Father: Hezekiah Bonham, Sr.
Mother: Mary Bishop
Spouse-1: Jemima Deborah Harker
Child-1: Daniel - b: ~1735 - Hunterdon Co., NJ
2: Zerviah - b: ~1737 - Hunterdon Co., NJ
3: Absalom - b: 1739 - Hunterdon Co., NJ
d: 4/Oct/1794 - Lincoln Co., NC
m: Jemima Harker - m: Rebecca Cox - 8/Apr/1785 - Lincoln Co., NC
Spouse-2: Hannah Buckingham Heath
m: 19/Jul/1751 - PA
Consort: Mary Fox
Child: Malachia - b: 1757 - Hunterdon Co., NJ
It is likely that Malachiah (or Malakiah) Bonham, son of Hezekiah Bonham, Sr., and his putative second wife, was born in 1713 in Maidenhead Township in Burlington County, New Jersey.1 Of course, Maidenhead Township was included within Hunterdon County when it was organized the following year, i.e., March 11, 1713 (1714 N. S.). It appears that he married Jemima Deborah Harker about 1733 or 1734. Three children have been attributed to them. Subsequently, in 1741 he was listed as a freeholder in Hunterdon County, resident in Maidenhead Township.2 It has been further reported that Malachiah was brought up as a Seventh Day Baptist, presumably in the household of his father, but changed his opinion as to the Sabbath and was ordained as pastor of the Kingwood Baptist Church in August of 1749. Prior to this, he became active in the Hopewell Baptist Church and was said to have joined the "Heights Town" (Hightstown) church before becoming a member of the Kingwood church.3 Subsequently, he was identified as an "Elder" in the organization of the "Rocksberry" (Roxbury) Baptist Church in nearby Morris County.4 It is evident from records of the Kingwood church collected by Ms. Phyllis D'Autrechy and cited in the work of Howard E. Bonham that Malakiah (i.e., Malachiah) was a very active church member after his ordination.5 (Within this context, Baptists did not and many still do not recognize formal clergy as separate from ordinary members of the congregation; hence, even though Malachiah had been ordained pastor, he had no more authority than other lay leaders.) Evidently, Malachiah's first wife died in the 1740's and he remarried a widow, Hannah Buckingham Heath. The date of their marriage is not known with certainty; however, there is a record in Pennyslvania of a marriage on July 19, 1751, between Malachia Bonham and an unknown bride, who in all probability can be identified with Hannah. The situation has been further confused because historians of the Buckingham family have identified Malachiah's brother, Nehemiah Bonham, as the husband of Hannah Buckingham. However, it is clear from extant New Jersey civil records that this must be in error and, moreover, probably is merely the result of confusion of similar names among the so-called "-iah" Bonhams. Indeed, there is clear evidence that Malachiah and Nehemiah were simultaneously resident in Kingwood Township in the early 1750's, which lends further plausibility to such a mistaken identity.6 Even so, H. E. Bonham has reported that Malachiah Bonham sold a farm in Maidenhead Township to John Johnson, Sr., in 1752 and that, moreover, this was the property originally settled by his father, Hezekiah Bonham, Sr. Concomitantly, according to prevailing customs of the eighteenth century, it would seem unusual that Malachiah, who was far from the oldest son of Hezekiah, Sr., should have ended up with his father's property. To explain this, although, it remains merely speculation, it is possible that as with many other personal upheavals in West Jersey society in the first half of the eighteenth century, this was also a collateral consequence of the "Coxe Affair". Indeed, there is clear evidence that Malachiah's older brothers, viz., Samuel, Hezekiah, Jr., Nehemiah, Zedekiah, and Jeremiah, were in debt and/or parties to the Coxe lawsuit at the time of their father's death in the early 1730's. Therefore, to avoid entanglement of the estate in these affairs, members of the family might have thought it prudent to convey the property to a younger brother, e.g., Malachiah, with the understanding that final disposition would be made at a later date, which was, perhaps, the motivation for the sale of the property in 1752. Even so, there is no documentary evidence for such an arrangement.Source Notes and Citations:
Unfortunately, on February 7, 1757, Malachiah Bonham became the object of a lurid scandal when he was accused by Mary Fox as being the father of her illegitimate child. She was suspended from church (presumably the Kingwood Baptist Church) and the following August, Malachiah was found guilty of his part in the offense and also barred from church. (Obviously, he must have lost his position as pastor.) At the same time, Hannah Bonham apparently requested and was given a letter of dismission, perhaps, because she intended to move away or simply no longer wished to be associated with the congregation due to feelings of embarrasment and shame. One can only imagine the general reproach and disapproval of the community that followed revelation of this illicit relationship. Consequently, it has been reported that Malachiah Bonham married Mary Fox as his third wife; however, there is no credible evidence of this. Likewise, there is no evidence of a divorce ever having been granted between Malachiah and Hannah Bonham; however, they had no children and it would seem almost certain that they would have separated under the circumstances. Concomitantly, Hazie has reported that Hannah Buckingham Heath Bonham made a will in October of 1767, which was probated eleven years later, identifying her as the "widow" of Malachiah Bonham, Sr., and further indicating that they had no children; Malachiah Bonham, Jr., being the son of Mary Fox. Indeed, this would tend to imply that Malachiah and Hannah were divorced after all since he was still living at the time the will was written, but more recent searches of probate records in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have failed to disclose a copy of the purported will. Therefore, it is possible that Malachiah Bonham and Mary Fox may have subsequently lived together without being married, but this should not be presumed and considering the mores of the time it would seem more likely that they did not. Indeed, subsequent church records indicate that Malachiah tried to recover his position, which surely would have been a ridiculous request if he had been "living in sin". Furthermore, despite the loss of his reputation, it is clear that Malachiah remained resident in Kingwood Township after 1760 because it was recorded that he was involved in the settlement of the estate of John Everitt in June of 1761.7 Even so, perhaps, the opprobrium did wear on him since he advertised his farm for sale in 1763 and 1764 and sold it at auction in 1765.8 After this, it is plausible that Malachiah may well have left Hunterdon County and lived elsewhere for a few years.9 Nevertheless, civil records indicate that he was resident in Kingwood Township in 1776 and afterward, therefore, if he left after 1765 it would seem obvious that he must have then returned by the middle of the 1770's.10 Malachiah Bonham reportedly died in Hunterdon County in 1789 at the age of seventy-six years. His burial place is not known. It is, perhaps, ironic considering Malachiah's disgrace that one of his descendants, James Butler Bonham, grandson of Absalom Bonham, was part of a prominent family from South Carolina and became a hero of the Alamo.11
1. James P. Snell and Franklin Ellis, History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, Everts & Peck, Pub., Philadelphia, PA, 1881: pg. 397.
"Rev. Malachia Bonham, son of Hezekiah Bonham, Sr. was born in 1713. He was a resident of Kingwood Township, Hunterdon Co.; was ordained as a minister in 1749, served at the Kingwood Baptist church until Feb. 17, 1757. He died in 1789, aged seventy-six."
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2. Howard Eugene Bonham and Jean Allin, Bonham and Related Family Lines, Bonham Book(s), 5104 Bridlington Ln., Raleigh, NC, 27612, printed by Genie Plus, Bradenton, FL, 1996: pgs. 172-87.
"1741. Malakiah (sic - Malachiah) was included in a list of Freeholders in Hunterdon County, New Jersey about 1741. This enumeration of Freeholders was apparently the list from which the jury was selected for a trial of a certain Rev. William Tennant. [For details of this action see NJ Archives, First Series, Vol. XII, Newspaper Extracts, Vol. II, p. 117; and Elias Boudinot, Life of Rev. William Tennent, various editions.] Juries were selected from 'Freemen above five and Twenty Years of Age.' Malakiah Bonham was on the list from Maidenhead Township, Hunterdon Co., NJ. Born in 1713, he was twenty-eight years old at the time of Jury Selection. [The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, 'Hunterdon County Freeholders, 1741,' by Norman C. Wittwer, Volume 37, May 1962, Whole Number 146, Number 2, pp. 50, 53.]"
"From Century-Old History of the Baptist Church at Kingwood, ('While the author and compiler is not named, it appears to have been the work of Rev. William Curtis, then the pastor.'):
'Malakiah Bonham was born at Maidenhead, (now the township of Lawrence) and bred a Sabbatarian; but changing his opinion relative to the Sabbath, he joined Hightstown first, and then Kingwood, and in 1749, he was ordained pastor of the church by Messrs. Miller and Carmen; he continued in the pastorship until February 17th, 1757, when he was refused the pulpit on account of an evil report that was spread concerning him; and March 24th 1761, was excluded from the church. He died in 1789, in the 76th year of his age.'"
"The date of Jemima's death is unknown; also the date of Malachia's marriage to Hannah (Buckingham) Heath, however, we do know that Hannah purchased an interest in the mill of her two brothers, John and William, on 30 Jan 1751, as Hannah Heath. Therefore, Malachia married at some date after 30 Jan 1751. [The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneers, p. 297.]
There is an entry in PA Vital records - Marriage, Vol. I, p. 490: __ __, and Malachia Bonham, 1751, July 19. The 'name of the bride' in this old record is unreadable, due to 'the old paper's wear and tear.' It could be Hannah Heath; the date would fit as she purchased an interest in the mill of her two brothers 30 Jan 1751. By 19 July 1751, she could have married Malachia Bonham." Here, Gregorian dates have been assumed although the Julian calendar was not officially replaced in England and the colonies until 1752.
"1752. John Johnson, Sr. bought the farm of Malakiah Bonham that was settled by his father, Hezekiah Bonham, Sr. Property W. S. of Province line - south of Stoney Brook. Josiah Furman owned land south of the Johnson property. ['Hopewell Valley Historical News Letter - Fall 1981.']
In the will of John Johnson, Sr, of Maidenhead, Hunterdon Co., yeoman, which was written 2 Apr 1752; executed 23 May 1752; this property is mentioned as 'farm bought of Malakiah Bonham.' [NJ Archives, Vol. XXXII, p. 178.] ... This is the same property that had belonged to Hezekiah Bonham, Sr. In 'Land Ownership,' p. 7, this property is described as: 'Hezekiah Bonham abuts Martin Hardin 12-15-1723 Hezekiah Bonham abuts Henry Mershon 1-15-1723/24 Hezekiah Bonham abuts William Binge 4-28-1733 Hezekiah Bonham abuts John Price 3-25-1737.'"
"According to many writers of Bonham history, Malachia Bonham married (3) Mary Fox. We have found no records to substantiate this report. The church records in Hunterdon County do state that Mary Fox had a bastard child whom she claimed was Malachia Bonham's."
"She did name her son Malachia Bonham, Jr., but then why not? She had named Malachia, Sr. as the father to the church authorities; ..."
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3. Lida Cokefair Gedney (comp.), The Town Records of Hopewell, New Jersey, pub. by New Jersey Society of the Colonial Dames of America, printed by Little and Ives, Co., New York, NY, 1931: pg. 130. (cited op. cit. (H. E. Bonham): pg. 180.)
Regarding the Hopewell Baptist Church in 1747: "For a year and a half this continued with only an occasional ministerial visit, and the compiler of these records, Mr. Isaac Eaton, expresses woeful lamentation over their condition. Mr. Malachia Bonham attended nearly every Sabbath day (sic - Sunday) for more than a year and Mr. James Carman with Mr. Benjamin Miller administered the ordinances. On June 19, 1747, the above ministers were called and chosen to meet with the congregation for the purpose of settling the differences that had disturbed the congregation. Differences were discussed and arbitrated, a marked revival of enthusiasm and spirituality developed, and 'many in the congregation seemed to seek the Lord mourning and weeping as they go with their faces Zionward.' The ministers preached with fervor and power and soon there was 'such an apparent revival in Religion that there was in great measure a happy Stop put to Frolicking and Gaming in the neighborhood. the Joyfull Sight appear'd of Souls flocking to God as Doves to their windows and Joyning with the Church from time to time'." Within this context, Mr. H. E. Bonham has suggested that this revival was motivated by a lethal outbreak of scarlet fever or diphtheria which caused many deaths. Indeed, this may be true from a local perspective, but in a much broader sense it was undoubtedly a manifestation of the "First Great Awakening", which can be most accurately described as a general revitalization of Protestant religious piety that swept through the North American colonies between the 1730's and the 1770's.
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4. "HOPEWELL (MERCER)(1715) On April 23, 1715, a meeting was held at the home of Joseph Stout, at which time a church was constituted. There were twelve charter members, viz., Joseph Stout, Jonathan Stout, Thomas Curtis, Benjamin Drake, Hannah Stout, Ann Stout, Ruth Stout, Sarah Fitzrandolph, Rachel Hyde, Ann Curtis, Mary Drake, Sarah Smith. The presbytery was composed of Elder Abel Morgan (from Pennypack), Elder John Burrows (from Middletown), and brethren Griffin Miller, Joseph Todd, and Samuel Ogborn.
After many years of meeting in homes and having problems securing a place to meet, it was decided to build a meeting house. Twenty members were baptized from 1715 to 1728 and by 1747 there were 65 members. A meeting was called on June 19, 1747, held at the home of Henry Oxley in Hopewell (then known as Columbia) at which time David Stout, Benjamin Stout, and Henry Oxley were chosen managers to build a meeting house. After agreement to build a meeting house, a great revival took place in the church which put a stop to frolicking and gaming in the neighborhood. The first church was built of stone. As quoted in the records, 'they went to work to draw stones in August 1747 and sometime that winter following got it fit for meeting.'
As most persons came a long distance, they did not want a short sermon and preaching might last two hours. They held their business meeting on Saturday which consisted of a sermon, reviewing prospective members, disciplining members and matters concerning the expenses of the church. Persons were baptized on Sunday in a nearby brook. Sermons on Sunday were one to two hours.
On October 30, 1748, Elder Isaac Eaton was called from the Baptist Church of Southampton, Pennsylvania. He was ordained November 23, 1748. Elder John Gano was a member here, and was ordained here in 1755. John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried beside the meeting house; he was not a member of the church, but gave land to the church on which the building was erected. Many veterans of the Revolutionary War are buried in the cemetery by the church.
In 1769 a new law required that church societies be granted a charter in order to own land, buildings, monies and goods. A petition was forwarded to then Governor William Franklin of New Jersey for a Charter from King George III of England, which was received Dec. 11, 1769. By this act the governing body received this name - The Trustees of the Baptist Congregation of Hopewell. Eight Trustees were chosen. Cost of Charter - 7 pounds 15 shillings. In 1798, by an act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, the church was incorporated as a 'body politic' which gave it authority to own land.
In 1811 the First Baptist Church of Hopewell was dismissed from the Philadelphia Association to join an association in New Jersey.
The church was rebuilt in 1822 on the foundation of the first church and appears today as it did in 1822. From the stepping stone of the first meeting house, in April 1775, Col. Joab Houghton stood on a Sunday morning and announced, 'Men of New Jersey, the Redcoats are murdering our brethren in New England! Who follows me to Boston!' and the lady folks watched as their men rushed to the aid of Lexington and Concord, where the battle ensued which would become legendary as the one in which the shot was heard around the world. Col. Joab Houghton is buried near the church, and an inscription with this message is recorded on the stone on the front of his crypt.
There were visiting ministers until 1721, when Thomas Simmons came and stayed three years. He was followed by Jenkins Jones, and Joseph Eaton. Later pastors included Elders Isaac Eaton (1748), Benjamin Coles (1774), Oliver Hart (1780), James Ewing (1796), John Boggs (1807), William Curtis (1845), Philander Hartwell (1853), William J. Purington (1879), F. A. Chick (1896), Charles Vaughn (1914), H. M. Bennett (1953), Arthur Warren (1959). ...
SURNAMES OF MEMBERS OF HOPEWELL CHURCH: Alderson, Allen, Allison, Anderson, Arnal, Arthur, Barton, Beedle, Bennett, Biggs, Black, Blackwell, Blue, Boggs, Bonham, Bontiera, Boss, Bray, Brinson, Britain, Brush, Bryant, Buchanon, Buckhanon, Burcham, Burkelow, Burt, Burtis, Campbell, Carr, Cate, Chamberlain, Chandlers, Chetester, Clayton, Cochran, Coles, Collins, Compton, Cone, Corwine, Coulter, Craven, Curtis, Danbury, Durah, Davis, Davison, Disborow, Drake, Dunn, Eaton, Evans, Every, Ewing, Exine, Farley, Farnsworth, Fitzrandolph, Foster, Fowler, Frank, Friday, Gano, Gary, Gillmore, Goodwin, Green, Guthrie, Hannah, Harder, Hart, Haugh, Herin, Herren, Herrin, Herring, Hickson, Higgins, Hill, Hilsey, Hixon, Hixson, Hoff, Hough, Houghton, Howell, Howton, Hudnott, Huff, Hunt, Hutchinson, Hyde, Jewell, Johnson, Jones, Kife, Kise, Knowles, Labaw, Labeteaux, Lambert, Lane, Larison, Larrison, Lebough, Lee, Lefeever, Lock, Longley, Lott, Lyon, Manners, Mather, Mathes, Matthews, McCrery, Merrell, Morgan, Opdyke, Osborn, Osborne, Ott, Oxley, Pain, Palmer, Park, Parks, Petitt, Philip, Phillips, Pierce, Powell, Prawl, Prince, Quick, Randolph, Read, Risenbarrach, Roberts, Rose, Ruckman, Runnell, Runyan, Saltore, Salyer, Saxton, Schauck, Servey, Service, Servis, Sexton, Shaw, Shered, Smart, Smith, Snook, Snowden, Sorter, Staneland, Stephens, Stogden, Stone, Stout, Sutfin, Thompson, Titus, Trout, Van Kirk, Van Pelt, Vandike, Vannoy, Vanpelt, Voorhies, Wallen, Warford, Weimer, Weycoff, Whitehead, Whitehouse, Willgose, Williams, Williamson, Woolverton, Wycoff, Young (list is incomplete)."
"KINGWOOD (HUNTERDON)(1742) Kingwood Church was organized in 1742, by members dismissed for that purpose from Hopewell Church, who were early settlers of the area of Locktown (or Baptisttown). A log building was erected in 1750 in Delaware township. A frame building was erected, and then a stone building, in 1819, which is still standing, and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings."
"HEIGHTS TOWN (1745)"
"ROCKSBERRY (MORRIS)(1753) Rocksberry Church was organized May 12, 1753, at Rocksberry, by a presbytery of Elders Isaac Stelle and Malachia Bonham. The church united with the Philadelphia Association in October following." (Robert Webb, "Church and Family History Research Assistance for Primitive Baptist Churches in the State of New Jersey", www.carthage.lib.il.us/community/churches/primbap/NewJersey.html, 2005.)
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5. Phyllis B. D'Autrechy, Some Records of Old Hunterdon County, 1701-1838, Trenton Printing Co., Trenton, NJ, 1979: pgs. 75-8. (cited op. cit. (H. E. Bonham): pgs. 180-3.)
Second Saturday in August, 1749. "... our Brother Malakiah Bonham preached the word on Sabath (sic) Day. Mr. Carman and Mr. Miller preached and adminstered the Lords Supper; on Monday Mr. Benjamin Miller preached the ordination Sermon and then they proceeded to ordain our Deare Brother Malakiah Bonham our Minister and pasture (sic - pastor) over this Church our re'nd Brother Curtis Being Deceased"
Third Saturday in September, 1749. "Elected Andrew Bray, clerk; James Bray, Moderator; Malakiah Bonham and Andrew Bray, messengers to the Association; James Bray and Edward Hunt, deacons"
January 15, 1749 (1750 N. S.). "Chose Andrew Bray, clerk and Malakiah Bonham, moderator. Suspended: Nathaniel Farnsworth, Edward Slatter [Slater], William Woodard and Richard Palmer. Selected as Admonishers: Andrew Bray and John Crichfield, James Bray and J. Schrunfield, Edward Hunt and Ezekel Oliver and Andrew Bray"
Second Saturday in August, 1750. "Malachiah Bonham, clerk"
December 7, 1750. Letters of admonition sent to four disorderly members. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
April 19, 1751. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
April 24, 1752. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
July 24, 1752. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
December 15, 1752. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
August 9, 1753. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
September 22, 1753. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk, Thomas Curtis, clerk to raise psalms; ... Malakiah Bonham and Isaac Woolverton, messengers to the association with a letter written by James Bray"
October 4, 1753. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
April 18, 1755. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
February 6, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk. Isaac Leet and Benjamin Rounsafell to admonish Thomas Curtis. Isaac Woolverton and Peter Romine to admonish Job Warford. Henry Slack to 'excite' Ezekiel Olliver and his wife to come to next meeting. Brothers Romine and Woolverton to admonish William Ruttinhouse. Malakiah Bonham and Brother Opdyke to be messengers to Elizabeth Worford in regard to differences between her and James Bray"
March 6, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
April 3, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk. Thomas Curtis and wife admonished by Andrew and James Bray"
May 1, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
June 5, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
July 3, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
August 9, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
September 13, 1756. "Malakiah Bonham, clerk"
February 7, 1757. "Andrew Bray, clerk ... Mary Fox suspended for having a bastard child which she swore was Malakiah Bonham's. Sent for Mr. Benjamin Griffey and Mr. Benjamin Miller in regard to Malakiah Bonham who will be notified by Brother Romine"
August 27, 1757. "Andrew Bray, clerk ... Malakiah Bonham found guilty and barred from the church. Hannah [Buckingham Heath] Bonham's letter of dismission to be written by Joshua Obdyke"
April 7, 1759. "Letter of dismission to Peter Romine and wife to Short Hill in Loudon Co., Va. Wm. Rettinhouse and Isaac Woolverton to get glass and nails for meeting house and the Book of Concordance from Malakiah Bonham"
September 6, 1760. "William Lock, clerk ... Mr. Bonham continues to be under suspension. Thomas Curtis suspended"
March 2, 1761. "Mr. Bonham cut off from privileges"
June 5, 1761. "Andrew Bray, clerk ... Mr. Bonham appeared to express his desire for his place in the church which was denied him"
September 5, 1761. "... Mr. Bonham continued to be denied place in the church"
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6a. Abraham Van Doren Honeyman (ed), New Jersey Archives - First Series (alt. title Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Adminstrations, Etc. Vol. III: 1751-1760), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, The Unionist-Gazette Assoc., Printers, Somerville, NJ, 1924: Vol. 32, pg. 178.
Apr. 2, 1752. "Johnson, John, Sr., of Maidenhead, Hunterdon Co., yeoman; will of. Wife, Mary. Children---John, Andrew (under age), Catherine, Anna, Rebeakah, Jemima and Mary. Farm, received from father; home farm; land bought by father of 'old Richard Stockton,' farm bought of Martin Hardin; 50 ac. bought of Capt. John Anderson; farm bought of Malakiah Bonham. Personal estate, incl. a negroman, and a servant named Mathies Smith. Executors---the wife and John Scank. Witnesses---William Updike, Ann Updike. Proved May 23, 1752."
May 21, 1752. "Inventory, £1063.19.3, incl. bills, bonds and book debts, £611.0.5; a servant man, £12; made by Nathaniel Fitz Randolph and William Worth."
b. ibid.: Vol. 32, pg. 172.
Jun. 23, 1753. "Ingham, Jonas, of Kingwood, Hunterdon Co., fuller; will of Children---Jonathan Ingham of Solebury, Bucks Co., fuller; Mary (wife of Hezekiah Bye of Solebury, yeoman); Elizabeth (wife of Joshua Waterhouse, of Kingwood). Grandchildren---John, Jonathan and Jonas Ingham. Personal estate incl. a great Bible and other books. Executor and residuary legatee---Son-in-law, Joshua Waterhouse. Witnesses George Fox, Gabriel Fox, Ambrose Fox. Proved December 24, 1754."
Dec. 29, 1754. "Inventory, £294.0.9, incl. a clock; bond, £263.12.5; made by Malakiah Bonham and Gabriel Fox."
c. ibid.: Vol. 32, pg. 120.
Apr. 27, 1754. "Fox, George, of Kingwood, Hunterdon Co., yeoman; will of. Wife, Mary. Sons---George, Ambros, Absolem, Amos, Gabriel; all under age. Daughters spoken of, but not by names. Real and personal estate. Executors---sons George and Gabriel. Witnesses---Malakiah Bonham, Nehemiah Bonham, William Lock. Proved June 24, 1754."
Jun. 21, 1754. "Inventory, £165.18, by Malakiah Bonham and Richard Green."
Jun. 7, 1760. "Fox, George, of Kingwood, Hunterdon Co., cooper; will of. Wife, Rachel, sole Executrix. Children---Charles and George, sons, and daughters, but names not given; all under age; an expected child. Real and personal estate. Witnesses---Malakiah Bonham, Joshua Waterhouse, John Johnson and Gabriel Fox. Proved June 25, 1760."
Jun. 23, 1760. "Inventory, £151.9.6, by Joshua Waterhouse, Malakiah Bonham and Richard Green."
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7. Abraham Van Doren Honeyman (ed), New Jersey Archives - First Series (alt. title Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Adminstrations, Etc. Vol. IV: 1761-1770), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, The Unionist-Gazette Assoc., Printers, Somerville, NJ, 1928: Vol. 33, pg. 138.
May 29, 1756. "Everitt, John, of Bethlehem, Hunterdon Co., will of. Wife: Hannah, furniture, live stock, negro called Dorcas, etc. Eldest son, Moses, £3. Son, Joseph, £25. Son, Benjamin, £10. Son, John, £10. To Abel Everitt, £2, and the rest to be divided between my four daughters, namely, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary and Hannah. Executors---my wife, Joseph Reeder and James Warford. Witnesses---Reuben Armitage, Cornelius Polhemus, Gershom Palmer. Proved July 12, 1761."
Jun. 20, 1761. "Inventory, £298.2.1, made by Daniel Lake and Malakiah Bonham."
Jun. 17, 1768. "Account by James Warford, Executor. Money paid for attendance on the widow, in her illness, £30; to John Mitchell, John Lake and Cornelius Hoff, legatees; to Moses Everitt, son of the deceased, and to Joseph Everitt, Benjamin Everitt, John Everitt and Abel Everitt, 3, 25, 10, 10 and 2 pounds, respectively."
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8a. William Nelson (ed), Extracts from American Newspapers Relating to New Jersey. Vol. V: 1762-1765), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, The Press Printing and Pub. Co., Paterson, NJ, 1902: Vol. 24, pgs. 264.
"TO BE SOLD A comodious Plantation, containing 210 Acres of Land, 100 Acres of Plow Land cleared, and in good Repair, 15 Acres of Meadow cleared, and 25 or 30 Acres more may be made, well timbered and watered, a new Stone House, finished to the Key, 31 by 21 Feet, two Stories high, two rooms on a Floor, with two good Chimnies, commodiously built for a Country Store, where one has formerly been kept for a considerable Time, well situated in a good Country for the Business. Also a good framed House, with a good Log Kitchen, a good Cellar and Granary, a good Frame Barn 36 by 26 Feet, 250 good bearing Apple Trees, the most of them grafted with the best of Fruits, plenty of Peach and other Fruit Trees, lying in Kingwood, a very flourishing Part of Hunterdon County, 25 Miles from Trenton, and 40 from Philadephia, about one Mile and a Half from a good Landing, and excellent Fishery on the River Delaware, about a Mile from a good Mill, near a School, and different Places of Worship. The Title indisputable.
Whoever inclines to purchase the same, may know the Terms, by applying to the Owner, on the Premises. Malakiah Bonham" (personal notice: The Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 1819, Nov. 3, 1763.)
b. ibid.: Vol. 24, pgs. 449-50.
"To be Sold by the Subscriber, A Valuable Plantation, lying in Kingwood, a very flourishing Part of Hunterdon County, West-Jersey, containing 200 Acres, 100 of Plough-land, and 15 Acres of Meadow cleared, and in good Repair; two good bearing Orchards, containing upwards of 300 Trees, chiefly grafted, with excellent Fruit, Peach and other Fruit Trees, well timbered and watered, 20 or 25 Acres more of good Meadow may be made, the Land good for Grain and English Pasture; there is a good new built Stone House, two Stories high, 31 by 21 Feet, an excellent Cellar, fit for any public Business, a good framed and Log house, a good Stone Granary, with a Cellar under it, a good Frame Barn, 36 by 24 Feet, within one Mile and a Half of two good Grist-mills, lying in a very public Place, on a great Road leading to Philadelphia, about two miles from a Landing and excellent Fishery on the River Delaware, near divers Places of divine Worship. Any Person inclining to purchase the same, may know the Terms, by applying to the Subscriber, on the Premises. Malakiah Bonham." (personal notice: The Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 1872, Nov. 8, 1764.)
c. ibid.: Vol. 24, pgs. 511-2.
"To be sold at publick Vendue, On Monday the 22nd Day of April , and to be enter'd upon the first day of May next,
A Very valuable Plantation containing 210 Acres, lying in Kingwood, a very flourishing Part of Hunterdon County, in West New-Jersey, 25 Miles from Trenton and 40 from Philadelphia. There are upon it 100 Acres of plow land, and 15 of Meadow clear'd and in good Repair; and 25 or 30 Acres more of good Meadow may be made: The Land is good for Grain and English Pasture, and has on it the following Improvements, Viz. A new Stone House 2 stories high, with two good Chimneys, and an extraordinary good Cellar. A good framed House with two good Fire Places. A good Kitchen with an Oven in it; a good Grainery, and a Cellar under it; a good framed Barn 36 by 24 Feet, a thriving Orchard of 100 Trees, many of which are Grafts, and both very Fruitful: a good Sprong of Water rises about 5 or 6 rods from the Door. The whole Buildings are every Way convenient for any publick Business, and are on a very publick Road, about one Mile and a Half from a Landing, and an Excellent Fishery on the River Delaware, very convenient for sending Produce and bringing Goods from Philadelphia by Water.
At the same Time will be Sold, Twenty-five acres of Wheat and Rie on the Ground, a Team of good Horses, Cows and young Cattle, Sheep and Hogs, an Iron bound Waggon, Plow, Harrow, and all farming Utensils, with sundry Shop and Household Goods, too tedious to mention. The Vendue to begin at 10 o' Clock, on the Premises, where due Attendance will be given, and an indisputable Title made to the Purchasers by Malakiah Bonham
All Persons indebted to me, are desired to make immediate Payment, or they will be proceeded against according to Law."
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9. William Nelson and Abraham Van Doren Honeyman (eds), Extracts from American Newspapers Relating to New Jersey. Vol. X: 1773-1774), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, The Call Printing and Pub. Co., Paterson, NJ, 1917: Vol. 29, pgs. 27 & 39.
According to The Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 2335, Sep. 22, 1773 and No. 2336, Sep. 29, 1773, Malachiah Bonham was included on a list of persons having unclaimed letters remaining in the Trenton Post Office. He was listed as "Malachi or Malachia Bonham, Kingwood". Although, not conclusive by any means, this suggests that Malachiah Bonham may have been living elsewhere at least in the years 1772 and 1773.
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10a. Abraham Van Doren Honeyman (ed), New Jersey Archives - First Series (alt. title Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Adminstrations, Etc. Vol. V: 1771-1780), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, MacCrellish and Quigley Co., Printers, Trenton, NJ, 1931: Vol. 34, pg. 190.
May 27, 1776. "Freeman, Henry, of Kingwood, Hunterdon Co., will of. Wife, Isabel Freeman, plantation where I dwell, during her life. Daughter, Abigail Warrik, and her husband, £8. Daughter, Ann Bird, and her husband, £8. Daughter, Elizabeth Alexander, £8. Daughter, Lucy Howell, £8. Daughter, Conzada, some household goods. Grandson, Lot. a horse, when he is 21, and, if he behaves well, he may live with my son, Edward. Son, Edward, my plantation. Executors---son, Edward, and Jonah Parks. Witnesses---Malakiah Bonham, William McClean, Grace Harris. Proved June 20, 1776."
Jun. 18, 1776. "Inventory, £191.7.5, made by John Taylor and William McClean."
b. ibid.: Vol. 34, pg. 485.
Mar. 7, 1778. "Snyder, Peter, of Amwell Township, Hunterdon Co., yeoman; will of. All real and personal estate to remain in the hands of my wife, Lenah, while my widow, in order to bring up my children; but, if she marry, all is to be sold. Wife, Lenah, £300. Rest to my children as they are of age, but the oldest son is to have £5 more than the rest. Executors---wife, Lenah, and Hantall Rizler. Witnesses---Malakiah Bonham, Rachel Snyder, Elizabeth Bevin. Proved May 16.. 1778."
May 11, 1778. "Inventory, £3,988.0.3, made by Malakiah Bonham and Derrick Hogeland."
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11. A partial descendancy for the Absalom Bonham family has been extracted from information published by E. B. Hazie and H. E. Bonham, has been augmented by additional sources and appears as follows (additional information in italics):
Absalom Bonham, son of Rev. Malachia & (1) wife, Jemima (Harker) Bonham, was born 1739; probably in Hunterdon Co., NJ; died 4 Oct 1794 in NC; married (1) Jemima Harker, his first cousin, who died 1784.
Absalom was chosen as guardian for Cornelius Harker, a relative of his first wife, Jemima Harker.
According to Hazie in Bonham Revised, 1959, p. 42, Absalom, a post rider, was living in Frederick, MD at the outbreak of the American Revolution. He did not like the officers in the local military so he returned to his native New Jersey and enlisted in the Fourth Battalion, Second Establishment. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant Nov. 1, 1777, then transferred to the First Battalion and promoted to 1st Lieutenant, March 27, 1780. He was mustered out as brevet-captain April 1783. He served in Green's army of South Carolina. After the Revolutionary War, Absalom and his family moved to North Carolina, and his son James who had served as a lad of fifteen in the sige of Yorktown, kept on into South Carolina.1. Jemima Bonham, born MD; married on 24 Apr 1779, George Nelson.married (2) Rebecca Morris or Cox
2. Elizabeth Rachel Bonham, born ~1762 in MD, marriedon 20 Dec 1785 in Frederick Co., MD, John Lawrence Dorsey of Baltimore, MD,.
3. Deborah or Mary Bonham, born MD; married on 13 Apr 1782 in Frederick Co., MD, Arthur Flemming or Fleming.
4. James Bonham, born 1 May 1766 in Frederick Co., MD, died 27 Nov 1815; buried Smith-Bonham Cem. Saluda Co., SC; married (1) on 29 Mar 1787, Sarah Whitsel Lewis, born 18 Dec 1765, died 18 Dec 1795; married (2) in 1797, Sophia Butler Smith, born 18 Dec 1780, died 18 May 1858; buried Smith-Bonham Cem. Saluda Co., SC.
5. Malakiah Bonham*, born 1767/1768 in MD; married on 24 Sep 1789 in Frederick Co., MD, Mary Williamson. They had Daniel Bonham.6. John Bonham, born 30 Oct 1786 in NC, died 1 Aug 1869 in AL; married, Jane Forth, born 5 Feb 1807 in SC, died 7 Jul 1871 in AL. They had Nancy Jane, Margaret F., Anne E., Rebecca, Bethel Jarrell, John, Jr., Elizabeth, Nathaniel W., Martha Ann, Parmelia A., Emanda Missouri, Medorah Calloway, and Ellen Caroline Bonham.
7. Arnold Bonham, born NC; married on 10 Dec 1807 in Lincoln Co., NC, Polly McMurray.
8. Sarah Bonham, born 1787; married Rice Farrar Ross of GA. They had Theophilus Ross.
9. Rebecca Bonham, born 27 Jul 1789, died 1860; married in Laurens Dist., SC, John McKisick, born 4 Sep 1784 in Lincoln Co., NC, died 1818. They had John Wilson and Ross Bonham McKisick.
10. Samuel Cox Bonham, born 10 Nov 1791 in Lincoln Co., NC, died 4 May 1856 in York Co., PA; married (1) on 17 Mar 1818, Margaret Dritt, born 6 Jun 1794, died 1 Aug 1824 in PA. They had DeWitt Clinton, Jacob Dritt, and Absalom Bonham; married (2) on 19 May 1825, Mrs. Elizabeth Stayman or Steaman Strickler. They had Elizabeth Rebecca, Samuel, Sarah Ross, John Milton and Horace (twins), and Emily Cora Bonham.
*Hazie attributed a third child, Malakiah, to Absalom and Jemima Harker Bonham. However, he stated himself that there was no evidence of this relationship beyond family tradition. Subsequently, it appears that a marriage record for Malachi Bonham and Mary Williamson has been found in Frederick County, Maryland, which would tend to support Hazie's conclusion. Even so, being more conservative, Howard Bonham did not attribute Malakiah as a son of Absalom and Jemima Bonham. In addition, two additional daughters, Deborah and Jemima, have been identified for Absalom and Jemima by later researchers, which appear to be derived from marriages recorded in Frederick County between Deborah Bonham and Arthur Flemming on April 13, 1782, and between Jemimah Bonham and George Nelson on April 24, 1779. In addition, Jemima Nelson, Malakiah Bonham, Rachel Dorsey, and Mary Fleming were identified as heirs of Absalom Bonham in an application for bounty land made on March 1, 1799. No other heirs were mentioned. It seems that these four children may not have moved to North Carolina with their father. A speculative explanation for this is that they disapproved of their father's second marriage and became estranged.
**According to Brownie McKie, the second wife of Absalom Bonham was Rebecca Cox, not Rebecca Morris. This is supported by cited marriage records from Lincoln County, North Carolina. Moreover, four children, viz., John, Sarah, Rebecca, and Samuel Cox, are identified for which there seems to be convincing documentation. Therefore, it would seem that H. E. Bonham was incorrect in his assertion that there were no children from Absalom's second marriage. In contrast, although Hazie also identified the second wife of Absalom Bonham as Rebecca Morris rather than Rebecca Cox, he did attribute four children to them, viz., John, Arnold, Sarah, and Samuel Cox. Therefore, until proven otherwise, it would seem reasonable to attibute as many as five children to Absalom and Rebecca Cox Bonham.
a. op. cit. (A. Honeyman): Vol. 33, pg. 178.
Jan. 28, 1763. "Harker, Cornelius, of Sussex Co. Ward. Son of James Harker, of said Co., deceased, who died intestate. Said Cornelius has a right to a portion of his father's personal estate, and he makes choice of his friend Absalom Bonham, as his Guardian."
Jan. 28, 1763. "Guardian---Absalom Bonham, of Kingwood, Hunterdon Co. Fellowbondsman---Malakiah Bonham, of same place. Witnesses---Thomas Hooten and Mary Severns."
b. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, Washington DC: Absalom Bonham BLWT182-200, (microfilm: roll M805_103; imgs. 578-81).
"SUBJECT: BONHAM, Absalom; Ensign 4th New Jersey, 1st May 1777
2nd Lt. 1st Nov 1777
Transferred to 2nd N. J. 1st July 1778
1st Lt. 27th Mar. 1780
Served to April 1783
Captain by brevet
(Heitman Register-Officers Continental Army ---and,
(Official Register Officers & Men of New Jersey, Revolutionary War)"
"January 21, 1931.
C. O. Ruch
404 Beck Avenue
You are advised that the records of this bureau show that Warrant Number 182 for 200 acres of bounty land was issued March 1, 1799 on account of the service of Absalom Bonham, Lieutenant in the New Jersey Line, War of the Revolution.
Said warrant was issued to Jemima Nelson, Malakiah Bonham, Rachel Dorsey or Dossey, and Mary Fleming, only surviving heirs, relationship to soldier not shown.
There are no further data relative to his services or of his family because of the destruction of papers in such early claims when the War Office was burned in 1800.
Very truly yours,
E. W. Morgan,
c. William S. Stryker (ed), Official Register of the Officiers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War, William T. Nicholson & Co., Printers, Trenton, NJ, 1872: pgs. 50 & 89. (Available electronically at bergen.njstatelib.org/plweb-dbs/reg/outputs/NJREGn1.html)
d. George Edward Reed (ed), Pennsylvania Archives - Fourth Series, William Stanley Ray, State Printer, Harrisburg, PA, 1900: Vol. 6, pgs. 337, 523, & 677; Vol. 7, pg. 24.
Samuel Cox Bonham, youngest son of Absalom Bonham, settled in Pennsylvania and apparently became a prominent citizen of York County in the 1830's and 1840's. Accordingly, he was chosen as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1838, signing the document on February 22, 1838; he was nominated by Governor David Rittenhouse Porter to be Associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for York County on March 9, 1840; and renominated to this position by Governor Francis R. Shunk on February 27, 1845.
e. Members of the family of Samuel Cox Bonham can be confirmed from census records. (1850 US Census Population Schedule for York County, Pennsylvania, National Archives, Washington DC: pg. 4B, (microfilm roll - M432_839; img. 577).)
f. Smith-Bonham Cemetery, Saluda County, South Carolina (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2421154&CScn=Smith&CScntry=4&CSst=43&CScnty=2353&, continuously updated).
4. James Bonham, born 1 May 1766, died 27 Nov 1815; married (1) Sarah Whitsel Lewis.4-1. Ann Bonham, born 1793; married James Butler.married (2) Sophia Butler Smith, daughter of of Jacob and Sarah (Butler) Smith, and moved to Edgefield Dist. SC (the part that later became Saluda County, SC).
4-2. John Whitsel Bonham, born 18 Dec 1795, died in AL; married Sarah (Sally) Pou. They had four sons and a daughter, Mary Bonham.4-3. Sarah Marcy Bonham, born 13 Feb 1799, died 18 Jan 1839; married Col. John N. Lipscombe, born 24 May 1798, died 23 Sep 1856. They had Sarah, John, Thomas Jefferson, William Carey, James Nathan, and Milledge Bonham Lipscomb.# JAMES BUTLER BONHAM Quoting from Hazie directly: "There is no question but that James Butler Bonham, one of the heroes of the Alamo, is the best known of the Bonhams of America.
4-4. Jacob Absalom Bonham, born 1800, died 1804.
4-5. Simeon (Sime) Smith Bonham, born 1802, died 10 Jul 1835 in Wilcox Co., AL; married on 20 Nov 1822 in Abbeville Dist., SC, Elizabeth Amanda Wardlaw, born 23 May 1805 in Abbeville Dist., SC, died 3 Jun 1854 in Wilcox Co., AL. They had Ann Smith, Elizabeth Amanda, Eliza Carlene Margaret, and James Ward Bonham.
4-6. Malachi Mark Bonham, born 30 Nov 1804 in Edgefield Dist., SC, died 1861 in Freestone Co., TX; married in 1825, Martha or Margaret Skirven Ford, born 1804 in SC. They had James Butler, Elizabeth G., John Lipscomb, Caroline Pocher, Julie Bowie, Margaret, Sophia, Susan R., and Milledge Luke Bonham.
4-7. James Butler Bonham#, 20 Feb 1807 in Edgefield Dist., SC, died 6 Mar 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo, San Antonio de Béxar, departamento de Tejas, Mexico.
4-8. Elizabeth Jemima Bonham, born 1809, died 1827.
4-9. Julia Ann Rachel Bonham, born 9 Oct 1811, died Jan 1861; married Dr. Samuel Watt Bowie, born 10 May 1802 in Charleston, SC, died 29 Oct 1881 in Lowndes Co., AL. They had Malachi Bonham, Sallie, and Rosa Bowie.
4-10. Milledge Luke Bonham, born 25 Dec 1813 in Edgefield Dist., SC, died 27 Aug 1890 at White Sulphur Springs, NC; married on 13 Nov 1843 or 1845, Ann Patience Lipscomb Griffin, born 10 Sep 1829 in SC, died 11 Oct 1894. They had Sally Butler, Richard, Sophia Smith, James, Milledge Lipscombe, (unamed daughter), Ann Elizabeth, Julie Ellen, Nathan Griffin, Mary Rebecca, William Butler, Thomas Seymour, Patience (Petite), and Frank Pickens Bonham.
While all descendants of Nicholas Bonham in America are distantly related to James Butler Bonham, in most cases it is very distant. The Absalom Bonham (Southern) line are directly related, but there are no direct descendants, as James Butler Bonham was never married.
In my research it is quite common to be told 'Bonham of the Alamo was my Old Uncle Jim,' 'was my great uncle' was 'brother of my grandfather' and I am sure these statements are made in good faith, having been handed down in the family. One lady said 'Mr. Hazie, it must be so as my grandmother told me so,' in this case grandma had been misinformed.
From the files of a Texas newspaper the following as found in the handwriting of a Bonham who wrote in good faith, I am sure: 'The town of Bonham, Fannin Co. was named after my great uncle who at one time ran a ranch and store there, he being the same Bonham who was later 'Masicreed' in the Alamo at San Antonio.' The town of Bonham was first named 'BOIS D ARC', was changed to Bloomington and in 1843 was changed to Bonham in honor of James Butler Bonham. To prove how incorrect the Bonham statement above is--I submit the following from the records at Austin, Texas.
James Butler Bonham arrived in Texas Dec. 12, 1835, was commissioned Lieut. of Cavalry Dec. 20, 1835, and between Jan. 11 and 13th arrived at the Alamo, probably with Jim Bowie. He died in the Alamo, March 6, 1836. He was in Texas less than 90 days so it is impossible for him to have run a store and ranch all while in the army and within 90 days. Another report has had wide circulation that has to do with land supposed to have been owned by James Butler Bonham. The County Recorder at Bonham reports that there have been many inquiries and there is no record of J. B. B. ever having owned land in Fannin County.
I have a copy of a letter written to Dr. E. L. Smith about 1909 by a Bonham in answer to a family inquiry letter. 'To the best of my knowledge Nehemiah Bonham was my great-grandfather. James Butler Bonham was a son of Nehemiah and a brother of my grandfather. His career after leaving Tenn. was interwoven with Jas. Bowie, Dave Crockett and Sam Houston. Quotes 'Public History' James Butler Bonham, Dave Crockett and James Bowie went to Texas shortly before the Texas War, from Ind. J. B. B. secured large land grants from the Mexican Government previous to the Texas Rebellion. Efforts extending through many years have been made to gain possession of the lands without success as the lands are now part of the Texas School domain.'
The State Offices at Austin say there is no record of James Butler Bonham having had a Mexican land grant. They said that a state of war existed when J. B. B. arrived in Texas and that he was in Texas less than 90 days. However, Texas voted generous land grants to the heirs of those killed at the Alamo. In 1918 the Courts awarded 4/5 of 639½ A. net 512 acres in Comanche Co. to the heirs of James Butler Bonham. I was curious as to why 1/5 of the land was held and asked Hoyt Bonham of Montezuma, Iowa who is an abstract attorney, and he said that in some states where there is no direct descendant that a percentage escheats to the state, and no doubt this was the case here. Mrs. Patience Shand, a niece of James Butler Bonham, a daughter of Milledge Luke Bonham, CSA General and former Governor of South Carolina told me that she received about $90 as her share of the estate of James Butler Bonham, and no doubt more distant relatives received less." Of course, Hazie's main point here is that oral history can be notoriously inaccurate, especially if it connects some putative descendant with a famous (or even semi-famous) ancestor, e.g., James Butler Bonham. This is clearly illustrated by his erroneous attribution to Nehemiah, rather than Malachiah and Absalom Bonham; his purported land grants, etc.
g. Bill Groneman, "Bonham, James Butler", The Texas State Historical Association, 1997-2002. ("The Handbook of Texas Online", www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/BB/fbo14.html)
"BONHAM, JAMES BUTLER (1807-1836). James Bonham, officer of the Alamo garrison, son of James and Sophia Butler (Smith) Bonham, was born at Red Banks (present-day Saluda), Edgefield County, South Carolina, on February 20, 1807. Recent evidence indicates that he was a second cousin of William B. Travis. Bonham entered South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) in the fall of 1823 but never graduated. During his senior year he led a student protest against the poor food served at the college and the obligation of students to attend class in bad weather. He and a number of other students, perhaps the entire senior class, were expelled. Bonham took up the study of law and began practicing in Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1830. On one occasion he caned an opposing lawyer who insulted Bonham's female client. When ordered to apologize by the judge, Bonham threatened to tweak the judge's nose and was promptly sentenced to ninety days for contempt of court.
In 1832, during the nullification crisis, Bonham served as an aide to South Carolina governor James Hamilton, a position that brought him the rank of lieutenant colonel. At the same time he served as captain of a Charleston artillery company. By October 1834 he was practicing law in Montgomery, Alabama. On October 17, 1835, he led a rally of support for the Texan cause at the Shakespeare Theater in Mobile. Three days later he was elected by citizens of Mobile to carry their resolutions of support to Sam Houston. In another two weeks he was organizing a volunteer company, the Mobile Grays, for service in Texas.
Bonham reached Texas in November 1835 and quickly involved himself in political and military affairs. On December 1, 1835, he wrote to Sam Houston from San Felipe volunteering his services for Texas and declining all pay, lands, or rations in return. On December 20, 1835, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Texas cavalry, but apparently was not assigned to any specific unit. He had time to set up a law practice in Brazoria and was advertising the fact in the Telegraph and Texas Register by January 2, 1836.
Bonham and Houston quickly developed a mutual admiration. After being in Texas for only one month Bonham recommended to Houston that William S. Blount of North Carolina be granted a commission as a captain in the Texas cavalry. On January 11, 1836, Houston recommended to James W. Robinson that Bonham be promoted to major, for 'His influence in the army is great--more so than some who 'would be generals'.' Bonham probably traveled to San Antonio de Béxar and the Alamo with James Bowie and arrived on January 19, 1836. On January 26 he was appointed one of a committee of seven to draft a preamble and resolutions on behalf of the garrison in support of Governor Henry Smith. On February 1 he was an unsuccessful candidate in the election of delegates to represent the Bexar garrison at the Texas constitutional convention.
He was sent by Travis to obtain aid for the garrison at Bexar on or about February 16, 1836. He returned to the Alamo on March 3, bearing through the Mexican lines a letter from Robert M. Williamson assuring Travis that help was on its way and urging him to hold out. Bonham died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. He is believed to have died manning one of the cannons in the interior of the Alamo chapel.
Bonham's life and role in the siege and battle of the Alamo have been romanticized more than that of any other defender. He has often been portrayed as a colonel and one of the commanders of the Alamo garrison. He is called 'Colonel' by Travis in two letters from the Alamo, but this was only a title of respect dating back to his days with the South Carolina militia. His actual rank was second lieutenant, and he had no standing in the Alamo's chain of command. He was present sporadically at the Alamo. Bonham is wrongly remembered as bringing the news that Colonel Fannin was not coming to Travis's aid, when he actually brought word from Williamson that help was coming. In 1956 the Texas Centennial Commission erected a statue of Bonham on the courthouse square of the town of Bonham, named in his honor."
1. Milledge L. Bonham, "James Butler Bonham: A Consistent Rebel", Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 35 (October 1931).
2. Wallace O. Chariton, 100 Days in Texas: The Alamo Letters, Wordware, Plano, TX, 1990.
3. Daughters of the American Revolution, The Alamo Heroes and Their Revolutionary Ancestors, San Antonio, TX, 1976.
4. Bill Groneman, Alamo Defenders, Eakin, Austin, TX, 1990.
5. John H. Jenkins (ed), The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835-1836, 10 vols., Presidial Press, Austin, TX, 1973.
6. Thomas R. Lindley, "James Butler Bonham", Alamo Journal, August 1988.
7. Walter Lord, A Time to Stand, Harper, New York, NY, 1961. (2nd ed., University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1978.)
8. Stephen B. Oates (ed), The Republic of Texas, American West, Palo Alto, CA, 1968.
9. Phil Rosenthal and Bill Groneman, Roll Call at the Alamo, Old Army, Fort Collins, CO, 1985.
10. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
h. Letter of James Butler Bonham to Sam Houston prior to the Battle of the Alamo:
San Felipe Dec. 1, 1835.
General S. Houston.
Permit me, through you to volunteer my services in the present struggle of Texas without conditions. I shall receive nothing, either in the form of service pay, or lands, or rations.
Yours with great regard--
James Butler Bonham
P.S. Will you, if you please do me the kindness of shewing this letter, at any leisure moment, to his Excellency the Gov.
J. B. B. (Texas State Archives & Library Commision, "Texas Treasures", www.tsl.state.tx.us/treasures/republic/alamo/bonham-letter.html, 2005.)
i. "BONHAM, Milledge Luke, a Representative from South Carolina; born near Red Bank (now Saluda), Edgefield District, S.C., December 25, 1813; attended private schools in Edgefield District and at Abbeville, S.C.; was graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) at Columbia in 1834; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Edgefield in 1837; served as major and adjutant general of the South Carolina Brigade in the Seminole War in Florida in 1836; during the Mexican War was lieutenant colonel and colonel of the Twelfth Regiment, United States Infantry; major general of the South Carolina Militia; member of the State house of representatives 1840-1843; solicitor of the southern circuit of South Carolina 1848-1857; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Congresses and served from March 4, 1857, until his retirement on December 21, 1860; appointed major general and commander of the Army of South Carolina by Gov. F. W. Pickens in February 1861; appointed brigadier general in the Confederate Army April 19, 1861; resigned his commission January 27, 1862, to enter the Confederate Congress; elected Governor of South Carolina in December 1862 and served until December 1864; appointed brigadier general of Cavalry in the Confederate Army in February 1865; again a member of the State house of representatives 1865-1866; delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1868; member of the South Carolina taxpayers' convention in 1871 and 1874; resumed the practice of law in Edgefield, engaged in planting, and also conducted an insurance business in Edgefield, S.C., and Atlanta, Ga., 1865-1878; appointed State railroad commissioner in 1878 and served until his death at White Sulphur Springs, N.C., August 27, 1890; interment in Elmwood Cemetery, Columbia, S.C." -- Congressional Biography (Tim Conner; database - tfconner; worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com, 2005.)
This extract has been reformatted, numbered, and obvious typographical errors have been corrected, which do not affect content. (unpublished notes)
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12. op. cit. (A. Honeyman): Vol. 33, pg. 465.
13. Norman C. Wittwer, The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 37, No. 2, pgs. 50-3, 1962.
14. Howard Louis Leckey, The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families, Greene County Historical Society, Waynesburg, PA, Bookmark, Knightstown, IN, 1977: pg. 297. (rev. of Howard Louis Leckey, The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, PA, 1950.) (Reprint available from Closson Press, 257 Delilah St., Apollo, PA, 15613-1933)
15. Elmer Burt Hazie, Bonham, 1631-1973: letters, quotations, genealogical charts, military records, directory index, privately published, Los Angeles, CA, 1973: pgs. 31-48. (rev. of Emmet Lincoln Smith, Smith-Bonham, 1631-1908, privately published, Chicago, IL, 1911; also Emmet Lincoln Smith, rev. by Elmer Burt Hazie, Bonham, 1631-1959: letters, quotations, genealogical charts, illustrations, military record, directory, privately published, Los Angeles, CA, 1959 & Elmer Burt Hazie, Bonham, 1631-1975: letters, quotations, genealogical charts, military records, directory index, privately published, Los Angeles, CA, 1975.)
16. Olive Barrick Rowland, Genealogical Notes of the Sutton and Rittenhouse Families of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Garrett & Massie, Pub., Richmond, VA, 1935: pgs. 115-6.
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