BENJAMIN F. BONNEY, for many years a leading business man in the town of Hamilton, where he is now living in retirement, is numbered among the most honored and respected citizens of Madison County, New York. He was born May 24, 1818, in the town of Hamilton. His grandfather, Benjamin Bonney, was, it is supposed, born in Massachusetts; and there he spent his last years, dying in Chesterfield. He was a farmer by occupation, and during the Revolutionary War gave up the plough for the musket, and fought for liberty. His wife, formerly Hannah Day, survived him, and died in Hamilton at the ripe old age of ninety-two years. The father of the subject of this sketch, also named Benjamin, was born in Chesterfield, Mass., in 1781, and there grew to manhood, and married. In 1809 he came to Madison County, accompanied by his family, making the slow and tedious journey overland with teams. He bought a tract of land near the centre of the town of Hamilton, on which stood a log house surrounded by a few acres of cleared land. At that time there were neither railways nor canals; and all surplus produce had to be hauled to Albany, which was the principal market and depot for supplies. The people in the settlements depended upon their farms or the game found in the vast forests for their daily sustenance; and the families were clothed in garments made from cloth which was spun, woven, and fashioned by the industrious wife and mother. He improved a fine farm, subsequently erected substantial frame buildings, and remained on the homestead until his death, in 1837.
He took an active part in the War of 1812, being stationed at Sackett's Harbor. Subsequently he served in the State militia, holding a commission as Colonel. He was a man of much influence in the town, and both he and his wife were esteemed members of the Baptist church. The maiden name of his wife, to whom he was married in the old Bay State, was Lucinda Wilder. She was born in Chesterfield, Mass., in 1782, and died in 1848 Philadelphia, Pa., in 1854. She was buried in Hamilton. Her father was Abel Wilder, a soldier of the Revolution, who took an active part in the battle of Bunker Hill, standing within a few feet of General Warren when he fell. To her and her husband were born two children that lived to maturity, Benjamin F. and Mary L. The latter, a woman of fine mental powers and great force
of character, was educated in the Troy Female Seminary. In 1850 she and Miss Harriet A. Dillaye established a school in Philadelphia, known as the Chestnut Street Female Seminary, which they conducted with great success for thirty-three years. A pleasing sketch of her life appears in a work entitled "A Woman of the Century," which was edited by Miss Frances E. Willard and Mrs. Mary A. Livermore, and published by Charles W. Moulton, of Buffalo. A brief biography of Mrs. Rambaut is also given on another page of this book.
Benjamin F. Bonney was reared on the home farm, attending the district school, and subsequently the academies of Hamilton and Homer. At the age of eighteen years he made his entrance into mercantile life, beginning at the foot of the ladder as a clerk, and gradually working his way up until, in 1854, he purchased an interest in the store with, his then employer, Hon. John J. Foote. Under the firm name of John J. Foote & Co., they carried on an extensive business in drugs and groceries. In 1869 the firm was changed to Bonney & Welton, and thus remained until Mr. Bonney retired from active business life, in April, 1893. Our subject married in 1847 Augusta C. Allen, who was born in Homer, N.Y., April 7, 1828, and died in Hamilton, April 13, 1888. She was a true Christian woman and an active member of the Baptist church. When a young man, Mr. Bonney, who had inherited the soldierly spirit of his ancestors, joined the State militia as a member of a regiment of light infantry, being mustered in as Corporal, and rose through the different grades to be Colonel of the regiment.
Mr. Benjamin F. Bonney is a man of integrity, influence, and ability, possessing sound judgment, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Hamilton Bank and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Education Society oŁ the State of New York. Politically, he is a steadfast Republican, and has filled the various offices of trust within the gift of his fellow-townsmen, and has served as a member of the Village Board of Trustees. He was chosen Postmaster under General Grant, and served satisfactorily for thirteen years. He has always been intimately identified with every movement for the advancement of education and morality, and with his sister is a consistent member of the Baptist church.
The attention of the reader is called to the excellent portrait of Mr. Bonney that is presented with this notice. Representing, as it does, a man of sterling integrity, and one who has always been devoted to public interests, and especially to the welfare of his town and county, its appearance will be viewed with feelings of pleasure by all who have come within the circle of his acquaintance or are familiar with his reputation.
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