As a father, Eli Bush V and his wife, Lisa, decided to research his family history. They had no idea how deep his roots would run in Marion.
Eli Bush V grew up in Marion, surrounded by his mother’s large Irish Catholic family, the Moloneys. However, the Bush family was small. Bush only has a few memories of his grandfather, Eli Bush III, who was a local realtor and owned a body shop in Cardington. His grandfather moved to Florida when Bush V was 12. A family estrangement ended all contact.
Bush’s father, Eli Bush IV, loved working on cars with his son. However, Bush IV died at age 44 from heart disease. Bush V was only 21 when he lost his father.
“Because my father died young, I felt like there was a lot that was lost,” Bush V said. “Being a man, it was important to say: this was my father’s heritage, his ideas, his faith. Everyone starts to think about heritage as they get older and what they will leave behind.”
As a young man, Bush couldn’t wait to get out of Marion and wanted to go see the world. He graduated from Harding High School and Wittenberg University. Bush served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division for seven years. He was stationed in Colorado, Germany, and Korea and traveled extensively.
“Growing up in Marion in the 1970s, I wanted to get out of Marion,” stated Bush V. “When you travel and come back home, you realize what good things are here. You value the qualities you overlooked as a kid.”
Lisa Bush loves raising their daughters in Marion and seeing them involved in activities at Grant, Harding, and Marion Technical College.
“We realized the value of a small community like Marion and how great it is to raise a family,” said Lisa Bush.
Lisa Bush decided to research the Bush family tree. The Marion Star offered a rich window into the Bush history and provided some surprising findings.
The first Eli Elmore Bush lived in Pennsylvania. Eli Bush II moved to Marion in the late 1800s and became a major real estate developer through the 1920s. He developed Avondale and Kensington additions, among others.
“We had no idea when we bought our first house in Kensington Place that Eli’s great-grandfather developed that neighborhood!” Lisa Bush exclaimed.
Eli Bush II and his wife, Margaret, bought Cherry Hill Farms at 1148 E. Center Street in 1884. Their home next to the Women’s Club Home was noted for its orchards.
Bush II subdivided the land into lots for development, adding True Avenue, named for Bush’s business partner, banker Henry True, one of the founders of Marion. Bush II extended Wilson Avenue to Madison Avenue. Franconia Avenue was named for the region of Bavaria where the Bush family originated.
Bush II’s oldest son, Edson Bush, established and served as president of the Marion County Bank. Bush II’s grandson, Sonny Copeland, was manager of the True Estate and a motorcycle enthusiast. Eli Bush III, IV, and V all loved cars and motorcycles.
“I didn’t personally know my ancestors, but their values and investment in Marion were deposited along the way. They contributed to this community through church, work, and raising children,” said Eli Bush V. “As I spend time here, I feel like we are connected to what my family valued in the past and are making sure it continues into the future.”
Bush believes Marion is a treasure. “Marion has an outsized impact for a town this size. From the people and ideas that have come out of it, to the business, industry, and resources like the Palace Theatre,” Bush said.
“It truly is amazing, how connected one can become to a city,” said Bush. “You don’t have to move away to create a life and pass on a legacy here in Marion. If you really open your heart, you may find something broader and deeper than what’s on the surface.”