Old Downtown Bonduel
History of Bonduel
Bonduel takes its name from Reverend F. Bonduel, who was a priest from Green Bay. The legend is that after providing missionary services to local Native Americans, the village was named after him. There is also a legend about how the "Bears" name came about. It is that one day while the Reverend was making his rounds, someone attacked him. However, two bears came to the defense of the helpless man, scaring the attacker away. It is said that after this time, the bears followed him no matter where he went, protecting him from any harm. In 1860, the Homestead Act gave land to settlers who would build a house and cultivate the soil. This led to the beginning of the development of Bonduel, as many came to take advantage of starting something in the open land.
Charles Sumnicht, a native German, made the trek from Appleton to Bonduel by foot, and with the help of others, opened a road west to Shawano. A man by the name of Ferdinand Voight donated the land for the first schoolhouse to be built on. In 1865, the first log schoolhouse was built, and it was at this time the spelling bee heritage began. A sawmill and gristmill came next, along with a general merchandise store. This became the stopping place for a passing stagecoach. A silversmith added later gave Bonduel a much-needed part of any settlement of the time.
In 1881, Chris Bonnin purchased the merchandise store, and after it was destroyed by a fire, rebuilt it into one of the largest and most successful establishments in Shawano County. He represented the county in the State Legislature, and encouraged and promoted many projects beneficial to the area. Part of his work was helping bring the railroad through Bonduel and founding Bonduel State Bank, where he was president until he died.
Bonduel officially became a village in 1916, when it was incorporated. A land that once attracted people because of its pine trees has become a developing community. The names mentioned here are only a few of the many who have worked to make Bonduel what it is today. We dedicate this page to all who have worked for the better of this community.
For more information about the history of Bonduel, please visit the Bonduel Community Archive website.