Kansas town to honor Jewish abolitionist

Jewish-American immigrant August Bondi fought alongside abolitionist John Brown during the Battle of Black Jack Creek in 1856.

By JASON BEETS / THE SALINA JOURNAL KANSAS
August 30, 2018 12:06
2 minute read.
Kansas town to honor Jewish abolitionist

"Am I Not a Man and a Brother?", 1787 medallion designed by Josiah Wedgwood for the British anti-slavery campaign. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Salina, Kansas (Tribune News Service) - August Bondi, a Jewish-American immigrant devoted to the abolition of slavery, was honored with a historical marker in Salina, Kansas this week.

Bondi served in the Kansas Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War before moving to Salina and serving as a postmaster and judge.

The city of Salina, Salina Heritage Commission and Smoky Hill Museum will dedicate the historical marker at 5:30 p.m on Thursday at the museum.

Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, initially contacted city staff about the marker in October 2015. Klinger, who will speak about Bondi during the dedication, said the marker will celebrate Bondi's support for freedom and his opposition to slavery.

"Kansas is a diverse, active and rich state, with a history that deserves to be remembered and honored," Klinger said.

According to information provided to the Salina Heritage Commission, Bondi and his family left their native Vienna, Austria for America in 1848 when Bondi was 15 in the wake of an unsuccessful democratic revolution.

In 1850, Bondi went to work as a sailor on a freighter that went up and down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico. When the ship was docked in Galveston, Texas, Bondi observed the cruelties of slavery.

"The screams of the slaves, who were whipped with leather straps every morning, woke me before dawn at four in the morning," he wrote in his diary.

Bondi moved to Osawatomie Kansas in 1856 after he read a New York Tribune editorial that called on readers who supported freedom "to hurry out to Kansas to help save the state from the curse of slavery." The territory was then debating whether to enter the U.S. as a free or a slave state.

He fought alongside abolitionist John Brown during the Battle of Black Jack Creek in 1856. He also fought in the Battle of Osawatomie later that year. These battles between pro- and anti-slavery forces were referred to as "Bleeding Kansas," and foreshadowed the U.S. Civil War.

That wasn't the only time Bondi put his life on the line for his beliefs. He also served in the Kansas Volunteer Cavalry for the Union during the Civil War.

Bondi moved to Salina in 1866, where he served as a district court clerk, a probate judge and the city's postmaster.

In his autobiography, which he finished writing in 1905 at the age of 71, Bondi wrote that he was proud of his life's work.

"Even as a child, I decided to dedicate my life to the ideals of progress and freedom," he wrote. "I never deviated from this decision during the course of my long life, a life rich in stormy events. I have remained faithful to the principles that I swore to uphold during the stormy days of the 1848 revolution."

©2018 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


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