ITS HISTORY AND TRADITION
W. H. WONDER
William Henry Wonder, who was considered one of the best editorial writers
in northwestern Iowa and was well known as a composer of gospel songs, had
been identified with journalistic interests as editor and publisher of the Onawa
Democrat for more than a quarter of a century when he passed away in January, 1917, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. His birth occurred at Reedsburg, Wayne county, Ohio, on the 9th of November, 1849, his parents being Enos W. and Jane (Miller) Wonder. His paternal ancestors came from Alsace, Germany, and joined the Penn colony in the seventeenth century. It was Christian Wunder who founded the family on American soil. He spelled the family name in the way designated and it was Mathias Wonder, grandfather of William H. Wonder, who first changed the spelling to the present form. Andrew Wunder, son of Christian Wunder and a resident of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, was a soldier of the Revolutionary war. His son, Mathias Wonder, was the grandfather of William H. Wonder.
Enos W. Wonder was cabinet maker by trade and resided in Ohio for a number of years. He afterward engaged in farming in Greene county, Indiana, to which place he had removed with his family in the early '50s, and eventually settled at Mondamin, Harrison county, Iowa, in 1874, there continuing his residence up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1909. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Jane Miller, passed away at Mondamin in 1913. They were survived by the following children: William Henry, Elizabeth, Sarah, George, Jane, and Oscar G.
William Henry Wonder acquired a common-school education in Indiana. A
natural musician, he took up the profession of teaching vocal music. He completed a course in the Indiana Conservatory of Music at Terre Haute and for several years taught voice and also conducted musical conventions. He likewise composed many gospel hymns which were published in book form and enjoyed an excellent sale, and he also published a paper devoted to musical affairs. In an endeavor to lessen the cost of printing the paper he bought a printing outfit, and in 1882 he established the Mondamin Independent, which he conducted for eighteen months and then sold to D. W. Butte, a pioneer printer of western Iowa. He afterward established the Whiting Herald, which he conducted until 1889, when he founded the Monona Democrat, now the Onawa Democrat, which he continued to publish to the time of his death and of which his son, Frederick W. Wonder, has since been the editor.
In January, 1871, Mr. Wonder was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Beaman,
her father being John Beaman, formerly an agriculturist of Worthington, Indiana, and later of Mondamin, Iowa. They became the parents of five children, namely: Effie J., who is the wife of S. T. Skidmore, of Whiting, Iowa; Enos Elmer, deceased; Mary Etta, who is the wife of E. L. Hogue, director of the State Budget of Des Moines, Iowa; Stella, who is the wife of the Rev. J. R. Perkins, former state warden and now pastor of the First Congregational church of Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Frederick W., who is mentions at greater length above.
William H. Wonder exerted a marked influence in politics, largely shaping the destinies of the democratic party in Monona county, where he built up a strong political organization. During the four year period between 1893 and 1897 he served as postmaster of Whiting, Iowa, by appointment of President Cleveland. He served as chairman of the democratic county central committee and was its secretary for four years. He held membership in the Christian church and was actively interested in its work. A contemporary biographer characterized him as "a progressive citizen, interested in all that pertains to the welfare and upbuilding of the community and stanchly advocating those measures which are a matter of civic virtue and civic pride."
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