Hugh Samuel Benton's family has been in America since the days
of the Revolutionary War, in which they served. They emigrated
from England, settled in Virginia and moved west with time. Hugh
S. Benton was reared in the cultural traditions of old Southern
families on plantations. There were four boys and two girls in
the Boone/Benton family. They visited and kept track of each
other and supported one another in their endeavors. From his
grandmother’s side, a long lineage of French Huguenots, named
Hugo Dupuy, lent Hugh his given name. He was born in Missouri.
Hugh was blond, blue-eyed, slightly build. His happy
personality and good looks were attractive to many he met. He
sang well and was musically inclined. Hugh was a gentle person,
courteous, moral, and hard working. He had determination and
dedicated himself to doing the best at whatever he tried. As a
very young man he joined the army and left his family farm in
Amarillo, Texas when World War I was proclaimed. The U.S. Army
sent him to Nogales, Arizona as a clerk in the Quartermaster
Corps. Camp Little was a center of defense against Pancho Villa
or other Mexican aggression that might present itself.
He did not speak Spanish but soon overcame that deficiency
when, during off-duty hours, he met the girl of his dreams.
Maria Dolores Quintero was a brown-eyed beauty whom Hugh called,
"My Queen," perhaps, because of her regal bearing and dignified
Maria Dolores Quintero, called "Lola," was born in Compostela
(meaning a field of stars), a small town close to the Pacific
Ocean in the state of Nayarit, Mexico Her family emigrated from
Spain in the late 1700’s and settled in west central Mexico. Her
mother's grandmother had married a sailor who came with Emperor
Maximilian's forces when the French were trying to dominate
Mexico, thus adding French to the family’s heritage.
Lola was raised in the tradition of old Spanish families and
lived on her uncle Alvino Ulloa's hacienda. They raised cattle
and crops. The family members all worked hard but also enjoyed
the pleasures of music, horses and fiestas.
Lola’s father's favorite horse was an Arabian horse. During the
era of the dictator, Porfirio Diaz, Placido Quintero, Lola's
father, was on the road on his horse with the payroll in saddle
bags. He was going to one of the family ranches he managed when
he was assaulted, robbed and killed. Placido's father, General
Candido Quintero, weeks later identified the body. Lola's mother
could never accept that her husband was dead. She preferred to
believe that he had been shanghaied by the "revolucionarios" and
would return. Placido's empty, discarded wallet found at the
site was given to his little daughter, Lola.
The world turned upside-down for Lola when her distraught
Mother, Antonia, not able or not willing to continue in the
hacienda life style so she took Lola and her two sisters to
Nogales, a thousand miles and more away. Her mother’s name was
Maria Antonieta Cruz de Quintero but was called Antonia or
Tona. Antonia built a home, which still stands, and
searched for ways to earn a living. This meant that Lola, the
oldest child, then ten years old was the housekeeper and the
caregiver for her two younger sisters when her mother was
At the age of sixteen, she went to work as a clerk at Victor
Wager's confectionary, called the "Palace of Sweets." She did
not speak English but she overcame that handicap. She needed to
learn English to work and to be able to converse with one of her
favorite customers, Hugh Benton. Lola gave her life over to
learning various skills in her many interests, the principal of
which was her family. Both Hugh and Lola were devoted parents to
their one daughter and two sons.
Despite some cultural differences Lola and Hugh had many things
in common, among which were love of adventure, love of learning
which led to love of life. One example, after his stint with the
U.S. Army, he bought a horse and wagon and farming supplies and
went to Mexico to grow cotton. A “scam” artist conned some of
the young veterans into going to Mexico. The Mexican citizens
would furnish the land and tools and water and the American
veterans would furnish the expertise, labor and seed. The income
would be split according a formula. The American con man did not
furnish what he promised. But my mother and Dad stayed anyway.
They learned about the land and the people and had a great
adventure until Lola became pregnant.
Upon their return to Arizona Hugh took a correspondence course
program passed the exam for Customs Inspector and was hired. He
retired from the unit after 25 years. During his employment
stint he increased his position from Inspector to Deputy
Collector of Customs.
The U.S. Customs, under the Treasury Department, gave Hugh the
assignment of opening a new international port of entry. Hugh
suggested the name, “Lukeville,” for the port, to honor the
famous Frank Luke, World War I Ace Pilot, from Phoenix. The
Benton family moved to Lukeville in 1941 and became acquainted
with the area. They often traveled to Rocky Point, Punta
Penasco, Mexico. Lola spent hours reading and learning about
seashells and marine life. That was the beginning of a
collection that lasted for 40 or more years. The large Benton
Shell collection was eventually transferred to the department of
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, College of Science at the
University of Arizona. The shell collection became the core upon
which college shell programs were developed. In addition, a
Benton memorial fund helps graduate students do research .
A selection of shells from the collection is on display on the
third floor of the Sciences and Engineering Library in Tucson
for all to enjoy. My granddaughter, Erica Elizabeth Wager, a
doctoral candidate at the University tells us that she likes to
study in the same area where her great-grandparents' shells are
housed. For more information call Dr. Peter Reinthal, Curator,
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, phone number
520 621 7518 Fax 520 621 9190 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The couple, who eventually moved to live in California, shelled
in California, up and down the West coast from Canada to
Southern Mexico. They traveled to Cuba, Texas, Florida,
Louisiana and points between. The collection comprises some
gifts of shells; there were a few instances of trading and
buying; but, the greater part is what they gathered, cleaned,
classified and stored themselves. Hugh and Lola appreciated the
value of shells for their beauty, for their role in the
ecosystem. In their homes, the shells were placed in display
cases for all to see. With all certainty, the Bentons would have
been pleased to know that the University of Arizona is caring
for the collection and is displaying the shells for all to use.
A memorial fund was established in their name. The fund was
increased recently to support a graduate assistant fellow.
Rebecca Prescott was named the Graduate Research Fellow and
listed the shells families on the web site. She also built shell
kits for various grade levels to aid grade school students in
learning about shells and marine life.
Article copyright © by Lola Benton White. Used by
permission; all rights reserved. Last revised 16 September
© Copyright 2014, The First Families of Arizona. Last revised 16 September 2014.