Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nathanial Bonnell's Tombstone

This article is from 1997, but thought it would be of interest to any Bunnell ancestors looking in on this site. Nathaniel Bonnell was a brother to Harve Bunnell's great-grandfather.
Loder, Christopher M.
"Cops let 1740s headstone rest in peace once more". Newark Star Ledger, Oct. 17, 1997, p. 21. [Newark, NJ]

Nathaniel Bonnel's tombstone, which has been in Union Township police custody since December, returns today to the church cemetery where it stood for 252 years.
The return of the brownstone marker- used to identify a member of one of New Jersey's oldest families, dating back to the mid-1600's- ends a saga that began last year when it was stolen from the cemetery of the Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church.
"It is a religious and sacred marker not for sale in the marketplace," township historian Michael Yesenko wrote in a letter to police. "On the black market, it could have a value or price of $10,000 because of its scarcity and historic significance to Elizabeth and the township of Union.
Police became aware of the stolen gravemarker in late December when Detective Joseph Dilginis went to an Evergreen Parkway house during an unrelated investigation. Dilginis saw the tombstone leaning against the wall on the floor in the dining room.
Marc Work, 31, was arrested for receiving stolen property. In July, he pleaded guilty and paid a $650 fine. "I thought it was stolen from a cemetery," Dilginis said. "He (Work) said he bought it from a garage sale in Pennsylvania." Dilginis knew otherwise. "It was because of the name Bonnel that I knew it could be from here," he said. "It has a lot of historical significance."
The Bonnel family was among the first families to settle Elizabethtownin 1664, which is considered the first permanent English settlement in New Jersey.
"They are among the first associates and they decided how to map out the locations, settlements, churches and common grounds of the area known as Elizabethtown and its uplands," Yesenko said.
Those uplands included Connecticut Farms, which was settled in 1667 and became Union Township in 1808 and then Westfield and Plainfield.
"The Bonnels are a very important family," Yesenko said. "How many people can say they are connected with the first associates to settle Elizabethtown?"
Joseph Bonnel, who is also buried in the cemetery and whose relationship to Nathaniel is not immediately known, was the first mayor of the "borough" of Elizabeth, Yesenko said.
"Joseph lived in Connecticut Farms and was a lawyer and magistrate," he said. "He was among the leaders to petition the King of England to create a borough of Elizabeth and give them the right of self-government."
Nathaniel's tombstone is chiseled in old-stype English and does not contain the word "the", reflecting the change between the Gregorian and Julian calendars. The date of his death reads March 22, 1744/45. Bonnel, the tombstone says, was 32 when he died.
Other family members buried in the church cemetery include Hannah Bonnel, who died in 1740; Stephen Bonnel, 1757; and Aaron and Phoebe Bonnel, who died in 1793 and 1799, respectively.

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