The Bunn Family of Lawrence County
Family records say that several Bunn families came from Ashland County, Ohio in nine covered wagons to Lawrence County early in the fall of 1838. Ben and Mary Finley Bunn were found living on a farm in Lawrence County at the time of the 1850 census. The family at that time had 2 older girls, a son and 4 younger children.
Ben and Mary Bunn’s eldest son, Eli Finley Bunn, was born December 16, 1838, in Lawrence County and became a farmer after he inherited 80 acres of land on the death of his father. Eli then doubled this by purchasing more land. He married Mary Sager on November 7, 1861, in Richland County, Illinois. The couple made their home temporarily in Claremont.
Soldiers were needed for the Civil War, but Eli may not have been anxious to join the war effort since he was starting a new family. Their first child, Clara Ellen, was born on January 31, 1863. Eli’s wife was expecting their second child when he was called by the draft. Along with several young men from the Lukin area of Lawrence County, he went into the service as a Private on March 31, 1865, with Company F of the 53rd Illinois Infantry. Some of his neighbors also drafted into this company were Daniel Bell, Henry and B. S. Cunningham, James R. Hill, James C. Stewart, and Abisha Turner. As the war was almost over, Eli’s time in the service was short and he was mustered out on July 20, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky.
Eli became deaf from typhoid fever contracted in the service and filed for his pension at the age of 41 on February 26, 1880. He spent the rest of his days in Lukin, dying on January 6, 1920, and was buried at Wesley Chapel Cemetery.
Ben and Mary Bunn’s second son, Hyatt W. Bunn was born 1840, and settled in Bridgeport in 1867, where he engaged in the photography business. Before a bank opened in that city, he did a private banking business as well as serving as a justice of the peace for 43 years. On Christmas Day 1868, he married Caroline Hoover. He died April 16, 1923.
Ben and Mary Bunn’s youngest son, Benjamin Franklin, was born January 3, 1854, in Lukin. His father died of typhoid fever and his mother of cancer when he was six years old and he was reared by his oldest sister, Katherine Schrader. He attended Bethel school. In 1876, he settled in Bridgeport and opened a furniture store that he ran for 36 years and also engaged in undertaking. His hearing began to fail to such an extent as to make business impracticable, and he retired in 1912. He was a director of the First National Bank of Bridgeport and sold his store building to the bank which formed one half of the present quarters of that institution.
(Research: North America Family Histories 1500-2000 Vol B and Civil War Files, Lawrence County Historical Society)