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Laura Alpharetta Benschoter Lett
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Birth: Nov. 9, 1863
Richardson County
Nebraska, USA
Death: Mar. 2, 1933
Jasper County
Missouri, USA


Nebraska Territory Birthplace:
Laura was the first born child of ten children born to Burgess and Pamela Frances (Craig) Benschoter. At the time of her birth in the middle of the Civil War, her parents were living in the Pleasant Valley area of Speiser, Richardson County, Nebraska Territory, not far from Humboldt (which wasn't even platted until 1868).

Moving to Kansas and Finding Home in Missouri
After the war ended, and her brother George was born, the family traveled to Kansas, staying briefly, before ending up in Jasper County, Missouri, in 1867, where her parents established a farm not far from Diamond, Missouri. All of Laura's brothers and sisters, except for George, were born on the farm, and the family remained close all their lives, including their relationships with their mother's family, the Craigs.

Helping Out Family:
In 1880, Laura, just 16, traveled back to her place of birth in Richardson County, to help out her aunt Margaret Catherine (Craig) Whitcomb, while her uncle Olney was away from their farm on business for a while. Olney and Margaret had several children and a very large farm.

Finding Love:
Once she was back home in Jasper County, a young man would claim her heart when she was 18. Laura fell in love with Beverly Ward Lett, the son of Walter and Rebecca Ellen Lett, who also came from a very large family--and he, too, was the eldest of his siblings. They married on January 25, 1862, at the home of her parents.

Beginning A Family:
Laura and Beverly Ward's first child, a daughter, Edna, was born in March of 1883, in Diamond Grove. By 1884, the couple traveled to Butler, Douglas County, Kansas, where their son Ivan was born in 1864, and Beverly was working as a drayman.

Coming Home:
They remained there for a couple of years, then moved back to Missouri--back to the fold of family--in time for the birth of their third child, their daughter Belva, who was born near Baynham Branch, a tributary of Shoal Creek, near Diamond in Newton County, in 1888. A couple of years later, Laura and Beverly would establish a home in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, on Moffet street, and there they would raise their children.

The Beginning of Grief:
Sorrow first struck the young family when their son Ivan died in 1891 from measles. It was such a heart-breaking time for this young mom of twenty-seven, and her husband, only twenty-nine.

Celebration of Life:
On October 24, 1897, the family celebrated the birth of another son, Donovan Ward. It seemed as if good things surrounded them once again.

And Again Profound Sadness:
But there was tragedy ahead. Laura's husband continued his work as a drayman, and part-time farmer after Donovan's birth. On November 30th of 1897, when he was hauling a load of mining equipment, the load shifted and fell on Beverly, crushing him, and his life ended at age 36.

Laura had her family and his family to support her in her painful loss, and she had two young daughters and a son who needed her. She struggled through the holiday season ahead, then in March of 1898, three months after her husband died, her baby boy, Donovan, died at the age of four months.

Making a Living and a Home:
Laura, as the oldest child in her family, and by necessity, became a young widow who used her resources to support her family. Her home was free and clear of a mortgage, and so she became a landlady. At the turn of the century, her brother-in-law Sampson Lett, who was 26 and single, and working as a stationary engineer, had come to live with Laura and her girls, and paid for his room and board. Undoubtedly, he also helped with the maintenance needs of the household. Another brother-in-law, J. R. Graves Lett, lived only four blocks away, and also helped with the household when needed. The young men continued their support until they married in 1902. Laura's own family, not too far away, could be counted upon when needed for anything.

By 1903, Laura's daughter Edna had begun working as a teacher in the Joplin school district, and that was very helpful in bringing in some money. They raised most of their food at their home, and Laura was very skilled with needle and thread and made all of their clothes, so the budget was tight, but manageable. Daughter Belva began working as a teacher in 1906, and that, too, helped with their budget in that first decade after her husband's death.

Skills Into Career:
In succeeding years, Laura turned her talent at dressmaking into a career. She first began working out of her home, then, after her daughter Edna had married in 1908 and left home, and daughter Belva was engaged and soon to leave, in 1913 Laura went to work for Christman's Dry Goods Company in Joplin as a seamstress. She continued to work there through the 1920's--in later years in dress sales.

In a letter Laura wrote to her family on January 30, 1920, you can hear both the pragmatism of needing to work and the longing to visit with out-of-town family: "Bertie, why don't you ever come to town again? I could visit with you quite a bit at the store...I wanted to come to see [kinfolks up northeast of Carthage] this winter sure, but but if I get to work steady, I won't get to go anywhere anymore...Will, can't you & Anna sneak off & come down to see me sometime? I would like to visit all of you, but you know how it is."

Family Comes Home:
Laura's daughter Belva married in 1913, and she and her husband, Jesse LaRue, were first in Idaho where he was mining and their daughter Beverly June was born, then in Oklahoma, and finally came to live with Laura before 1930. Laura was able to stop working outside of her home, and did so.

In 1933, Laura fractured her hip coming down the steps in her home. Complications from that fracture caused the embolism that ended her life. She died near her home in Freeman Hospital, with her family around her. Laura was the first of her siblings to be born, and the first of those who survived childhood to die. She left two daughters who not only loved her, but admired and respected her. Her daughter Edna inherited her mother's devout faith in God, and her daughter Belva inherited that faith as well as talent with needles and thread.

Laura left a rich legacy, this woman who struggled so hard in her years. Both daughters would tell to their children, and to their grandchildren, the stories of Laura's life and of her family. And Laura's great-grandchildren continue to tell the stories, share the photos, and document the biographies of that family for their families. A rich life, indeed.

Missouri Death Certificate


Family links: 
  Burgess Benschoter (1836 - 1916)
  Pamela Frances Craig Benschoter (1846 - 1907)
  Beverly Ward Lett (1861 - 1897)*
  Edna Viola Lett Stauffer (1883 - 1971)*
  Ivan Elmore Lett (1884 - 1891)*
  Belva Lenora Lett LaRue (1888 - 1982)*
  Donovan Ward Lett (1897 - 1898)*
  Laura Alpharetta Benschoter Lett (1863 - 1933)
  George Leland Benschoter (1865 - 1941)*
  Francis Marion Benschoter (1868 - 1946)*
  Alva Vernoy Benschoter (1869 - 1948)*
  Mattie Berta Benschoter Spence (1871 - 1955)*
  Anna Adelia Benschoter Paul (1872 - 1950)*
  Hubbard Craig Benschoter (1876 - 1878)*
  Levivian Toliver Benschoter (1881 - 1881)*
  Infant Benschoter (1882 - 1882)*
  Edward Dean Benschoter (1884 - 1886)*
*Calculated relationship

Stone Cemetery
Jasper County
Missouri, USA
Maintained by: Margaret Pickett
Originally Created by: Kim Slayton
Record added: Mar 26, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6291754
Laura Alpharetta <i>Benschoter</i> Lett
Added by: Margaret Pickett
Laura Alpharetta <i>Benschoter</i> Lett
Added by: Margaret Pickett
Laura Alpharetta <i>Benschoter</i> Lett
Added by: Margaret Pickett
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"...there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present..." Frederick Buechner
- mjp
 Added: Oct. 12, 2014
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
- NJBrewer
 Added: Oct. 1, 2014

- Vivian Puryear Almand
 Added: Mar. 22, 2014
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