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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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FRED N. BONINE, M. D., a resident physician of Niles, is one of the native-born citizens of Michigan, in whose success his fellow-citizens take just pride. Notwithstanding the fact that he is scarcely thirty years old, he has attained to a position of prominence in the medical fraternity, and enjoys the confidence of the people of Niles, who have watched his career with interest and looked forward to his future with the certain belief that it will bestow added honors to his fame. By travel and study in foreign lands he has acquired a fund of information concerning his chosen profession which is both broad and deep. He is especially interested in diseases of the eye, ear, lungs and throat, and has met with success in their treatment.

Born at Niles on the 21st of October, 1863, our subject attended the schools of this place, but finished his education in Freiburg, Germany. Afterward he entered the medical department of the State University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, graduating from that institution in 1886. He then returned to Europe and took a post-graduate course at London and Paris, devoting his entire time and attention to the study of the eye, ear and throat. In order to better fit himself for the work, he made an extended trip, visiting Berlin, Vienna, Egypt, the Soudan, Palestine and Southern Asia.

Upon his return from Europe, the Doctor resumed his professional labors at Niles, where he has since resided. In regard to social connections, he is identified with St. Joseph Valley Lodge No. 4, A. F. & A. M.; St. Joseph Valley Chapter, R. A. M.; Niles Commandery No. 12, K. T.; Niles Council No. 19, R. & S. M.; and the Grand Rapids Consistory. He is also a prominent worker among the Knights of Pythias. His marriage occurred in 1886, and united him with Miss Viva M., daughter of Martha E. (Finley) Thomas, of Niles. They are the parents of one child, a daughter, Natalie. Dr. Bonine is Division Surgeon of the Michigan Central Railroad.

We would regard this sketch incomplete were no mention made of the honored father of our subject, who for years was closely connected with the progress of Niles. We cannot do better than to quote from the Niles Daily Star, of December 29, 1892: “Evan J. Bonine was born on the 10th day of September, 1821, at Richmond, Wayne County, Ind. His parents were liberty-loving Quakers, opposed to strife, slavery and every form of oppression. The foundation of his education was laid in the common schools of Centreville, in the same county. After completing his ordinary studies, he remained to read medicine with a prominent physician of that town, where he was brought into intimate association with such original and vigorous thinkers as Oliver P. Morton, Ambrose E. Burnside, George W. Julian, and others whose names have since become famous. Later he was graduated from the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati.

“In 1844, Dr. Bonine was united in marriage with Miss Eveline Beall, and for nearly a half-century they were a mutual comfort to each other. Like a true wife she divided his sorrows and doubled his joys. Hand in hand they passed bravely through the dark clouds of affliction, and heart to heart they rejoiced when the sunshine of prosperity attended their footsteps. Soon after their marriage they removed to Cassopolis, Mich., where the Doctor engaged in practice until 1849, when, with his brother-in-law, Laban Harter, he made an overland trip to California. He returned in 1851 and settled in Vandalia, where he resumed his practice and also served as Postmaster. In 1858 he removed to this city and at once entered upon a large and successful practice. Prior to locating here he had served as a member of the Michigan Legislature.

“By the appointment of President Lincoln in 1862, Dr. Bonine became Surgeon of the Second Michigan Infantry, and for a time was Division Surgeon and Chief Operator of the Third Division, Ninth Army Corps, with twenty or more surgeons under his direction. He came home to enter upon the duties of Surgeon of the Board of Enrollment for the Western District of Michigan, with headquarters at Kalamazoo, where he remained until the close of the war. In 1865 he was elected to the Legislature on the Republican ticket. Two years later he represented Berrien County in the State Senate, and in 1869 he was returned to the Lower House. In 1873 he received the appointment of Postmaster at Niles and resigned the State office to accept the Federal, which he retained for twelve years. In 1868 he was a delegate to the Chicago Convention. He served as Mayor of Niles for three terms, besides filling various minor offices to the full satisfaction of his constituents. For many years he was the trusted Surgeon of this division of the Michigan Central Railroad.

“Dr. Bonine’s success as a surgeon was phenomenal and proves that surgeons are born, not made, and a fact not generally known may help to account for it by those who believe that talent is transmitted by hereditary descent. The blood that flowed in his veins came from the same fountain (two or three generations back) as that of the Agnews and Pancoasts, of more than national renown. Dr. Bonine was constructed after Nature’s grandest pattern from his heart outward. His magnificent physical development, rugged constitution and great power of endurance stood him in good stead during his fatiguing rides over poor roads by day and night, and only these generous gifts of nature enabled him to endure the hardships and exposures incident to the life of a conscientious army surgeon. We are told that when his superior officers urged him to take needed rest after long hours of labor among the wounded and dying, assuring him that younger men could do the work, he would shake them off with the remark, ‘No, the boys and their friends at home hold me responsible. How can I leave the duty to others?’

“The labors of this loved physician are ended, and one might think with such an earthly record he would fear naught for the future. But it will give pleasure to his friends to learn that long before he was confined to his bed, and when his mind was alert and vigorous, he said to his friends: ‘I have tried to do something to make the world better for my having lived in it, but my life has not been what it should have been and I claim no merit of my own; my ‘sole trust is in Christ.’ For some hours before his death his mind was clouded, but as the last hour approached he realized that he was dying. Too exhausted to speak, he gave a look of fond recognition to the weeping friends around him, and with his hands clasped in theirs, his breath ceased and he passed away without a struggle on the 28th of December, 1892, aged seventy-one years. Mrs. Bonine and an only son, Dr. Fred N., survive him.’”

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Berrien County, Michigan family biographies here: Berrien County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Berrien County, Michigan here: Berrien County Michigan Map

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