898, pg. 5, digital image, Quincy Public Library ( : accessed 10 November 2008), Quincy Newspaper Archive.
  10. "United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 August 2020), Forrest Leroy Bennett, 7 May 1919; citing Military Service, NARA microfilm publication 76193916 (St. Louis: National Archives and Records Administration, 1985), various roll numbers.
  11. "From Lewiston," The Quincy [Illinois] Daily Journal, 28 November 1896, pg. 6, digital image, Quincy Public Library ( : accessed 10 November 2008), Quincy Newspaper Archive
  12. "An Adams Lady," The Quincy [Illinois] Daily Journal, 21 May 1902, pg. 2, digital image, Quincy Public Library ( : accessed 10 November 2008), Quincy Newspaper Archive
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 13.16 13.17 13.18 13.19 13.20 13.21 13.22 13.23 13.24 Autobiography of Ben Mounts, about 1987, original typewritten manuscript held by Jessica Hammond, transcribed digital copy also held by Jessica Hammond
  14. 14.0 14.1 "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 September 2020), Ben F Mounts household, Ward 2, Marshall, Marshall Township, Saline, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 98-23, sheet 7A, line 6, family 28, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 2155.
  15. "Missouri Death Certificates, 1910 - 1967," database with images, Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 18 September 2020), Charles F. Bennett, 27 December 1952, certificate number 44447, citing State Board of Health of Missouri, "Standard Certificate of Death", Charles F. Bennett, Jefferson City, Mo.: Missouri State Archives. Clarence E. Bennett was the informant. He was Charles's son.
  16. "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch  ( : accessed 20 November 2020), Chas F Bennett household, Kansas City Ward 13, Jackson, Missouri, United States; citing ED 207, sheet 13A, line 36, family 343, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 929; FHL microfilm 1,820,929.
  17. "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 January 2021), Missouri > Jackson > Kansas City Ward 13 > ED 207 > image 18 of 32; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  18. 18.0 18.1 Florence Mounce, widow's pension application number 742,430, certificate number 525,245; service of Samuel Mounce (Pvt., Co. F, 35th Ind. Inf, Civil War); Case Files of Approved of Approved Pension Applications...,1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

    I requested the Civil War pension file of Samuel Mounce from the National Archives in 2009. I received several hundred pages of documents. I've made scanned copies of it all. The documents span from 1864 , when he first began receiving a disabled veteran pension, to 1928, when his widow, Florence, died. During his life, Samuel applied for a pension increase under various governmental acts. Sometimes he was approved and sometimes he was rejected.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 Mabel Mounts, "The Story of a Belated 'Honeymoon'", travel journal with souvenirs and photographs, 1940, privately held by Jessica Hammond.
  20. "U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007," text database, ( : accessed 26 February 2021), Ben Carol Mounts.
  21. "Ben F. Mounts," Marshall (Missouri) Democrat-News, 6 April 1984, page 12.
  22. "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch  ( : accessed 3 September 2021), Ben F Mounts, Marshall, Saline, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 21, sheet 12B, line 95, family 302, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1246; FHL microfilm 2,340,981.
  23. History of Saline County, Missouri (Marshall, Mo. : Saline County Historical Society, 1983), Volume 1, page 392, Family History of the A.T. Swisher Family.
  24. Facebook conversation with Gill Memorial Baptist Church
  25. "Find a Grave Database; Mabel B. Mounts; 1973; Missouri

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