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Bonifield, Robert
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Bonifield, Robert
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 593-594


Robert Bonifield, interested in general farming and stock-raising, is a native of Barry township born on the 6th of April, 1861, his parents being Mareen and Elizabeth (Hampton) Bonifield. The father was born in Kentucky, July 31, 1827, but spent the greater part of his life in Pike county, whither he came with his parents in 1843, the family home being established near the village of Kinderhook, where the paternal grandfather of our subject died. The maternal grandfather, Martin Hampton, came to Pike county from Ireland at an early day in the settlement of this part of the state, and his daughter Elizabeth was born here on the 21st of October, 1834. Her girlhood days were spent amid pioneer surroundings, and she was carefully trained to the labors of the household, as were all girls in those times. On reaching early womanhood she gave her hand in marriage to Mareen Bonifield, who provided for his family by following agricultural pursuits; and by the careful control of his business interests he prospered, becoming owner of more than six hundred acres of valuable lad. He had had no educational privileges whatever, and could not read nor write; but he possessed much native intelligence and keen sagacity, and displayed excellent business qualification in the management of his affairs. He voted with the republican party, taking some interest in politics; and held membership in the Kinderhook lodge, No. 353, A. F. & A. M. His many admirable qualities and the success which he accomplished in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, won him the respect and esteem of all who knew him. He died in April, 1896, having for many years survived his wife, who passed away August 21, 1873. They were the parents of five children, of whom three are now living namely: Robert; John, who resides near his elder brother; and Mrs. Matilda Lewton, who is also living in the same neighborhood. It was in this same locality that the father had his farm, which was rich bottom land.

In his boyhood days Robert Bonifield acquired the usual country-school education, and when a young man of twenty years, he started out in life on his own account, and has since given his attention to farming. He first went to Macon county, Missouri, where he carried on general agricultural pursuits for a year on land owned by his father. He made the first purchase of land in 1897, becoming the owner of one hundred and forty acres of which he still has one hundred and seventeen acres. His wife also owns one hundred and sixty acres of land in Kansas which she rents. Her farm is well improved, having good buildings upon it, while the fields have been carefully tilled. The home property of Mr. Bonifield in Barry township is also well developed and is lacking in none of the accessories of the model farm of the twentieth century. Mr. Bonifield is also a railroad contractor and has done considerable work in railroad grading, usually keeping several teams for this purpose. At the same time he carries on the work of the fields, and also raises stock upon the home farm, and in both branches of his business his efforts are being attended with a gratifying measure of success. At one time Mr. Bonifield conducted a livery stable in Kinderhook for about three months.

In 1881 occurred the marriage of Mr. Bonifield and Miss Sarah A. Bridgewater, who was born October 31, 1860, and is a daughter of Elias and Mary Jane (Hankins) Bridgewater, the former a native of this county, while the mother was born in Tennessee. The paternal grandfather, Samuel Bridgewater, came to Illinois before the town of Kinderhook was laid out, and was a pioneer resident, whose efforts contributed to the early substantial improvement of his locality. Reared in Pike county, Elias Bridgewater gave his entire attention to general agricultural pursuits, and in the course of years accumulated a large property, owning four hundred and eighty acres of land at the time of his death, while previously he had sold one hundred and sixty acres. He was a successful agriculturist; and moreover was a good man, just and fair in his dealings at all times, and strictly honorable in all life's relations. He belonged to Kinderhook lodge, No. 353, A. F. & A. M.; and both and his wife were devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal church. His study of the political issues and questions of the day led him to give his adherence to the republican party; and at the time of the Civil war he courageously espoused the Union cause, manifesting his loyalty to the Union by active service with the Ninety-ninth Illinois Regiment of Volunteers, in which he enlisted on the 5th of August, 1862. He served with that command until the close of the war, and on one occasion was wounded in the leg at Vicksburg. He was mustered out July 31, 1865; and many more years of usefulness were vouchsafed to him, for during almost four decades he continued a resident of Pike county, where he died in April, 1904, at the age of sixty-six years. His widow is now residing in Kansas, and will have attained an age of sixty-four in May, 1906. In their family were eight children but only three are now living: Mrs. Bonifield; John, who resides in Kinderhook township; and Charles A., who is living in Ford county, Kansas.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bonifield have been born four children, of whom three yet survive. Floyd, born June 4, 1881, and now living in St. Louis, Missouri, married Miss Ilah Gilvin, of Pike county, and they have two children, Charles and Grace L. Oliver, born September 24, 1889, and Clarence, born February 23, 1892, are still at home. The daughter, Tillie May, born June 16, 1883, died in March, 1884. The family home is pleasantly located about four miles from Barry and three miles from Kinderhook, and is a comfortable residence in the midst of a well tilled farm. Mr. Bonifield votes with the republican party, and is serving for the second term as road commissioner. He belongs to Odd Fellows lodge, No. 757, at Kinderhook, and the Mutual Protective League, and both and his wife are connected with the Rebekah lodge, No. 133, in which she has filled all of the offices. Both are representatives of old pioneer families of the county, the names of Bonifield and Bridgewater having long figured in connection with agricultural progress, and also with the permanent public improvement of this part of the state.

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