The life of the early settlers in any community has ever contained much to interest and entertain us. There is something romantic about the ruggedness of their lives and the uncertainties they had to face which holds a fascination for us today. The family of the subject of this sketch were among the earliest inhabitants of the county in which they lived, and the hardworking lives they lived were much more eventful than the life of the average farmer of today.
William K. Bundy was born in section No. 1, Centralia township, Marion county, Illinois, on May 4, 1827, and was the son of Frederick and Mary Bundy. His mother, whose maiden name was Wilson, was born in North Carolina, coming from the region of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains. Frederick Bundy was the son of Jonathan Bundy, of Tennessee, who came to Marion county, Illinois, as early as 1825 or 1826, settling near Walnut Hill, where he soon afterward died. His wife belonged to a well known family of Tennessee named Dorcas. They had four children, all sons — Robert, John and William, who settled in the vicinity of Walnut Hill, and the father of the subject of our sketch, Frederick Bundy, who settled in section No. 1, Centralia township.
Frederick Bundy's father-in-law, John Wilson, married in his native state of North Carolina. He was a farmer who on becoming attacked with the western fever, went westward to Illinois. There he settled northeast of Salem. On the death of his first wife he married a widow named Jones. Their married years must have been happy ones, for upon a third matrimonial venture he espoused another widow named Kelley. After a long and active life he died on the farm. The children by his first wife numbered seven. In regular order they were: Mary, Nancy, Jane, Margaret, Samuel, Dorrington, and Sylvester. Mary, the eldest daughter, was the mother of the subject of our sketch. The children born to John Wilson's second wife numbered three.
Frederick Bundy, living in a different period from ours, had no chance to go to school. His education had to be self-obtained. He did not fail to sieze the opportunities which came his way, and so became a remarkably well informed man. At the time the family came to Illinois the journey was made in the old time cumberous team wagons. The family of the mother of our sketch also arrived by means of the same mode of travel.
Centralia township at the time Frederick Bundy settled there in 1826, was as yet in its original wild state. As may be supposed, wild game and beasts of prey of many varieties abounded there, particularly wolves. He remembered the howls and blood-curdling "ki-yiings" of the timber-wolves, to which he lay awake listening on many a night inside of the rough log-cabin which he had built with his own hands. In time he cleared the land and erected for himself a suitable home, and otherwise much improved the property which embraced four hundred acres. For years he carried on an active farming business and raised considerable amount of stock. Frederick Bundy was politically a staunch Democrat, and in those days he had to go over to Salem at election times to record his vote. In religious life he was a member of the Christian church. His wife died in February, 1848, and the demise of the inseparable companion of his life's journey was a great loss. He died in the fall of 1849, having, however, married secondly Elizabeth Walker, and leaving a son by that marriage. He had eight children by his first wife, the eldest of which was the subject of this sketch, William K. The others were: Alexander, who married first Margaret Breeze, and afterwards another member of that family, and who is a farmer in Washington; Nancy Jane, deceased, first married James Harper, and afterwards Reuben Alderson; Dorcas married Sydney Harmon, both of whom are dead; Jeanette, who married, also died; John joined the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment, Company H, at the outbreak of the Civil war and died while in the service of his country; Robert was also in the Civil war, enlisting in Jefferson county, Illinois, and died of small pox during his term of service; Sallie, another daughter, married Thomas J. Hollowell and lives in Washington with her husband.
The life of William Kell Bundy, the subject of this sketch, has been an adventurous one. In early life he received the limited education afforded at the only available local institutions of learning—the subscription schools. He remained at home doing necessary work on the farm until 1847, when at that martial period he enlisted in Company C, No. 1, United States army for the Mexican war. His military career began by his being sent to Alton, Illinois, and later to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and later participated in the march across the desert to Santa Fe. He was on the march sixty days, which was a tedious one. Later he took part in the advance upon old Albuquerque, the Mexican capital. Here he remained until 1848, where he did guard duty, and finally marched back. On his return he remained with his father superintending the old homestead until the latter's death, at which time he bought forty acres of it, on which he lived for fifteen years. In 1863 he changed to his present abode in section No. 6, Raccoon township. At different times the area of his land increased until he had at one time three hundred and fifty acres; the greater part of which he has since divided among his children. All the improvements on the place have been the fruits of his labor and supervision. He has principally raised stock on the farm, cattle, horses, sheep and hogs, and has also evinced an interest in the fancy and finer breeds.
William K. Bundy married first Elizabeth, the daughter of Isaac and Sarah McClelland. Isaac was an early settler in Marion county, Illinois, near Walnut Hill. He followed the occupation of farmer and stock dealer. On the death of his first wife, Mr. Bundy married a second time on October 20, 1887, Mildred Annie Gaines, of Sumner county, near Nashville, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Henry Gaines. Her mother's own name was Marian Bradley, of Nashville, Tennessee. They came to Marion county, Illinois, in 1850, and settled in Stevenson township. There Henry Gaines and his wife farmed during the remainder of their lives. He died in 1850, and his wife in 1856. They had eight children, of which Mildred Annie, the second wife of William K. Bundy, was the seventh. Of the others, Hazel married C. Tracy; P. D. is a farmer in Stevenson township; Josephine, the third, is dead; Martha is also dead; Henrietta E., the widow of Sidney Charlton, lives in Odin township; Agnes is still on the farmstead and is single; Z. T. lives in Jefferson county. The second marriage of William K. Bundy has given him the following children, seven in number. Mary Rebecca, the wife of John French; Sarah Jane, who is Mrs. Robinson, living at Sedalia, Washington; Elizabeth, who married John Lamont, since deceased, lives in Oklahoma; Josephine, who married George West, of Odin township; Isaac M., who is a farmer in Raccoon township married Sarah Johnson; Fred, who lives at home and is unmarried, went through the Spanish-American war as a member of Company G, Third Regiment U. S.; another child, Catherine died young.
Though now in his eighty-second year, William Kell Bundy possesses a mind of unusual transparency. He is still well able to review in detail the memories and exploits of a long and varied career.
In politics the subject of our sketch is a life-long follower of the Democracy. His first vote for a presidential candidate was recorded years ago when it went to James K. Polk, who figured in an eventful election. In religion he is a member of the Christian church, in the interests of which he has ever been active. He is now in the mellow period of a long life which has always been at the service of home and country. He has fulfilled the duties of a long life; he is surrounded by an affectionate circle of sons and daughters; he has the friendship and good wishes of a host of friends. Is not this as much as any of us can hope for in the evening of life.
Extracted 06 Jun 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical Review of Marion, Counties, Illinois, pages 64-66.