History of the Bonner Memorial Cemetery

By: Ruth Bonner Dicks

The Bonner Memorial Cemetery located two miles west of Toxey, Alabama has a picturesque setting surrounded by beautiful trees of every species. It is unique in that it remains a family cemetery. The founder: Seaborn and Mary Martin Bonnerís home was located on the south side of the cemetery; built approximately in 1837. In May 1850 their five year old daughter ó Nancy ó died and was buried in their flower garden, hence the beginning of the cemetery.

All ten of their children are interred there with the exception of two:

Seaborn Bonner, Jr. is buried at Brightwater Cemetery and Andrew Lee Bonner, a confederate soldier, is buried in a confederate cemetery near Cross Roads, Virginia. Jordan Bonner, also a confederate soldier, died in Camp in Mobile, Alabama and is buried in Bonner Cemetery. Some ninety four descendants of Seaborn and Mary Bonner are interred there.

In late 1930 Seaborn E. and Viola McMillan Bonner were instrumental in getting Memorial Services held at the cemetery each year the second Sunday in May. This created interest and the descendants met each year to prepare the cemetery for this service.

In 1959 Gleney B. Bonner graciously donated more land adjacent to the cemetery which was cleared and landscaped to enlarge the cemetery and give ample space for parking, with a circling drive through the cemetery. The cemetery and parking area comprise three acres.

On May 7, l964 a double monument was purchased for Seaborn and Mary Bonnerís grave.

In 1965 a planning committee was formed: namely Odell Davidson, Coleman Newton, Dave Casey, Tony Doggette, Gleney B. Bonner, C. L. Thompson, Slater Jackson, Douglas Jackson, Biniam Gilbert and Seth E. Bonner with Seth E. Bonner as chairman. Mrs. Edith Barefield was elected secretary and treasurer, and Ruth B. Dicks the assistant under Seth E. Bonner's leadership. He also supervised the mowing of the cemetery.

A pavilion or tabernacle was erected in 1967 with a dirt floor. In 1970, due to Seth E. Bonner's failing health, Gleney B. Bonner was elected to serve as President of the Bonner Memorial Association. Under the leadership of Gleney B. Bonner and his committee of Dan Cook, C. L. Thompson and P. M. Dicks, Jr. a slab was poured for the tabernacle and an addition was built on the north side to house the tables. This project was completed in July 1971.

Due to ill health, Mrs. Edith Barefield resigned as secretary and treasurer and. Ruth B. Dicks was elected.

The Historical Bonner Granite Marker was erected on the northeast corner of the cemetery in memory of Seaborn and. Mary Bonner in l975.

In April 1977 a savings fund was set up for the future perpetual care of the cemetery. This fund is growing. The association has an operating fund to maintain the cemetery. These funds are made available by free will offerings.

The following descendents of Seaborn and Mary Bonner have conducted services there: Rev. Andy L. Bonner (now deceased), Mr. Gleney B. Bonner, Rev. Eddie Broadhead, and Rev. Hermese Broadhead, Rev. William P. Bonner (son of the late Rev. Andy L. Bonner). Mr. C. L. Thompson and his committee prepare a splendid program each year. Miss Estelle Bonner and Mrs. Hilda B. Speed are responsible for the bulletins.

In 1978 Gerry S. Bonner and Marcus R. Bonner, sons of the late Seth E. Bonner, were elected to serve in his place.

Rev. Hermese Broadhead graciously donated a piano to the association and assisted the committee in preparing a place to store it, Miss Estelle Bonner donated 140 folding steel chairs to the association, which helps to provide ample seating.

In May l975, the dedication of the Historical Granite Marker was held. A brief history of Seaborn Bonner, Sr was read by Marcus R. Bonner. Hubert Bonner, a sole surviving grandson of Seaborn Bonner, and Marcus H. Bonner unveiled the marker. Rev. Eddie Broadhead, great, great, great, grandson gave the invocation.

In December 1983, under the leadership. of Gleney B. Bonner, a chain-link fence was erected around the cemetery. Mr. Sammie Bonner operated the county bulldozer and prepared the ground for the fence. Slater Jackson assisted in preparing the ground for the fence.

Gleney B. Bonner and wife Mildred K. Bonner gave land for a parking lot at the north entrance to the cemetery.

 

Donated for publication by The Choctaw County Genealogical Society by Louise Cook