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August Bondi was a splendid figure in the annals of Kansas for fully half a century, and had been fitly described as soldier and patriot and one of the immortal followers of John Brown.
From the city of culture and of old world civilization, Vienna, Austria, it is a far cry to the plains of Kansas where were performed those deeds which will ring down through history. August Bondi was born at Vienna July 21, 1833, a son of Hart Emanuel and Martha (Frankl) Bondi, who were also natives of Vienna. His father was a Jewish manufacturer of cotton goods. August Bondi was educated at the Catholic College of the Order of Piarists. He also had a private tutor. At the age of ten he was admitted to an institution of normal grade, and in 1847 began the study of the English language. When fourteen he became a member of the Academic League and fought under Kossuth during the Hungarian war for liberty. He had just been admitted to the University of Vienna, but his participation in the war caused him to be exiled.
On September 6, 1848, he started for the United States with his parents, and they landed at New Orleans on the 10th of November. From there a boat brought them up the Mississippi to St. Louis, where he landed November 23. After a few months of employment as a typo in St. Louis, he taught school a year in that city, and another year was employed as a tencher in Texas. He became a naturalized american citizen on July 21, 1854. For one year he was in the clothing business at St. Louis.
A practice which August Bondi began early and hept up to the end of his days was the writing of a diary. From this record it is possible to trace with absolute accuracy his varied relationship with many important affairs and events. From this diary it is learned that he arrived in Kansas May 26, 1855. He was from the first an intense anti-slavery partisan. From St. Louis he had gone up the river on the steamer Polar Star to Kansas City, which point he reached April 2, and on April 4 he arrived at Lawrence. After two weeks at Lawrence he made a trip through the eastern section to acquaint himself with affairs on the border. With a partner he squatted on a claim on the Mosquito branch of the Pottawatomie in Franklin County. There in the fall of 1855 be became acquainted with John Brown. He opened a general store at Lawrence, and that was one of the first places of business there. He kept it until 1856.
After the buruing of Lawrence he joined the company of John Brown, Jr. When this force disbanded he joined John Brown. Sr., and took part in the engagement at Black Jack, and was with Brown in his different raids along the border until the final fight at Ossawatomie in September, 1856. During the border warfare his own property was destroyed by Quantrell’s men, and some years later the Federal Government allowed him $1,000 in damages.
In February, 1857, he laid out the Town of Greeley in Anderson County and was appointed postmaster in the same year, holding the office just a year. From that time to the outbreak of the Civil war he kept the underground railway station at Greeley. In 1858 he was appointed enrolling officer for Kansas Territory for the Eighth Brigade in Anderson County.
On April 29, 1861, he took the oath of allegiance and on December 23, 1861, enlisted in Company K of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, and during his service of three years was present in nearly all the engagements in which the regiment took part. In 1862 he became commissary sergeant and later first sergeant. Several times he was wounded, and on September 14, 1864, sustained a grave injury and was made prisoner by the Confederates near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and was left for dead on the battlefield. On November 10, 1864, he was discharged at Leavenworth.
For a short time Mr. Bondi conducted a grocery store at Leavenworth, but in 1866 located at Salina, where he also opened a store. From the first he was closely indentified with the public life of the town and county. He served as probate judge of Saline County from 1876 to 1878 was register clerk in the United States Land Office in 1879, was also police judge and in 1880 was member of the commission to appraise the old Fort Harker Military Reservation. In 1884 he was appointed a member of the State Board of Trustees of Charitable Institutions. He held many other offices. For three years during President Cleveland’s last term he was postmaster of Salina. In 1896 he was admitted to the practice of law. He was an active member and contributor to the Kansas State Historical Society, and his thorough scholarship made his recollections especially available for historical material. He was a thirty-second degree Mason, belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
In 1898 Mr. Bondi went back to revisit his old birthplace in Vienna. While visiting the German consult in the city of St. Louis he fell dead on the street September 30, 1907.
On June 28, 1860, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, August Bondi married Miss Henrietta Einstein. She was born in Germany October 15, 1833, a daughter of Iarsel and Sophia (Kettner) Einstein. Mrs. Bondi died at salina August 24, 1900. The fruit of their union were ten children, eight daughters and two sons. Rosa R., born April 28, 1861, married Jacob Bower on June 28, 1884, and they now live at Mattoon, Illinois, their four children being Sarah, Ethel, Albert and Jules. Helene, the second child, was born November 27, 1865, and died August 27, 1866. Ella, born December 14, 1868, was married January 15, 1893, to Frank Schuloff, and they reside at Mattoon, Illinois, and have a child Florence. Isidore Israel, born April 29, 1868, was married July 26, 1911, to Tennie Suzak, and he had had three children, Helen, August Mendle, and Caroline Martha, the last being deceased. Emma, born December 17, 1869, married January 5, 1898, Leo Sinn, and they reside at Kewance, Illinois. Minnie Esther, born February 22, 1871, was married January 22, 1896, to Sigmond Stiefel, Mr. Stiefel was born January 17, 1871, in Germany, and for many years was the leading dry goods merchant at Salins, where he died January 19, 1911. He was an active member of Salina Lodge No. 718, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mrs. Stiefel whose home is at 441 South Santa Fe Avenue in Salina, had two children, Henrietta Bondi, born October 27, 1900, and Benedict Frankl, born August 15, 1903. Hart Emanuel, the next child younger than Mrs. Stiefel, was born March 5, 1878, was married July 21, 1905, to Miss Cora Strouse, and their two children are Henrietta Carrol and Leon August. Lillian, born October 8, 1874, married January 24, 1904, Adolph Hess. Lydia, born July 16, 1876, was married August 22, 1905, to Julius Cohn, and they have one child, Joseph Bondi. Josephine Sophia, born February 23, 1879, married June 1, 1912, Isidore Vehon, and they live at Salina.