Josiah Hinman Bonney
|12/04/1843 - 05/04/1845|
Born on February 14, 1817, in Steuben County, New York, the youngest of five children. His father died when he was two and a half years of age, leaving the children dependent upon their mother, who supported them by her work at the loom and needle and by keeping toll-gate. At eight he went to live with Joseph Lyon, agreeing to work for him six years for his food and clothing and three months’ schooling each year, his mother having married again. At fourteen he entered a mercantile house in Elmira, remaining four or five years. He was a self-taught and self-made man, having no schooling after the age of fourteen, and no assistance but his own energy and industry in making his way in the world. At the age of twenty-one he emigrated to Illinois. On reaching Cass County he found himself with only eighteen and three-fourths cents in money, and was obliged to sell his trunk to pay the expense of bringing his baggage from Aurora, he having walked from there. In the spring he formed a partnership with B. B. Rew and came to Iowa with a small stock of goods, which they had purchased in St. Louis on credit. They settled at Rochester on the 9th day of June, 1839. They prospered the first year, but in the fall or early winter their larger order was unfortunately frozen up in the Mississippi river, owing to delay caused by the boundary line dispute between Iowa and Missouri. The goods could not reach Rochester till spring, and, their notes in the meantime maturing, the firm failed. Mr. Rew soon died, and Mr. Bonney, after struggling for ten years, paid off their indebtedness. In 1840 the political parties for the Territory of Iowa were formed. Mr. Bonney took a very active part in this matter and became a nominee of the Democratic Party for the office of Sheriff, then for the first time an elective office. He was elected, being thus the first Sheriff elected by the people of Van Buren County. In 1843, he was elected by the Democratic Party to a seat in the Territorial Legislature, and in 1844 again became Sheriff. In 1846, he was elected Clerk of the District Court, an office which prior to this had been filled by appointment from the Judge; in 1848 he was elected Secretary of State; and in 1853 he became one of the commissioners of the Des Moines River Improvement. For seven successive years - 1871-78 - he was steward of the county poor farm. Mr. Bonney married Orpha F. Stanard, at Rochester, on May 20, 1841. In July they settled in Keosauqua, which became their permanent home. To them were born eight children, two of whom died in infancy. Mr. Bonney was an Odd Fellow and a Mason, a life-long Democrat, and was educated under Methodist influence, though not a member of any church. On September 12, 1887, at the age of seventy, his useful life was ended by death. He had set an example of industry and integrity, and being a gentleman of intelligence his influence was marked and lasting. Memories of his character and deeds will ever be pleasant.