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Bent, Governor Charles

Charles Bent was born at Charlestown, Va., in 1797, studied medicine, graduated from West Point. After resigning from the army he entered business in St. Louis. In 1828 he and his brother William went west, erected a fort (or stockaded headquarters) near what is now Las Animas which in time was to become famous from one end of the Santa Fe trail to the other as Bent's Fort. After he had formed a partnership with Col. Ceran St. Vrain (also a Mason) the firm of Bent & St. Vrain became nationally known as second in size and influence only to Bro. John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Co. at a time when beaver skins were used as money in the whole of the West. He married Maria of the famous Spanish family of Jaramillo, whose sister Josefa afterwards married General Kit Carson.

After New Mexico was formed into a Territory of the United States, Bent was appointed the first Governor, but in 1847 was assassinated in his home at Taos by a mob of Indians and Mexicans. This was part of a plot to drive Americans out of the Territory which had been schemed in Mexico City and was locally instigated by a corrupt and criminal priest at Taos named Fra Martinez. Bent was (along with the famous Senator Benton) a founding member of Missouri Lodge, No. 1, St. Louis, in 1821. A Lodge formed at Taos by the Grand Lodge of Missouri in 1860 and named Bent Lodge, No. 204, is now No. 42 on the rolls of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico. (See House Executive Document, No. 60, Thirtieth Congress, entitled "Occupation of Mexican Territory," and article by Bro. F. T. Cheetham in The Builder; 1923, p. 358. Gould's History of Freemasonry; VI; Seribner's; New York; page 36.)

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