He next went to St. Paul, Minn., where he was interested in the lumber trade. At the end of a year he sold his mill there and in 1859, in company with several others, he crossed the plains of Colorado and took up a mining claim at (now) Central City; he also staked a claim in the "Gregory" and sold two weeks later for $10,000. He then went to Golden City, where he engaged one summer in lumbering. He returned to Illinois for the winter and went back to Denver in the spring with Joseph Chadwick.They erected a large stone building during the summer, and returned to Illinois in the fall. The following spring they sold their store located at Denver and also some mining claims. where they took a final leave of Colorado.
In the fall of 1861, when the tide of war and disunion swept the country, Mr. Bronson enlisted as a private in Company C, 12th Illinois Cavalry, serving in that capacity until Feb. 28, 1862, when he was commissioned captain and went into active service at the front. He was promoted to the rank of Major, holding his post until the mustering out of the regiment in the winter of 1863. He at once proceeded to raise another company and was elected Captain of Company F, 141st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The regiment rendezvoused at Elgin, Ill., and Captain Bronson was appointed Colonel by Gov. Yates. After a service of 100 days he returned to Chicago and was mustered out. He proceeded to organize the 153rd Ill Vol. Inf., and was soon after appointed Brevet Brigadier General by President Lincoln. His appointment wa confirmed by the Senate and he was assigned to the command of the First Brigade of the Division of Western Tennessee, with head-quarters at Memphis, and was in active service until the close of the war. He was mustered out Oct. 1, 1865, at Springfield, Ill., after about four and a half years service. He was in action at Harper's Ferry, Antietam, Gettsyburg, Chancellorsville, Dumfries and a large number of other engagements. During this period of service he received five commissions.
On leaving the United States service he was the recipient of many flattering proofs of appreciation from the Department and his fellow officers. General Oglesby, of Illinois, made a personal appeal to the President for a lucrative and responsible position for meritorious service, but General Bronson made no personal exertion to secure any place at the hands of the already overburdened and struggling Government.
After the war closed he went to Texas and bought a large herd of beef cattle, which were driven to the Chicago market and it proved a profitable venture. In the spring of 1867 he came to Big Rapids, and, in partnership with Sumner Stickney, established extensive business interests, including trade in lumber and real estate and banking operations. Their investments were profitable and their affairs in promising condition when the financial disturbance of 1873 overwhelmed them and their property sunk to a minimum value. About the same time their sawmill was destroyed by fire and Mr. Bronson proceeded to begin at the foundation once more. His early experience as a carpenter became his best working capital, and with the assistance of a boy, he rebuilt the mill of Bronson & Stickney, and they proceeded with their lumber business. About one and a half years after they lost their dam by a "wash out," sold their site and built where they are now operating, putting in steam power.
Gen. Bronson, in addition to his other public relations, has been active in political life. In Colorado, in 1859, he was elected Representative from Golden city District, and officiated as Speaker of the House during a part of the session. In 1868 he was elected Treasurer of Mecosta County, and held the post two years. He has been Supervisor several years and Chairman of the Board; has been a member of the School Board 12 years, member of the Common Council four years, and, at the municipal election of Big Rapids in the spring of 1882, failed as candidate for its chief office by only three votes. In the fall of that year his name was used by the Fusion element as candidate for Congress. The District was Republican by 5,000 votes, and Gen. Bronson was defeated by only about 2,600 in the general count; he carried the city by a majority of 46 votes. In the spring of 1883, he was elected Mayor of Big Rapids on the Union ticket by a majority of 45 votes, running against M.P. Gale, ex-Representative.
Gen. Bronson was married at Naperville, DuPage Co., Ill., Nov. 7, 1841 to Amelia Barker. Of their eight children but four survive. Following are their names: Amasa (dec.); Charles D. of Big Rapids, (clerk for A. S. Hobart); Sarah (dec.); Lucy (Mrs. H.M. Hobart, of Big Rapids); Stephen (dec.); Allie (wife of A.A.S. Hobart); Carrie (wife of Frank Beard, merchant at Morley); Jessie (dec.). During the absence of Genral Bronson in Colorado his family resided in Wheaton, Ill., with the exception of his son Charles, who spent two and a half years with his father in Denver. Mrs. Bronson died Sept.l 5, 1864, while her husband was in the Union Army. He contracted marriage a second time at Wheaton, Ill., Feb. 14, 1867, with Kate M. Brown, a native of Vermont, born Nov. 23, 1830. Their children are Mollie, Kate and Harry. The last died March 25, 1878.
It is but just to General Bronson to add that in the community of which he is a member his character is thoroughly appreciated. He is conscientious and discerning in his opinions, trusted by all parties and believes with all his might in the strength and supremacy of the Government he so zealously defended in the time of her peril. Big Rapids is honored by his splendid military career, and his connection with his politics of the city has been of the same type. His first candidacy for Mayor, notwithstanding his defeat, was one of the most marked triumphs on the records of local elections, his nomination taking place in special caucus Saturday night preceding Monday's election.
The testimonials above referred to comprise a letter, signed by several individuals of acknowledged position, addressed to Governor Yates, and the letter of Richard J. Oglesby, the War Governor of Illinois, and now on file in the Department of Washington, D.C.; also a private letter from Governor Oglesby accompanying his Commission as Brigadier General, United States Volunteers by Brevet. The latter in closing says: "It is a suitable recognition of your valuable service in the late war against Treason and Rebellion and in favor of Liberty and Union." The recommendations in the letters referred to were based on the desire of General Bronson to remain connected with the military service of the United States and urged his claims on the grounds of his meritorious conduct in behalf of the integrity of the Union.
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