John R. Bonney, well known in Clay county and Southern Illinois as a
prosperous farmer and a prominent attorney in this section of the state, was
born in Monroe county, Illinois, on the 27th day of April, 1848. He is the
son of Philip C. and Nancy (Fisher) Bonney, the former born in Cumberland
county, Maine, in 1808. He came to Illinois in 1840 and settled in Monroe
county, later moving to Jackson county. A stone mason by trade, he followed
that occupation all his life. When the Civil war broke out he enlisted in
Company A of the Thirty-first Illinois, in the command of General John A.
Logan, and after a continuous service of eleven months he sickened and died
three days after being sent home. Mr. Bonney saw much active service during
the months of his enlistment, passing through the siege of Vicksburg and
participating in many important engagements. His widow survived him until
May 12, 1908, when she passed away at the family home. She was a woman of
sterling character and all womanly traits, and was always a member of the
Baptist church. She was a charter member of the New Design Baptist church,
the first Baptist church organized in the state of Illinois, and was ever an
enthusiastic and honored member of the organization. Her father, Thomas
Fisher, the grandfather of John R. Bonney, was a native of Tennessee. He
settled in Illinois in an early day and there passed his life as a farmer.
He was a highly respected member of society in his community, and lived a
worthy and useful life in his quiet way.
John R. Bonney was educated in the common schools of Clay county, and finished with two years in Shurtleff College at Upper Alton, after which he taught school for two terms. In 1877 he settled on a farm in Clay county, and there lived the quiet life of a farmer. He was elected justice of the peace, and for twenty consecutive years held that office In the meantime he prosecuted a carefully outlined course of law study, and in 1896 was admitted to the bar. In 1898 he was elected to the office of county judge, succeeding himself in that office in 1902. It was not until then that he entered into the active practice of his profession, forming a partnership with Judge A. M. Rose, prominent in Louisville and Clay county, and for two years he carried on a wide practice, meanwhile farming "by proxy," as he says. Mr. Bonney is a veteran of the Civil war, having served in Company E of the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Illinois Regiment for a term of seven months. He is and always has been an active Republican, as was also his father. Mr. Bonney has prospered in all his undertakings, and his farm of three hundred and seventy-five acres is a source of much pride to him, as well as a considerable income. He is at present filling the position of city attorney in Louisville in addition to his general practice, and is an all-around busy, business man. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the Methodist Episcopal church.
In 1869 Mr. Bonney married Miss Samantha Erwin, and of their union six children were born. They are: Laura, who married J. H. Chandler; Etta, who became the wife of George W. McGlashan; Lillie, who married Elijah G. Johnson; Maude and Jessie, both living in the parental home; and Roscoe, principal of schools in Springer, New Mexico. The wife and mother died in 1898, and on November 9, 1900, Mr. Bonney contracted a second marriage, when Miss Jennie Wolf became his wife. She is the daughter of Jacob Wolf, an early settler in Clay county. One son has been born of this later union, Harold Hobson, now attending school. Mrs. Bonney is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and is interested an active in all its departments of service.
Extracted 09 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1242-1243.