Genealogy: Family Histories

David Bonham's Life

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 09/03/2012

Also read the "David Bonham - murder trial and more"

Editor's Note: Much of what has already been published about David Bonham's life comes from the "History of Waukesha County, Wisconsin, 1880"; but,  after reading the newspaper entries below about his life and the  accounts of the murder trial, the reader will determine that source of information is much in error.  There is a page of "Notes" from which the material below has been taken and adjusted to more correspond to what actually did occur. There is still some disagreement in information that will be reexamined at a later date.

David Bonham

Source: Lisbon 2000 Millennium Book, page 21.

    David Bonham, a native of Northamptonshire, England. He was born on March 22, 1809, and was the son of Robert [and Jane] Bonham. His parents were poor, and the only education he received was three months at Sunday school. Never in his life did he attend a formal school, yet, such was the ambition of this man that in his later years he acquired a comparatively thorough education. In a sense, he was truly self-educated. 

    He made his own support after he was ten [13 years of age?] years of age, and when a young man he immigrated to America, in company with William Derby [and many other fellow countrymen], a companion of his youth, landing in New York in April, 1830. [For the next five years he worked for an Erie Canal firm and advanced to a very reasonable position.] Having been reared on a farm, he chose farming as a vocation [Editor's note: Perhaps, Bonham farmed and worked on the canal?], and engaged to a Mr. Powers as a farm laborer. It was at this farmer's home that he first met Rebecca Weaver, who soon after became his wife. She was born in Sussex, England, in 1807, and was the daughter of William Weaver, who was a shepherd in England, and by industry had saved enough money to bring his family to America, where he could secure them a home. They landed in April, 1830. After this the sons hired out to work, and Rebecca, the only daughter, hired as a servant girl to the same Powers for whom Mr. Bonham was working. Here they formed an acquaintance which brought about their marriage in 1831, when the husband commenced farming in New York as a renter. 

    In 1836 they removed to the Territory of Wisconsin, where he took up a claim of 160 acres of land, on which he resided.

The following is an excerpt from Melinda Warren Weaver's story, "Memories of Early Days"  where she discusses her brother-in-law, David Bonham

    "After our marriage he [ Melinda's husband John Weaver] often had a touch of the Western fever, (as the phrase was in those days), but it did not meet my mind exactly to leave the old place with all the comforts and conveniences, and high privileges that we enjoyed, neither could I make up my mind to leave my parents, brothers and sisters and many other relatives and friends, until the summer of 1836, when we had a flattering account of Wisconsin, and particularly on Milwaukee,  sent to us by a brother-in-law [David Bonham] of my husband who went to Milwaukee from our place in the spring [of 1836], he seemed to think he had found the right place in the spring, just the place for young people to commence life in earnest, and make homes for themselves and families.

    That part of the territory that he had been to look at, and where he had made his claim [Editor's note - Apparently from what Melinda just wrote above, Bonham had staked his claim before his letter, Summer of 1836, reached them] , was situated about eighteen miles west of Milwaukee. Was very pleasant, just rolling enough to be healthy, plenty of wood, some prairie and openings, so that it would be very easy to clear a farm, and large marshes where grass grew in abundance, that would supply both green feed and hay, to feed such animals as would be necessary for people to have on the land; in fact, it seemed to him an earthly paradise, and he seemed to think it would be best for us, and all of our family that he was connected with, to sell what we could not take with us conveniently, and come to this fair haven, the land of promise and rest. " 

[ Editor's note: Without David Bonham's lead in journeying to the Wisconsin Territory, and his letter of encouragement, who knows if the Weaver family clan would have removed themselves from New York state? In my opinion, David Bonham had considerable on the Weaver family. More than likely the reason some entered politics and/or why others went into business beyond their traditional farming background. Bonham had the initial business and political contacts before the Weavers arrived.]

[Editor: From Thomas Spencer Redford family history comes the following:]

    "To Thomas S. Redford, probably, belongs the distinction of having been the first one to drive his stake in this town. When he first came here, he accompanied the surveying party of Hudson, Vliet and Brink, who surveyed through the town early in 1836. In May of this year, he collated the claim which he now occupies, on Section 25.

    In June of 1836, Presley N. Ray, James Hanford and William Packard came out from Milwaukee and selected claims, and assisted T. S. Redford in erecting his first shanty, this being a sort of headquarters for all until each could get a cabin raised. Soon after, probably about the month of August, John Weaver, Lucius Botsford, Thomas Rolf and David Bonham came into the town. They at once made claims and proceeded with all dispatch to erect houses for their families, for they were all, but one, family men. Having got their houses up and ready during this fall and winter, they then went into the city of Milwaukee, where the women and children were staying, and brought them out before the snow was off the ground in the spring. A. A. Redford came in at this time also. These four women were the first in the town, as also were their children the first of the small folks. (Note Presley N. Reay/Ray appears to be the only one of the three men listed above that actually homesteaded in the Town of Lisbon)."

[Editor's comment - The bolded statement above concerning Bonham's coming to town in August and staking a claim doesn't agree with Melinda Weaver's that Bonham arrived in the Spring of 1836, sent a letter in the Summer of 1836 to them in New York telling them of his property claim. Based on this and further information below, it would seem that Bonham had indeed claimed property as early as before June 22 (first day of Summer) 1836 or sooner. Melinda further states, "went to Milwaukee from our place in the spring [of 1836], he seemed to think he had found the right place in the spring, just the place for young people to commence life in earnest, and make homes for themselves and families."]

 Excerpts from Melinda Weaver's Memoirs with Editor notes and comments:

     My husband went back to where our boxes, chest and barrels lay, for they had to lay where we landed, and brought our provision box so that we could get our breakfast, and then went out and found his brother-in-law [David Bonham] who had just come down the river two miles, to his work.

      He [David Bonham] came in a small boat. He took me and the children in his boat and rowed back home with us, my husband staying to care of our luggage till the boat could come back for him and bring our baggage home, which was done in the course of the day. They [David Bonham family lived in a small log house, with only one room below and one above, and these very small. They had three little ones and there was a family staying with them, a man, wife and four children. They stayed about a week after we got there and then they moved, but we had to stay there as there was no other place, not even one room that we could find to get into, and we could not get into the country as we expected to, until spring [1837]. Those who had gone and made their claims were not going to spring, and it would be too lonely for one family to be out there without any neighbors. It was lonely enough where we were, a mile and a half from the town, and not much of a town at that, and did not look as if it would ever be much of a place. We had expected to pay for our land that fall [1836], but as it was not in the market, we could not; but as we found provisions and everything that we needed so much dearer than we had been used to paying, we found it necessary to use all of our ready money before we could raise anything on our land. 

    A few days after this, and on the first day of April, 1837, we moved into our own little log cabin with our little family, one mile away from our brother-in-law's [David Bonham], and neighbors that we had lived with nearly a month. There are many people in these days that would think that such a place as our cabin was at that time was a comfortless place indeed, but we thought it a pleasure to be by ourselves once more, after living so crowed as we had done for six months, and of course, it was quite pleasant for others to have their own house to themselves, especially where there were so many little children, where there were three families in one small house.
[Editor's note: Above - Melinda says they moved into their own little cabin, after living with (3) other neighbor families for a month,  on April 1, 1837. She says that the Bonham's lived a mile away. Obviously, David Bonham had built his home much earlier, perhaps in late 1836, then came back to build his "Public House" to be open for new settlers arriving. David and family must have lived in Milwaukee because they were the only family in the wilderness, and as Melinda, says, no person could have withstood the winter alone. If Bonham had come out with the Weavers and not had anything, wouldn't his family had lived with them as the others had?]

    David and Rebecca lost the first settler to death, their own son, Stephen, when he died in October, 1838. He was buried on the old claim site, now lost with time.

    David is credited with bringing the first plow to the Town of Lisbon.

His Town of Lisbon, Territory of Wisconsin political career

    According to the town records, the first election was held April 5, 1842, at the stone schoolhouse in Section 35 on the north side of what is now County Trunk Highway K, just west of State Trunk Highway 74., when Samuel Dougherty was chosen Moderator, and David Bonham, and Lucius Botsford, Side Supervisors. David Bonham was also elected Clerk; James Weaver, Treasurer; Rollin Blount, Assessor; George Comstock, Collector; David Bonham, Ed Smith and School Commissioners; E. W. Fowler and Thomas Redford, Constables; John Weaver, Sealer of Weights and Measures; A. A. Redford, Samuel Dougherty, David Bonham and William Weaver, Overseers of Highways; A. A. Redford, William B. Caldwell and William Weaver, Fence Viewers. The whole number of votes did not exceed twenty. 

    Each man received a unanimous 17 votes when elected except for a eight-eight tie between William Weave and George Caldwell for Fence Viewer. Bonham as Chairman, broke the tie and voted for his brother-in-law (William Weaver). [Source: The History of Waukesha County, 1880. Note: In "Yesteryear in Sussex Revisited by Fred H. Keller",  Fred's review of the original April 5, 1842 to February 4, 1848  record book, David Bonham was elected Chairman, unanimously, at this meeting with 17 electors present.]

    He was a member of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature from 1841 to 1844 [As early as 1840 he was appointed to the Territorial Legislature. He also served during the winter of 1841, '42 and '45.], inclusive. In politics he was a Republican [Democrat], and was a zealous advocate of free labor and education. 

Source: "First Lisbon Town Chairman was a Murderer", by Fred. H. Keller, Sussex Sun, Tues., Dec. 7, 1976.] 

David Bonham's Life from Newspaper Reports

Democratic Nominations

At a meeting of the Democratic party, convened at the Court House in the town of Milwaukee, pursuant to public notice, on the 29th day of March...
     On motion, the following persons were appointed a Committee of Vigilance:
Mr. Bonham, Head of Fox River (Note: name of residence)

Source: Milwaukee Advertiser, April 1, 1837, page 2 of 4.


Editor: April 1, 1837 David Bonham is advertising in a Milwaukee newspaper that his Public House (tavern) was open at "Head of Fox River" [later Town of Lisbon].  The Head of the Fox River encompassed an area on the eastern edge of the Lisbon township and that which was Willow Springs, later Lannon, then Village of Menomonee Falls.

Public House

The subscriber would inform the travelling public that he has opened a house of entertainment on range 19 town 8 section 36 the north-west quarter. It is on the Oconomowoc trail, at the head of Fox River, on the direct route to the Upper Rapids on the Rock River, where he will be happy to accommodate those may be disposed to give him a call.
David Bonham
April 4, 1837
Source: Milwaukee Advertiser, Milwaukee Advertiser, April 15, 1837

"Oconomeewoc Village" instead of "Public House" heading in the May 13, 1837 edition.

    The following sections are taken from an act entitles, An Act establishing the several towns in the County of Milwaukee."

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin,

Sec. 4.That the country included within the following limits, to wit: beginning at the south east corner of town 7, north of Range twenty
east; thence west to the north west corner of town 7, north of Range 19 east; thence north to the north west corner of town 8, north of Range 19 east, north of Range 20 east; thence south to the place of beginning, be, and is hereby set off into a separate town by the name of Lisbon, and the polls of Election shall be opened at the House of Charles Skinner.

Sec. 37. This Act shall be in force from and after the third day of March next, and all Acts, and parts of Acts contravening any of the provisions of this Act, are  hereby repealed.
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, February 20, 1838

Proceedings of the Board of County Commissioners, of the county of Milwaukee, at their Session in April, A. D.  1838, fixing on the place of holding Elections and defining the Road Districts in said County and the Counties thereunto attached, 
Ordered, That hereafter the Polls of Election in the several Towns in the county of Milwaukee and the counties thereunto attached, shall be 
held at the following points and places, until otherwise ordered by this board.
	In the town of Lisbon, at the dwelling-house now occupied by David Bonham, and also at the dwelling-house now occupied by J. De Wolf.
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, April 17, 1838, page 4

    The Democratic Republicans also held their own convention at Prairie Village, the same day [July 19, 1839], and put in nomination the following ticket:
Assembly - Adam E. Ray, Milton B. Cushing, H. N. Wells and Wm. R. Longstreet.
Register of Deeds - Cyrus Hawley.
County Commissioner - H. W. Van Deerin.
Assessors - H. A. Hinkley, David Bonham and Henry Miller.
Treasurer - Wm. M. Mayhew.
Collector - J. B. Zander.
Coroner - I. A. Lapham.
Sheriff - Owen Aldrich.
Source: Pioneer History of Milwaukee : from the first American settlement in 1833 to 1841


Meeting of The Waukesha County Temperance Society, At Lisbon [excerpts]
    The second meeting of the Waukesha County Temperance Society was held at Lisbon on the 2d inst.
The meeting was peculiarly interesting and encouraging; and although there was some diversity of opinion on some points, the discussions were conducted in a Christian spirit, showing a deep feeling for the good of the cause actuated all. All were impressed with the felling that Temperance was the foundation of all our social, civil and religious institutions; that upon the triumph of temperance principles depended to a great extent the success of Christianity and the cause of civil liberty.
    The friends of temperance in Lisbon have set a noble example for the other towns in the county and Territory; they are evidently in advance of their neighbors, as there is not a place in town where intoxicating drinks can be bought [Editor's note: So much for David Bonham's Public House.], and they appear determined that there shall not be.
5. That the county society cordially approves the action of the Lisbon Temperance Society, in their efforts to establish in their town, public houses for the accommodation of travelers, on strict temperance principles; and that it is the duty of every temperance man to give his influence for their encouragement and support.
Source: American Freeman, Prairieville, Wisconsin, March 10, 1847
[Editor's note: We know now that Bonham's Public House or "house of entertainment" opened in April 1837 did not fare well in a town of leading temperance strength.]


To The Electors of Milwaukee, Jefferson, Dodge, and Washington counties, friendly to the county ticket nominated at Prairie Village and elected in March last.
    The undersigned inhabitants of said counties having consulted together in relation to the August election, have thought it advisable fore our friends to meet delegates in convention at the House of David Jackson, at Prairie Village on Saturday the fourteenth day of July next, at twelve o'clock, to nominate candidates for the different offices to be filled at that election. they have thought it advisable to agree upon the number of delegates to be sent by each town, as no organization has taken place, but would recommend to the organization to determine the number hereafter.
    They would therefore recommend that Milwaukee be entitled to six Delegates and each other town to not less than two nor more than six, in proportion to their population. They would further recommend that the primary meetings for the election of delegates to said Convention be held on Saturday the 7th day of July, at such places as may be determined upon by the inhabitants of the respective towns.
Milwaukee, 14th June, 1838
    Lisbon: Augustus Story; N. Higinbothan,  Sam'l Dougherty; H. Van Vleek; David Bonham; Lucius Botsford.
Source; Milwaukee Sentinel, June 16, 1838, page 3 of 4.


Election Notice
    At a County commissioners court, began and holden at the court House in the county of Milwaukee on the 1st Monday of April A. D. 1839, the several election precincts were established and the polls of election ordered to be opened at the following places until otherwise ordered by the board.

In the town of Lisbon, at the dwelling house now occupied by David Bonham.

Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 30, 1839, page 2, and May 14, 1839, page 4.


First Lisbon Turkey Shoot Was Held in Lisbon, and Without Beer (excerpt)
    Although the beer for the event went astray, what was probably the first turkey-shoot in Waukesha county was a great success. It was held at Lisbon in 1839.
    Turkeys for the "shoot" were obtained by David Bonham, one of the township's first settlers. Men came from far and near and everyone enjoyed himself.
    The blame for the missing beer lies on the poor roads of those days. Among his other preparations, Bonham had gone to Milwaukee with Thomas Redford, Lisbon's first settler, for beer. Rattling back home over the rough roads, the beer was so shaken up it burst out the bung in the keg.
    Whatever the turkey-shooters drank that day, it wasn't Milwaukee beer. [Editor's note: It would seem that Bonham may be still in the "public house" business if he was one of those to obtain the beer.]

Source: Waukesha Daily Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 16, 1948, page 10.


Harbor Meetings
    At a large and numerous meeting of the people of Milwaukee county, held at the dwelling house of David Bonham, in the town of Lisbon, March 9th, 1840, Nathan A. Redford was called to the chair, and James Weaver was appointed secretary; On motion from Mr. Bonham, a committee of three was appointed to draft Resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting, whereupon the following gentlemen where appointed said committee, David Bonham, James Weaver and William Odell, the committee reported the following preamble and resolutions which was unanimously adopted:
    Whereas, We, as citizens of the county of Milwaukee and Territory of Wisconsin do regret, that after memorializing and ??? Congress from time to time for ??? years past, showing the great importance and necessity of a harbour at Milwaukee, and only asking so small amount which it would take to complete a harbour at Milwaukee, when compared with other harbours on the lakes, and still we are refused.
    And whereas, not less than four of our fellow citizens have found a watery grave within the past year, in the bay of Milwaukee, all for the want of a harbour at Milwaukee.
    And whereas, setting aside the property which is lost annually for the want of harbours on the western coast of Lake Michigan, the loss of our valuable fellow-beings is enough to justify us in a long for the small amount which it would take to make a safe and commodious harbour at Milwaukee, therefore:
    1. Resolved, That the interests of Wisconsin and to the commerce of Lake Michigan, imperatively require the immediate construction of a harbour at Milwaukee.
    2. Resolved, That the construction of a harbour at Milwaukee would afford greater protection to commerce and accommodate a larger number of inhabitants, than the improvement of any other point on the western coast of Lake Michigan.
    3. Resolved, That one delegate in Congress, the Hon. James D. Doty, be requested to urge at the present session of Congress, the passage of a law making an appropriation for the construction of a harbour at Milwaukee alone, unconnected from any other, place.
    4. Resolved, That a copy of the proceedings of this meeting, signed by the chairman and secretary, be published in the Milwaukee papers, and that a copy there of be forwarded to our delegate in Congress.
In motion the meeting adjourned.
A. A. Redford, Ch'm.
James Weaver, Secr'y
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 31, 1840, page 3 of 4.


Milwaukee delegates at the Democratic convention at Madison: A. E. Ray, J. S. Rockwell, Geo. H. Walker, Joseph Bond, D. Bonham, N. C. Prentiss, W. T. Shepherd, D. A. J. Upham, H. N. Wells, D. Finlay, W. A. ??ce. Source: Wisconsin Inquirer, Madison, Wisconsin, January 18, 1841

    The [Democratic] Committee of Arrangements for the Democratic Celebration of the Anniversary of the BIRTH DAY OF WASHINGTON, announce the following Officers.

President: George A. Tiffany
Vice Presidents: Daniel Wells, Jr., George Paddock, A. Foster Pratt, James H. Rogers, Taylor Heavilon, F. B. Otis, Samuel Brown, Geo. D. Dousman
Orator: Hans Crocker
Marshal: Major-General John Crawford
Assistant Marshals: Col. John S. Rockwell, David Bonham
Committee on Toasts: Joshua Hathaway, Clinton Walworth, B. H. Edgerton. The Order of Exercises will be announced hereafter.

Source: Southport Telegraph, South Port, Wisconsin, January 19, 1841, page 2 of 4.


Lisbon delegates to a Democratic convention: David Bonham, A. A. Redford, Ja's Weaver. Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 14, 1841, page 3 of 4.

House of Representatives
Saturday, December 11, 1841
Mr. (Charles E.) Brown moved that the House adjourn to 2 o'clock, P. M., which prevailed.
On motion, the House proceeded to ballot for officers.
David Bonham had 25 votes for Door-Keeper.
Source: Wisconsin Inquirer, Madison, Wisconsin, December 20, 1841, page 1 of 4

Officers at Madison
John F. Potter and Charles Larkin, transcribing clerks; Ebenezer Childs, Sergeant ar arms, W. S. Deering, door keeper, and John Graham, assistant door keeper for the council.
     In the House, for chief clerk, John Catlin; assistant clerk, John F. Meade; Sergeant at arms, Thomas J. Morgan; transcribing clerks, J. C. Knapp and C. L. Sholes; door keeper, David Bonham; assistant door keeper, Charles E. Brown.

Source: Milwaukie Journal, December 29, 1841, page 2 of 4.


Milwaukie County Agricultural Society
The annual meeting of the society was held at Prairieville, On Tuesday, the 17th of Jan. inst.
...Owing to the season, which was very unfavorable there was no competition for field crops. It is generally believed that no farmer realized more than half a crop of corn the past season.
    The society, after disposing of the ordinary business, proceeded to the choice of officers for the ensuing year; D. Bonham, of Lisbon. Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, January 25, 1843, page 2 of 4.

Supervisors - the following persons were elected Supervisors for the different towns in the (Milwaukee) County at the last election.
Lisbon: David Bonham
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wednesday, April 19, 1843, page 2.


Road Meeting at Prairieville
    At a meeting of the citizens of the county of Milwaukie, held agreeably to public notice, in the Congregational Church in Prairieville, on the 17th of July, 1844, to adopt measures for the immediate improvement of a road from Poplar Creek to Milwaukie, W. W. Treadway, esq., was called to the chair, and James Kneeland appointed secretary.
    1st Resolved, That a committee of three persons from each of the following named towns be appointed to solicit subscriptions of money and labor to be expended on the United States road commencing near the dwelling house of J. P. Story in Brookfield and from thence to the town of Milwaukie. the meeting designated the following persons as such committees:
Lisbon - David Bonham, Geo. Comstock, H. Shears.
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 27, 1844, page 1 of 4. Also: Milwaukie Commercial Herald, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 22, 1844, page 2 of 4.

Democratic Territorial Convention
At Madison, on the 25th of June, A. D. 1845.
Milwaukee County delegates: Garrett M. Fitzgerald, Benjamin Hunkins, Curtis Reed, R. Reynolds, Geo. H. Walker, Wm. A. Barstow, C. H. Larkin, H. Van Vleck, James Kneeland, H. N. Wells, E. Mosley, D. Bonham, Wm. P. Lynde, A. Mathieson and M. Schaeffler....
June 26,
    The convention met pursuant to adjournment and was called to order by the President.
    On motion of Mr. Bonham,
The convention then proceeded to the eighth formal ballot, ...

Source: Wisconsin Argus, Madison, Wisconsin, July 1, 1845, page 1 of 4.


The Canal Lands
    At a convention of Delegates from the several Towns of Milwaukie county upon the Canal strip, held at Clark's Mills, in the town of Pewaukee, on the 30th day of December, 1845, pursuant to a call of the Executive Committee of said towns, Chas. Hunt, Esq., of Wauwatosa, was called to the chair, and Henry Shears, Jr., of Lisbon, and H. Waterman, of Pewaukee, were appointed Secretaries.
    The following persons from their respective towns appeared, and upon a call therefore, presented their credentials and took seats as members of the Convention:
Menominee - Messrs. Flannagan, Hesk, Main, Spencer, Bancroft.
Lisbon - Messrs. Richmond, H. Shears, Jr., Bonham, Phillips, Quiner.
Warren - Messrs. Skinner, Smith, Finch, Moulster, Caswell.
Delafield - Messrs. Waterman, Campbell, Eviston, DEnny, Goedwin.
Pewaukie - Messrs. Health, Clark, Bell, Bradley, Hilliard.
Brookfield - Messrs. M. M.Putey, Warner, Hatch, C. M. Putney, Few.
Wauwatosa - Messrs. Fowler, Hart, Hoyt, Gregg, Brokins.
    The following towns were not represented in the Convention, viz: Lake, Granville, Oconomowoc and Summit.
The object of the Convention having been explained by Messrs. George W. Skinner and M. M. Putney, on motion of D. Bonham, Esq., it was ,
    Resolved, That a committee consisting of one delegate from each town be appointed to draft resolutions for the consideration of the convention; each delegate to be appointed by the delegates from their respective towns.
Whereupon the following committee was selected:
Elihu Spencer, Menominee; David Bonham, Lisbon; George W. Skinner, Delafield; I. U. Hilliard, Pewaukee; M. M. Putney, Brookfield; T. D. Hoyt, Wauwatosa.
    The Convention now voted a recess of half an hour. Soon after the expiration of that time, the Committee, through D. Bonham, Esq., reported the following Preamble and Resolutions:
    Whereas, By an act of the Legislature, passed and approved on the 24th day of February, 1845, it was provided that if congress did not disapprove, or should fail to approve said act, the canal lands should be sold at 20s per acre - 10s to be paid down and a mortgage to be given for the balance of said purchase money; on condition that should Congress require the future State of Wisconsin to pay to the treasury of the U, States more than 10s. per acre for the canal lands, then the purchaser is to fulfill the conditions of said mortgage, otherwise the mortgage is void on its face.
    And whereas said act is in exact conformity with the wishes and feelings of the canal settlers, except the provision contained in the 17th section; and whereas, we believe the Legislature has a right in justice and equity to sell said lands at 10s per acre, without any encumbrance on the ground; that all hopes for the construction of said canal have been abandoned by the settlers on the canal grant, also by the Legislature and the canal company; therefore;
    Resolved. That we wish to comply with the provisions of the act of last winter as aforesaid, provided the Legislature will amend said act by a repeal of the 17th section, and amend the 6th section by striking out the words, "If Congress by act shall approve this act as here matter provided; " also to extend the payment of the 10 per cent, according to the provisions of said 6th section, until the 1st Monday in April next, to all those who have not complied with the said 6th section as foresaid.
    Resolved, That in case the Legislature should refuse to amend the act as foresaid, then we wish to have the sale of said lands postponed until the 1st Monday of October next.
    Signed by David Bonham, Elihu Spencer, John U. Hilliard, Thomas D. Hoyland, H. C. Waterman.
    The report of the Committee was accepted, and a motion was made and carried, requesting the President of the Canal Company, the Hon, Byron Kilbourn, who was present, to address the Convention, which request was acceded to by that gentleman, who in a clear manner gave the history of the passage of the canal act of last winter; why the 17th section was added, requiring, if Congress should not approve the act, a mortgage should be given the purchaser; the improbability of said mortgages being collected, and the general benefits which would accrue to the settlers and the community at large, should the act be carried into effect. After considerable discussion, a motion was made to strike out the last resolution, upon which the ayes and noes were called, and it was lost as follows:
    Ayes - Messrs. Richmond, Shears, Bonham, Quiner, Waterman, Campbell, Eriston, church, Bell, Fowler, Hart, Hoyt, Gregg and Brookins - 14.
    Noes - Messrs. Flannagan, Hesk, Main, Spencer, Bancroft, Phillips, Skinner, Smith, Finch, Moulster, Cammel, Denny, Goodwin, Heath, M. M. Putney, Tew, Warner and C. M. Putney - 18.
    Messrs. Bradley, Hilliard and Hatch, were absent from their seats. On motion of A. Fowler, Esq., the report of the Committee was adopted.
    On motion of H. Phillips, Esq., of Lisbon, the second resolution was reconsidered and amended as follows:
    Resolved, That in case the Legislature should rel??se to amend the act as foresaid, then we wish to have the sale of said lands postponed until the 1st Monday of October next, with a view of obtaining the action of Congress at its present session. On motion;
    Resolved, That Geo. W. Skinner, Esq., of Warren requested to prepare a petition to Congress, and also to the Legislature, embodying the substance of the foregoing resolutions, and make arrangements to have the same properly circulated.
    Resolved, That the Executive Committee be discharged, and their services dispensed with.
    Resolved, That the proceedings of this Convention be published in the several papers of Milwaukee county.
    The Convention then adjourned.
Charles Hunt, Ch'n.
Henry Shears. Jr. and H. Waterman, Secretaries.
Source: Milwaukee Weekly Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, January 9, 1846; also the Milwaukie Semi-Weekly Gazette, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, January 6, 1846

Also read the "David Bonham - murder trial and more"

So Why did David Bonham Move to Missouri?

Excerpt from Fred H. Keller's "Empire Prairie is Sussex West", Sussex Sun, Tuesday, June 4, 1996.

    The Bonhams settled in Empire Prairie and nearby King City area. Over the years there was a steady influx of more Sussex families making the overland trek, including the prominent Howitt family in 1859. James Howitt was married to Ann Weaver, daughter of James Weaver.

    In 1860 James Gibson of Sussex came. In 1867 Charles Bennett and family left Sussex for Empire Prairie as did Edward and Jennie Nugent and the Arthur Crouch family. In 1869, John Haskins came from Sussex and in 1871, Henry Edwards married Janette Booth in Sussex and by 1875 they had moved to the Empire Prairie. The last big migration was in 1880 when the James Gibson family from Sussex went to live in a sod home at Empire Prairie.

    Many other individuals migrated to the Empire Prairie-King City area from Sussex, such as Sarah Weaver, leaving Sussex to marry cousin David Bonham II. Sarah was not the only Weaver to leave Sussex as there were several others who joined in over the years to as late as the turn of the century.

    Other possible Sussex-Lisbon families who migrated to Empire Prairie and adjacent areas were Howards, Wildish, Davidson, Harris and additional Booth girls who married into prominent families.

    So why did they go? there are many reason. One was the Sussex-Lisbon area was maturing by the 1850's. If you had 160 acres of original land claims and now had a large family, how could you divide your land between four, five, or six sons? Why not pull up stakes and move to new, cheap homestead land?

    Another reason was possibly the coldness and difficulty of Wisconsin winters. [Editor's note: Other reasons may have been an ethnic one - many Germans, Polish and Italians had moved into the Sussex-Lisbon area, and were assuming dominant roles in formerly English/Scottish societies. Part of the difficulty lie in the difference of religion, something that had torn the early Lisbon settlers apart through religious warring.]. But possibly the biggest reason for David Bonham was that he had lost a lot of status after his murder/death sentence was commuted and sought to try for a new life in Missouri.

    The Crouch family possibly left because of the desertion of Samuel Crouch from the Union Army in October 1862. 

    It is recorded that David Bonham and his wife Rebecca Weaver, decided to leave Sussex-Lisbon in 1856. Bonham and his brother-in-law, James Weaver, arrived in Missouri looking for good farm land in the early spring of 1856. James and his brother, William Weaver, were very wealthy Sussex-Lisbon residents and they financed their brother-in-law to homestead new land. The land they came to in northwest Missouri was a warmer land than Wisconsin, flatter land, fewer or almost no trees, a prairie underlaid with rich black earth.

    James Weaver and Bonham purchased 1,820 acres for $1.25 per acre. James Weaver had 14 40-acre plots, while Bonham had 1,320 acres in 33 40-acfre plots.

    When Bonham went to Plattsburg, Mo., to sign the papers for ownership of this vast land holdings the agent commented, "I see you have quite an empire up there." Because of this statement and because of the lovely prairie sod, Bonham decided to name his expanse of land "Empire Prairie".

    James Weaver and David Bonham went back to Sussex. Weaver was planning to pull up roots in the Sussex area but never did. Years later he sold off his 560 acres at a big profit. However, Bonham made good on his vow to leave Sussex as he sold his 160  acres on the Silver Spring Drive to James Gaynor. Today the land belongs to Vulcan Quarry Materials.

    In the fall of 1856, Bonham and his wife, along with sons Robert and family, David II and family, William , John and James, and daughter Jane arrived in Empire Prairie and started to homestead. They came in two covered wagons from Sussex and one springboard. The covered wagons were pulled by oxen. The women rode in the springboard with one of the men. They could travel faster, so they would go ahead and find prepare dinner. By the time the wagons arrived, they could all eat and soon be on their way to a nighttime camping spot.

State News
    David Bonham, who will be remembered by many of the old settlers of Wisconsin as having once killed a man in Waukesha County, is now a Colonel of a Missouri Regiment. When the war first broke out, he enlisted as a private and has been a thoroughly loyal man. Source: Janesville Weekly Gazette, Janesville, Wisconsin, June 3, 1864

    In 1865 he was a prominent member of the Missouri Constitutional Convention that framed and adopted the Drake constitution. He represented the First Senatorial District in the State Senate in 1867-68, and was the father of the bill of 1867 establishing a permanent school fund for the State of Missouri. In 1868 he visited his native land for a few months, after an absence of thirty-nine years. He died on May 22, 1870, and his wife died on January 6, 1871, leaving a family of four sons and one daughter. [Source: Biographical Sketch of David Bonham [Jr]  - Andrew County, Missouri From "History of Missouri, Andrew & DeKalb County" Published 1888 Transcribed by: Penny Harrell ([email protected]). Note: Several entries have been added in [ ] by the editor of the SLAHS website.

  USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or for presentation by other persons or organizations. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material for purposes other than stated above must obtain the written consent of the file contributor. This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by: Penny R. Harrell .

Also read the "David Bonham - murder trial and more"    

Descendants of Robert Bonham

Generation No. 1

1. ROBERT1 BONHAM was born in Roade, England. He married JANE LONGSTAFF. She was born in Rhoade, England.


2. i. DAVID2 BONHAM, b. 17 Apr 1807, Rhoade, Northhamptonshire, England; d. 22 May 1870, Empire Prairie, Andrew, Missouri.

Generation No. 2

2. DAVID2 BONHAM (ROBERT1) was born 17 Apr 1807 in Rhoade, Northhamptonshire, England (Source: "The Weavers of Lisbon - Sussex", by Janice Russell Peterson, 1997, Gives March 22, 1809 as his birthday.), and died 22 May 1870 in Empire Prairie, Andrew, Missouri. He married REBECCA WEAVER Abt. 1831 in Augusta, Oneida, New York, daughter of WILLIAM WEAVER and MARY HARDIMAN. She was born 22 Mar 1809 in Kent, England, and died 22 May 1870 in Empire Praire, Andrew, Missouri.


Emigration: Apr 1830, England to New York


Marriage: Abt. 1831, Augusta, Oneida, New York


3. i. ROBERT3 BONHAM, b. 24 Dec 1832, New York; d. 24 Mar 1900.

4. ii. DAVID BONHAM, b. 07 Feb 1834, New York; d. 23 Jun 1906.

iii. STEPHAN BONHAM, b. Abt. 1837; d. Oct 1837, Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

5. iv. JOHN BONHAM, b. Abt. 1838, Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

6. v. JANE BONHAM, b. Abt. 1841, Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

vi. WILLIAM BONHAM, b. Abt. 1843, Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

vii. JAMES BONHAM, b. Abt. 1845, Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Generation No. 3

3. ROBERT3 BONHAM (DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born 24 Dec 1832 in New York, and died 24 Mar 1900. He married HARRIET ELLIOTT Oct 1853, daughter of GEORGE ELLIOTT and LUCY TRANSIT. She was born 24 Mar 1833 in New York, and died 1918.


Marriage: Oct 1853


i. DAVID JAMES4 BONHAM, b. Abt. 1867.

7. ii. GEORGE ROBERT BONHAM, b. Abt. 1865, Missouri.


8. iv. JOHN DWIGHT BONHAM, b. Abt. 1872.


vi. RODERICK FRAIRY BONHAM, b. Abt. Oct 1869 (Source: 1870 Federal Census, Census July 8, 1870, and he's 9 mos. old.).

vii. MARY JANE BONHAM, b. Abt. 1853.

viii. MARTHA BONHAM, b. Abt. 1859.

4. DAVID3 BONHAM (DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born 07 Feb 1834 in New York (Source:, Family Tree - Shelly Manship.), and died 23 Jun 1906 (Source: He married (1) CAROLINE L. DAVISON 1854, daughter of ISRAEL DAVISON. She was born 1832 in New York, and died Jan 1883. He married (2) SARAH A. WEAVER 20 Feb 1884 in St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Sussex, Lisbon Township, Waukesha County, Wisconsin., daughter of WILLIAM WEAVER and MARY SMITH. She was born 14 Dec 1840 in Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin, and died 18 May 1927.


Military service: Aug 1861, Missouri State Militia, and was mustered out as second lieutenant of his company in February, 1862.


Marriage: 1854


Date born 2: 14 Dec 1840

Burial: St. Alban's Church, Sussex, Lisbon Township, Waukesha County, Wisconsin


Marriage: 20 Feb 1884, St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Sussex, Lisbon Township, Waukesha County, Wisconsin.


9. i. ADELINE (ADELIA JANE)4 BONHAM, b. 17 Sep 1855.

10. ii. ALVA BONHAM.





Marriage: Jul 1896



5. JOHN3 BONHAM (DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born Abt. 1838 in Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin. He married HARRIET SAVOY.

Children of JOHN BONHAM and HARRIET SAVOY are:


11. ii. MAY BONHAM.


6. JANE3 BONHAM (DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born Abt. 1841 in Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin. She married DANIEL BROWN. He was born Abt. 1835.

Children of JANE BONHAM and DANIEL BROWN are:



Generation No. 4

7. GEORGE ROBERT4 BONHAM (ROBERT3, DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born Abt. 1865 in Missouri. He married SARAH F. ?. She was born Abt. 1867 in England.

More About SARAH F. ?:

Emigration: 1869 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Born England, Immograted 1869 and naturalized 1875 (?).)

Naturalization: 1875

Children of GEORGE BONHAM and SARAH ? are:

i. BESSIE A.5 BONHAM, b. Abt. 1894 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 25.).


Occupation: 1920, School Teacher

ii. LUCILE BONHAM, b. Abt. 1903 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 16.).

8. JOHN DWIGHT4 BONHAM (ROBERT3, DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born Abt. 1872 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 47 on January 3, 1920, Platte Township, Andrew Co., Missouri.). He married IDA B. ?.

Children of JOHN BONHAM and IDA ? are:

i. HARRY D.5 BONHAM (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 19.), b. Abt. 1900.

ii. AMY B. BONHAM, b. Abt. 1910 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 9.).

9. ADELINE (ADELIA JANE)4 BONHAM (DAVID3, DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born 17 Sep 1855. She married SYLVESTER FOSTER MANSHIP 25 Dec 1874 in Indiana. He was born 22 Jul 1847 in Indiana, and died Aft. 1920.


In 1880, the Sylvester Foster Manship family was living in Washington, Nodaway, MO., with Adelia J. his wife, sons Clair D., age 5; and David H., age 3, with daughter Daisey, age 1.


Residence: 1880, Washington, Nodaway, MO


Marriage: 25 Dec 1874, Indiana


i. CLARENCE "CLAIR" D.5 MANSHIP, b. Abt. Mar 1875.

ii. DANIEL (DAVID H.) MANSHIP, b. Abt. 1877.


iv. DAISY MANSHIP, b. Abt. 1879.

v. ROBERT MANSHIP, b. Dec 1882.


vii. ALVA MANSHIP, b. Jun 1885.


ix. STELLA MANSHIP, b. Feb 1887.

x. EARL WESLEY MANSHIP, b. 20 Aug 1894.

xi. BERNICE VIVIAN MANSHIP, b. 04 Feb 1900.

xii. RUTH MANSHIP, b. Feb 1896.

xiii. ELSWORTH MANSHIP, b. Feb 1893.


Children of ALVA BONHAM and CORA MCKINNEY are:











Children of JANE BROWN and JAMES SNAPP are:



13. ARTHUR4 BROWN (JANE3 BONHAM, DAVID2, ROBERT1) He married MOLLIE ROUNDS. She was born Abt. 1879 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 41.).


The 1920 Federal Census lists a Daniel A. Brown as Husband to Mollie with son Perry A. Brown. Daniel born abt 1872 and Molie, abt 1879.


i. PERRY ARTHUR5 BROWN, b. Abt. 1902 (Source: 1920 Federal Census, Age 17.)

David Bonham [Jr David Bonham [Jr.]

    Biographical Sketch of David Bonham - Andrew County, Missouri From "History of Missouri, Andrew & DeKalb County" Published 1888 Transcribed by: Penny Harrell ([email protected]). Note: Several entries have been added in [ ] by the editor of the SLAHS website.
     David Bonham (Jr.), the subject of the following sketch, is a citizen of Platte Township, Andrew County, MO., and was born in Oneida County, NY, February 7, 1834. He is the son of David Bonahm.

     David [Jr.] was reared on the farm, which occupation he has since followed. He received a practical education in the country schools of Wisconsin. In 1854 he was united in marriage with Caroline L. Davison, daughter of Israel Davison. Five sons and two daughters were born unto them, of whom two sons and two daughters are living. The mother died in January, 1883, and February, 1884 he married [cousin] Sarah A. Weaver, daughter of William Weaver. In August, 1861, he enlisted in the Missouri State Militia, and was mustered out as second lieutenant of his company in February, 1862. After this, in company with Capt. Prichard, he organized a company of 100 men, which became known as Company D, Fourth Regiment of Cavalry, Missouri State Militia. He was mustered in as first lieutenant of his company on April 3, 1862, but in September of that year was promoted to regimental quartermaster, which position he held until the expiration of his term of service. He was mustered out at St. Louis on April 17, 1865. He then returned to his farm in Andrew County, MO. In 1869-70 he served as county judge, and in 1879 he was elected on the Republican ticket to represent Andrew County in the State Legislature, which position he held for four successive terms. He is a member of the Episcopal church, a Master Mason, and a member of the G.A.R.
USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or for presentation by other persons or organizations. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material for purposes other than stated above must obtain the written consent of the file contributor. This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by: Penny R. Harrell








Marriage: July 1896



5. JOHN3 BONHAM (DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born Abt. 1838 in Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin. He married HARRIET SAVOY.

Children of JOHN BONHAM and HARRIET SAVOY are:


9. ii. MAY BONHAM.


6. JANE3 BONHAM (DAVID2, ROBERT1) was born Abt. 1841 in Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin. She married DANIEL BROWN.

Children of JANE BONHAM and DANIEL BROWN are:



Generation No. 4













Children of ALVA BONHAM and CORA MCKINNEY are:












DM ID: 101728   Survey Type: Original Survey     State: Wisconsin