BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF MARTIN LEX BUNDY
PIONEER, LEGISLATOR, JUDGE, MAJOR AND
BREVET LIEUTENANT COLONEL U.S.V.
Henry county, Indiana may feel proud of the record of her many prominent citizens,
some to the manor born, others whose early years and subsequent training to
careers of usefulness entitle her to claim them a properly her own, though born
elsewhere.  Of the latter is Martin Lex Bundy.  Though born in Randolf County, North
Carolina, November 11, 1817, he was reared by his grandfather, Christopher Bundy,
who in 1818 came to Indiana and in the spring of 1821 purchased a farm adjoining
the tract on which New Castle was afterward located.  The grandfather died in 1834
at Salisbury, the old county seat of Wayne County.  Notwithstanding his being a
Quaker, grandfather Bundy served as a soldier throughout the Revolutionary War for
Independence, and reared his grandson, the subject, to a firm and solid belief in the
principles of universal liberty and love of country.  The boyhood days of Martin L.
differed but little from the average youth of that early period.  School privileges were
not of the best as  compared with our present advanced system of public instruction,
and the boy, who then progressed in his studies beyond the average, was spurred to
increased activity by superior home influences that brought out his ambition to
achieve a place among the best and ablest men whose lives and records become a
proper and worthy standard for emulation.  With noble aspirations and an inherent
determination to succeed, he applied himself to his studies and after completing the
common schools, studied under the private tuition of Judge John Davis, of Madison
county.  He then spent a brief term at Miami University, then under the presidency of
R. H. Bishop, D.D., who, conceiving a strong liking for his pupil, advanced him to
private instruction.  The difficulties which beset his pathway to a higher education
were innumerable.  There was no father's or benefactor's  purse upon which to draw
for expenses; he was obliged to defray them from the slender earnings made under
difficulties that would have discouraged one less determined.  Before he became a
pupil of Dr. Bishop he was employed by William Silver, who kept a store at New
Castle.  This gentleman had secured  a star-route mail contract between Centreville
and Noblesville, via New Castle, and young Bundy was employed to ride the route
horseback.  In those days express companies were unknown.  Centreville was an
important, thriving place of business, Middletown, a mere hamlet, and Anderson
could not boast of a population to exceed one hundred.  R.N. Williams was the chief
factotum in official life, holding all the offices.  General Stevenson was county clerk,
recorder and postmaster at Noblesville.  Hence young  Bundy's efforts to climb the
ladder to fame and position were not supported by a very alluring prospect.  The late
Henry Shroyer, a saddler by trade, who died in June, 1902, at ninety two years of
age, was the only man living in late years who knew young  Bundy when carrying the
mail between Middletown and Noblesville in 1835.  General Stevenson was a
subscriber for a Philadelphia paper, and when the youthful mail carrier reached a
country office, once each week, he was questioned as to the news; finally he would
take out Stevenson's paper and read it to the assembly.  Those were stirring days in
congress and news from the national capital was eagerly sought.  It was during the
last half of Jackson's administration, when men like Webster, Clay, Calhoun and
Hayne were prominent figures in political debate, and impassioned oratory
commanded the highest admiration of the people.  For the services he thus rendered
the contractor in carrying the mail he received five dollars per month and board.  He
often refers to that period as the “happiest year of my life”.  It required five days to
make the round trip.  As the chief disseminator of news he became very widely and
favorably known by the families along the entire route, and he was often called upon
to make purchases for the good housewives and daughters who could not leave
home to go on a “shopping” tour.  Often did he purchase a dress pattern, sometimes
in compliance with instructions, and when that could not be done would select
according to his own judgment, almost invariable pleasing the lady who desired the
goods.  In this way, and through their appreciation of his service, he added to his
earnings, which he carefully saved.

From Pendleton to Noblesville the distance was fourteen miles, seven of which were
through a dense forest.  It was no uncommon sight to see deer and other wild
animals crossing the road in the forest, and wolves were not at all scarce, but young
Bundy was never molested.  In June, 1837, he was made deputy recorder under Dr.
Reed, who had been elected to the office.  This enabled him to resume his studies,
giving a full year at Oxford in 1838.  Among his classmates were John Bishop, of
Miami University, George L. Andrews and M.D. LaPorte.  He remained in the
recorder's office until 1841, and became favorably and well known among the
prominent men of the county , who thus saw in the hard working, studious youth the
able and useful man of the future.  He began the study of law in the office and under
the tutorship of Judge Jon T. Elliott, his brother in law, and applied himself so
diligently to his studies that he was admitted to the bar a year later, 1842.  Judge
Bundy, referring to those days of study, feels that he was particularly fortunate in
being able to prepare himself under Judge Elliott, who afterward was upon the circuit
bench for twenty five years in the Eighth Judicial District, and later elevated to the
supreme bench, where he served for six years.  The district bar of that period was
noted for its many able representatives, among whom are mentioned Judge Elliott,
already referred to; General William Grose, who died five years ago (1901);  Joshua
H. Mellett, Smith and Samuel W. Parker, all of whom became prominent in other
counties.  Grose and Mellett entered into practice in 1845.  Mr. Bundy did not give
his entire time to his profession after admission to the bar.  He was elected county
treasurer in 1844, serving a term of three years, and, declining a renomination, he
returned to the bar and with renewed zeal, although business was not brisk in the
courts at that time.  Such men as would sit for a week without a case.  Judge Perry,
of Richmond, who died recently at an advanced age, was then upon the bench. The
general practice was all under the common law, and the In diana Reports consisted
of but four volumes.  Mr. Bundy was very popular with the older members of the bar,
and the cordial, friendly relations thus sustained greatly assisted him.  He devoted
his entire energies to the practice, and was a close attendant at the sessions of the
court throughout the entire circuit.  The work of those days was replete with
 
incidents an the school of practice and association productive of much good.  
Sometimes he would be called upon to sit as master in chancery to hear some
important case, the next day conducting an action in law.  His close attention to the
interests of his clients during the first ten or twelve years of his practice insured him
 
a good living, although his family was a large one.

Judge Bundy, while not a politician in the common application of the term, was a
strong admirer of Henry Clay and was quite active in advancing the cause of the
Whig party.  In 1848 he was delegate to the Philadelphia convention which nomi-
nated Zachery Taylor for the presidency.  He gave him a most cordial support after
the nomination was made, but his preference for the Great Commoner was sincere,
and his zeal unabated throughout the entire session of the convention.  The same
year he was elected to the legislature and served with much credit in that body until
the closing session of 1849.  Three years later he was elected judge of the court of
commons pleas, and re-elected in 1856.

Like a large majority of the  old-line Whigs, Judge Bundy was among those who saw
the necessity for a new party, and on the organization of the Republican party he
cordially gave his assistance to the movement.  He formed the acquaintance of
many representative men at the Philadelphia convention, in 1848, among the num-
ber being John C. Fremont, and he was a strong admirer of the great “Pathfinder.”  
The Judge was a delegate to the state convention in 1856, and by that body was
chosen to represent the party at the Philadelphia convention of that year, earnestly
supporting Fremont for the nomination.  He again met General Fremont and family,
and there received from the hands of the General's wife, Jesse (Benton) Fremont, a
copy of the distinguished General's life.  At the expiration of his second term as
judge, in 1860, he was again elected representative to the legislature.  He was
chosen alternate to Colonel Miles Murphey, delegate to the Chicago National
Republican Convention in 1860, which nominated the immortal Lincoln for President.  
In 1861 when a United States senator was to be chosen, Judge Bundy made the
presentation speech which resulted in the nomination of Henry S. Lane, whose
record in the United States senate during the memorable days of the Civil War is
still gratefully remembered by the old soldiers and representative men of that period.  
During that almost disheartening period, Governor Morton had no more able or
hearty supporter than Judge Bundy, who enjoyed his confidence  and friendship
throughout the terrible struggle.  In August, 1861, in recognition of his ability,
President Lincoln tendered him the appointment of paymaster in the army, which he
accepted, remaining in the service until the Spring of 1866, when he resigned and
was immediately commissioned Lieutenant Colonel by brevet “for faithful and
meritorious service.”  While paymaster Judge Bundy paid out in round numbers
twenty five million dollars for the government.  He was stationed with Headquarters
at St. Louis, Missouri; again at Louisville, Kentucky, and subsequently at
Indianapolis, Chicago and Detroit.

In 1864, Judge Bundy organized the First National Bank of New Castle, of which he
was elected president, continuing in that capacity for ten years.  In 1874 he
organized the Bundy National Bank, of which he was also president until December,
1877, when he retired.  In 1868 Judge Bundy was appointed by the Secretary of the
United States Treasury, national bank examiner for the State of Indiana, and served
until his resignation in 1874.  With such ability and faithfulness had he performed the
duties incident to the position, that Secretary Sherman strenuously urged his
acceptance of the appointment of examiner of national banks for Alabama and
Tennessee, and he again entered the service of the government, holding the position
until the winter of 1879.  Few men have filled so creditably as many important
stations in public life, and the record is one to which he and his children can refer
with pride.  The magnitude of the work while examiner for Indiana may be better
understood by saying that the number of banks which required his supervision was
one hundred, and all this in connection with his private interests required a
comprehensive knowledge of almost innumerable details of procedure that are
beyond the capability of the average man.  The Judge was also interested in the
construction of the New Castle and Richmond railroad, now a part of the
Pennsylvania system.  He was its president and a director, and is the only member
now living of the directory at that time.  So thorough was his knowledge of any class
of business to which he gave his thought and energy that he has recently been
consulted by officers of the Pennsylvania road touching matters of contracts, etc.
made while he was president.

Judge Bundy was married December 6, 1839, to Amanda Elliott, and for many years
they celebrated the anniversary of that event; on the the 6th of December, 1901, the
sixty second was celebrated.  No event of a similar character is known in Henry
County, and it is more than probable there are few to be found in the state.  Amanda
Elliott was born in Wayne county, April 7, 1821, and died at New Castle, Indiana, July
20, 1903.  Two days later her remains were interred in South Mound Cemetery.  She
was the daughter of Abraham and Jane Elliott, the latter a victim of the cholera
scourge of 1833.  Abraham Elliott was one of the earliest lawyers of Henry County
and died in 1848.  Judge Bundy married early in life, being but twenty two years of
age and his wife barely eighteen.  To Judge Bundy and his wife were born ten
children, eight of whom are living:  Eugene H. was judge of the Henry Circuit Court
over eight years;  Loring is editor of the Examiner at Connersville;  Martin L. Jr. holds
a position in the Indian Office, Department of the Interior, at Washington D.C.;  
James P. is a merchant, doing business in the State of Washington;  Omar, who
graduated from West Point in 1882, is a major in the Sixth U.S. Infantry, now
stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Elsewhere in this history will be found a
complete statement of his military services to date;  Olivia Jane is the widow of
James L. Peed, a former merchant of Elwood;  Emma H. is the wife of David W.
Chambers, an attorney of New Castle;  Lillian is the wife of William H. Bouslog,
residents of Bay St. Louis, Hancock County, Mississippi.

The fraternal relations of Judge Bundy are exemplified in the Grand Army of the
Republic.  He always when possible, attends the reunion.  He was present at the
encampment at Milwaukee, at Indianapolis and at the recent session held at Detroit.  
Religiously, his early inclinations were toward the Society of Friends.  His wife was a
devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In recapitulation of the life and service of Judge Bundy, a brief summary is made
because the life history of such a man could only be given in a volume equal to the
size of this work, of several hundred pages.  Commencing as a poor boy and bereft
of parents at an early day, and later of the grandfather who loved him as a son, he
was forced to make his way in the world unaided except by those principles of
integrity and determination which came to him as a heritage and stimulated him
during the life of his grandfather.  From a rider of a star route in the mail service, he
worked his way upward until he became a prominent young attorney and treasurer of
his county; judge of the circuit court of his district; a representative in the general
assembly of his adopted state; an honored and prominent official of the government
during the dark days of the Civil War; an adjuster and examiner of our national
system of finance in its operation in the states, and the head of banking institutions
with highest reputation for legitimate and honorable dealing and was an active
promoter of private institutions and corporations in the business world that have
 
done much to advance the prosperity of his city, county and state.  What more can
be crowded into so honorable a career, and what greater monument to his worth as
a citizen can be erected to his credit.  When the sun of life shall set, when the
wisdom of the Creator shall be evidenced by his passage from life's labors to what
mankind terms death, let us believe that it is in truth but a quiet rest from which our
Redeemer says the awakening will be to an eternal joy for such as he.  For in truth
his life has been all that those words imply, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give
thee a crown of life.”

The above is transcribed from “Hazzards History of Henry County, Indiana  1822 –
1906”  Author and publisher, George Hazzard, 1906.  Pages 142 – 146.
(6)  Transcription of an article from 'Hazzards History of Henry
County' published in 1906, on Martin L. Bundy.  He was raised
with Sarah Bundy by Sarah's father Christopher Bundy.
Although Martin was not a direct ancestor of our line of the
family he was very close to our ancestors because of his
being raised by Christopher.  In New Castle at the time our
families association with Martin L. Bundy was a source of
pride.
_____________________________________________________________________________
Jim Wilkinson
jimwilk@hotmail.com