The Bowens of Tazewell

 

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Captain William Bowen Plantation House
Built around 1787, the Bowen House is truly a Tennessee treasure. Captain William Bowen was awarded land grants for military services during the Revolutionary War. He and his wife, Mary, brought four young children to the frontier, and soon Captain Bowen and Mary had 10 children. Through his hard work and own ambitions, Bowen became prosperous in the new settlement and eventually owned over 4,000 acres. William Bowen died in 1804, and Mary died in 1827. The house was then occupied by their son, William Russell Bowen, until it was sold in 1835.

 

 

Reece Bowen was the brother to my sixth great-grandfather Henry Bowen who married Ann Cunningham.

The following account is from a book called A History of The Middle, New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory by David E. Johnston (1906).

The Bowens, of Tazewell

This family is of Welch extraction, and the immediate ancestors of those that came hither were, long prior to the American Revolution, located and settled about Fredericktown, in western Maryland. Restive in disposition and fond of adventure, like all of their blood, they sought, fairly early after the first while settlements were made in the Valley of Virginia, to look for homes in that direction. How early, or the exact date, that Reece Bowen, the progenitor of the Tazewell family of that name, came in to the Virginia Valley from his western Maryland home, cannot be named with certainty; doubtless he came as early as 1765, for it is known that for a few years prior to 1772, when he located at Maiden Spring, he was living on the Roanoke River, close by where the city of Roanoke is now situated, then in Augusta County, he married Miss Louisa Smith, who proved to him not only a loving and faithful wife, but a great helpmeet in his border life. She was ev idently a woman of more than ordinary intelligence and cultivation for one of her day and opportunity. She was a small, neat and trim woman, weighing only about one hundred pounds, while her husband was a giant in size and strength. It is told as a fact that she could step into her husband’s hand and that he could stand and extend his arm, holding her at right angle to his body.

 

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Maiden Springs

 

Prize fighting was quite common in the early days of the settlements, by which men tested their manhood and prowess. The man who could demolish all who chose to undertake him was the champion, and wore the belt until some man flogged him, and then he had to surrender it. At some period after Reece Bowen had settled on the Roanoke, and after the first child came into the home, Mrs. Bowen desiring to pay a visit to her people in the Valley, she and her babe and husband set out on horse-back along the narrow bridle way that then led through the valley, and on the way they met a man clad in the usual garb of the day-that is, buck-skin trousers, moccasins, and hunting shirt, or wampus. The stranger inquired of Mr. Bowen his name, which he gave him; proposed a fight for the belt. Bowen tried to beg off, stating that he was taking his wife and child, the latter then in his arms, to her people. The man would take no excuse; finally Mrs. Bowen said to her husband; “Reece, give me the child and get down and slap that man’s jaw.” Mr. Bowen alighted from his horse, took the man by the lapel of his hunting shirt, gave him a few quick, heavy jerks, when the man called out to let him go, he had enough.

It is also related of Mr. Bowen, that in a later prize fight, at Maiden Spring, with a celebrated prize fighter who had, with his seconds, come from South Carolina to fight Bowen, and when he reached Bowen’s home and made known to him his business, he, Mr. Bowen, did what he could in an honorable way to excuse himself from engaging in a fight; but the man was persistent and Bowen concluded to accommodate him and sent for his seconds-a Mr. Smith and a Mr. Clendenin. The fight took place and the gentleman form South Carolina came off second best.

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Just when Reece Bowen first saw the territory of what is now Tazewell County cannot be definitely stated. Whether he was one of the large hunting party organized of men from the Virginia Valley, North Carolina and New River, which rendezvoused at Ingle’s Ferry in June, 1769, and hunted on the waters of the Holstein, Powell’s River, Clinch, and in Kentucky, is not known; his name does not appear among the number, but the writer, “Haywood’s Civil and Political History of Tennessee,” does not profess to give all the names of the party. Nevertheless it is highly probable that Bowen was along, or he may have gone out with the party the next year, or he may have met with the Witten’s, and others, on their way out in 1771, and joined them. He seems not to have made his settlement at Maiden Spring until the year of 1772. He went with Captain William Russell’s company to the battle of Point Pleasant, in 1774, leaving home in August of that year, and leaving Daniel Boone in command of that part of the frontier. As already stated in this volume, Boone had been forced to give up his journey to Kentucky in September 1773, on account of the breaking out of the Indian War, and had spent the winter of 1773-4 in the neighborhood of Captain William Russell, near Castleswoods.

Captain Russell’s company belonged to Colonel William Christian’s Fincastle Regiment, the greater part of which did not participate in the battle of Point Pleasant, being in the rear in charge of the pack horses carrying provisions for the army; but Shelby’s and Russell’s companies went forward with the main body and took an active part in the conflict. Moses Bowen a relative of Reece, was with Russell’s company, but died on the journey, from smallpox. (Moses Bowen was Reece’s youngest brother. He died at the age of 20 years old.)

 

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Battle at King’s Mountain

 

From 1774 to 1781, when Reece Bowen marched away to the battle of King’s Mountain, the border on and along the Clinch was harassed by bands of marauding Indians, and in many of the skirmishes and troubles Reece Bowen took a hand. During the period from the date of Bowen’s settlement at Maiden Spring until his death, to procure salt, iron, and other necessary materials he had to travel across the mountains to Salisbury, North Carolina, carrying them on a packhorse, and would be absent for weeks, leaving his wife and children alone. His trips, however, were always made in winter, when there was no danger from the Indians. He left rifle guns and bear dogs at home, and with these his wife felt safe from danger, for she was a good shot with a rifle, often exceeding the men in ordinary rifle practice. Mr. Bowen had selected a lovely country for his home, and around and adjacent thereto, prior to the fall of 1780, had surveyed and secured several thousand acres of that valuable land, of which his descendants today hold about twelve square miles.

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When it was known that Lord Cornwallis’ Army was marching northward through the Carolinas, and that Colonel Ferguson, who commanded the left wing of his Army, had sent a threat to the “Over Mountain Men” that if they did not cross the mountains and take the oath of allegiance to the King, that he would cross over and destroy with fire and sword, Evan Shelby, John Sevier, and William Campbell determined to checkmate Colonel Ferguson by crossing the mountains and destroying him and his army. Colonel Campbell commanded the Washington County Military Force, and William Bowen (William Bowen was the brother of Reese Bowen) a company that belonged to Campbell’s Command, though a part of his company lived on the Montgomery county side of the line. In this company Reece Bowen was a First Lieutenant, his son John a Private, and James Moore a Junior Lieutenant. When the order came for Bowen’s company to join the regiment it found its Captain William Bowen, sick of a fever, and this situation devolved the command of the company upon Lieutenant Reece Bowen, who led it into the battle of King’s mountain, and there, together with several of his men, was killed and buried on the field. His remains were never removed, for the reason that when the opportunity was offered for their removal the spot in which he was buried could not be identified. Campbell’s Regiment lost in this battle 35 killed and wounded; among the killed, other than Lieutenant Reece Bowen, were Captain William Edmondson, Robert Edmondson, Andrew Edmondson, and Henry Henninger from the upper Clinch Waters.

 

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Colonel Henry Bowen, son of Reese Bowen

 

Reece Bowen has in Tazewell County many highly respected, prominent and influential descendants, among them Mr. Reece Bowen, Colonel Thomas P. Bowen and Captain Henry Bowen, all brave and distinguished Confederate Soldiers; the latter, Captain Henry, being frequently honored by his people as a member of the Legislature of Virginia, and a Representative in Congress. The present Mr. Reece Bowen married Miss Mary Crockett, of Wythe; Colonel Thomas P., Miss Augusta Stuart, of Greenbrier, and Captain Henry, Miss Louisa Gillespie, of Tazewell.

 

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Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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Henry Ethan Hitchcock

 

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Henry Ethan Hitchcock

 

 

Henry Ethan Hitchcock was born 1823 in Vermont. He is the son of Alured Hitchcock and Sarah Warner Stevens.

On 2 July 1851 in Galesburg, Illinois, Henry married Margaret Gale. Together they had eight children: Henry Seldon, Margaret, Sarah, George, Louise, Mary, and Martha.

Henry E. Hitchcock passed away on 21 Jan 1907 in Galesburg, Illinois. He grave is at Hope Cemetery in Galesburg.

 

Image Source: Jim Ferris, FindaGrave

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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Girl Gone Missing

 

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Agnes Ellen Gurney, Age 7 years old

 

 

Agnes Ellen Gurney born 12 October 1867 in Pepperell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts to Mary Williams Orcutt and Henry Ebenezer Gurney, went missing in 1880 at the age of 12 years old.

The portrait above was taken about 1874 when Agnes was seven years old before she and her mother (Mary Williams Orcutt) left New England for Iowa.

Luckily, for generations that followed, she wrote down memories from her childhood. In her story, she gives an event by event account of the years leading up to 1880 and the years following with little factual details such as dates and full names.

Her narrative is like reading a trail of breadcrumbs. Feeling very much like Gretel, I follow.

The nagging question I must answer is where was 12 years old Agnes during the 1880 United States Federal Census?

I found her mother in the census living in Charles City, Iowa teaching. She was living alone and suffered from tuberculosis on and off again.

According to Agnes’s account:

“After teaching for several years in Osage, my mother taught in Charles City, Iowa, and I was sent to stay with my mother’s cousin Bina in Indianapolis where I attended school….The next year I went to Charles City to be with Mama.”

From the information above, this is a no-brainer. In Agnes’s story, she states living with Bina and her husband in Indianapolis for a year. Easy, right?

No.

Maybe my dating is off? Agnes mentions only a few dates.

I can place everyone in her family and the people from her narrative in the 1880 US Federal Census. However, Agnes appears to have gone missing.

Here is what I do know:

  • In the Fall of 1876 Agnes and her mother leave Massachusetts for Iowa.
    Her mother worked in Osage, Iowa until about 1879.
  • Agnes’s mother gets a teaching job in Charles City, Iowa and Agnes goes to live with her distant cousin Albina Jenkins Warne for about a year.
  • Agnes returns to her mother in the spring of 1881.
  • Her mother becomes very ill, and they stay in Osage on their way to Stacyville until Mary is strong enough to travel.
  • Mary’s doctor thought she did not have long to live, so Mary arranged for Agnes to be adopted by a local family the Douglasses. I have the adoption document. It is dated 9 May 1881.
  • Mary lives, and in the fall of 1881, they return to New England for a visit along with Mrs. Douglass.
  • Mary did not fare well in New England and quickly returned to Iowa with Agnes.
    They stayed with the Charles Penny family where Mary died 26 December 1881.
  • Sad story, I know.

You may ask, “Did you check all known relatives and friends households in the 1880 Census?”

I can answer “Yes.” I found everyone in Agnes’s life in the census for that year. She is not listed with anyone including her cousin Albina Jenkins Warne with whom she had gone to live. The census date at the residence of Albina was 2 June 1880.

My best guess at this moment is Agnes was in transit to or from Indiana at the time census takers knocked on doors.

Am I satisfied? No. Will I keep looking? You bet.

What kind of mysteries in your ancestral tree is baffling to you? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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The Death of a Kitten

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While reading a book of memories written by Agnes Ellen Gurney Pinkerton (my 2nd great grandmother) I came across a little poem written by her mother’s sister (Mary Williams Orcutt), Aunt Fanny (Francis Ellen Orcutt), as a child.

Fanny had a way with words; one always find her scribbling little sayings or poems.

Apparently, Fanny and her sister Mary (Agnes’s mother) had quite the little pet cemetery.

With each death of a pet or expired animal found, they went through great pomp and circumstance in an attempt at providing a “proper” burial.

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In the pet cemetery, there was an old roof shingle standing up on end marking the grave of a kitten who came to his demise early in life. Attached to the shingle was a piece of paper with a poem written in a child’s hand that acted as the eulogy to the deceased feline.

 

“Cassibianca, here he lies,
With stiffened legs and shut-up eyes.
Ma stepped on him and stopped his breath,
An that is the way he came to his death.”

 

After reading that little poem, I laughed so hard. It is horrible what happened to the little kitten. I could picture in my mind’s eye, two little girls in dressed in outfits typical to the era (abt 1850) standing over a fresh little grave, with serious expressions reading the poem out loud.

This find is a sweet little treasure!

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Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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Lorene Guthrie Funeral Card

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Imer Lorene Guthrie was born 6 Feb 1911 in Dell, Mississippi County, Arkansas. She went by the name of Lorene.

She was the daughter of John Thomas Guthrie and Martha Matilda Morgan.

PhotoELF Edits:
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Lorene passed away on 13 Nov 1989 in Grants Pass, Josephine County, Oregon. Hawthorne Memorial Gardens in Grants Pass is her final resting place.

 

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J. R. Lowe

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A Gold Mine of Information

 

In the world of genealogy, there are many treasure troves of information. Family research is not just about birth and death records. World War I draft registration cards can be a gold mine of information for family tree work.

If you are new to the genealogy world, you may ask, “What are World War I draft registration cards?” Good question.

According to the National Archives, “On May 18, 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed authorizing the President to increase temporarily the military establishment of the United States.”

“The information included on each registration differs somewhat but the general information shown includes order and serial numbers (assigned by the Selective Service System), full name, date and place of birth, race, citizenship, occupation, personal description, and signature.”

To read more about the World War I Draft Registration Cards, click on the link.

Here is my quick list of information found on registration cards:

  1. Where they lived between the 1910 and 1920 US Federal Census years.
  2. The exact date they were born and where.
  3. Tells if they are a US Citizen, natural born or an immigrant.
  4. Their occupation.
  5. Where and whom they work for.
  6. A description of their family.
  7. Their ethnicity.
  8. Their marital status.
  9. Record of any previous military service.
  10. Any physical problems that would exempt them from service.
  11. A physical description.
  12. Their signature.

 

Now, that you can see the awesome of World War I Draft Registration Cards, you may ask where you can find this fantastic database.

Search for FREE here on FamilySearch.

Note: While FamilySearch is free they recently started requiring an account to see search results.

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J. R. Lowe

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Headstone of Albert Dargatz

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Image Source: Findagrave.com

 

Albert Dargatz was born in Germany on 24 Dec 1857. He was the son of Carl Dargatz, Sr. and Johanna Miske.

He married his wife Rosa Peters, who was born in what is now Poland, around the year 1881.

Then in 1893 Albert and his family immigrated to the United States.

By the 1900 US Federal Census, they were living in Buena Park, Orange County, California.

Albert passed away on 16 Jul 1941 in Orange County, California. His grave is located in Anaheim Cemetery in Anaheim, California.

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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