John Charles Bonnycastle1,2

#104, (c 1827 - 1884)
FatherCharles Bonnycastle3 (1796 - 1840)
MotherAnn Mason Tutt1 (1807 - 1873)
RelationshipGrandson of John Bonnycastle
Charts5 Generations of Descendants of Charles Bonnycastle (1796-1840)
Bonnycastle Ancestors of Alan H C Lankford (Deborah's line)


Harriet Everett (1840 - 1906)

Life Events

OccupationJohn Charles Bonnycastle had a career in the United States Army, serving in Mexico, the Indian Territory and Fort Vancouver, Washington, achieving the rank of Captain in the 4th infantry; insurance agent after retiring.2
BirthHe was born circa 1827 in Virginia.4 
EducationHe was educated at the West Point Military Academy.
His application file contains several documents.
One is a letter of recommendation from Josiah Colson [his mother's brother-in-law]. It stated that John C was sixteen years of age. "His Father fell a victim to his application in instructing the youth and thereby adding largely to the knowledge of the Country." His great grand Father Benjn Tutt served with great distinction in the army of the Revolution. John C was the first of their descendants to apply for an appointment.

There is a letter of introduction to the President from Virginia Senator Wm C Rives dated 25 Jan 1842. He cited the Revolution service of John C's Tutt relatives, the merits of Mrs Bonnycastle, and the promising character of her son as reasons to favor his application.

There is a letter from his mother to The President of the United States as follows:

Locust Hill
Feb 10th
I fear you will think me the most troublesome subject you have, but as you know how important it is to me that my son should go to West Point I feel issured that you will excuse my troubling you so frequently on this business.
As the time is approaching when the appointments will be made, I hope you will not forget your promise to recommend my son to the Secretary of War.
I remain very respectfully
A.M. Bonnycastle

She sent a letter the same day to the Engineer's Office, mentioning the President's promise and requesting an early answer directed to her at Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia.

There is a letter dated January 1842 signed by all the members (15) of the House of Representatives from Virginia recommending an appointment at large for John Bonnycastle.

There is a letter dated June 1842 from Rep Jno Thomson Mason mentioning that he had heard that a cadet was resigning and recommending young Bonnycastle (now of Georgetown) be appointed.

There is a letter of acceptance to his conditional appointment signed by John C in May of 1843 which includes his mother's assent to the acceptance and that he may bind himself to serve for eight years.

One roster shows that his classmates were set to graduate in 1847 but John C was deficient as of June 1846.5 
Military He was a 1st lieutenant and adjutant in the California volunteers on 1 Aug 1846.6 
Military He became a 2nd lieutenant in the 4th infantry on 27 Jun 1848.6 
1850 CensusJ.C. Bonycastle appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of Porter, Niagara County, New York, enumerated 12 Aug 1850. He was 23 years old, occupation Officer, and was born in Virginia. He and two other soldiers were with Officer C C Augur and his family.4 
Military He was a 1st lieutenant in the 7th NY infantry on 5 Aug 1853.6 
Land Record On 3 Jun 1856, John C Bonnycastle, First Lieutenant in Captain Stevenson's Company New York Volunteers in the Mexican War was granted 160 acres of Bounty Land in Juneau County, Wisconsin which he assigned to Eliphalet S Miner.7 
Passenger ListHe was listed on a manifest dated 28 Jun 1856 for the Steamship Illinois from Aspinwall [Panama] to port of New York. He was listed as J.C. BonnyCastle, 38, male, occupation U.S.A[rmy], and was travelling between 1st and 2nd decks abaft the wheels.8 
MarriageHe married Harriet Everett on 22 Sep 1857 in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
Harriet was the daughter of Adele Barney and Isaac Everett, a wholesale dry goods merchant in Louisville and later the proprietor of the Galt House in Louisville.9,10,11 
1860 CensusJohn Charles Bonnycastle has not yet been found in the 1860 census. He was not at Fort Vancouver and does not appear in the standard indexes. 
Military Captain assistant quartermaster on 1 Feb 1861.6 
MilitaryHe resigned from the army 30 May 1861, the month after the Civil War began, as he did not believe in fighting fellow officers.6,2,10 
Tax ListJohn Bonneycastle appeared on the 1865 tax list for Kentucky. The previous years the assessment was under his wife's name. He had 2 gold watches and 204 ounces of plate of silver, paying tax of $2.00 and $12.20. In 1866, his address was noted as Bardstown, Louisville and he paid $2 tax on the gold watches. In 1864, Barrett & Bonnycastle, claim agents, paid a $10 license fee.12 
Note.The Bonnycastle family moved into the Everett mansion in Louisville in 1868 upon the death of Harriet's father Isaac Everett. 
1870 CensusJ.C. and Harriet appeared on the 1870 Federal Census of Two Mile House Pct, Jefferson County, Kentucky, enumerated 6 Sep 1870. J.C. was an Insurance Agt, age 43, born Va. Harriet was age 30, born Ky. Their children Adele Everett, Mary Shaw, Isaac Everett, John Charles, Harriet and Ann Mason were living with them, as well as a domestic servant.13 
(Heir) WillJohn was named an heir in the will of his mother Ann Mason Bonnycastle dated 12 Dec 1872.14 
1880 CensusJohn and Harret E [sic] appeared on the 1880 Federal Census of Two Mile House Pct, enumerated 9 Jun 1880. John was age 53, Farmer, born in Virginia, father born in England, mother in Virginia. Harret E was 39 and born in Kentucky, father in Kentucky, mother in Maryland. Their children Adele Everett, Mary Shaw, Isaac Everett, John Charles, Harriet, Ann Mason, Henry Churchill, William Robinson and Arthur Chichester were living with them, as well as five servants. They include Andrew Primus (black, 75, works on farm, unable to read or write), Edmonia Langhorn (mulatto, 27, widowed or divorced, house servant) with daughter Bille aged 3, James Kalf-- (black, single, 26, farm), Alexander Bell (black, single, 60, farm, could not read or write), and Jenard Slaughter (mulatto, 49, married or divorced, farm, could not write).15 
Newspaper Published 15 Mar 1882. Item in The Huntsville (Alabama) Weekly Democrat:
We had a pleasant surprise, on Monday last, at meeting, in our city, Capt. John Bonnycastle, only son of our old teacher, Mr. Charles Bonnycastle, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia, when we graduated in that school in 1840. Capt. Bonnycastle, after going to West Point, entered the U. S. Army and left it in 1861. - He and his family are, now, living near Louisville, Ky. He is here prospecting, with a view to settling here, if he can secure a suitable house and small farm in this vicinity. We cordially welcome him, and hope that he will become a permanent citizen here.16
WillJohn Charles Bonnycastle wrote a will dated 23 Oct 1884.
I, John C Bonnycastle, of the County of Jefferson and State of Kentucky, do make this my last will and testament, revoking all other wills heretofore made by me.

I give to my wife Harriett Everett BonnyCastle all my right title and interest in nine hundred and sixteen (916) acres of land situated on Roberts Island, San Joaquin County, State of California, also two hundred and sixty three and a half (263 1/2) acres situated on Twichell Island, Sacramento County, California.

I also give to my said wife all other property of every description, real or personal, of which I may die possessed, to do with as she pleases.

I hereby appoint my wife my sole executrix, without bond. Signed by me Oct 23rd 1884

Jno C Bonnycastle

The above instrument of writing purportive to be the last will and testament of John C Bonnycastle was signed by said John C Bonnycastle in our presence and acknowledged by him to be his act and deed and subscribed by us in our presence of said John C Bonnycastle and in presence of each other. Jno W Beckley, Florence C Beckley.17

DeathJohn C Bonnycastle died on 29 Oct 1884 in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
Details from register: male, white, married, age 58, died of Bright's Disease, nativity Virginia, burial 31 Oct in C. Hill Cemetery, JC King undertaker.18 
BurialHe was buried on 31 Oct 1884 in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. Inscription on gravestone:
Jno C Bonnycastle / 1828 - 1884.19,20
John C Bonnycastle
1826 - 1884
Cave Hill Cemetery
ProbateHis will was entered into the Court books as follows on 17 Nov 1884.

State of Kentucky
At a County Court held for Jefferson County at the Court House in the City of Louisville on the 17th day of November 1884, the foregoing instrument of writing of writing [sic] purporting to be the last will and testament of John C Bonnycastle deceased late of this County was produced in Court and proven to be the oath of Jno W Beckley and Florence C Beckley the subscribing witnesses thereto whereupon the same was established by the Court to be the last will and testament of said testator and ordered to be recorded and is recorded in my office as clerk of said Court.
Geo H Webb, Clk.17
ProbateHis estate was probated on 2 Jun 1910. The Washington Post noted that in the Estate of John C Bonnycastle, letters of administration were granted to John C Bonnycastle. Attorneys Lyon & Lyon.21 
Newspaper In the The Courier-Journal. A 1989 article about the Bonnycastle estate in Louisville:
By Marcella Johnson
The Courier-Journal

One hundred years ago, Cherokee Park and Eastern Parkway were forest and farmland. Cows grazed between scattered estates along Bardstown Road.

City planners had just begun envisioning it as a beautiful place to build streets, homes and a park for a growing Louisville. Eventually the area developed into the Bonnycastle neighborhood, named after a family that lived on a grand estate there. It filled with homes and apartments, developed a bustling commercial strip along Bardstown Road and harbored open land in tranquil Cherokee Park.

The first settler, Isaac Everett, purchased about 150 acres from Angereau and Myrah Gray for about $25,000 in 1848 and set out making plans for a fine new mansion and farm named Walnut Grove outside of Louisville.

Everett was a successful dry-goods merchant and co-proprietor of the old Galt House. In 1849, his wife, Adele Barney Everett, died, leaving him with two small children, Harriet and Isaac Jr.

Slaves built the Walnut Grove mansion for them in the 1860s, and it still stands near Cowling and Maryland avenues. Historical accounts vary on when the family lived there, but Everett eventually gave the land to Harriet, who married John C. Bonnycastle. They began living on the estate in the late 1860s, according to Louisville's Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission.

The Bonnycastle estate covered much of what is now the Bonnycastle neighborhood, which is bounded by Eastern Parkway, Bardstown Road, Speed Avenue and Cherokee Park.

The Greek-revival style, 2 1/2-story, brick mansion featured porches, large rooms and marble fireplaces. Its long driveway marked by stone gates at Bardstown Road went along what is now Bonnycastle Avenue, to Cowling -- originally called Everett Avenue -- then into a circular driveway in front of the house. Their nine children had plenty of room to play.

A honeymoon cottage was built behind the mansion around 1900 for one son, Arthur C. Bonnycastle, and his bride Mary Eva Wieland, a German immigrant. Anne Helm, of Alta Avenue, their great-granddaughter, said the family recalls their romantic meeting. "He was engaged to someone else, saw her on a trolley and fell madly in love," said Helm.

The brick cottage was on a hill above a small spring that still pours into a small goldfish pond. The cottage had large beds of flowers and benches. The cottage, later sold, was torn down last year and a new home is under construction on the land.

John C. Bonnycastle died in 1884 before the neighborhood's development surged. As Louisville looked for land on which to grow, Harriet Bonnycastle donated part of her estate to the city for the development of a park that she and planners hoped would make the area attractive to developers.

The city hired noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1891, and he made the Bonnycastle land part of Cherokee Park. Eastern Parkway was designed to connect Cherokee with Iroquois and Shawnee parks.

The expansion of trolley service south along Bardstown Road at the turn of the century made new homes in demand. Bonnycastle began selling parcels of land for development during the next 20 years. Helm said real estate brochures described the area as a place to find "lush, country living."

Harriet Bonnycastle maintained the mansion and a 14-acre, bell-shaped parcel of the land bounded by Cowling, Spring Drive and Speed Avenue until she died in 1906. The family sold the mansion to the Kentucky Home School and the remaining land was sold.

Kentucky Home School was a private college-preparatory institution that operated there until it moved in 1948. About 100 girls each year attended classes from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Adath Israel B'rith Shalom purchased the property in 1948 and greatly altered the look of the property, removing the mansion's porches and building a synagogue where the curving driveway to the mansion had been. The back of the new building came to within a few feet of the front of the mansion.

Highland Evangelical Church now uses both buildings.

Another landmark home was known at one time for its gardens and later as a haunted house, according to Diane Shelton, of Murray Avenue, who wrote a history of the neighborhood this year.

The property, next to the Bonnycastle estate, was owned by Dr. Henry Bullitt and later by Albro Parsons and his son Albro Jr. It was at what is now the southwest corner of Alta Avenue and Parsons Place. The three-story, Gothic Revival brick mansion was built in the late 1850s, and the estate's garden flourished with exotic trees, flowers and shrubs.

Parsons worked in the insurance business and his son was a doctor. They lived in the mansion until the mid-1920s, when they moved to Great Britain. The home was rented for several years and eventually boarded up. Children called it "the haunted house."

The structure was destroyed by a mysterious fire on Halloween night in 1935, according to a University of Louisville class report by Edward Brownstein in 1939.

The garden was developed into what is now Edgewood Place, a one-block court of houses that share front yards divided only by parallel sidewalks. In the 1920s several large brick apartment buildings were built in the neighborhood. The largest, the 11-story Commodore at 2140 Bonnycastle Ave., was designed in 1929 by Joseph and Joseph architects. Around the same time, the firm was designing the Willow Terrace-Dartmouth apartment buildings on Willow Avenue, the now-defunct Rialto and Majestic theaters, the original Atherton School on Morton Avenue and the Republic Office Building on Fifth Street.

Around the turn of the century, Bardstown Road was evolving as the lifeline of the neighborhood. Small businesses, including feed and hay stores, lined the road near Bonnycastle, which was the trolley turnaround until 1912, when the route was extended to Douglass Loop (and later to Taylorsville Road as the city grew).

A traffic light at Bardstown Road and Bonnycastle Avenue kept order as early as 1935, when a Piggly Wiggly grocery store was at the corner. A variety of stores, including a bakery, dry goods store and the Uptown Theatre in the Schuster Building near Eastern Parkway were nearby.

The Cherokee Sanitary Milk Co. that operated on Bardstown Road is well-remembered by longtime residents. Its delivery trucks were a common sight in the area. It also sold ice cream and candy. Scowden Kohnhorst, a resident of Bonnycastle Avenue since 1915, recalled that the shop was a popular place to go after church on Wednesday nights when "it cost 15 cents for a double dip and it was very, very good."

In 1939, Charles Herold wrote for a University of Louisville class report that, "The Bardstown Road shopping district has become so important that many think it will eventually replace the Fourth Street shopping district."

That section of Bardstown Road has remained a vital artery to the city, sporting restaurants and shops in the old buildings.

A fire station, Engine 20, that is still in use at 1735 Bardstown Road, was built in 1916. Kohnhorst recalled seeing the fire equipment pulled by horses "streaking down the road, and all the people would chase after it to see what was happening."

Emergency services had a lot to contend with one spring afternoon in 1974, when the peaceful community was struck by an event that changed the character of the area.

A tornado on April 4 did extensive damage to homes and to the large trees that lined Eastern Parkway, Cherokee Park and streets in the area. In the wake of its destruction, it did help unify members of the Bonnycastle Homestead Association, which had formed a few months earlier. The group sprang into action replanting trees and seeking zoning help from the city to deal with developers who began purchasing damaged homes to replace them with apartments. In recent years the association has remained active in zoning issues to protect the single-family character of the neighborhood, a part of the Highlands Historic District. It planted a flower garden on Spring Drive at Cherokee Park. It was also the first association to join the Louisville Friends of Olmsted Parks, a group to seeks to restore and preserve parks designed by Olmsted. Partial proceeds from September's Bonnycastle Homestead Association Festival on Spring Drive will go toward an improvement project in the park.

As Barbara Jeziorski, association president, leads the group, she has a constant reminder of the way things used to be. The back yard of her home on Spring Drive overlooks the Bonnycastle mansion and the land where the cottage sat.

"To drive in from Bardstown Road and to see that structure must have been impressive," she said. "We are fortunate to have a 200-foot front yard, but they had 2-1/2 blocks of front yard."9
Last Edited18 Apr 2014


  1. Letter from Angus Bonnycastle, Calgary, Alberta, to J Kolthammer, dated 1997.
  2. Letters from William Robinson (Rob) Bonnycastle, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to J Kolthammer, dated beginning in 1990.
  3. Webpage Gunston Hall Plantation: Descendants of George Mason (
  4. 1850 Federal Census for United States, New York, Niagara County, Porter, Roll M432_561, Page 465. Digital image viewed at
  5. U.S. Military Academy Cadet Application Papers of John C Bonnycastle, 1842. Images of file viewed at
  6. Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1789-1903 (1903; reprint Urbana Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1965), page 230.
  7. General Land Office Federal Land Patents , images online at, Accession Number MW-0903-253, Military Warrant.
  8. New York Passenger Arrivals, images (
  9. Online, Louisville Courier-Journal, A Place in Time: The Story of Louisville's Neighborhoods, 1989.
  10. E Polk Johnson, A history of Kentucky and Kentuckians; the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co, 1912), accessed on Google books, page 1623.
  11. Jefferson County Clerk of the County Court Marriage Registers, 1784-1911. Index of FHL film #482708 at
  12. Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Kentucky, 1862-1866; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M768, 24 rolls); Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Record Group 58; National Archives, Washington, D.C. (images viewed on
  13. Online image of the 1870 Federal Census for United States (Heritage Quest,, Kentucky, Jefferson County, 2 Mile House Pct, Roll 472, Page 453.
  14. Will and Probate of A M Bonnycastle of Louisville, 12 December 1872, proved in the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Court, 23 July 1873. Volume 8, Page 166. Digitised copy viewed at
  15. Online image of the 1880 Federal Census for United States (Heritage Quest,, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Two Mile House, Roll 421, Page 138.
  16. Rootsweb Mailing List, archived online at, NEWSPAPER-ABSTRACTS, 11 Nov 2006.
  17. Will and Probate of John C Bonnycastle of Louisville, 23 October 1884, proved in the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Court, 17 November 1884. Volume 12, Page 387. Digitised copy viewed at
  18. Death Records of Kentucky, 1852-1953, John C Bonnycastle, 1884, page 85. Image viewed at Ancestry.
  19. Burial Database for Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky, online, John C Bonnycastle was buried in Section H, Lot 26, grave 1.
  20. Website Find A Grave (, Jno C Bonnycastle, image of gravestone.
  21. The Washington Post, (Images viewed on, 2 June 1910.
  22. Death certificate of Arthur C Bonnycastle, died 11 January 1927, registered 12 January 1927 in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.