Connie Swander of Swan Memorials presents Ray Bonar of Convoy, Ireland with a plaque celebrating the relationship between the only two villages named Convoy in the world. Bonar traveled to Convoy, Ohio for the rededication of founder Robert Nesbit’s monument. (Times Bulletin/Kirk Dougal)
BY KIRK DOUGAL
Times Bulletin Editor
CONVOY - A local village's history was remembered on Sunday, all while expanding international relations.
In the late 1830's, Robert Nesbit purchased 120 acres in the western part of Van Wert County and in 1854, plotted a village on some of the ground. He named it after his home town of Convoy, or Conmhaigh in Gaelic, which is in County Donegal, Ireland. He lived just outside of the town, serving as a Justice of the Peace and a farmer. Nesbit is now buried in Sugar Ridge Cemetery.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago and enter a man named Ray Bonar. Bonar was born in the Irish Convoy, starting his career in the Irish Air Corps where he spent 20 years focusing on Communications, Air Traffic Control, Air Operations and Training and Development. After he left the service he continued to work in personnel issues, eventually managing a health provider company.
Bonar always had an interest local history but that took a worldwide turn after visiting his son who was working in Chicago. While he was there he noticed that the only other Convoy in the world was only a three-hour drive away. Bonar and his family packed up and down they came to visit.
When they arrived, however, he was afraid Convoy had been deserted. It was the first week in September and the Van Wert County Fair was going on, leaving the village streets very empty. After being assured that Convoy was still inhabited, Bonar and his family made their way out to Sugar Ridge Cemetery to see Nesbitt's grave.
Unfortunately, the grave was a mess.
The top of the six-foot tall headstone had broken off at some point and enough field dust and grime had built up over the surface the words were no longer legible.
Bonar was able to get in touch with Joe Steffan of the Van Wert County Historical Society and before long a whole group of people had become involved with seeing the monument restored to its former glory. Vickie Saylor of the Village of Convoy was particularly key in the restoration.
On Sunday, Bonar and his family visited Convoy again, this time for the rededication and unveiling of the restored Nesbit tombstone. Swan Memorials not only restored the monument, they also created a marker which told the story of Nesbit and the creation of Convoy, Ohio.
Saylor presented a letter to Bonar for the Irish Convoy while he presented a certificate from them to the local village council as well as replica Coat of Arms for all those individuals, businesses and groups involved with the restoration.
"I wish everyone in this community many happy years ahead," said Bonar. "Hopefully I will make return visits to keep the culture and even the physical connection between the two Convoys."
(To watch some of the rededication ceremony and a short interview with Ray Bonar, please go to www.timesbulletin.com and click on this headline or go to the Video section.)