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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Stone Gardens: Newton County pioneer Bradley Bunch has a unique connection to US history


In a a pastoral setting approximately 2500 feet west of State Highway 221in a rural portion of Newton County, a pioneer cemetery holds the graves of over 250 souls, many of which were significant in the founding of Newton and Carroll counties in the early part of the 1830's.


Among those is a native of Tennesse who moved to the then "wilds" of Arkansas and after a st5int as a farmer, served as a member of the Arkansas legislation, a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, and was appointed as a county and probate judge in 1888.


Bradley Bunch was born on December 9, 1818, in Overton County, Tennessee, the eighth child of Captain Nathaniel Bunch and Sally Wade Ray Bunch of Virginia. Between 1838 and 1841, his father, a “farmer-blacksmith-mechanic,” moved with his family in stages to Carroll County, settling on the headwaters of Osage Creek near Dinsmore in what subsequently became Newton County.


Captain Bunch and is family were among the pioneer founders of Newton County and the Old Union Bunch" Cemetery near Berryville is the final resting place of several of his progeny, including Bradley Bunch.


Bradley married Jane Baswell, in 1836 Jane Baswell, who was also born and reared in Tennessee. Two years later as part of the Bunch family exodus to the Arkansas territory, settling into what was then property that became part of Carroll County


After two moves to newly purchased farms Bunch settled in an area near Berryville in 1851. Here Mr. Bunch has one of the finest and best improved farms of the county. Bunch and his wife had twelve children and the ancestors of those family members still highly populate the region.


Bunch started his political carrer with three successive terms as justice of

the Peace in his township, and in 1850 was elected and served four years as associate justice of the county court.


In 1854 he was elected to represent Carroll County in the State Legislature, and was re-elected to the same position three times, serving four consecutive terms. In 1862 he was elected State senator, but, due to the outbreak of the Civil Wa, did not serve in what became a provisional government.


In 1866 he was chosen to represent the county in the Legislature, and was elected speaker of the House and served as Speaker for one term.


In 1874 bunch served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, and he following September, was elected State senator. He as a named Presiding Officer of Deliberations and served two years in that capacity.


In March, 1888. Bunch was appointed county and probate judge, and served the region as an influential member of local government until his death in 1894 at the age of 75.

the Newton County


That would and should be enough to warrant memorializing Bradley Bunch but Stone Gardens is all about history and family connections. And there is a unique twist to the story and a interesting to all of the Bunch clan that lie in repose in secluded Newton County.


Before the Bunch family moved to Arkansas during the 1838-41 relocation, Bradley Bunch’s sister Anna (1814–1893) married Samuel Thompson Allred in Tennessee.


This couple produce a daughter named Frances who in turn started a genealogical downline

that continued through Margaret Wright, Leona McCurry, Madelyn Payne, and, finally, Shirley Dunham.


On August 4, 1961 gave birth to her first child in Honolulu. That child grew up to serve two terms as the President of the United States.


Bradley Bunch was therefore the great-great-great-great uncle (fourth great) of Barrack Hussain Obama.




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