Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


Bonaparte was named after Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous ruler of France during the early 19th century. It seems that the founders of the town had developed a special respect and admiration for the man, and at one time a life-size likeness of Napoleon crossing the Alps stood in the lobby of "The Tavern," hotel on the Des Moines River.

The family of Napoleon Bonaparte may have come from the small Scottish community of Balloch in Perthshire, according to some new research unfolded by historian Robert Torrens.

Torrens believes there was a link between the French emperor and a laborer named William Bayne. The link between this man and Napoleonís grandfather, probably a soldier, appears in Crieff: Traditions and Characters, an old dusty book written in 1881. The story at the time was vouched by several respected figures and the archive highly thought of when it was written.

Laborer Bayne and his family left Balloch shortly after the collapse of the 1745 Jacobite uprising. The story reads: "Having had a strong leaning to the Duke of Perth and Prince Charlie after Ď45, Bayne resolved to seek a home in another land. With this intent he and his family and others set sail. A storm came on and they were driven on to Corsinca, where they were hospitably received. They were known as Bayne or Buon and his party. In course of time, his sons were called Buon-de-party.

His grandson was named Buon-de-parte (or Buonaparte) and now figures in the history of the world as the great Napoleon."

The archives claim is difficult to verify because no descendants of Baynes were left in Balloch. The Perthshire Tourist Board is anxious for this claim to be proved valid, as they are keen to adopt Napoleon as part of the areaís historical attraction once it is substantiated. I wonder if some artist will paint Napoleonís picture wearing a kilt.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick