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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Joseph Bongard

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


JOSEPH BONGARD, a wealthy pioneer settler of Raymond Township, came to this vicinity in 1857. He is a native of "fair France," born in the Province of Lorraine on the 3d of January, 1822. His parents, Sebastian and Ann (FLORENTINE) BONGARD, natives of the same country, passed their entire lives there, where their remains are buried. Of their family, which included six children, our subject was the youngest and the only one who came to the United States. He was reared on a farm in his native France, and on the 4th of July, 1843, was united in marriage with Miss Victory VALLANCE, who was born June 22, 1821, and reared in the same neighborhood as her husband. They became the parents of six children, and in 1854 our subject and wife with their eldest daughter set sail from Havre for the United States. They reached New York Harbor after a voyage of twenty-eight days and proceeded directly to Chicago, Ill., where for seven months Mr. B. was employed at whatever his hands could find to do. The following year he took possession of a farm in Cook County, and a portion of the time was employed by Emmanuel Dunlap, who afterward became a resident of Champaign County.

Our subject was prospered in his labors and was soon enabled to puarchase eighty acres of railroad land in Champaign County, to which he removed with his family and household goods, making the journey with a yoke of cattle and a wagon valued at $35. After breaking about fifty acres of the sod and finding it unprofitable, he allowed the company to take possession of it, and afterward purchased 120 acres on section 19, in Raymond Township, which is now included in his present homestead. Under his cultivation this land responded generously with the choice products of the Prairie State, and he soon began to realize satisfactory profits. He added by degrees to his estate until he is now the proprietor of 640 acres, thoroughly improved and valuable. Upon this he has been largely engaged in corn-raising, and some years has sold as many as 14,000 bushels. His residence is a commodious and convenient structure, and the barns and other out-buildings meet all the requirements of the modern and progressive farmer. A view of the place is shown on another page of this work. In addition to his farm property Mr. B. has a store building in Tolono which rents for a good round sum.

The eldest daughter of our subject, Mary, is the wife of H. D. WALDO, and Amelia married John HAGEN, of Sumner County, Kan. Mr. B. is Republican in politics, and has served as School Treasurer in his township for two years. He believes in the rights of American-born citizens, and that they should hold the offices and govern the country. The family, religiously, hold to the faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

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