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A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. By E. Polk Johnson, Volume III. Illustrated. Publishers: The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago-New York, 1912.
WILLIAM M. BINGHAM is a substantial citizen of Pineville, Bell county, formerly engaged in general merchandise and the drug business and now living in semi-retirement, although actively interested in the prosperity and welfare of the community. Prominent among those circumstances entitling him to particular honor among his fellow citizens is the fact that he is a veteran of the Civil war, he having been lieutenant of Company F, Forty-ninth Kentucky Infantry, during the great conflict whose semi-centennial is at hand, his sympathies being enlisted with the cause of the Union.
Mr. Bingham was born on Straight creek in Harland county, now Bell county, Kentucky, July 15, 1834. He is the son of Joshua and Mary (DePriest) Bingham, the former of whom was born in Albemarle county, Virginia and died in 1853 at the age of fifty-five years. His wife was likewise a native of Virginia and died in 1871, at the age of seventy-eight years. They reared a family of typical pioneer proportions, twelve sons and daughters finding a haven beneath their roof-tree, and of this good number Mr. Bingham is the only one who survives at the present day. Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Bingham came to Kentucky from the Old Dominion in 1811 and located on Straight creek, their homestead there being the scene of the subject’s birth, as before noted. The father bought rough timber land and cleared a patch upon which to pursue farming operations of a modest character. With so many mouths to feed the circumstances of the family could by no means be considered as affluent. The father served as a soldier in the war of 1812, but took no part in politics, although he was a Whig and interested in current issues. The family was divided as to religious conviction, the father being a member of the Baptist church and the mother of the Methodist, and their two eldest sons were ministers, one Baptist and the other Methodist. Mr. Bingham’s paternal grandparents were John and Deborah (Phipps) Bingham and the maternal were Robert and Martha (Taylor) DePriest. Robert DePriest was a Revolutionary soldier from Virginia and served for seven years and eight days in that war for independence.
Mr. Bingham was reared on the homestead farm on Straight creek and received a limited education, the same being gleaned in the pay schools of that day. He was a young man when the Civil war broke out and on July 10, 1863, he enlisted in the Forty-ninth Kentucky Infantry and continued in service until about three months before the close of the war. He was made second lieutenant and was eventually promoted to first lieutenant and he saw much hard service. At the conclusion of his military career, Mr. Bingham returned to the farm, where he remained until 1868, engaged in the great basic industry, and in the year mentioned he came to Pineville. At that time Pineville boasted of one store and a couple of families, but in this rather unpromising field he started a general merchandise business, which he conducted successfully for twenty-one years, his trade increasing with the growth of the town. In 1889 Mr. Bingham sold out and during the year 1890 lived retired from active business, but in 1890 he again entered the world of affairs as the proprietor of a drug store. He continued this successfully for nearly twenty years, and in November, 1910, he sold to his son and is now living retired, enjoying the leisure the fruits of his previous years of industry and secure in the possession of a wide circle of friends. In addition to his mercantile interests Mr. Bingham was for six years financially identified with the Pineville Banking Company and for nine years he gave faithful and efficient service in the capacity of postmaster, serving eight years under President Harrison and one year under President Cleveland.
As one of Pineville’s first merchants Mr. Bingham encountered his share of difficulties, and one of the greatest of these was the conveyance of his merchandise for eighteen years finding it necessary to haul his goods over awful roads from Mount Vernon, a distance of seventy-five miles, and the round trip taking seven or eight days. For a number of years he hauled the various commodities which made up his stock from Livingston to Pineville, which was a distance of fifty-seven and one-half miles. Thus he has known strenuous days and can recount many interesting experiences, which are more agreeable in the recounting than when they actually occurred. He is one of the most public-spirited of men and ever stands ready to give hand and heart to any measure likely to prove of benefit to society at large. He is the champion of good education and assisted materially in the building of the present school and he has always stood for more and better improvements.
Mr. Bingham passed his golden wedding anniversary five years ago, a most happy and devoted life companionship having been inaugurated when on December 11, 1855, he was united in marriage to America Lane, who was born in Knox, now Bell county, Kentucky. Mr. and Mrs. Bingham became the parents of seven children, six of the number being alive at the present day. Sarah E. is the wife of Judge M. J. Moss, of Pineville, Kentucky; Virginia is the wife of D. C. Burchfield, of Pineville; J. S. is a physician practicing at Pineville; Dora is the widow of W. B. King, of this place; Lucy is the wife of D. T. Chelp, of Comanche, Oklahoma; and Amanda is the wife of H. A. Brookins, of Pineville. Another daughter, Mary, died in infancy.