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- Bantly, Benedict Joseph, 1878-1961
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Benedict Joseph Bantly was born in San Francisco on May 9, 1878, the youngest son of Marcus Bantly (1848-1906) and Anna Grimm (1848-1912). Marcus and Anna immigrated from Wertemberg, Germany in 1870 to the United Sates where Marcus became involved in the manufacturing of cigars. Marcus and Anna had six children in San Francisco, though only three survived into adulthood: Simon Anton (“Tony”), Rosina (“Rose”), and Benedict. In 1883 the Bantlys came to Victoria, where Marcus again worked in cigar manufacturing and Anna supplemented their income by doing fancy embroidery work.
Marcus Bantly was an accomplished musician, a gift he would pass down to his children. Tony was a talented violinist and for many years was the leader of the Victoria Theatre Orchestra. Benedict a violinist, organist and pianist and played in several local orchestras as well as serving as organist for St. Andrew's Catholic Church. The Bantlys also formed their own orchestra, the Bantly Family Orchestra in which Marcus played clarinet, Tony the violin, Rosina the piano and Benedict either the violin or piano. In 1902 Benedict went to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Leipzig where he remained for four years.
While in Leipzig he met Johanna ("Hanna") Gertrude Mensinger and they were married in St. Andrew's Cathedral in Victoria on July 31, 1907. The couple had six children: Benedict M. Jr. (1908-1934), Charlotte Clara (b. 1909), Mona A. (1910-1978), Mark M. (1913-1972), Clement Francis (b. 1914?), and Josephine Johanna (b. 1919). Benedict operated his own music studio for many years and, in 1920, formed the Rotary Orchestra, which existed for over 30 years.
Benedict appears to have developed an interest in photography around 1909, taking photographs of family, relations, friends, music students and street scenes. He captured images of both the music and German communities in Victoria, as well as notable events such as the ploughing up of Fort Street with horses and soldiers marching down Fort Street during the First World War.
For many years, the Bantly family home sat on two city lots at 1127 Fort Street. In 1910, Tony and Benedict subdivided the property. Each had a home built so as to beside their widowed mother, Benedict and Johanna at 1125 Fort Street and Simon and Frances at 1121 Fort Street.
In August of 1922, Benedict and Johanna moved to California, where he composed music for silent movies and later became the director of music at La Puente Union High School. He also served as concert master of the San Gabriel Valley Symphony Orchestra. Other members of the Bantly family later followed. Johanna died in a car accident in California on August 31, 1939 and Benedict remarried. His second wife was Nellie Hickey (nee Pauline), daughter of Frederick Pauline of Victoria. Benedict died in California on February 18, 1961.