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Biographical Sketches

Lew BONNER and Laura A. BLANKENSHIP

submitted by William J. Bonner

Photographs

(Click the pictures for a larger view.)

Here is a picture of Lew Bonner, Laurence Bonner (aged
about 5) and Laura Allen Blankinship Bonner) about
1905.  It was probably taken in a Kingfisher studio.

Baby picture of my father, Joseph Bonner, in 1910.

Baby picture of my father, Joseph Bonner, in 1913.

This is the old red rock house that Louis or Lew Bonner
built on his 160 acres in Park Twp., Kingfisher County.
This picture was taken in about 1912.
I slept in it when I visited for the summer
with the Lawrence Schweitzers (our tenants)
back in about 1952 or 1953, but it was torn down before 1960.

My grandfather and grandmother Bonner (Lew Bonner and Laura A. Blankinship Bonner) were early settlers of Kingfisher County. They came separately before they were married in 1899, at the Indian Baptist Mission, and homesteaded a number of miles apart. I believe they came not in the 1889 rush on the Unassigned Lands, but in the second rush in the western part of the county, being part of Cheyenne Arapaho lands. Lew
Bonner took his 160 acres in Section 6, Park Twp., 15 N, R 8 W, Indian Meridian. (southwest part of the county). Laura took property a bit north and east of that, in Reserve Township. being Sec. 31, T 16 N, R 8 W.

Both my uncle, Laurence Bonner, and father, Joseph Bonner, were born on Laura's homestead. She died in Barry County, MO, of epilepsy, but Lew stayed on his place (with winter trips to south Texas) until his death in 1940.

Name: Lew BONNER1, Grandfather
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Birth: 7 Apr 1871 , Lancaster, Nebraska2,3
Death: 19 Dec 1940 Austin, Travis, Texas2
Burial: 23 Dec 1940 Mt.Pleasant Ceme, Bois D'Arc, Greene, Missouri
Occupation: Farmer
Education: 8th Grade
Religion: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Father: James BONAR (~1847-1929)
Mother: Elizabeth KEHLER "Lib" (1847-1897)
Other Spouses: Nancy Eleanor BLANKINSHIP, G Aunt
Marriage: 25 Apr 1899 Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Okla. Terr.
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Spouse: Laura Allen BLANKENSHIP1, Grandmother
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Birth: 3 Feb 1868 Ashgrove, Boone Twp., Greene, Missouri
Death: 14 Oct 1917 Cassville, Barry, Missouri
Burial: 16 Oct 1917 Mt Pleasant Ceme, near Bois D'Arc, Greene, Missouri
Occupation: Farmer; school teacher
Education: probably Drury College, Springfield
Religion: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Father: Hiram F. BLANKENSHIP (1837-1868)
Mother: Amanda F. Henrietta GOODIN (1842-1922)

Children:
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1 M: Laurence nmn BONNER, Uncle
Birth: 3 Oct 1900 Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Oklahoma
Death: 10 Jan 1974 Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Oklahoma
Spouse: Olga Carolina POHLMANN
Marriage: 28 Aug 1923 Frederick, Tillman, Oklahoma
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2 M: Unnamed BONNER, Uncle
Birth: 6 Mar 1903 Tryon, Lincoln, Okla. Terr.
Death: 9 Mar 1903 Tryon, Lincoln, Okla. Terr.
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3 F: Daughter BONNER, Aunt
Birth: 6 Mar 1908 Tryon, Lincoln, Oklahoma
Death: 9 Mar 1908 Tryon, Lincoln, Oklahoma
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4 M: Joseph nmn BONNER, Father
Birth: 6 Feb 1909 Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Oklahoma
Death: 26 Jan 1985 Nowata, Nowata, Oklahoma
Spouse: Aldine Eleanor WILLIAMS, Mother
Marriage: 28 Aug 1936 Nowata, Nowata, Oklahoma


Notes for Lew BONNER
!Birth. 1880 Lancaster County, NE Census Vol 6, ED 235, Sheet 11, Line 49, where he is listed as age 8. (NARA microfilm, T9-751, Mill Pct. See also burial book in possession of William J. Bonner, Anchorage, AK, given to him by son of Lew Bonner, Joseph Bonner, who made out the data. But see also the 1880 Park County, Colorado Census, where he is shown as age 9.

The Kehler Family Bible, bottom left of Family Record, left column seems to say: "Luther Colman was born April the 4th, 1872 (or 1873)." Hard to read.

!Marriage: Marriage Certificate in possession of Aldine E. Bonner, Nowata, Oklahoma.

!Death: Texas Vital Statistics and personal narration by Joseph Bonner, his son.

Reared by his grandparents after being either abandoned or orphaned by natural parents who may not have been married. (See marriage certificate obtained in June, 1990, showing names of James & Elizabeth). He ran off repeatedly from home and went to work on the railroad gangs, apparently in the southwest part of the U.S., including Ariz. (A gandy dancer?)

Made the run into Cheyenne-Arapahoe land west of Kingfisher. Homesteaded in 1893, married, had children, was widowed, and remarried late in life (1940?) to wife's sister, Ella Blankenship Neaves who also was widowed. Spent winters in south Texas each year until death. Was being driven to South Texas by his son Joseph in company of wife Ella when died of heart failure. Bill Bonner has a copy of funeral book. His body was taken back to Mo. for burial beside the grave of first wife, in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery (Baptist Church).

According to research by L.Bonner Jr., Lew Bonner was son of Elizabeth Kahler or Kaler, who was 22 in the 1870 census in Lancaster, Nebraska. She allegedly married another man after Lew was born, leaving child with Grandparents Kahler, since Lew could not get along with his new step-father. Do not know what happened to James. (But see updated data on James, as of 1/19/2000.) Some of this so-called history is only family lore, not really documented.

According to a burial book at his funeral, he died in Lacy Courts (hospital?) motel in Austin, Texas, and he was born on January 15, 1869. That doesn't square with census records of 1880, when he was listed as a boy of 8 living with his grandparents Kahler. See Lancaster County 1870 census, 8 June 1870, page 7, outside Lincoln, see page 137. Supposedly his mother (Elizabeth?) remarried and Lew did not get along with his step-father so stayed with grandparents Kahler until he left for good in his early teens.

According to burial book, "Young manhood spent in California, Arizona and New Mexico. Later he homesteaded in Oklahoma; in central Oklahoma in 1892."
This was from Joe Bonner's recollection, who made out the information.
See also Lancaster County, Nebraska 1880 census, Vol 6, E.D. 235, Sheet 11, Line 49, Mill Precinct, listing Lewis Bonner as grandson, living with Kahlers. Both father and mother listed as being born in Pennsylvania. Another inconsistency.

The 1900 Oklahoma Census, Vol. 8, E.D. 114, Sheet 4, Line 73, Park Twp,
Kingfisher County, Lew listed his birth year as 1870, month of April.

Obviously he did not know the year of birth precisely, (or was inconsistent in giving it) which squares with both Joe and Laurence Bonner's recollections. See references to the Kehler family bible under Elizabeth Kehler, which make reference to Lew being born to Elizabeth and Luke Coleman, e.g. Martin Luther Coleman, before she was married to James Bonar on Sept. 3, 1872. If James was the apochryphal stepfather, with whom Lew could not get along, then the family story makes sense. This also would explain how he got the name Lou or Lew or "Lu", after his biological father.

This also explains comments by Lotte Lehman that there was a Luke Coleman
listed in the Kehler family bible as a grandchild.

But see the 1880 Park County, Colorado census, where a Louis Bonner is listed as age 9, with the family of James and Elizabeth Bonner. Date of census is also June 8, 1880. He couldn't have been in two places on the same date. See Lancaster County, NE census for same date: June 8, 1880. Thus, he may have been born in April of either 1871 or 1872.

Pictures of him taken in the late 1930's, or 1940 with son Joseph show him to be about 5'9" and weighing probably 200 pounds, with "apple" figure. He probably was diabetic, as well as having heart problems.

The 1910 Reserve Twp., Kingfisher County, OK Census, taken on 8 May 1910, Sheet 8b, line 71, shows Louis Bonner, head of household, age 40 (as was Laura also listed), born in Nebraska, mother born in Nebraska and father born in Pennsylvania. Thus he didn't know where James or Lib was born, nor the year that he, Louis, was born. Also listed are Laurence, age 9 and Joseph, age 1 3/12. Laura correctly listed her parents' place of birth as Tennessee and Texas, so she was quite a bit more precise.

1920 Census, Barry County, MO., Lew is listed with both Laurence and Joseph. Ash Twp., Page 6B, line 92. He lists himself as a farmer.

His homestead was in Section 6, T 15 N, R 8 W, Indian Meridian.


Notes for Laura Allen BLANKENSHIP
!Birth. Calculated from her Death Certificate, State of MO., which stated her to be 49 y, 8 m, 11 days, on Oct 14, 1917.

!Marriage. Bill Bonner has a copy of her marriage certificate in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma Territory, at the Baptist Indian Mission. Original is on the wall at 218 South Maple, Nowata.

!Death: Death Certificate. State of Missouri.

!Burial: Bill Bonner has seen the Grave at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, west of Willard, MO.

Laura A. Blankenship was the youngest child in the family of Hiram and Amanda Blankenship. There is some dispute over what her middle name was. Larry Bonner understood it to be Anne. Bill Bonner recalls his father saying that it was "Allen." Since she had an older sister named Anna, (Annie Blankenship Fortner), it seems unlikely that she was also an "Anne." See discussion below.

Bill Bonner received a death certificate from Missouri on October 30, 1989. This shows she died in Cassville, Barry County, Mo of epilepsy at the relatively young age of 49 yrs, 8 mos, 11 days, on October 14th, 1917. That conflicts with the cemetery stone, showing her death on October 15th. Of course, the stone also is misspelled, showing it as "Blankinship." (an affectation of Joseph William Blankinship, her brother?) The death certificate was signed by W.G. Salyer, M.D., who also made a comment: "Could not get any history of this case. Her eyes? do not show? duration." The personal info was provided by Mrs. Annie Fortner (Blankenship) of Ash Grove, Mo. It showed Laura to be a housewife, born in Willard, Mo., father's name "Hayram Blankenship born in Canasauga, Tenn."

According to recollections from Joseph Bonner, she homesteaded on Cheyenne/
Arapaho lands west of Kingfisher by herself in the 1892 run (not the original run into Okla territory of 1889, at the same time that Lew Bonner did several miles southwest of her property. They married in 1899. 1900 Census shows them married. This data is shown on notes for Lew Bonner.

She had three children by Lew, Laurence Bonner, born in 1901, at least a daughter or son who was still born or died at birth, and Joseph, born in 1909. She taught school in Missouri, often spent winters there even after her marriage, earning enough money to spend on the prairies during crop times.

Both Laurence and Joe were born on her homestead, in the old sod hut, the foundations of which still existed in 1987 when Bill, Larry, and others explored and found Joe and Laurence's initials carved, just as Joe had said they did, some time in the 20's or 30's.

Laura may have been living apart from Lew at the time of her death, or it may have just been her time back in Missouri. Family lore said that she may have died of the influenza that was rampant at the time, but the death certificate would indicate otherwise, being epilepsy.

As to whether her middle name was Anne or Allen: See notes on Joseph H. Goodin, her grandfather, and whether he had a first wife named Jaine Allen. If this is the same family line, then it might be natural to pass along that name.

Her homestead was in Sec. 31, T16N, R8W, Indian Meridian. Probably 180 acres, being a quarter section.

Notes for Laurence nmn (Child 1)
! Death certif., Personal knowledge of Laurence Bonner Jr. See also social security index.
Social Security # was 555-09-6757, issued in California prior to 1951.

Notes for Unnamed (Child 2)
This information is written, apparently in Laura A. Blankenship Bonner's hand on the reverse of the Certificate of Marriage issued on 25 April 1899. Says as follows: "Born at Home Hountride? Laurence Bonner, Oct. 3rd 1900 A.D. Born March 6, 1903. Died March 1st 1903 Baby Boy At Tryon Lived 6 (days)? Joseph Bonner Born Febr. 6 1909"

Notes for Daughter (Child 3)
This information was received from Laurence Bonner, Jr., and is based upon information that he received from his father, Laurence Bonner. Since the dates of birth and death, except for the year, and the location, Tryon, are identical to the information contained on the reverse of the Marriage Certificate between Lew and Laura Bonner, and in her hand, apparently, then the daughter which died shortly after birth may have been a son and was born in 1903 rather than 1908. It is not likely that a birth or death certificate was issued in those days.

Notes for Joseph nmn (Child 4)
!Birth: in a sod hut 8 miles west and 4 miles south of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, in Park Twp,? Oklahoma Vital Statistics and Social Security Administration Records. Family history.

!Marriage. Marriage Certificate is in the possession of spouse, Aldine E. Williams Bonner. (Bill took from Safe Deposit Box on Jan 4th, 2001, along with other documents).

!Death: Oklahoma Vital Statistics. See also LDS Social Security Records.

His mother died when he was only eight, and he was reared by his father. An older brother, Laurence left home in about 1918 to work in the oil fields near Cushing, OK, so there were little female influences in his life other than his aunt, Eleanor Blankinship Neaves in Tryon, OK. He played football in the Kingfisher High School, was a member of ROTC, and excelled in Mathematics. Chopped wood to go to Oklahoma A&M, recalling that all the wood one could chop in one day sold for about a dollar, including stacking. His father gave him $10.00 and told him to go get educated in 1928 or 1929.

Graduated in 1933, at the heart of the depression, and unable to get a job, so he went back and worked on family homestead, visiting his sweetheart, Aldine Eleanor Williams at various locations around Oklahoma, where she was teaching. Her father finally gave him an ultimatum: Get married, or quit hanging around. He took the former choice, and they were married on August 28, 1936, in Nowata, OK. He took a job at George E. Williams' lumberyard as a common laborer and clerk.

In the 1930 census, Kingfisher Twp. p. ?, line 9, he was a boarder in the household of George H., and Hattie Rollenbach? He listed his father as being born in Nebraska and his mother in Missouri (correct).

He joined the US Navy in WWII, going with a number of others from Nowata, late in the war, 1944. He served in the South Pacific on the USS H.E.Harris, DE-447. That epoch dominated his conversation for the rest of his life, much to the consternation of his children, who quickly would leave when the subject of the war came up. He did not see actual combat, but thereafter was involved with the American Legion and VFW until his death, serving as post president, VA Hospital counselor, post service officer, etc. Most of his poker playing buddies were likewise veterans.

Upon return from the war, he purchased an Insurance business which he operated from 1946 until 1957. He also did tax preparation work for people most of those years, teaching both Bill and Martha rudiments of tax (which they still use.) Bill worked there during summers in college, doing some accounting for him, finding that in a number of the early post-war years, the cash return to Joe Bonner was as little as $25.00 per month, despite a burgeoning family.

He attended Law School 1950-57. The reason for the long period was that initially he meant to take only tax courses, but Tulsa University insisted that he was becoming dangerous without learning some of the basics. For the last two years, he attended very nearly five nights a week, while still holding down a full insurance practice.

Attorney from '57 til death in January, 1985, just 9 days short of his 76th birthday. He was still winning cases before the Oklahoma Industrial Accident Board (Workers' Comp.) in the summer of 1984, but suffered a stroke in November of that year. He did not regain full use of speech or walk, but had improved his spirits greatly. He had a heart pacemaker installed in 1975, which kept him going for another 10 years. He was a diabetic (adult onset) from about age 60 and had slow heartbeat.

Sources
1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Ancestral File (TM)," July 1996 (c), data as of 2 January 1996, Family History Library 35 N West Temple Street.
2. Joe Bonner filled out burial book.
Burial book from Mr. & Mrs. R.L. Greenwade, Willard, MO. (Funeral Home). in possession of Bill Bonner
3. Kehler family Bible. Shows birth as Apr 4, 1872(3)?

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This page was last updated May 15, 2005.