1st LOGO




Date Unknown.

T. S. Bonar
14 Nov 1841 - 30 Oct 1929

Photos provided by Naomi Lowe Hupp, descendant.



Presidents, Soldiers, Statesmen
H. H. Hardesty, Vol II, 1894, page 567-568

Contributed by Shirley Fox Allen.

T. S. BONAR - Was born Nov. 14, 1841, in Marshall county, W. Va., a son of Martin and Jane (Porter) Bonar, deceased. Nov. 19, 1865, he was married in this county, to Martha Bonar, who was born Nov. 29, 1846, in same county. She was the daughter of John and Lucinda (Gorby) Bonar, deceased. The following children have been born to this marriage, Alvildia J., Frank W., J. H. W., William P., Eustace I., Elbertha R., Martin L., Mont, dec., Thomas F., dec. Comrade Bonar was by occupation a farmer at the time of his enlistment when twenty years of age, Oct. 8, 1861 at Wheeling, W. Va., as a private in Co. D, 1st W. Va. V. I., 8th A. C., and was promoted to Sergt. He was wounded at the battle of Pt. Republic May 7, 1862; and again at the battle of 2d Bull Run by gunshot; for the latter wound he was in U. S. Post hospital, Philadelphia, till Nov. In Jan., 1863 he was detailed at Cameron about three months as recruiting officer. He also fought at Winchester Mountain, Jackson, Edenburg, Bloomery, Front Royal, Port Republic, 2d Bull Run, Cedar Mountain, Thoroughfare Gap, Piedmont, New Market, Lexington, Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Salem and Opequan, receiving an honorable discharge Nov. 28, 1864 at Wheeling, W. Va. He had three brothers in the late war. Comrade Bonar is O. and D. of Evans Post, 77, he is also a member of the Masonic Order; he belongs to the M. E. Church and is by occupation a farmer near Glen Easton, W. Va., which is his Post Office Address.



Written by
Robert G. Bonar
August 6, 1994

Submitted by Vernon Anderson.

Marshall County is located at the base of West Virginia's northern panhandle, an unusual sliver of land kept by Virginia as part of an 18th Century compromise that settled a boundary dispute with Pennsylvania. This area quickly grew into a cosmopolitan commercial and industrial center aided by that liquid highway, the Ohio River, the National Road and the B & 0 Railroad. By 1860, Wheeling was the second largest city in Virginia, surpassing its closest rivals by a four-to-one margin. (1)

Among the many families flocking to the panhandle at the turn of the Nineteenth Century were the Bonars. Typical of the heritage of many western Virginia settlers, the Bonars considered themselves to be Scotch-Irish--though of Highland rather than Lowland Scot origin. According to one family tradition, the Bonars were French Hugenots who were forced from that country during a purge of Protestants. Then as a reward for service to the king of England, the family was given land in the far north of Scotland. The town of Bonar Bridge does exist at the head of Dornoch Firth in Sutherland County though no Bonar has lived there in two hundred years. Following a multi-generational stopover in Ulster, several family members came to America in the mid-1700's.

William Bonar, "The Immigrant", settled first in Montgomery County, Virginia, and then moved to Harford County, Maryland. Later generations crossed the mountains to live in Northwestern Virginia.(2) By the time they arrived much of the good bottomland had already been taken, so the Bonars purchased tillable acreage on the long, high ridges dividing the waters of Fish, Grave and Wheeling Creeks extending back from the Ohio River into Pennsylvania.

Like the majority of Americans of that time the Bonars and their pioneer neighbors were farmers. They cleared the land, planted crops, raised livestock, built homes and churches and cut wagon roads down the steep inclines to the towns in the valleys below.

The subject of this narrative, Thomas Snodgrass Bonar, was born November 14, 1841, on Bowman Ridge in Marshall County, the seventh of thirteen children. His parents were Martin and Jane Porter Bonar.(3) From his early years until adulthood, Thomas joined with his siblings in operating the family farm. According to a boyhood friend and later comrade-in-arms, J. P. Allen, Thomas was "... hearty, stout and active, durable and persevering, always able and ready to perform any manual labor on the farm." (4)

The family's well being and stability was severly tested in 1860 with the untimely death of Martin Bonar at age 53. Jane Bonar managed to hold the family together (eight children were still at home) through this crisis and later as she sent four sons to join the Union army.

It is not surprising that the Bonars were loyal to the Union. Over time, many citizens of the Northern Panhandle had become estranged from the government in Richmond. Not only was the area remote geographically, it was somewhat different in heritage and identity. Some Panhandle residents felt they had little in common with Piedmont/Tidewater, English ancestry, first family types, and some felt Virginia treated its western counties as step-children. Others cast their gaze across the Ohio River to what they perceived as well-organized Northwest Territory governments on the New England model that planned towns on grids with central squares, had modern laws and practices that emphasized growth and supported public education and public works. In contrast, they felt they were burdened by the Old Dominion's version of the typical Southern attitude of minimal government action, haphazard planning, archaic laws and slower response to economic and political changes.

As the country moved toward civil war, eastern and western Virginia continued to grow farther apart. The Northern Panhandle had harbored ideas of separation from Virginia for a generation.(5) Of the seven counties in western Virginia that cast any votes at all for Lincoln in the 1860 election, the top three were in the Northern Panhandle.(6) It was only natural then that Wheeling was chosen as the location for conventions to determine how to react to the secession crisis. Later, it became the first capital of the Reorganized Government of Virginia and after June 20, 1863, the new State of West Virginia.

The Bonars were staunch Unionists and most were Requblicans (if family genealogist, Grace L. Bonar, needed to add to a sketch of a family member she would often include--he was a Methodist and a Republican). Thomas Bonar's eldest brother, John, was a delegate to the first Wheeling Convention and was a sergeant in Co. H 17th (W)Va. Infantry. Another older brother, Martin, Jr., organized Co. B 12th (W)Va. Infantry and was elected captain in 1863. Younger brother, James C., was a private in Co. A 17th (W)Va. Infantry, enlisting at the age of 17.

On October 8, 1861, Thomas Bonar, then nineteen, enrolled at Cameron, Virginia, in Co. D of the lst (W)Va. Infantry. He enlisted for three years, the regiment's original ninety day enlistments having run out. Thomas stood 5' 9" and had gray eyes and black hair. (7) His company was mustered in on October 15, 1861, in Wheeling. The regiment was commanded by Col. Joseph Thoburn, MD, former regimental surgeon.(8)

Following rudimentary training, part of the regiment was sent to assist in the suppression of Confederate guerillas in the Little Kanawha River region.(9)

The 1st Regiment began regular military operations in November, 1861, at Romney. It spent much of the war guarding the B & 0 Railroad from Cumberland to Harpers Ferry and chasing Confederates up and down the Shenandoah Valley. Participating in at least eighteen major engagements and dozens of minor skirmishes, the (W)Va. lst was active throughout the war. It was attached to various brigades and divisions as the Union leadership continually restructured its command organization.(10) Thomas S. Bonar told family members he had been in 33 fights, winning 16 and losing 17.(11)

Thomas received his first taste of battle on January 7, 1862, when five companies, including his own Co. D, left their camp on Patterson Creek near Keyser to join a Federal force marching to meet Stonewall Jackson's troops moving on Romney. Under the command of General B. F. Kelly, they stopped Jackson at Blues Gap in Hampshire County. But then the Yankees withdrew, giving the Confederates possession of that important crossroads town that would change hands dozens of times during the War.(12) This was the first of several encounters between the lst (W)Va. and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Thomas Bonar and his comrades spent most of the spring of 1862 in the Shenandoah Valley scouting for Rebels and marching from place to place following reports of their whereabouts. They were involved in several skirmishes with Jackson's men, including a major engagement near Winchester, on March 23.

The lst Regiment faced Jackson again in June at Port Republic, Va., a battle that would have a lasting effect on Thomas Bonar's life.

After eluding a Federal trap at Strasburg, Va., Jackson had decided to make a stand at Port Republic against the divided forces of Fremont and Shields. The first clash at Cross Keys on June 8, 1862, was followed by Jackson's attack on the much smaller force of Shields the next day. 13 The lst (W)Va. was attached to the 4th Brigade of Shields Division and while Co D was in line of battle it came under artillery fire.

Thomas Bonar was standing by a fence post that was struck by a shell. He was knocked to the ground and presumed mortally wounded, having injuries to his shoulder and chest. Co. D's Captain, John S. McDonald, ordered that the unconscious soldier be carried to the rear, and he was left in the shade of a tree. (14)

When it was discovered that he was alive, Thomas was put in an ambulance wagon as the Regiment retreated to Front Royal. They continued to march to Cloudsville, near Alexandria, where Thomas was hospitalized. He requested and received permission to convalesce with his unit while it was encamped and to be treated by the regimental surgeon.(15) The lst (W)Va. stayed in camp until the middle of July when it joined McDowell's Corps as part of Pope's campaign.

While his comrades regrouped, Thomas Bonar recuperated from his dislocated shoulder and a concussion wound to his chest. He reported for duty in July as preparations for the campaign began. However, he was not completely recovered, according to boyhood friend and fellow soldier, M. B. Helms,

"He never was able to ware his cartridge box strap across his shoulders afterward or to carry his knapsack and I have carried his gun and knapsack for him myself at times when we would have no means of getting them hauled and have seen his comrades do the same kind act for him..."

In July and August 1862, the lst (W)Va. participated in several skirmishes considered part of the Second Bull Run campaign, including Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock Station and Thoroughfare Gap.(17) By this time, Thomas had been promoted to sergeant by Capt. McDonald for "... meritorious conduct on the battle field." (18) (He had become a corporal in January). Thomas Bonar's second major battle, Second Bull Run, would prove to be as disastrous to him as had Port Republic.

Thomas' regiment was part of Rickett's Division that was in the thick of the fighting on August 30. For most of the day the lst (W)Va. was on the union right opposite Jackson's units. During the action Thomas was again wounded, struck in the left hand by a musket ball. Although his hand was badly mangled, his injury was not as serious as others and medical attention was delayed. The injury was described by another member of his company who recalled,

"... his left hand was all bloody and torn at the time but I did not examine it until the next day. I saw him picking the dirt out of his hand and cleaning or washing it. I saw that two of his fingers were torn off and parts of his thumb was also torn but not off."

This time Thomas had no choice about treatment. He was sent to the general hospital in Philadelphia at South and 24th Streets. He arrived September 3, and on September 9, had surgery to amputate damaged joints and clean his fingers back to healthy tissue.(20) Thomas had lost parts of three fingers and his thumb, was permanently dislocated with one joint "... fixed at a right angle & to the other "... pointing upward and inward..." with "... loss of bone substance." (21) Thomas remained in the hospital for approximately two months. He was released for duty in November, 1862, returning to his regiment now stationed at North Mountain, Virginia, guarding the B & 0.

Thomas Bonar's situation was certainly not unusual for a soldier in the Civil war and he was better off than a number in his own regiment. The lst (W)Va. had suffered considerable losses in the campaigns of 1862 and was badly mauled at Second Bull Run. It left that battlefield without a commissioned officer able to serve.(22) The deteriorating condition of this unit can be seen in the report of the regimental surgeon for this time period:

"Hospital report-November 6, 1861 to April 30, 1862 ... seldom remained longer than three weeks in any one place ... soldiers suffer due to bad weather and exposure ... effectiveness of Regiment impaired from exposure and no Regimental hospital ... must send sick to post hospital. May/June ... on march nearly all of the time and on half rations ... combination of exposure and fatigue has resulted in great amount of sickness plus disaster at Port Republic has reduced Regiment to one half its original number. July August ... more strenuous marches and battles. Sept/Dec ... many unfit for duty ... end of December increasing numbers from low of 200."(23)

The problems facing the (W)Va. 1st were confirmed by another Marshall Countian, a member of Co. G, who wrote in a letter dated September 4, 1862,

".. we are at Elexandria now ... we was at Masses Junction. we lost five or six min thair out of our Co. our Capton and Lutenant is sick. the Kirnel is not expected to liv ... Thair is but one Capton in our regement that is fit for deauty. the rest is sick. we have had sum hard fiting... our regement is small now, a grate menne sick." (24)

Initially, regiments consisted of approximately one thousand men. Due to casualties, sickness and desertion, regimental strength usually nearer again approached original muster numbers. Clearly, however, the (W)Va. lst was severely under strength by the end of 1862 and its viability as a fighting force was questionable.

While Thomas Bonar was recuperating in Philadelphia, his regiment was sent back to Alexandria in the Washington defenses. It remained there until mid-October when it was transferred to what would later become the Department of West Virginia as part of the Second Brigade of the First Division of the Eighth Corps. When Thomas rejoined his fellow soldiers in November, they were encamped once again at North Mountain, Virginia.

During the rest of 1862 and most of 1863 the regiment was charged with protecting the B & O Railroad. It moved by rail and foot to counter Confederate threats and continually had to relocate its headquarters: (1862) Nov/Dec-North Mountain; (1863) Jan/Feb-North Mountain; March-Martinsburg; April-Romney; May/June-Cumberland; July/Aug-Moorefield; Sept/Dec-Petersburg.(25) Thomas Bonar never fully recovered from his wounds. Because of his injured shoulder and chest, he could bear little weight on them and he had to wear his cartridge box on his waist belt.

He confided to his friends about the constant pain in his hand and upper body and "... gave out sometimes when marching." (26) However, he always reported for roll call even against the advice of the surgeon and did his duty well. He was always where he was supposed to be and could be depended on by his comrades.(27) This gained Thomas their respect and they went out of their way to help him through the bad times. "... Sgt. Bonar was one of the very best soldiers in my company who was always willing to do his whole duty." (28)

In January and February of 1864, Thomas Bonar was absent from Company D on recruiting service. On February 20, the lst (W)Va. was sent by train to Wheeling for a well-deserved veterans' furlough and Thomas joined them there. After this rest, the regiment spent April patrolling the B & 0, working its way east through Webster to Grafton and then to Martinsburg. During this time Thomas' condition again worsened according to regimental records:

April 7-opthalmia
April 4, 18, 20-diarrhea
April 26-fever
April 27 & 28-excused from duty
May 12-stomatitis.

Thomas recovered sufficiently to go with the regiment which had now become a part of Franz Siegells campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. At New Market the Union force faced a smaller, patchwork group of Confederate defenders led by General John Breckenridge. On May 15, 1864, the lst (W)Va. was in the center of the Union line on Bushong's Hill following the gradual Federal withdrawal north through the town. After repelling a succession of Rebel frontal assaults, Siegal ordered a counterattack by the 34th Massachusetts, the lst (W)Va. and the 54th Pennsylvania. This effort was poorly coordinated and it quickly stalled under heavy Confederate fire. Breckenridge then ordered another attack to take advantage of the Union retreat. By this time the center of the Confederate line had virtually disappeared and Breckenridge reluctantly called up his only reserves, 257 cadets from VMI, into line of battle.30 Years later Thomas Bonar described the event, "The charge made (my) heart bleed for them-showing such bravery, and such slaughter of the flowering manhood of the south."(31) By late afternoon the battlefield was in the hands of the Rebel forces and the lst (W)Va. joined the general Union retreat northward to Rudes Hill, Cedar Creek and Woodstock. Casualties were six killed, 56 wounded and 17 missing. The regiment regrouped and became part of General David Hunter's drive back up the Valley.

Thomas spent June 4 fighting at Harrisonburg (7 killed, 36 wounded), June 5 in the Battle of Piedmont, June 6 in Staunton, June 11 in a skirmish at Lexington, and on June 18 the Union offensive was stopped at Lynchburg by Breckenridge.(33) In the first of July as the Federal forces retreated from Lynchburg through Greenbrier County and into the Kanawha Valley, Thomas Bonar "...entirely broke down."(34) He was sent to the hospital at Hagerstown; then on August 22 he was admitted to the post hospital at Camp Curtin near Harrisburg suffering from chronic hepatitis. Finally, he was sent to the general hospital in York, Pennsylvania, diagnosed as having chronic diarrhea. Thomas spent the remainder of his enlistment convalescing in York, being returned to duty November 11, 1864, with the remark "To be mustered out of service." (35)

While Thomas was in York, his comrades in the lst Regiment continued their grueling pace as shown in this report for October 1864:

6th-Harrisonburg to Rudes Hill, Va. 24 m;
7th-to Woodstock 15 m;
8th-Strasburg 12 m;
10th-Cedar Creek 5 m;
11th-Winchester 15 m;
12th-Martinsburg 22 m;
15th-Bunker Hill 10 m;
16th Winchester 13 m;
20th-Cedar Creek 15 m;
21st-Newtown 8 m;
30th-Martinsburg 32 m. (36)

Thomas Snodgrass Bonar, who had just turned 23, was mustered out on November 26, 1864, at Wheeling, owing the United States Government $1.03, including $0.64 for a haversack. After the War Jane Bonar welcomed all of her sons home. They weren't boys anymore but experienced veterans, bruised, torn and a little worse for wear, but at least they were alive.

Thomas married a cousin, Martha Bonar, on November 19, 1865. He continued farming the old homestead on Bowman Ridge which he eventually purchased. Thomas and Martha were the parents of eleven children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. Frank, Eustace and Elbertha were educators; William and Martin were physicians (Martin also taught at WVU); Hubert died in medical school at the age of 22; and Alvilda Faust was a housewife.

Thomas left the farm and operated a store in Moundsville for five years (1870 Marshall County census). A republican, he served two terms as deputy sheriff and also was county assessor.(37) By 1880 Thomas and his family had returned to the family farm on Bowman Ridge where they specialized in raising sheep. In 1902 Thomas and Martha moved to a farm on nearby Roberts Ridge where they remained until 1907. Then they returned to Moundsville and lived with their son, Dr. William P. Bonar, until their deaths in 1929 and 1930 respectively.(38)

In addition to his public service, Thomas Bonar took an active part in fraternal and patriotic organizations. He was a member of Marshall Union Lodge #8 AF&AM and the Moundsville Chapter #86 RAM. In April, 1921, he received his Past Masters gold badge celebrating his fifty years as a Mason.(39)

Thomas was proud of his service in the Union army and was a well known member of the GAR, belonging to the Elmer Evans post on Bowman Ridge and then the J. C. Caldwell post in Moundsville. He served as post commander, and, in the Department of West Virginia, two terms as junior vice-commander and one as assistant quartermaster-general.(40)

Although Thomas did not participate in the battle of Gettysburg, he, along with many other Civil War veterans, attended its fifty-year reunion in 1913. He was so impressed with this event that he helped arrange the fifty-year reenactment of the Battle of New Market in 1914.(41) Thomas was also active in his church. A Methodist, he was a trustee, member of the official board, class leader and Sunday school superintendent.(42)

On the surface, it would seem that Thomas Bonar was not adversely affected by the Civil War. It provided him with many interesting stories, a large circle of friends and, perhaps, some political influence. Apparently he did not bear any psychological scars either. However, an investigation of documents relating to his pension shows that physically, it was another story. For the more than sixty years remaining of his life, Thomas endured continuing bouts of severe debility.

In 1868, his family doctor reported that Thomas had been "carried" to his office. Upon examination he found that he had a severe heart problem, " ... the result of some blow or concussion on his breast in the region of the heart." (43) Thomas' heart was very labored in action causing periods of prostration throughout his life and treatment brought only temporary relief. The doctor stated, "... he is in imminent danger all the time and more particularly when doing anything requiring exertion or in any (44)excitement. The disease is permanent..."

Boyhood friend and Co. D veteran, J. P. Allen, stated,... "(He) is not able to perform any manual labor to any extent necessary to gain a living..." (45) Another Marshall Countian who served in Co. D added, "... I have not at anytime since the War considered him able to do any work of any consequence." (46) His biography in the Marshall County History included the comment, "He was ill for a lengthy period of time and unable to attend many functions which he enjoyed." (47)

Thus in civilian life Thomas Bonar showed the same will and perseverance that had so impressed his comrades during the War. Despite a life threatening heart condition caused by the shell concussion at Port Republic and a crippled left hand from a bullet at Second Bull Run, Thomas attempted to live as normal and productive a life as possible. He made no excuses and asked for no special treatment. It was over two decades after the end of the War when he finally applied for a veteran's pension and he did so only after much urging by family and friends.

Thomas Snodgrass Bonar lived a long active life, well-liked and well-respected by both young and old. He was a good storyteller, a good sport, of pleasant disposition and was interested and interesting.(48) "He was fortunate in possessing an unusual talent and voice for singing. If he were called on for a speech, he would usually sing instead of speaking. He never refused an invitation to sing." (49) Thomas kept his keen mind and desire to participate in community affairs until shortly before his death on October 30, 1929.


1. John A. Williams, West Virginia, (New York, W. W. Norton, 1976), p. 50
2. Dorothy Brown, Bonar Genealogy, (1969), p. 3
3. Bonar Genealogy, p. 137
4. Affidavit of John P. Allen, November 8, 1887; pension file of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives.
5. West Virginia, p. 49
6. Elizabeth Commetti, Ed., The Thirty-Fifth State, (McClain, Parsons, 1966), p. 285
7. Enlistment Record, pension file of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
8. Theodore F. Lang, Loyal West Virginia from 1861 to 1865, (Deutsch Publishing, Baltimore, 1895), p. 238
9 ibid. p. 238
10. Loyal West Virginia, p. 239
11. Bonar Genealogy, p. 138
12. Adjutant's report, lst (W)Va. Voluntary Infantry, National Archives
13. Mark M. Boatner, III, Civil War Dictionary, (David McKay, New York, 1988) p. 210
14. Affidavit of John P. Allen
15. Affidavit of Capt. John S. McDonald, Co. D, 1st (W)Va. Voluntary Infantry, pension file of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
16. Affidavit of M. B. Helms, Pension File of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
17. Loyal West Virginia, p. 239
18. Affidavit of Capt. McDonald
19. Affidavit of John P. Allen
20. Report of J. C. Arnsworth, Asst. Surgeon, Pension File of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
21. Report of G. N. Baird, etal., Pension Examiners, Pension File of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
22. Loyal West Virginia, p. 239
23. Report of David Baguley, Regimental Surgeon, lst (W)Va. Volunteer Infantry, National Archives
24. Elizabeth D. Swiger, Ed., Civil War Letters and Diary of Joshua Winters, (McClain, Parsons, 1991), p. 44
25. Adjutant's Report, lst (W)Va. Infantry, National Archives
26. Affidavit of John P. Allen
27. Affidavit of M. B. Helms
28. Affidavit of Capt. John S. McDonald
29. Regimental Hospital Report, pension file of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
30. William C. Davis, Battle of New Market, (Historical Times, Harrisburg, 1979) pp. 10 & 11
31. Bonar Genealogy, p. 138
32. Adjutant's Report, lst (W)Va. Infantry
33. ibid
34. Affidavit of John P. Allen
35. Report of T. C. Arnsworth, Surgeon General's office, pension file of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
36. Adjutant's Report, 1st (W)Va. Infantry
37. Bonar Genealogy, p. 138
38. Bonar Genealogy, p. 138
39. ibid., p. 138
40. History of Marshall County, (Walsworth Publishing, Marceline, 1989), p. 107
41. ibid., p. 107
42. Bonar Genealogy, p. 138
43. Physicians affidavit, Dr. J. W. Ney, pension file of Thomas S. Bonar, National Archives
44. ibid.
45. Affidavit of J. P. Allen
46. Affidavit of M. B. Helms
47. History of Marshall County, p. 108
48. Bonar Genealogy, p. 138
49. History of Marshall County, p. 108



Faithful 'Boy In Blue' Answers Final Roll Call;
Goes to Meet Buddies, Supreme Commander


Chosen A Few Weeks Ago As Adjutant of County Veteran's Association

Submitted by Naomi Lowe Hupp.

From the thinning ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic another aged soldier has stepped forth to salute his Supreme Commander as Death, Wednesday, sounded "Taps" for Thomas Snodgrass Bonar.

Not only his comrades of long distant battle fields and his family alone grieve the passing of this gallant gentlemen, but the hundreds of people throughout the county who knew and loved him as "Uncle Tommy Bonar."

Mr. Bonar died Wednesday morning at 6:00 o'clock at the home of his son, Dr. W. P. Bonar, 610 Tomlinson avenue where he had lived for the past 20 years. He had been steadfast since July second, suffering from senile gangrene in his foot. With him when death came was his aged wife, Mrs. Martha Bonar, whom he married in 1864 after his return from the Civil War.

All of Mr. Bonar's long life was spent in Marshall county. He was a son of Martin and Jane Bonar, two of the first pioneers to push across the Alleghenies into the the western wilderness which later was to become Marshall county. He was born in the original Bonar homestead on Bowman's Ridge November 14, 1841. He spent the greater part of his life on the farm. In the seventies he moved to Moundsville and conducted a store for several years, but the lure of the home acres was too strong for him and he soon gave up his store to return to his home farm. Later he moved to the "Matt Bonar Farm" where he resided until moving again to Moundsville to make his home with his son, Dr. W. P. Bonar.

Mr. Bonar was one of the first members of the G.A.R. post at Glen Easton and served in every office in the post. Upon coming to Moundsville he moved his membership to the J. C. Caldwell post where his trustworthiness again won him in turn every elective office in the post. He was then elected commander of the West Virginia Department of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Just a few weeks ago veterans of three wars meeting in the Marshall County Veterans Association chose Mr. Bonar as adjutant knowing that he was too feeble at that time to handle the work of adjutant, the members nevertheless elected him to this important post as a token of their appreciation of his past service.

A number of years ago the local lodge of Masons presented Mr. Bonar with a jewel in celebration of his fifty years of membership in the Masonic order. He was not the oldest member of the lodge in years, but he was the oldest member in terms of years of membership in the Masonic order in this city.

From his youth, this aged man had been a staunch member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He was regular in his attendance and took great interest in Sunday school work, serving at various times as superintendent and as teacher in the Sunday school department. He was united with that faith, at the little country church on Bowman's Ridge which he had attended as a boy, and later moved his membership to the Robert's Ridge Methodist Episcopal church because it was more accessible to him. Upon moving to this city he transferred his letter of membership to the First Methodist Episcopal church.

Funeral services will be conducted in the First M. E. church here, Friday afternoon with the Rev. Hoffman in charge. Burial will be made in the Mount Rose cemetery. Grandsons and nephews will act as pallbearers.

Moundsville Echo, October 30, 1929


Moundsville and Marshall county lost one of the most highly respected and best known citizens this morning when T. S. Bonar died at six o'clock at the home of his son Dr. W. P. Bonar on southern Tomlinson avenue.

Death came after a long illness of senile gangrene on the foot. The last two times he had left his home was to attend the Bonar reunion on the camp ground on June 30th, and to visit the girl scout camp on Fish creek a few days later.

Thomas Snodgrass Bonar was born Nov. 14, 1841, on Bowman ridge. He was the son of Martin and Jane Porter Bonar, early residents of the county. Martin Bonar was born on Fork ridge, while his wife came from near Frostburg, Md. Mr. Bonar was almost 88 years old and spent his entire life in Marshall county.

On November 19, 1864, he was married to Martha Bonar of Bowman ridge. Eleven children were born, four dying in infancy and early childhood, and three in later years. They were the oldest son, Frank Bonar, who died in 1923 in Denver, Colo., Eustice I. Bonar who died one year ago, and Hubard Bonar who died in 1899.

Surviving him are his aged wife, and two sons, Dr. W. P. Bonar of Moundsville, and Dr. Martin L. Bonar, a professor in the school of medicine in West Virginia University at Morgantown, and two daughters Mrs. Allie Faust of near Clarksburg, and Mrs. Bertha Kidd? of Clarksburg. One brother Jessie L. Bonar of Fourth street, Moundsville, also survives. The latter is the only survivor of a family of thirteen children.

Mr. Bonar was at one time a deputy sheriff of Marshall county and was engaged in the mercantile business on Seventh stret in the 70's. In 1880 he moved to Bowman ridge where he was engaged in farming until 1902, when he moved to Roberts ridge where he remained until 1907, when he came to Moundsville and he and Mrs. Bonar have since made their home with their son Dr. and Mrs. W. P. Bonar.


Mr. Bonar was one of the best known members of the G. A. R. in the state. While living on Bowman ridge he was a member of Elmer Evans Post, and transferred his membership to J. C. Caldwell Post after coming to Moundsville. He has served as both Post commander and state commander and as long as health and permitted he attended all the state and many of the national meetings. He enlisted in the army in 1861 and served three years, being in several battles during the time. He was in the battle of Newmarket and a few years ago participated in the sham battle held there, and helped to arrange the armies for the event.

He was a staunch member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and was active in Masonry, being the oldest Mason in point of membership in the town and probably in the state. Mr. Bonar possessed an unusual talent for singing and many a gathering was favored with a song from him. He never refused, and often when called upon for a speech he would respond with a song.

The funeral will be held from the First M. E. Church Friday morning at 10:30 o'clock followed by interment in the family lot in Mt. Rose cemetery.

Submitted by Joseph D. Parriott; typed by Linda Fluharty.