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Friday, November 15, 2019

Margaret Watson Cooke's Photo Album Has Many Bonnells

Several years ago I took advantage of Ancestry's free scanning at the Southern California Genealogy Society's Jamboree and had my great-aunt Margaret's photo album scanned. I then posted it online at, after identifying as many people in the photos as I could.

When Margaret Watson was almost 12 in 1911, one of her' Christmas presents was a Brownie camera, She took many photos of family and friends in her hometown of Barry, Pike County, Illinois. In the photo albums she created she usually identified people.

Thinking this might be a wonderful resource for folks researching family in Barry, I put it online at

I was looking at it today and realized there were many Bonnells in the pictures, and I'd never publicized it. Margaret's mother was a Bonnell and her many siblings and cousins had their photos taken when they visited Barry.

So here's a link to Margaret's albums. I hope some of you find photos of someone in your line.
Margaret Watson Cooke's Photo Album, Barry, Illinois 1911-1913

Monday, October 7, 2019

Bunnell House Wins 2019 Best of Winona Award!

Charlie Bunnell forwarded this for posting. Isn't it wonderful?

It is our pleasure to inform you that Bunnell House has been selected for the 2019 Best of Winona Awards in the category of Museum.

For details and more information please view our website:

2019 Best of Winona Awards - Museum

If you are unable to view the link above, please copy and paste the following into your web browser: 

Best Regards,
Winona Business Recognition 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Bunnell/Bonnell Newsletters Are Now Free

Here's a great announcenent from Charlie Bunnell.

The Bunnell/Bonnell Newsletters are now available to the public at no charge. Go to and select Newsletter. Then scroll down that page to the link to the index. Alternatively, go to Enjoy.

How cool is this?

Thanks, Charlie, for all you did as editor of the newsletter as well as this news..

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Revolutionary War Soldier John Bonnell

Steve Bonnell has been compiling information on all the John Bonnells who fought in the Revolutionary War. At present he's aware of five:
  1. John 1 died 1845 Waterford Twp, Erie County, PA
  2. John 2 died 15 Dec 1817 Springfield Twp, Essex Co., NJ
  3. John 3 died 1 April 1823 Harrison Co, VA
  4. John 4 died 21 Aug 1808 Screven Co, GA
  5. John 5 died 184X Berlin, Wayne Co, PA
He created a matrix to compare the information he's found can be found here: Revolutionary Soldiers John Bonnell.

If any of our readers have information on these or other John Bonnells, please share it with Steve.

His main focus is tracking down the Bonnell line from John 1, who migrated through Lancaster, Lycoming, then Erie counties in Pennsylvania. His origin is not known, but many circumstances suggest Ireland. Present Y-DNA Tests SHOW that this Bonnell Line is NOT related to the majority of Bonnell-Bunnell Folks in the country! However, the tests do show that the lines of each of the 4 sons ARE related to each other.

Steve’s website can be found here: It features, among many other things:

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Why This Blog Exists

Recently it has come to my attention that new readers may be unfamiliar with the reasons this blog was created and its purpose. I am republishing our very first blog post of Sunday, March 29, 2015, in hopes it will encourage family members to submit information for publication and dispersal.

This Bunnell-Bonnell Family Blog was created to share information on the many branches of the Bunnell/Bonnell family tree. It is the child of the Bunnell/Bonnell Newsletter, which was in continuous publication from January 1987 until November 2014–28 continuous years!

Mr. William Austin of Lacyville, PA started the Newsletter in order to share some of the material he had collected during 25 years of research and correspondence. That first issue was 8 pages long. Over the years Bill grew the Newsletter both in content and in subscribers, and he became one of the foremost experts on the Bunnell/Bonnell genealogy.

After 10 years of publishing the newsletter, Bill turned it over to Carole Bonnell and her sister-in-law Teri Bonnell. Their first publication was in January 1997. Like Bill, they published an outstanding Newsletter and provided a much needed forum for Bunnell and Bonnell researchers to share information and ask questions.

Finally, in January 2003, in answer to Carole's and Teri's calls for new editors, Charlie and Pat Bunnell decided to give it a try. Charlie had just retired and was looking for something new to "obsess" over. 

The newsletter ceased publication with the November 2014 issue because no one volunteered to take over for Charlie after he decided to take a well-deserved break.

Every issue of the newsletter is available on Charlie's website at 

The creators of this blog and all Bunnell/Bonnell family researchers owe enormous debts of gratitude to these editors and all who contributed to the newsletter. Thank you for all the information you preserved and shared.

The newsletter had always been an informal, information sharing publication with all of the subscribers recognizing and treating each other as family. We hope this blog will be the same.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jay H. Bonnell Reminiscence of The Polar Bear Expedition

You Bonnell/Bunnell family members are a wonderful bunch.

One of my correspondents informed me the University of Michigan has digitized and made available online the Jay H. Bonnell typescript I mentioned in my last post.

The Jay H. Bonnell reminiscence of the Polar Bear Expedition to Northern Russia 1918-1919

Addendum: UM's Bentley Historical Library's magazine published a story on the Polar Bear Expedition Bentley Historical Library article The Bentley's magazine has many fascinating articles and I've spent the last three hours enjoying them.

Thank you, University of Michigan.

Addendum: Steven Bonnell has it right. The Jay H. Bonnell #342490 is the man who wrote the reminisces linked above. I found this article on

Bay City Times, Thursday, 20 February 1919 page 11
From a Bay City Boy in Russia
From Pvt. Jay H. Bonnell, Company A., 310th engineers, Archangel district, Northern Russia, to his wife, Mrs. Jay H. Bonnell, 807 West John street, under date of December 17.
It is getting near Christmas and I am still in Russia. They say the coldest weather here is about 25 degrees below zero, but it is a dry cold and don't seem much colder to feeling than our Michigan winters. I am feeling fine and gaining weight and haven't even had a cold so far this winter. We have plenty of food and clothing, but lack blankets, as I lost one of mine in a battle on the front.
Just received some more letters and about 25 newspapers, and while I am writing this letter the resto f the boys in the car are having a great time reading Bay City news.
We have a Y.M.C.A. car along with us, and if we have rubles we can buy candy, gum, canned stuff, etc. We ride about seven miles back and forth to work in a train. The working hours are short though, as we have only about seven hours of daylight.
A sergeant, corporal and nine men besides myself were let off a boat about 200 miles up the Dvinn river on September 14, and the authorities must have forgotten they sent us, because we were reported missing. On November 10, a corporal and myself were detailed to go to Archangel and get some supplies for the men. We left the others in a little town on the Yosa river, a branch of the Dvinn. It certainly was some trip. It is about 200 miles, and took us four days. We went about 150 miles in a canoe, and then caught a tug the rest of the way to our destination. As soon as we reported to headquarters we were taken off of the missing list. I am now on a railroad front where I can get mail out once in a while.
As far as the army making a man of a person, it depends on the man, for I know some who will come out better men, and some that will not, I am sorry to say. One has to have a strong will to endure the hardships and monotony of this life, for we have had no fighting now for over a month. The men are all anxious to get home and sometimes complain now that the war in France is over. Believe me, I will know how to appreciate home when I get there.

Addendum 2: Life is full of funny connections. The Wednesday 27 March 2019 Wall Street Journal (page A15), contained a revies by Mark Yost of The Polar Bear Expidition by James Carl Nelson (Morrow Publishing). The  4400 soldiers in 339th Infantry were mainly Michiganders, which explains why the University of Michigan has a collection on the expidition. The troops were sent to protect the Allied supplies at Murmansk from capture by the Germans. The arms and materiel had originally been sent there to help in the fight against the Bolsheviks. The review ends "Mr. Nelson quotes Lt. John Cudahy, the son of a wealthy Wisconsin family and America's future ambassador to Belgium and Poland, who summed it up best: 'When the last battalion set sail from Archangel, not a soldier knew, no not even vaguely, why he had fought or why he was going now, and why his comrads were left behind.'"

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Finding Manuscripts in ArchiveGrid

Recently, thanks to an article in Bill Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, I've now heard about ArchiveGrid. I don't understand many of the words on the website's About ArchiveGrid page because I'm neither an academic or an archivist, but I do know the value of a website that allows Boolean searches of manuscript collections at more than 1,000 archives.

I searched for "Bonnell" and 359 results came up. "Bunnell" brought up 610.

To pick a few at random:
Bonnell Harold Stone family papers circa 1980 (University of Georgia–Special Collections Library)  four items: two letters from Mildred Mayo, one addressed to Mr. Campbell, regarding Bonnell and Stone families, and the biography Campbell is writing about Mayo’s father, Bonnell Harold Stone; and two drafts of Bonnell Harold Stone’s biography.
Bonnell Family Photographs ca 1880s-1950s (New Mexico State University-Archives and Special Collections) Photos taken on the Bonnell Ranch ca 1915-1955.
George Bonnell Collection of Your Show of Show Scripts (New York Public Library) My mother's favorite TV show.
Bonnell, Jay H. (University of Michigan–Bentley Historical Library) Reminises 1919 and photo album of the "Polar Bear expedition 1918-1919 

Clicking on the record brings up more information. Naturally I was curious. What the heck is the Polar Bear Expedition. The details say "Member of the 339th Infantry sent to northern Russia during World War 1." Doesn't that sound interesting? There's a record for it in WorldCat, but with much less detail. My son's at the University of Michigan and I asked him to make a copy of the typescript for me if he can. There's a story here.

Those examples have Bonnell in the collection name. Here's some that don't:
Library of Congress–National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections–includes correspondence of Pvt. Richard W. Bonnell serving with Co. I of 101st Ohio Infantry Regiment.
Letters, 1766 Chenevix, Richard 1696-1779 (Yale University)–includes correspondence concerning the disposition of the estate of Jane Bonnell (died 1747).

Other gems include Edith Bonnell's letters about her family's movements during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, as well as many genealogy collections (like William Austin's).

So happy hunting. If you find something write it up and send it to me. We'll share it in a blog post.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Richard Brotherton's Letter on the Children of Benjamin Bonnell

Among the treasures in The William Austin Collection (New England Historic Genealogy Society) is a copy of the letter that settled the question of the parentage of Jacob Bonnell, eldest son of Benjamin Bonnell. I'm descended from Benjamin's son Aaron, step-brother of Jacob. 

NEHGS has granted permission to share these documents, as long as they are cited. If you use this information, be sure and mention them and Bill's collection.

Here's a transcript of the relevant letter and how it was found:

Excerpt from a letter dated 19 January 1921 from Grace Gridley Roscoe, Fremont, Ohio, to Mrs. Addie W. Crawford, Coston, Pennsylvania.
In the desk of Charles (my mother’s father) grandson of Jacob was found a letter from Richard Brotherton, a well known Quaker of Dover, N.J. (Dover histories have his pictures and much praise of him.) Richard Brotherton was a cousin of Charles or his father, at least of cousin of Charles–he addresses him as “Cousin Charles.” This letter seems to have been in answer to a query from “Charles” as to Jacob’s father’s family. The letter says very definitively that Jacob was son of Benj. by a first wife and mentions the children by second wife which tally with those records give as children of Benj. & Rachel Van Winkle. Richard Brotherton knew them personally so we treasure this letter as the only known evidence of such a marriage…Had it not been for the love of family history fostered by the husband of the granddaughter to whom the desk descended by her acquiring the old home, this letter would have been thrown out with other papers and it was not until I was well started  “leading no where” that a second cousin of mine living in Washington D.C., who for years lived in New Jersey, found we were both climbing the same tree and told me how she had heard of this letter. I went there, copied it and took it to a notary for him to acknowledge as a copy of original.…
To go back to Benj., a younger son–half brother of Jacob…whose age was more like Jacob’s son Henry, took up land across the road from Henry and that land is now in our line possession. In fact I at one time owned some of it but it now belongs to a gandson of Charles. Descendants from this son of Benj. come about sixty miles to our Reunion.

Copy of a Letter Written by Richard Brotherton of New Jersey to Captain Bonnell of New York
Dover, 11th mo, 28th 1855
Cousin Charles
Thine of the 10th instant came duly to hand, as touching the object of thy inquiry. Benjamin Bonnell lived in this neighborhood, Jacob was a son he had by his first wife. Henry was Jacob’s only son. Benjamin had a second wife. By her he had five sons, namely Aaron, David, Nathaniel, Simeon, and Benjamin. Simeon died when a young man,,Benjamin I never knew,–therefore, I suppose he died before my time. Aarom removed to Redstone, Pennsylvania, about sixty six 66’ years ago. his two oldest sons Moses and Henry, each came back and spent one year Moses returned to Redstone and I had a letter informing me of his decease near 38 years ago. Henry went from here to upper Canada and settled at Pickering, a younger one by the name of William was afterwards out with a view of going to Redstone but settled in the upper part of Virginia. When he left here he had two sons, Thomas and John. Nathaniel settled at Waterloo. He had four sons Simeon and William are both deceased. Darius Nathaniel both went with their Father to York State. The personal property of Elizabeth Vail is not yet settled, but they expect to have it settled soon, which when done I will attend to. I should like to know if thy Mother is yet living, if so, of her welfare.
Richard Brotherton
to Charles Bonnel
Mrs. Ellen C. Barton (copyist)
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 2nd day of Jan 1920. Jacob Brooks, Notary in and for Seneca Co., N.Y.

Here are images of all the pages on Benjamin Bonnell Sr.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The William Austin Collection at the New England Historic Gealogical Society.

Bill Austin has done the Bunnell/Bonnell family a great service. 

After his definitive book, The Bunnell/Bonnell Family in America, was published, he donated all his papers to the New England Historic Gealogical Society. The William Austin Collection, as NEHGS named it, is safe in its archives.

I live on the other side of the country from Boston, so all my requests were made through e-mail. Timothy Sails in Special Collections assigned Archivist Judy Lucey to help me. I wanted Bill’s copy of the Hatfield Bible, the source for all the birth & marriage dates for my branch. All I have is a transcription and hoped Bill had a copy of the original page.

Ms Lacey not only found what I’d requested, she asked if I wanted copies of Bill’s files on my Bonnell branch. Of course I did. She also read through those files and located other documents mentioned in them. One item was a letter from my great-great-Uncle William Wayland Bonnell.

For a modest copying fee (40 cents a page, with 50 pages free to NEHGS members), I received a treasure trove via e-mail.

When I opened the first file I gasped. There was my great-aunt Margaret’s handwriting on the stationary she always used. She was my paternal grandfather’s sister and one of my favorite relatives. For ten years she and Bill corresponded about Aaron Bonnell’s branch. Margaret’s mother was the granddaughter of Aaron's son Moses.

Among the treasures was Margaret’s first version of her compiled genealogy, the letter from her uncle mentioned above and an 1855 letter that resolved the parentage of Aaron’s father.

I’ve spent two weeks now taking it all in. 

Thank you, Bill Austin, for the meticulous research you did and for donating your papers to NEHGS. 

Thank you, Judy Lucey, for being a true research assistant, not just a copyist.