History of Virginia - Robert Bunts III

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Robert Bunts, III

ROBERT BUNTS III, now generally known as Robert Bunts, Jr., president of the Pulaski Foundry Manufacturing Corporation, vice president of the Peoples National Bank of Pulaski, vice, president of The High Carbon Coal Company, and senior member of the Robert Bunts Engineering Company, is one of the substantial business men and public-spirited citizens of Pulaski County, whose standing is a high and unquestioned one.

He was born on a, farm near Max Meadows, Virginia, September 22, 1874, the son of John Mathas Bunts, whose grandfather immigrated from Germany and established leis residence near Wytheville, Virginia, about 1804.

John Mathas Bunts was born near Wytheville, Wythe County, Virginia, January 16, 1829, and died on his farm five miles south of Max Meadows November 27, 1899. He was reared and educated in Wythe, County, receiving the equivalent of a college educator under private tutors, and began teaching iii private schools at the age of eighteen years. Subsequently he was principal of various public schools in Wythe and adjoining counties, continuing in tire educational field for half a century, :End becoming one of the best known educators in Southwest Virginia. In addition to this important work lie was also a, land surveyor, and in this capacity did much of the early engineering work in Wythe County. He also was elected and served as a justice of the peace for more than thirty years, and held the distinction of never having one of his decisions reversed by a higher court. He was a. stanch democrat and took a very active part in promoting the principles of his party. For many years he was a sincere member and loyal worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Enlisting in the Confederate Army at the beginning of the war, he continued to serve in it until the close of hostilities, during this time being a member of the Fifty first Virginia Infantry.

He married first Miss Matilda Jane Aker, who was born in Wythe County and died a few years after marriage. They had three children, namely: Mary Rosena, who married James Atkins; Nannie Jane, who married James Armbrister; and John Samuel, who (died in infancy. After the death of his first wife John M. Bunts married Miss Lucinda Elizabeth Carnal in 1873. She was born in Granville County, North Carolina, September 7, 1854, and died in a hospital at Roanoke, Virginia, May 8, 1918, although at the time she was a resident of the old homestead. To this union there were born the following children, namely: Robert, who was the oldest; Henry Clay Neal, who is superintendent of the General Chemical Company's shops at Pulaski; Moses Tycurgus, who is general foundry foreman of the Mathieson Alkali Works of Saltville, Virginia; Walton Mathas, who is clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and a member of the Holston Conference; James Erastus, who is general foreman of the General Chemical Company's shops at Pulaski, Virginia; Richard Sanders, who is a traveling salesman residing at Pulaski; Margaret Lucretia, who died in 1921, and Clarence, who died in infancy.

Although he attended the public schools of Wythe County, Virginia, Robert Bunts III is largely selfeducated. At the age of eighteen years he left the farm and went to Ivanhoe, Virginia, where he took up foundry and general manufacturing work. After serving a four years' apprenticeship there he then entered the employ of the Mathieson Alkali Works at Saltville, Virginia, and in the meantime he took up a correspondence school course in mechanical engineering with the International Correspondence School of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to which he devoted much of his spare time for several years following. He remained with the Mathieson Alkali Works in its various mechanical departments from 1895 to 1900, when he came to Pulaski and became master mechanic of the shops of the Virginia Iron, Coal & Coke Company, continuing with them until 1906, when he went with the Alabama Consolidated Coal & Iron Company at Ironton, Alabama, being chief engineer for that company's blast furnaces and mines for two years.

In 1908 Mr. Bunts returned to Pulaski and organized the company and built die plant of the Pulaski Foundry & Machine Company, continuing its vice president and general manager until 1916, when it was sold to the General Chemical Company. Mr. Bunts then organized the Pulaski Foundry & Manufacturing Corporation and has since continued its president and general manager. The plant is located at the corner of Commerce and Bertha streets, Pulaski, on the site of the plant of the old Bertha Zinc Company, being one of the most modern and best equipped plants in the South, employing several hundred men.

The corporation manufactures blast furnaces, steelmill and mining machinery, and ships its products all over the United States and into several foreign countries.

During Mr. Bunts' career as an engineer and manufacturer he has invented and perfected a great many machines and devices which have proven very valuable in the coal and iron industries, especially in the Southern fields, and in December, 1917, perfected the equipment and successfully manufactured the first steel castings ever made south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He owns a very fine residence at the corner of Sixth Street and Madison Avenue, North, in addition to other valuable property in the town. He is an uncompromising democrat, and a loyal and sincere mem- ber of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and has been one of its stewards for over twenty years. Well known in Masonry, he belongs to Pythagoras Lodge No. 239, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of Pulaski; Pulaski Chapter No. 39, Royal Arch Masons; Lynn Commandery No. 9, Knights Templar, of Marion, Virginia; and Kazim Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Roanoke, Virginia. He is also a member of Pulaski Lodge No. 1067, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is president of the Kiwanis Club of Pulaski.

On June 23, 1899, Mr. Bunts married at Bristol, Tennessee, Miss Susie Ward, who was born September 15, 1878, a daughter of James R. and Lucinda Caroline (Hollinsworth) Ward, of Wythe County, Virginia. Mrs. Ward died near Max Meadows, Wythe County, in 1922, but Mr. Ward survives and is living on his home farm near Max Meadows. Mr. and Mrs. Bunts became the parents of six Children: John Luther, who was born June 14, 1901, resides with his parents, is associated with his father in business, and during the World war, being then a student of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, was a member of the Students' Army Training Camp there; Clara Mae, born October 11, 1902, who resides at home, is a student of Martha Washington College, Abingdon, Virginia; Robert Landis, who was born July 31, 1906, is a student of William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia; Claude Tilden, who was born March 2, 1910; Virginia Wilson, who was born August 7, 1914; and Elsie Ruth, who was born September 1, 1916, all of whom are now living.