Alvin Carlton Benkelman Sr. 147,152
- Born: 8 May 1895, Elkland Township, Tuscola Co., Michigan
- Marriage (1): Katherine Ayres circa 1927
- Marriage (2): Olive Porter Scott on 1 Jun 1944 in Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland
- Died: 9 Sep 1987, Elk Creek, Grayson Co., VA. at age 92
- Buried: 11 Sep 1987, Elk Creek, VA
Alvin was born in Cass City, Tuscola Co., Michigan whereas his Social Security Number was issued in Illinois around 1957. He passed away at his home (one time summer home) at Elk Creek in Grayson Co., Va. in 1987. Daughter Scottie and her husband now own the property.
The WWI Draft Registration Card for Alvin Carl Benkelman dated May 28, 1917 lists his date of birth as May 8, 1895 in Cass City, Michigan. He is a Chemical Engineering Student at the University of Michigan. His physical description is short with medium build with light blue eyes and light brown hair.
The 1930 Federal Census for East Lansing, Ingham Co., Michigan, District 7, page 210A, dated April 4, 1930 records Alvin Benkelman (35) with his wife Katherine (25 - VA/VA/VA) and son Alvin (9/12 - Michigan). Alvin is a Research Engineer for the State Highway and has been married to Katherine for 3 years.
The 1940 Federal Census for Mt. Vernon District, Fairfax Co., VA, District 30-19A, page , dated 1940 records A. C. Benkelman (45 - Michigan) with K. L. Benkelman (38 - VA) and their son Alvin Jr. (10 - Michigan) living on Arcturus Street. A. C. owns his home valued at $7,000. He is an Engineer working in Highway Research and earned $3,279 during the last 52 weeks. There are lines drawn through each of the names and all descriptions.
The WWII Draft Registration Card (for men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897) for Alvin Carl Benkelman dated April 27, 1942 lists his date of birth as May 8, 1895 in Cass City, Michigan. He is living Alexandria, Fairfax Co., VA. He is working for the U. S. Government Abington Research Station and his physical description is 5' 2", 125 lbs with blue eyes, brown hair and light complexion. The person who will always know his address is Dorus W. Benkleman [his brother] of Cass City, Michigan.
The 1957 & 1959 Ottawa, Illinois, City Directory lists:
Alvin C. Benkelman (Olive S) eng A A Sho Rd Test h630 E Main
The following was written by Scottie Benkelman Pritchard and sent to Bo Hagen in June 2004:
WELCOME TO BENKELMAN'S FALLS Also known as FLAG POND FALLS AND 1776 LOG CABIN
In 1918, during WWI, Michigan-born Alvin Carlton Benkelman was in the US Army. He was assigned to accompany the body of a young soldier who had died in a flu epidemic in New Jersey where Benkelman was stationed. He arrived by train in Galax, where he waited for 3 days while the young soldier's family came out of the North Carolina mountains via ox-cart to claim their dead son. Those 3 days were long enough for Benk to fall in love with Grayson County.
Two and a half decades later found Benk the widowed father of one son. Benk had earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, and was employed by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, in northern Virginia.
His son, Alvin, Jr., was a student at Mount Vernon High School, where his favorite teacher was Olive Scott Thompson, originally of Elk Creek, Grayson County, Virginia. Alvin, Jr. took his teacher home for dinner and introduced her to his father. He was pleased when they began dating.
When Benk picked Olive up for a date, he saw a Galax Gazette on her coffee table. "Galax!" he exclaimed, "What do you know about Galax?" Olive replied that she had grown up thinking she wouldn't want to go to heaven if she couldn't go by way of Galax.
Their romance flourished and in June 1944, Olive married Benk. Not many teenagers have the privilege of choosing their step-mother. Four years later, the couple had a daughter, Ann Scott "Scottie" Benkelman Pritchard.
When Olive brought Benk "home" to Elk Creek to meet her parents, Dr. William Worley Scott and Alice Delp Scott, Benk's love for Grayson County was rekindled. Olive showed him around the beautiful Elk Creek Valley.When they visited Flag Pond Falls, Benk began to dream of owning a piece of Grayson County. Brambles and trash, which was illegally dumped there, obscured the falls, but Benk saw the beauty beneath the mess.
When the Benkelmans happened upon Mr. Ben Doss, driving a herd of sheep down a road, Olive commented that there was the owner of the falls. Benk jumped out of the car and asked Doss if he would consider selling the falls. They set a date to discuss that possibility. Benk walked the floors in excitement and anxiety. "If he'll sell that acre (on the cabin-side of the creek and falls), how much do you think it will cost?" Olive commented, "Anything over $100, I'll pay. Anything under $100, you pay me."
At their meeting, Mr. Doss drawled, "Well, that land's not good for anything. I traded away a cow for that land. She dropped a calf and I got the calf back. So I reckon $35 would be a fair price."
It took several years and a lot more money to locate the owners of the other "half" of the falls property and purchase it. The clean-up job was almost overwhelming, but it became a labor of love Benk looked forward to whenever they came to Elk Creek.
In 1965, Benk dismantled an old log cabin at Comers Rock and reconstructed it at the site of the falls. During disassembly of the cabin, inbetween the logs, a wooden shingle was foud that had written on it that J.J. Wilkerson built this log home in Comers Rock in 1776. Benk proudly put a sign at the falls, "Come in and see what God and man have done together." The falls remain a beautiful spot, a site for weddings and picnics and good times. Unfortunately, vandals have necessitated a locked gate at the falls.
In 1960, Grayson County had many heavy downpours of rain. The road, which curved up near the top of the falls, fell in a landslide, down at the foot of the falls. Now when you stand at the falls, you are several feet higher than when Benk & Olive first purchased it!
Olive and Benk planted a lovely circle of daffodils and day lilies in a little meadow near the falls. Benk died in 1987, convinced that he had lived out the final 20 years of his life in a true heaven-on-earth, Elk Creek. Olive started many fox glove and columbine plants at the falls. She passed away in 1996. They left behind a beautiful place, to be shared by their children and grandchildren, and friends who come to enjoy the magic. To get to Elk Creek from I-81 in southwestern Virginia, come south from Wytheville on 21. In "beautiful downtown Elk Creek", which consists of 2 gas stations, a bank and post office, turn right on Comers Rock Road, between the 2 stations. Go about 1 mile and turn left on Stones Chapel Road. In about a mile the paved road turns right, but you stay straight, going onto a gravel road. Just over 1/2 mile is the Pritchard's house on the left: red barn and shed, gray house. The falls and cabin are about 2/10 of a mile on up the road, past our house. Phone 276-655-4799.
The SSDI records:
Last Residence: 24326 Elk Creek, Grayson, Virginia
Born: 8 May 1895
Died: Sep 1987
State (Year) SSN issued: Illinois (1956-1958)
Alvin C. Benkelman
The work of Alvin C. Benkelman on the structural design of flexible pavements has had an international impact. In addition, a device that he was instrumental in developing is now used throughout the world for measuring deflections of flexible pavements under loaded vehicles. Called the "Benkelman Beam", it was developed when he was research engineer on the WASHO Road Test.
Much of his early work had to do with soils as related to highway construction. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1919 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, Mr. Benkelman joined the Illinois Highway Department. With them, he served as soils engineer on the famous Bates Road Test, the first large-scale test of its kind in the United States.
After this project was completed, he handled a variety of assignments as a highway research engineer with the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR). Then, in 1928 he joined the Michigan State Highway Department as research engineer to direct studies of soils, frost action and performance of pavements in service.
Mr. Benkelman returned to BPR in 1934 and was placed in charge of research on the structural design of flexible pavements. In this position he worked on the large Hybia Valley (Virginia) test track and was research engineer on the WASHO Road Test.
In 1956, he joined the staff of the Highway Research Board (HRB) to serve as flexible pavement research engineer on the AASO Road Test. He had been an active member of the design department of HRB since 1932 and had also served as Chairman of the Committee on Flexible Pavement Design from 1937 to 1956.
He is the author of more than 50 technical reports dealing with soils and with the structural design of pavements. As an anonymous author, he also wrote large parts of the WASHO and AASHO Road Test Reports.
In 1962, Mr. Benkelman was awarded the Roy W. Crum Distinguished Service Award by the Highway Research Board in recognition of his outstanding record of accomplishment in highway engineering research.
Noted events in his life were:
• Occupation: Chemical engineer.
• Education: Bachelor of Science, U Michigan.
• Religion: Methodist.
Alvin married Katherine Ayres, daughter of George Hawks Ayres and Mary Eliza Lynn, circa 1927. (Katherine Ayres was born on 14 Jan 1902 in Virginia, died on 27 Oct 1940 in Arturus, Fairfax Co., VA and was buried on 30 Oct 1940 in Ivy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, VA.) The cause of her death was Hemorrhage / Carcinoma.
Alvin next married Olive Porter Scott, daughter of Dr. William Worley Scott and Alice May Delp, on 1 Jun 1944 in Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland. (Olive Porter Scott was born on 18 Dec 1907 in Elk Creek, Grayson Co., VA, died on 23 Sep 1996 in Elk Creek, Grayson Co., VA. and was buried on 26 Sep 1996 in Elk Creek, VA.)
Cass City Chronicle
Friday, July 7, 1944
Vol. 39, Number 15
A. C Benkelman and Olive Thompson Wed
Dr. and Mrs. W. W. Scott announce the marriage of their daughter, Olive Scott Thompson, to Alvin C. Benkelman of Alexandria, Virginia, on June 1 at the manse in Rockville, Maryland, with Rev. H.K. Pasma officiating.
The bride wore a dress of aqua with brown accessories and a corsage of orchids.
Mrs. Benkelman is a graduate of Radford College and did special work in personnel at Purdue University and at the college of William and Mary. For many years she was social director at Radford College. During the past three years she has been guidance director at the Mount Vernon high school in Alexandria.
Mr. Benkelman, the son of John A. Benkelman, of Cass City, has been employed as an engineer by the Michigan State Highway department and the Federal Highway department since his graduation from the University of Michigan.
The couple are making their home in Arcturus-on-the-Potomoc, Virginia, after a nothern wedding trip.
(Transcribed by Melinda McLemore Strong, Spring 2007)