James L. Bonham

From Ohio History Central

During the 1940s and 1950s, James Lane Bonham was a prominent businessman in Newark, Ohio.

Bonham was born on December 13, 1916. During the Great Depression, he operated a grocery store in Newark, but like thousands of businesses across the United States, Bonham's business failed. He then decided to open a candy store in Newark. Established in 1939, the Jim Bonham Candy Company was a distributor of candy to grocery and other types of stores in Newark and surrounding communities.

Unfortunately for Bonham, this business soon faltered, because he was drafted during World War II. He asked his father to continue to run the candy business, while Bonham served as a cook in the United States Army. Despite the father's efforts, the business failed.

After receiving a medical discharge from the U.S. Army for a head injury, Bonham returned to Newark. While serving in the military, Bonham had married, and he now was faced with having to provide for his bride and two daughters, who were born to the young couple soon after World War II. Bonham reestablished the Jim Bonham Candy Company in Newark. For the first several years, Bonham operated the business out of his father's garage and then out of the basement of his own home. In 1954, Bonham purchased the former Diebold Bakery in Newark. After refurbishing the building to meet his needs, the Jim Bonham Candy Company opened its doors in this structure.

Bonham traveled across Newark and much of East Central Ohio, providing various stores with candy. His wife and daughters worked at the company's main office in Newark, keeping Bonham's truck stocked with candy and also operating a candy store. A devout Christian, Bonham refused to sell tobacco products, while most other candy stores, at this time, did.

Bonham died on August 25, 1961. His wife sold the company, although Bonham's legacy survives in Newark. His company, now owned by people not directly related to him, continues to exist. It is currently known as the Bonham Candy and Tobacco Company.

See Also


  1. Ricketts, Lindra. Interview with James Lane Bonham's Daughter. December 31, 2007.