Valoris & Charity Wheeler, Wellington Ohio

We are unsure which of the Wheelers this is but like Harvey Bonney and William Wheeler, these folks were drawn to Michigan early on and may have remained there.

Elinor Bonney’s ancestry brings together the Bonney and Wheeler family lines. Although Elinor’s first entries are from 1912, we can frame the diary by looking (back) at the Wheeler(Pomeroy Harris) family genealogy. In 1840 Valoris and Charity were living with Charity’s parents (Gad, 1784-1863 and Joanna Harris Pomeroy, 1787-1856) in Ohio. In 1850 Charity and Valoris already had 2 children, Porter age 4 and infant Charity age 1.  Valoris was born in Huntington Ohio in Lorain County to Thankful Chapman (family bible). By the 1860 census Valoris and Charity (53 and 46) are living near by in Penfield in Lorain County, Ohio, with children Porter(14), Isabel(8), William(6), and Martha(2), and with Valorus’s mother, Ambrose Chapman (1792-1878, 65, b. Mass) and Phoebe “Thankful” Clifford (60, b. Mass., husband from Rhode Island).   By the 1870 census Charity  and Valoris  are listed in Rochester,  Lorain County.   Their children are older, including Edith (18), William (16), and Martha (13) and Thankful Clifford,(78), and Thankful Chapman (95).  Also by 1870 we see that Porter Wheeler(24) is living next door to his parents on his own or parent’s property with wife Emily (Emma) Breckinridge (19) and their son Leon(1 1/2). Porter’s sister Edith marries a Breckinridge, possibly from the same family. By the 1880 census, Valoris and Charity in their 60s are living only with William(26) and Martha Jane who is now listed as Martha Bonney, apparently after marrying Harvey D. Bonney. Cordin Bonney (Harvey D. Bonney’s father) is the person who applies for the Harvey/Martha marriage license, 1879, the marriage that brings the Wheelers and the Bonney families together, first in Ohio, then Michigan, then back to Ohio. There are references in the diary that suggest that the Wheelers and the Bonney’s almost ended up permanently in Michigan. Martha’s other brother Porter (73) who in 1870 has his own place next door to his parents in Ohio, dies 4/23/1918 of epilepsy and apoplexy declared dead by the coroner.  But at that point Porter is already living in Cherry Grove Michigan where William and Harvey D go to homestead property, suggesting the family pattern of choosing to work together above and beyond having the marriage to bring them together.  Porter is buried in Wexford County Michigan.  Later in 1913 Elinor recalls Pa talking about “Uncle Jack” who still lives in Michigan.  She also quotes him saying in 1912 that Uncle Mort Mastin has also died in Michigan.  This would be Charles Mortimer Masten  (1841-1912, b. Ohio;  d. Michigan, Diabetes Insipidus, Retired Farmer), Cordon’s brother in law. Amelia Masten’s brother.  The census records (1870 and 1880) allow us to follow the Bonney line starting with Lyman Bonney (1810-1887) born in Massachusetts. We find him with his wife Marinda Wilson Bonney (b. N.Y. or New Hampshire, 1809-1875) on Pleasant Avenue in Wellington, Lorain County in 1870.  By 1880 she has died and he is living with his Daughter Marinda (1839-1913), still on Pleasant street. Lyman’s son Cordon (b. N.Y. 1833-1891) lives with Cordon’s wife, Amelia Masten Bonney (b. Ohio, 1839-1890) on the same street. 

Cordon Lyman Bonney 1850 probably in Dickson County Tennessee where he died and is buried. He is second from the left wielding a stone mason mallet.

Elinor’s sister Nellie Bonney marries into and brings together the Baker and the Harnish family lines, who also end up in Tennessee.

1910 William Cody Baker (looks like he is trying to imitate the famous Buffalo Bill)

William F. Cody, age 11. This tintype is the earliest known photograph of Will Cody, taken c. 1857.* This was just before his adventures on the Great Plains began. The indented markings at the bottom of the image are illegible. MS 6 William F. Cody Collection.

William Frederick Cody (Buffalo Bill) was the subject of some family lore (no connection)

Larger memorial image loading...

Another tempting piece of Bonney family lore is that the Bonney’s adopted Billy and his twin brother in Pennsylvania and raised them.  (no connection though it is likely that the family lived in Clarion County, supposed center for outlaw activity). 

Tennessee Baker family sibling picture including the wife of James Vance Harnish, Ella Ione Baker (picture estimated to be about 1916), and William Cody Baker, Eugene L Baker and Olive Baker England (who provided substantial genealogical history to Marcella Sorg)

John McKinley Harnish 1907 as a child standing next to his older brother Braheman.  (John McKinley Harnish was Elinor Bonney’s brother in law, married to Nellie)

Michigan before William and Harvey returned to Ohio. This likely the Cherry Grove homestead


Family Business established on the south shore of the Black River at the mouth. “Bonney’s Boat House Row Boats to Let”  Harvey Bonney and family and William Wheeler and family moved to different places in Lorain before settling down here, near the mouth of the Black River.

By 1900 Lyman and Marinda have died,  leaving the daughter Marinda living with her brother Harvey Luther in 1900 and in 1910 on Courtland Avenue just one street over. 

Cordon Lyman is the father of Harvey Deville Bonney. Cordon and Harvey seem like colorful “blood relative” characters.  Harvey leaves home at 19, spends time in the Isle of Pines Cuba, supposedly for work, picking fruit, with the family.  In some of the images he gives the appearance of being politically active, at least collecting signatures for the annexation of Isle of Pines.  In one image he appears to be in Russian garb.  The earliest image is probably this marriage certificate of Harvey D. and Martha J. (mislabeled as Harvey D.’s parents). Harvey D has been breaking ground and setting up homestead in Michigan soon after 1879 when he gets married. Then, after returning to Lorain, moving to different Black River addresses, he settles on Georgia Avenue.  But then, he takes part of his family(Ma, Frank, Fred, Gertrude) to Cuba in November 1913. But to add interest to the story, in 1908 there is a boat manifest showing Harvey D and Frank traveling from Cuba to New York suggesting that the Cuba endeavors likely started in the first 11 years of his marriage. It is never exactly clear why they go to Cuba though they do fruit picking to make enough to have a place to stay.  It probably has something to do with property ownership, a land grant, or some other arrangement. 

Harvey D. Bonney’s brother Harvey Luther Bonney adopted a son who becomes quite renown in the Ohio manned-flight stories.  His name is Leonard Warden Bonney.  He trained with the Wright Brothers, and for many years invested money, designed, built and died in the “Bonney Gull” a full- sized plane. But more of that later. Image result for Leonard Warden Bonney imageImage result for Leonard Warden Bonney image

Harnish Family group in Tennessee including Cecil Harnish, John McKinley Harnish 1907 (also where James Vance Harnish is buried). Other children of Ella Ione Baker Harnish that would have already be born were James Wayne, Foster Wallace, but it does not seem that they could be part of this group. Parents Charles Carlton Baker and Mahalia Spitler would still be alive at this time but it is not known if that is who the older couple is. 

1879 image of Marriage Certificate Harvey D Bonney and Mattie J Wheeler

1900 Harvey Deville BonneyHarvey D. Bonney and Mattie J. Wheeler maarriage (mislabeled as the parents of Harvey)

Elinor and Elbert were born in Northern Michigan, Cherry Grove, where her father was occupying the plot of land in the middle of nowhere. He had gone there with Martha’s brother to build a homestead  If we are to rely on Elinor’s memories of the home she was born into, it is clear that she comes from an atmosphere of abuse. Her parents were married in 1879. According to Elinor’s memories, her father was sexually, physically, and emotionally abusive to her mother and to the children.  He also left them alone for long periods and her mother had to help them all survive dangerous (wilderness) surroundings.  Her mother bravely left that home to come back to Lorain County, Ohio, to her sister Edith Wheeler’s (Breckinridge) home.  Again according to Elinor’s memory, that aunt eventually went to convince Elinor’s father to abandon the Michigan site project and join the family in Ohio. Harvey D. Bonney must have also convinced Martha’s brother William to abandon his homestead as well. The two men continue to migrate their families together (Harrison Street in 1900,). They eventually were in homes across the street from each other on Georgia Avenue by 1910. Harvey’s side of the street had river front property sloping down the “Bonney Hill” to the Black River. That is Elinor’s childhood home.

Elinor A. Bonney

1907, “Elinor Bonney, est 1907, Lorain, O”, [back shows it is a postcard]


Harvey D. Bonney (Elinor’s Father)

1907, “H.D. Bonney, 1907” [back shows it is a postcard from Rensler’s Cincinnatti or Cleveland]

Elbert C. Bonney (Elinor’s Brother)

1910 Grandmother Bonney Martha Bonney Elbert Bonney”

Gertrude R. Bonney (Elinor’s Sister)

Elinor and sister Gertrude posing in wigs for photo

Gertrude Bonney inside house at 760 Georgia Avenue

Fred Bonney when he had decided to become a minister with the Moody Bible Institute 1910


1910, labled “Pa Ma” , “walnut tree”, “thorn apple tree” and “Pa Bonney sawing wood” [Black river is in background]

Audrey L. Bonney (Elinor’s Sister)

Nellie  Belle Bonney (Elinor’s Sister)

1911 ~ “Nellie Bonney Est 1911” standing in front of a brick pile in front of wooden walkway