Bonter, JacksonJackson Bonter was one of the African American pioneers in Oregon. He was born in Kentucky in 1833, and he moved to Salem, Oregon around 1850. Oregon became a state in 1859. It is not known if Bonter had been enslaved in Kentucky, but he arrived in Oregon as a freeman. He lived there during the same period as when Kentuckians Reuben Shipley and Letitia Carson resided in the state.
In Salem, OR, on December 29, 1865, Jackson Bonter married Mary Parks who was from Missouri. They became a family of four and are enumerated in the 1870 U.S. Census. Their son William was four and their son George was two. Mary Parks Bonter was 19 years old when she died of consumption (tuberculosis) on February 28, 1870. William Bonter, born March of 1867, died in 1877. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Jackson Bonter was employed as a printer. He lived alone and owned his home. He did not remarry after Mary's death. Bonter was also enumerated in the 1910 U.S. Census when he was no longer a printer and was employed doing odd jobs.
Jackson Bonter had lived most of his life in Oregon. When he first arrived, he was employed by a Judge Burnett. He then became the pressman (hand press) for the newspaper Willamette Farmer. The newspaper existed from 1869-1887. The hand press had been brought to Salem, OR, by Samuel A. Clarke and David Watson Craig when they became the new owners of the newspaper in 1872. Bonter remained with the newspaper for several years.
In 1915, Jackson Bonter died in Salem, OR. He was survived by his son George. His services were held at the Webb and Clough Chapel with Rev. R. N. Avison officiating. Bonter was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery. His son George was named administrator of the estate that was valued at $450.
For more see Willamette Farmer at the Historic Oregon Newspapers webpage by the University of Oreg0n; see "Bonter Parks," on p.52 of The Marriage Records of Marion County, Oregon, v.1, 1849-1871, compiled by Jeanne Custer and Daraleen Wade (Ancestry); see Mary A. Parks Bonter at Find a Grave; see Mary Bonter in the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule Index (Ancestry); see William Bonter at Find A Grave; "Died: [Jackson] Bonter," The Daily Capital Journal, 11/09/1915, p.8; "Jackson Bonter Passes," Daily Oregon Statesman, 11/09/1915, p.5; "George A. Bonter," The Daily Capital Journal, 02/15/1916, p.2; George Bonter death certificate, Oregon State Board of Health, #5817, Registered #91 (Ancestry); see the video Oregon's Black Pioneers: full documentary by Oregon Public Broadcasting @ YouTube;