From Biographical and Historical Record of Adams and Wells Counties , Indiana ; The Lewis Publishing Co; Chicago, 1887.
JOHN A. FONNER, farmer, sections 27 and 28, Root Township, owns 210 acres of land in one body. He came to this county in 1841, with his parents, two brothers and five sisters, and one sister was born after coming. They settled in the woods, which were full of game of all kinds, and the river was full of fish. The first school Mr. Fonner attended in this county was held in a blacksmith shop. It was built of round logs and stood at Monmouth. The shop was filled with puncheon seats, and writing-desks were put around the wall. Mr. Fonner thinks there was no floor in the house either before or after it was converted into a schoolhouse. This was his first introduction to an Indiana school room. It was a subscription school.
Mr. Fonner was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1826. He lived in his native county until he was six years of age, when his family removed to Athens County, Ohio, settling upon an improved farm, which belonged to the Ohio University , which his father bought. When he was fourteen years old his father sold the land, leaving it in the fall of 1840. The father would not leave the State until he had voted for General Harrison for President. He had formerly been a Democrat, but having been a soldier under General Harrison he wished to vote for him for President, and he was a Whig ever after. The family spent the winter in Troy, Miami County, where corn was 12 1/2 cents a bushel. Provisions both for man and beast were very cheap. But when they came to Indiana they found corn was from 75 cents to $1.00 per bushel. They had five horses and several cows and young cattle, and they spent the winter, previous to coming here, in Ohio, because they could winter their stock so much cheaper in that State.
Mr. Fonner's parents were John and Mary (Crouse) Fonner. The father was born in New Jersey in 1788, and died in September, 1852. The mother was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1799, and died in 1854. Both were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. The father is buried in Alpha cemetery and the mother in Monmouth Cemetery. The mother was a noble Christian woman, and had a great love for her family. Her education was superior for that day, and she was a teacher by profession.
Mr. Fonner, our subject, was married January 9, 1856, to Miss Elizabeth Pillars, who was born and reared in Adams County. Her father, Benjamin Pillers, was born in Pennsylvania in 1816, and her mother, Sarah A. (Rice) Pillers, in Culpepper County, Virginia, May 27, 1815. Her family came here in 1839 and settled in Root Township, on Section 14, which was then a wilderness. The farm is now owned by F. Kukelham. The father built a sawmill on the stream called "Seventeen-Mile-Creek," which ran through his farm. There was an Indian trail through the farm, and the nearest neighbor was Jonas Pence, on the farm now owned and occupied by the subject of this sketch. They had to go to Fort Wayne for their milling.
There were five children in her father's family, and all are living but one, Nancy Heartless (sic), who died in Root Township a short time since. The others all live in the same township. Mr. and Mrs. Fonner have five children - Edith May, born September 18, 1858, wife of J. Robert Christen; Sarah A., born February 12, 1862, wife of A. J. Smith; Mary A., born July 27, 1864, living at home; Nellie E., born December 7, 1866; John H., born July 10, 1872.
Mr. and Mrs. Fonner are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and Mr. Fonner votes the Republican ticket. His grandfather, John Fonner, was probably born in New Jersey, and died in Pennsylvania. He has no knowledge of his grandmother Fonner. His maternal grandfather, John Crouse, was born in Pennsylvania , and died in Missouri. He knows nothing of his maternal grandmother. Mrs. Fonner's grandfather, William Pillers, was born in Pennsylvania and died in this county. Her grandmother, Mary (Baxter) Pillers, died in this county, and both are buried in Alpha cemetery.