DIEL and ELIZABETH BAUER
Diel Bauer was born in Germany and immigrated to America around 1750.
Dielman, born 1744.
Dietrich, born April 4, 1749.
Maria Sophia, born April 24, 1750. Married Frederick Paul.
Elizabeth, born Dec. 7, 1751. Married Valentine Metz.
John, born April 6, 1753.
Margaret. Married George Peter Gauff.
Barbara. Married Conrad Kocher.
Eve, born Dec. 6, 1762. Married William Freeman.
Catherine. Married Abraham Shupp.
Diel’s parents are unknown. The name “Diel” is very unusual and may indicate a place of origin. It is a shortened form of the name “Dietrich” that usually appears in Hesse. According to information supplied to the Daughters of the American Revolution, Diel may have been born in 1718 or 1719 in either Hesse-Kassel or Hesse-Darmstadt in Germany. However, this file is riddled with errors and cannot be trusted in the least. (2)
His name is often spelled Dill, Diehl or Thill in records. Bauer is often anglicized to Bower in civil records, but records from German-language churches always spell the name Bauer.
It is possible that Diel immigrated to America with his mother and stepfather. The will of Johann Nicklas Schmith (Schmitt) of Lowhill Township, Northampton County, Pa., refers to “my son Johan Thill Bauher.” Past researchers believed that this indicated Diel was this man’s son-in-law. However, genealogists consulted in Germany believe this indicates Diel was his stepson. Also, other married daughters are listed under their own names and not under husbands’. If this is the case, Diel’s mother was probably Maria Margareta Schmidt, who had remarried after Diel’s father died. The order of the names may also indicate that Diel’s sisters were Anna Barbara Meiher, Anna Elisabeth Wick and Elisabeth Wieder, since their names follow his. It is possible that Diel’s immigration records are under the name of Schmitt. (3)
It is uncertain exactly when the Bauer family came to America, but Diel was naturalized in Philadelphia on April 10, 1760. His name appears in “Pennsylvania Archives” under the act of parliament calling for the
naturalization of foreigners “having inhabited and resided the space of seven years and upwards in his Majesty’s Colonies in America.” (4)
Diel first shows up in what is now Montgomery County, Pa., in 1750.
A notice printed in a German-language newspaper on Aug. 18, 1750 says Diel lived on land at Falckner Swamp in what was then Philadelphia County. He also appears as the father of Maria Sophia Baur, who was baptized Oct. 14, 1750, at Falkner Swamp Reformed Church in New Hanover Township. (5)
Sometime before 1752, Diel moved to Northampton County. He was among the early settlers of the area, which had only recently been “purchased” from the Indians. In the 1700s, Germans constituted about 90 percent of the county’s population. (6)
Diel first appears in Northampton County records on Dec. 5, 1752. The business transaction is among the first in the history of the county, which was separated from Bucks County in 1752. It is recorded in Deed Book A-1, page 5.
The book “A Frontier Village” mentions the transaction, which followed attempts by John Weidman to build a grist mill on Lefevre Creek. “Weidman did not have sufficient funds with which to complete the mill, so he borrowed about 46 pounds from John Lefevre and Dill Bower. To secure the payment of this obligation Weidman, on December 5th, 1752, gave a mortgage on his property, including the mill, to Lefevre and Bower. In this mortgage, it is stated that John Weidman was a millwright, Dill Bower a smith, and John Lefevre an innholder, and that all three were residents of the ‘Forks of the Delaware’, the name by which Forks Township was then known.” (7)
The fact that Diel had enough spare money to make a loan indicates he was relatively prosperous for that time and place.
In 1753, the baptism of his son John is recorded at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Upper Saucon Township, in what is now Lehigh County. However, the family may not have lived near there because they were never listed as communicants at that church.
On Sept. 3, 1757, an advertisement in a German newspaper reported that Diel Bower had taken possession of land left by Georg Ewy in Bethel Township, Northampton County. (8)
Sometime before 1761, Diel settled in Plainfield Township. He lived there until his death. (9) During this time, he appears several times in the records of the Northampton County Orphan’s Court. In 1763 and 1767, he served on panels reporting on the estates of deceased residents of the township. In 1778, he is listed as “next friend” when Christian Stout was appointed guardian of two children of Joseph Stout. (10)
Diel is listed as a farmer in Plainfield in 1772. (11) However, Diel seems to have retired from farming in 1772, when he sold his farm to his son Dietrich. (12)
In payment, Diel received 250 pounds, some living space on the farm, a small garden and annual allotments of produce, meat and “when the orchard Hits well a Barrell of syder.” Dietrich – listed as “Richard Bauer,” a mistake that was cleared up in a later deed – received 127 acres of land as well as “four cows, four heifers, five sheep, five lambs, two horses of three years, a saddle, all our Utensills of Husbandry to wit a Harrow & Plough with their irons, also two sows & a Barrow Hog.” Dietrich also received a farm hand to help, as the deed states: “I give to my son Richard Bauer two years Servitude more or less of his Brother John Bauer, which is to be compleated & Ended when my said son John arrives to the full age of Twentyone years old and not Before.”
During the Revolution, Diel’s sons served in the Northampton County militia. His DAR file says he swore an oath of allegiance to the Colonies; however, his name could easily be mistaken for that of a Dielman Bauer, whom I will discuss later. (13)
Diel died sometime before Aug. 15, 1796, when portions of his land were sold by his heirs.
(1) Names come from Northampton County Deed Book A-4, page 35. Birth date for Dietrich comes from “Burial Record of the Old Cemetery of St. Peter’s Church of Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa.,” page 10. Eve and Elizabeth’s are on page 6. Sophia’s comes from “Church Records of the Falkner Swamp Reformed Church,” page 3. John’s birth date is listed in “St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church,” page 10. There is no documentary evidence that indicates Dielman – or Tillman as he was later known – was actually a son of Diel. However, the similarity of the very rare names, the links in later baptismal records and the places of residence point toward the link. Family tradition also makes the link, but one must be wary of such information. (2) The information on the name “Diel” comes from “Deutsches Namen Lexicon,” by Hans Bahlow. The DAR information comes from Diel’s file and that of his son John at the national headquarters in Washington. D.C. The DAR’s link to Hesse comes from a Miss Julia R. Mitchell, who lived at 83 Ellis Ave., Chicago in 1936. It is difficult to say how reliable this information is without any further details. (3) Northampton County Will File 135. (4) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 2, Vol. II, page 402. (5) Newspaper listing – originally from Christopher Sower’s Pennsylvanische Geschicht-Schreiber of Germantown – appears in “Genealogical Data Relating to the German Settlers of Pennsylvania and Adjacent Territory,” page 21. The baptismal information comes from “Church Records of the Falkner Swamp Reformed Church,” page 3. (6) Note on Germans from “Some of the First Settlers of The Forks of the Delaware and Their Descendants,” by the Rev. Henry M. Kieffer, 1902, page 5. (7) “A Frontier Village,” page 64. (8) “Genealogical Data Relating to the German Settlers,” page 64. (9) “Northampton County Tax List for the Year 1761,” page 73A. Northampton County Deed Book A-4, page 35. (10) “Genealogical Abstracts of Orphan’s Court Records Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Vols A-E, 1752-1795,” by Candace E. Anderson, pages 31, 49 and 98. (11) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. XIX, pages 62. (12) Northampton County Deed Book C-2, page 223. (13) DAR file.
DIETRICH and CATHARINE BAUER
Dietrich Bauer was born April 4, 1749, to Diel and Elizabeth Bauer. His place of birth is uncertain. (1)
Married Catharine Elisabeth, who was born Dec. 21, 1744. (2)
John Jacob, born Jan. 11, 1777.
Abraham, born Nov. 28, 1778.
Elizabeth, born Oct. 1, 1780. Married Peter Frutchy.
Abraham, born Feb. 11, 1783.
Frederick, born July 5, 1785.
George, born March 16, 1788.
Catharine. Married Philip Sheerman.
Presumably the earlier Abraham died before 1783, and George died before 1818 because he isn’t listed in Dietrich’s will, which was drawn up in that year.
In 1772, Dietrich appeared on tax lists among the single men in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa. (4)
Also in 1772, Dietrich acquired his father’s farm in return for 250 pounds, annual payments in produce and a place for his parents to live. In 1789 and 1794, Dietrich acquired additional adjoining property from George and Elizabeth Pfeiffer. (5)
The Bauers worshiped at the German Reformed Church in Plainfield, where their children were baptized. Dietrich served as a deacon there in 1793 and as an elder in 1783 and 1794. In 1805, he contributed 3 pounds,7 shillings and 6 pence to the construction of the congregation’s second building. Only six people contributed more. (6)
Dietrich appears to have been respected by his neighbors. Dietrich served as the executor of the estate of George Pfeiffer – perhaps the son of the George Pfeiffer from whom he purchased property – in 1800 and guardian of his daughter when his wife, Catharine, died a year later. In addition to his services, for the Pfeiffer family, he was appointed one of the guardians for the children of Jacob Engler in 1778 and the guardian of the children of Joseph Stout in the 1790s. He also served on panels auditing or reporting on several estates of people from Plainfield Township. (7)
During the Revolutionary War, Dietrich was active in the Northampton County Militia. (8) From 1777 to 1780, he served as a sergeant in the 6th Company of the 5th Battalion. In May 1780, Dietrich was selected to be a lieutenant under Capt. Lewis Stacher’s 6th Company, 2nd Battalion. Although the company’s numerical designation changed several times, Dietrich served under Stacher throughout the war. The company mustered on May 16, 1780, April 10, 1781, July 1781 and April 18, 1782. Selection as a militia officer is another measure of Dietrich’s standing the community since officers were elected.
On May 28, 1782, the militia company was called to active duty “in the service of the United States on the frontiers of said county for two months service” – although on this occasion he served in Capt. Jacob Heller’s 3rd Class of the 2nd Battalion (which was actually under the command of Capt. Abraham Horn, who served in place of Heller). Dietrich served as lieutenant for 60 days, 37 of them on the frontier.
Service on the frontier generally consisted of patrolling to reduce the risk of attack by Native Americans. Aside from several attacks by Indians who supported the British, no major battles were fought in Northampton County. However, Easton was a strategic crossroads and Continental troops often passed through the area en route to campaigns in New Jersey and other areas. Following several battles in other areas, the wounded soldiers were treated in Easton. (9)
State records also list Dietrich as a private on the rolls of those receiving depreciation pay following the war. This pay was in the from of certificates designed to offset the depreciation suffered by U.S. currency during the war. It’s uncertain why he would have been listed as a private since I have not uncovered any records of service at that rank.
Dietrich continued his militia service after the war ended. (10) He served as a private in the 7th Company of the 6th Battalion of the county militia, which mustered on May 10, 1784. Two other records in the Pennsylvania State Archives indicate active service. They are dated Jan. 31, 1786 and Jan. 17, 1787, but more research is needed to determine whether they indicate additional active duty or refer to his service on the frontiers in 1782.
During this time, Dietrich worked a farm in Plainfield Township. Tax records for 1779 indicate Dietrich owned 160 acres in Plainfield Township. In 1785 tax records for Plainfield Township, Dietrich is recorded as owning 100 acres of land, two horses and three cows, which was about average for that township. (11)
Dietrich is sometimes referred to as Dieter and one property record refers to him as “Richard Bauer,” the English equivalent of the name.
Catharine died July 7, 1818. Dietrich died April 1, 1826. They are buried across the road from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Plainfield, south of Wind Gap. (12)
(1) Date of birth comes from “Burial Record of the Old Cemetery of St. Peter’s Church of Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa.,” page 10. Father’s name comes from Northampton County Deed Book A-4, page 35, and Deed Book C-2, page 223. (2) Date of birth comes from St. Peter’s burial record, page 10. She is also named in Dietrich’s will, Northampton County Will Book 4, page 120. It is possible that Catharine’s last name was Hann because the Bauers’ are buried beside many Hanns and Frederick Hann was as sponsor at Frederick Bauer’s baptism, usually an indication of relationship. Another possibility is Pfeiffer because Dietrich seems to have had an extremely close relationship with two generations of George Pfeiffers, appearing with them in land records, a will and Orphans Court records. (3) “Church Record of the Plainfield Reformed Church, Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa. Vol. I.” Catharine and the husbands of the daughters are named in Dietrich’s will. (4) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. XIX, page 64. (5) Transfer from Diel Bauer is in Northampton County Deed Book C-2, page 223. Pfeiffer deeds are in Deed Book C-2, pages 225 and 225. (6) Church information comes from the Plainfield church record book, “First Settlers of the Forks,” pages 401 and 402, and “History of the Plainfield Reformed Church,” page 9. (7) “Genealogical Abstracts of Orphan’s Court Records Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Vols. A-E, 1752-1795,” pages 93, 122, 181, 206 and 221. Also, “Genealogical Abstracts of Orphan’s Court Records, Northampton County, Pennsylvania Volumes. 6-8 1795-1815,” by Candace E. Anderson, pages 98 and 305. (8) The service as sergeant is listed in militia records available through the Pennsylvania State Archives Web site at www.phmc.state.pa.us. The following militia listings are in “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 5, Vol. VIII: election, page 565; muster on May 16, 1780, page 122; April 10, 1781, page 138; July 1781, page 147; April 18, 1782, page 173 and 175; service on the frontiers, page 183. Listing as private due depreciation pay is in “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 5, Vol. IV, page 313. (9) “History of the Lehigh Valley,” page 110. (10) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 6, Vol. III, page 816. The two references to active duty are for Dieter Bower and Detrick Bower of the Northampton County militia, as listed on the Pennsylvania State Archives Web site at www.phmc.state.pa.us. (11) 1779 tax lists are in “Tax Lists in the Northampton County Court House 1774-1806,” page 144. 1785 lists are in”Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. XIX, page 152. Records for 1786, page 265, show the same except he had two cows and those for 1788, page 380, show the same except he had four cows. (12) St. Peter’s burial record, page 10.
JACOB and ANNA BAUER
John Jacob Bauer was born Jan. 11, 1777 in Northampton County, Pa., to Dietrich and Catharine Elisabeth Bauer. (1)
Married Anna Hess. (See below.)
Catharine, born Aug. 12, 1802.
Jacob, born April 20, 1804.
Thomas, born Aug. 19, 1806.
Marianne, born Dec. 15, 1809. Married a man with the last name Walter, possibly Daniel.
Margaret, born June 7, 1813 or Jan. 11, 1813.
Elisabeth, born Feb. 4, 1819. Married Charles Reeser.
John Dietrich, born Oct. 12, 1823, and died Sept. 5, 1825.
Tobias, probably born June 13, 1816, and died Dec. 12, 1836 of consumption.
Anna Hess was born Dec. 6, 1783 in Northampton County to Jeremiah and Elisabeth Hess. (3) According to a manuscript at the Wyoming Valley Historical Society, Anna and Jacob were married Nov. 2, 1801. Records from the church where the Hesses worshipped say an Anna Hess married someone with the first name of Jacob on Nov. 21, 1801. This may be the record of the Bauers’ wedding. The man’s last name was omitted in the transcript, probably because it was unreadable in the original document. (4)
The family lived in Forks Township in Northampton County. (5) The Bauers worshiped at the German Reformed church in Plainfield, where Jacob and Anna had most of their children baptized and where Jacob is listed among contributors to a renovation of the church in 1805. (6) They begin appearing in Lutheran records in Easton and Forks Township in the 1810s, and probably worshiped in Lutheran churches after that.
Jacob died Jan. 7, 1825. (7)
After Jacob’s death, his brother Abraham Bauer of Plainfield Township was appointed guardian of Margaret, Tobias, Elizabeth and Sarah, who were listed as being younger than 14 years old. (8)
Nancy is listed as living with her son Jacob in Forks Township in the1850 Census. She died March 21, 1857. The Bauers are buried at Arndt’s Lutheran Church in Forks Township, just north of Easton. (9)
(1) “Church Record of the Plainfield Reformed Church, Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa. Vol. I,” page 12. Dietrich’s will, Northampton County Will Book 4, page 120. Two Jacobs appear in Northampton County records at this time: the Jacob in whom we are interested and a Jacob in Moore Township, who was married to a woman name Gertraud. Information on this family can be found in “Bauer Family History,” compiled by Andrew and Marguerite Swagler Bauer, a copy of which is in the Easton Public Library. (2) Most are in “Plainfield Reformed Church.” Elisabeth’s birth is recorded in “Church Record of Salem Union Church in Forks Township, Northampton County.” The births of Margaret and John Dietrich are recorded a St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Easton. Margaret’s birth, but no baptism, is also recorded in the Plainfield record; also, the dates of birth conflict. The others are listed in Northampton County Orphan’s Court Record 10, page 270. The married names of the daughters appear in Nancy’s estate papers, which also list a “Solma. Metzger,” who may be Sarah. Tobias’ birth and death dates are listed on a tombstone cited in “Burials at Arndt’s Church Near Easton, Pennsylvania,” page 16. He is not listed among Nancy’s heirs in 1857, so it must be assumed he was dead at the time. (3) Anna’s birth is recorded in “Some of the First Settlers of The Forks of the Delaware and Their Descendants,” by the Rev. Henry M. Kieffer, 1902, page 115. Her birth date is also listed on her tombstone. (The year is incorrectly copied in “Burials at Arndt’s Church Near Easton, Pennsylvania.”) A real estate transaction in Luzerne County mentions “Nancy Bauer (late Nancy Hess)” as an heir of Jeremiah Hess. This is Luzerne County Deed Book 22, page 611. Luzerne County Deed Book 35, page 716, describes her as “Nancy Bower (widow and relique of Jacob Bower deceased) of Forks Township, Northampton County.” (4) The manuscript is the rough draft for an item in “A History of the Wapwallopen Region,” by Lillie Cameron. It is in the “Hess” file at the historical society in Wilkes-Barre. The church record is in “Some of the First Settlers,” page 349. (5) 1820 Census, Northampton County, Pa. and estate papers in Northampton County, File No. 3681. (6) Plainfield Reformed Church, page 250. (7) Jacob and Anna’s death dates listed in”Burials at Arndt’s Church Near Easton, Pennsylvania,” page 15. (8) Northampton County Orphan’s Court Record 10, page 270. (9) “Burials at Arndt’s Church” says Anna died in 1854, but her tombstone says 1857. The administration papers for her estate were filed in 1857. Estate papers in File No. 6584 in Northampton County.
THOMAS and NANCY BOWER
Thomas Bower was born Aug. 19, 1806, in Northampton County, Pa., to Jacob and Anna (Hess) Bauer. (1)
Probably married twice. (See below.)
Mary Ann, born Feb. 4, 1830. Married William Walp.
Jacob D., born Jan. 12, 1834.
Margaret Ann, born about 1838. Married George Thomas.
John, born Nov. 11, 1842.
Elsa, born March 30, 1844, probably died before 1850.
Thomas J., born in 1849.
Thomas was a farmer, according to census records.
He appears to have been married twice. The death certificate of Thomas’ son Jacob lists Annie Earnst as his mother. Church records in Northampton County say Thomas married Anna Ernst Feb. 2, 1834, about a month after Jacob’s birth. But in 1834, Thomas already had a 4-year-old daughter, Mary Ann, who was almost certainly born to a previous wife. The books “Historical and Biographic Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania” and “Pioneers Families of Berwick, Pa.,” say that Mary Ann was the daughter of Thomas and a woman whose first name was unknown but whose last name was Switzer. (3)
Thomas’ second wife, Anna, was born Nov. 9, 1809, according to her tombstone. (4) Her parents are unknown. She is frequently listed as Nancy in records. Census records indicate that she could not write.
The family probably lived in Forks Township, Northampton County, at the time of Jacob’s birth in 1834. Before 1840, they moved to Luzerne County, where the family of Thomas’ mother owned land.
Before the move, their last name was usually spelled Bauer; afterward, it was usually Bower. This probably happened because there were fewer Germans in Luzerne County and those who kept records were unfamiliar with German spellings.
Census records reveal the family lived in Salem Township, Luzerne County, in 1840. In the 1850 Census, Thomas Bower is listed as a farmer in Centre Township, Columbia County.
In 1860, the family lived in Hollenback Township, Luzerne County. The 1860 Census indicates that Thomas Bower was a farmer who owned real estate valued at $3,000 and personal property valued at $900. The family of his son Jacob appears to have lived on Thomas’ property at that time because Jacob’s household is listed beside Thomas’ but Jacob is not listed as owning any real estate.
The 1870 Census lists Thomas Baur as a farmer in Hollenback Township, where he owned real estate valued at $6,000 and personal property valued at $740. His household contained Mary, age 61; John, a farmhand, age 26; Thomas, a farmhand, age 21; Mary (probably Margaret Ann), age 24, a domestic servant; and John Thomas, 5, probably the younger Mary’s son.
The 1880 Census lists Thomas in Nescopeck Township, Luzerne County. His household contained Nancy, age 71, and George Thomas, 15, who is listed as his grandson. George is very likely the John listed in the 1870 Census.
“Atlas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania 1873” shows T. Baur’s farm in the southwest corner of Hollenback Township, near the border of Nescopeck Township. Luzerne County deed books record that he bought land in Nescopeck Township in 1873. He probably lived there until he moved to Ridgely, Md., in 1884 or 1885. The Bower farms generally covered about 150 acres, according to the deed books. (5)
Thomas and his family are listed as taking communion at the Salem Church in Luzerne County from May 1841 to March 1854. Salem was a union church serving both Lutheran and Reformed congregations. German was the language used in services and early records. (6) The Bowers are also listed as Lutheran communicants at a similar union church in Nescopeck Township from Nov. 23, 1862 to November 1884. (7)
In 1882, there seems to have been some family turmoil. Thomas Jr. seems to have defaulted on a loan either from his father or guaranteed by his father. As a result, the father sued the son to recover the money.
In April 1876, Thomas Jr. bought about 4 acres of land in Nescopeck Township for $1,700. Six years later, Luzerne County records show the land being forfeited in a sheriff’s sale. On March 15, 1882 the court of common pleas commanded “that the goods and chattels, lands and tenements of T.J. Bower” be sold to recover “a certain debt of seventeen hundred dollars which Thomas Bower lately in the said court recovered against him as four & 25-100 dollars which to the said Thomas Bower were adjudged for his damages which he sustained by occasion of the detention of that debt ...” The land was sold for only $40, covering little of the $1,700. (8)
That November, Thomas drew up his will, which mentions the court decision and the debt. It reads: “As to my son Thomas J. Bower, I hold a judgment in the Common Pleas of Luzerne County of the amount of about seventeen hundred dollars, which judgment is unsatisfied. I consider the same to be his portion and an advancement out of my estate and that no proceeding may be had toward the collection of the same.”
The 1880 Census lists Thomas’ occupation as “gentleman,” which either means he was a retired, well-respected farmer, or he wanted to be thought of as a well-respected retired farmer.
In the mid-1880s, Thomas moved to Ridgely, Md., where his son Jacob had lived since the late 1860s. The listing of those who took communion in the Nescopeck church book notes that he moved there between Nov. 2, 1884 and May 17, 1885.
Thomas filed his will in Luzerne County. The document reveals several interesting facts about the family. (9)
The will provides for the care of Thomas’ son John, who is listed as “idiotic” in the 1880 Census. The will reads: “It is my desire that my executor look after the interest of my son John and after the decease of his mother, if he should survive her, act as a trustee for him and if they think necessary apply to the court for the appointment of a committee or trustee for him.” Thomas’ son Jacob and son-in-law George Thomas were named executors.
The nature of John’s condition and when he contracted it are unknown. In the 1870 Census, John is listed as a “farmhand” living with his parents and no mention is made of any special condition. The 1880 Census records that John was “idiotic” and lived with his brother Thomas in Nescopeck. The 1900 Census records that John lived with Jacob in Ridgely.
Finally, one passage in the will indicates what kind of possessions 19th-century Americans valued: “I further bequeath to my son Jacob D. Bower my sausage grinder and stuffer and a lot of grain sacks and also a lot of meat I brought to him.”
Nancy died Feb. 9, 1887. (10)
Thomas Bower died Dec. 6, 1890 in Ridgely. His obituary appeared in the Denton Journal under news from Ridgely: “Mr. Thomas Bowers died at the residence of his son, Mr. Jacob D. Bowers, on Saturday last, aged 84 years. Interment took place on Monday at the cemetery of the Reformed Church.” (11)
(1) Date of birth comes from “Church Record of the Plainfield Reformed Church, Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa. Vol. I,” page 58, and “Beneath These Stones – Cemeteries of Caroline County, Vol. I,” page 157. Parents listed in church record and in papers of administration for mother’s estate, Northampton County File No. 6584. (2) Children are listed in the census records cited in the text and in Thomas’ will. John and Elsa’s births are recorded in the “Church Book of the Salem Church in Luzerne County.” Mary Ann’s birth is listed in “Historical and Biographic Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania, Vol. I,” by J.H. Beers & Co., page 826, and in “Pioneer Families of Berwick, Pa.,” which is available at the Berwick Public Library. The year is confirmed in 1850 Census of Centre Township, Columbia County, Pa. Jacob’s birth date is listed in his death certificate in the Maryland State Archives. Mary and Margaret’s husbands are identified in Thomas’ will. (3) Jacob Bower’s death certificate is in the Maryland State Archives. The marriage to Anna Ernst is recorded in the church book of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Easton, Pa. (4) “Beneath These Stones: Cemeteries of Caroline County, Vol. I,” page 157. (5) Luzerne County Deed Books 71, page 50; 167, page 370; 168, page545; and 300, page 479. (6) “Church Book of the Salem Church.” (7) “Church Book of the Nescopeck Congregation,” which later became Mount Zion. (8) Original purchase is recorded in Luzerne County Deed Book 200, page 147. An account of the court decision and sheriff’s sale appears in Deed Book 234, page 330. (9) Will is recorded in Will Book L, page 639. Thomas’ name is spelled Bower in his will, although it’s indexed under Bowen in Luzerne County records. (10) “Beneath These Stones – Cemeteries of Caroline County, Vol. I,” page 157. (11) Denton Journal, Saturday, Dec. 13, 1890.
JACOB and LUCY BOWERS
Jacob D. Bowers was born Jan. 12, 1834 in Northampton County, Pa., to Thomas and Anna (Ernst) Bower. (1)
Married Lucy Ann Hawk about 1857. Lucy was born Oct. 12, 1838, in Luzerne County, Pa., to John and Fanny Hawk. (2)
John Wesley, born in Nov. 11, 1856.
George Washington, born in Feb. 22, 1859.
Jacob’s parents moved the family to Luzerne County, Pa., within a few years of his birth. In that county, his name and those of his parents and siblings appear in records of Lutheran churches in Salem and Nescopeck townships. (4)
Jacob was a farmer in Hollenback Township, Luzerne County, according to the 1860 Census. He probably lived on his father’s property at this time because his household is listed next to his father’s and he is not listed as owning any real estate. He owned 3 acres beside his father’s farm in Hollenback Township from 1866 to 1868, according to Luzerne County land records. In the late 1860s, the family moved to Caroline County, Md., where Jacob farmed. (5)
Early records usually list the family as Bower, and occasionally Bauer. However, the name is almost always spelled Bowers after the move to Maryland. This is probably because other Caroline County families spelled the name with the “s” and the newcomers adopted the spelling over the years.
The 1880 Census lists Jacob D. Bowers as a farmer in the Second District of Caroline County. His household also contained Lucy A., age 43; John W., 22; George W., 21; and George’s wife Permilla, 21.
Jacob and Lucy sold off several tracks of land during the 1880s and 1890s. In 1885, the sold 61 acres to Susan A. Green for $270, according to the Dec. 5 edition of the Denton Journal.
In 1890, the Bowers sold their farm and moved to nearby Ridgely. The transaction is mentioned in the July 26 edition of the Denton Journal, which states: “Mr. W.W. Seward has bought the Jacob D. Bower farm, near Ridgely. Mr. Seward intends to remove to his new home and Mr. Bower will reside at Ridgely.” The May 31 edition of the newspaper had noted that the property covered 93 acres and sold for $5,000.
In October 1891, they sold 62 acres to Sallie E. Camper for $2,400, according to the Oct. 31 edition of the Denton Journal. The Jan. 7, 1893, edition records the sale of a property in Ridgely to Harvey J. Baker for $100. The Feb. 4, 189, edition records Jacob’s purchase of property in Ridgely from Franklin P. Herr for $212.
In addition, Jacob and Lucy appears to have been involved in some dispute that resulted in their owing $1,750. The April 7, 1894, edition of the Denton Journal contains a legal notice headlined “Richard T. Carter, Assignee, vs. Jacob D. Bower and Lucy A. Bower.” The Caroline County circuit court ordered that “the sale made and reported by Richard T. Carter, assignee, in the above entitled cause, be ratified and confirmed unless cause to the contrary thereof be shown. … The report of sale sates the amount of sales to be seventeen hundred and fifty dollars.”
The 1900 Census lists Jacob as a miller in Ridgely. His household contained his wife Lucy and his brother, John, who is listed as age 54. John moved in with Jacob after their father died. John suffered from some sort of disability, which caused him to be listed as “idiotic” in the 1880 Census. However, he appears to have been healthy when the 1870 Census was taken because his is listed as a farmhand and no problems are indicated.
The 1910 Census lists Jacob and Lucy as living in Ridgely with their son John and his wife, Rosie. John was a carpenter and Jacob is listed as having “own income.” (7)
Jacob died Oct. 21, 1910 in Ridgely. His death certificate states he had suffered from “general disability” for about a year.
A little more than a month before his death, Jacob sold a Ridgeley property to his daughter-in-law Rosa for $1,500, according to the Sept. 3, edition of the Denton Journal.
After Jacob’s death, Lucy lived with her the family of her son, John, in Ridgely. She does not appear to have been healthy during the last years of her life. Notices in the Denton Journal state that she “sustained severe bruises from a fall” in the Jan. 27, 1917, edition; “has been on the sick list” in the Dec. 20, 1919 edition; and “is quite ill” in the March 20, 1920 edition.
The 1920 Census shows Lucy living with her son, who is listed as Wesley Bowers. John’s wife, Rosie, died before June 23, 1917, when her will was exhibited for probate, according to that day’s edition of the Denton Journal.
The 1920 census was taken on Jan. 23, and Lucy lived only a few more months. She died April 20 in Ridgely. Her death certificate states she had suffered from “senility – chronic nephritis,” the latter – a kidney disease – for fives years.
The Bowes are buried in Ridgely.
(1) Information comes from Jacob’s death record at the Maryland State Archives. (2) The 1900 Census of Ridgely, Caroline County, Md., says that Lucy and Jacob had been married 43 years. Lucy’s birth date is listed in her death records in the Maryland State Archives. However, the 1900 Census indicates that Lucy was born in November 1837. Parents identified in 1850 Census of Newport Township in Luzerne County, Pa. (3) Children listed in census records for 1860 Hollenback Township, Luzerne County, Pa., and Ridgely, Caroline County, Md., 1880. “Genealogy of Conrad and Elizabeth (Borger) Hawk,” page 271, says the Bowers were married in August 1856 and John was born Nov 11, 1856. John’s birth date is confirmed in the Nov. 15, 1946, edition of the Denton Journal, which mentions he celebrated his 90th birthday on Nov. 11. (4) “Church Book of the Salem Church” and “Church Book of the Nescopeck Congregation.” (5) Luzerne County Deed Books 110, page 401, and 127, page 378. (6) 1870 Census of Caroline County, Md. (7) According to the 1910 Census, John and his wife had no children.
GEORGE and PERMILLA BOWERS
George Washington Bowers was born in Feb. 22 1859 in Luzerne County, Pa., to Jacob D. and Lucy Ann (Hawk) Bowers. (1)
Married Permilla Lesnett. (See below.)
Dell Detrick, born Nov. 1, 1880.
Charles Leverne, born March 21, 1886.
George received his name because he was born on the anniversary of the birthday of the first president.
His parents moved the family to Caroline County, Md., in the late 1860s. It was in Maryland that family named acquired an “s” at the end. This is probably because a large number of Bowers families already lived in the area and record-keepers tended to add the “s” out of habit. Although most records from this generation list the family name as Bowers, there was still a tendency among family members to spell it without the “s.” For example, George and Permilla’s tombstone reads, “BOWER.”
George married Permilla Lesnett on Dec. 18, 1879 in Ridgely, Md. The Rev. Joseph Hannaberry, the town’s Reformed pastor, performed the ceremony. (3) Millie was born Feb. 14, 1859 in western Pennsylvania to Dell W. and Emeline (Potter) Lesnett. (4) The Lesnetts moved to Maryland during the 1870s and later moved back to Beaver County, Pa.
George was listed as a farmer in the record of his marriage license. The couple lived with George’s parents in Ridgely for a while after the marriage, as indicated by the 1880 Census. In 1881, George was taxed $4 for road work in Caroline County. (4a)
Around 1891, the family moved to Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa., where Permilla’s father owned land. George farmed there and worked as a carpenter.
On March 17, 1898, Permilla’s father, Dell Lesnett, sold his 105-acre farm to the Bowers family for $1,300. After George’s death, the farm in Franklin Township was sold by Permilla and her son Charlie to her other son, Dell, for $1,500. This sale occurred on Nov. 7, 1913. (5)
In addition to his two sons with Permilla, George had another son with Permilla’s sister, Olive, who lived with the Bowers for a while. The son, Hosea Lesnett, was born in 1899. Sometime after 1920, Hosea moved to Spokane, Wash., following his half-brother Dell. Dell had moved to Washington sometime before George’s death in 1913. He married a woman named Effa D. Osborne and died in Spokane on March 18, 1946. (6)
The 1900 Census lists George W. Bower as a farmer who owned a farm in Franklin Township. His household also contained Permilla, Dal D., who is listed as a farm laborer, and Charls.
Family tradition maintains George was a nice man but Permilla was difficult to get along with. Permilla always looked down on the Bowers family because her family was comparatively wealthy. Permilla also didn’t like her son Charlie’s decision to marry Laura Moyer. She says that Moyers – who traditionally had large families – were good for having children and nothing else. George and Permilla’s marriage was always strained and Permilla threatened to leave George at one point. She decided to stay after George built a new house for her. Her grandchildren say she was “particular” and very stern. She insisted that they remain seated in chairs during visits to her home because she didn’t want them to make a mess.
George died May 30, 1913 of Bright’s Disease, a kidney disease. (7)
The Connoquenessing Valley News reported, “Mr. Bower had been in declining health for several years.” His funeral as held at shome, with the Rev. A.P. Bittinger of Zelienople, a Presbyterian minister, conducting the service.
Family tradition holds that Permilla refused to allow medical treatment because she was a Christian Scientist and believed in faith healing. Even if she was a Christian Scientist in 1913, it should be noted that her funeral in 1934 was conducted by a Reformed minister.
Permilla married Ernest Wehman, sometime before March 1916. (8)
In the 1920 Census, the Wehmans are listed as living on New Castle Street in Zelienople. For some reason, the census indicates that Permilla’s parents were both born in German and spoke German. Ernest is listed as a carpenter. (9)
On Jan. 22, 1921, the Beaver County court appointed Permilla guardian of the property of her brother John, who had “become so weak of mind and so mentally defective that he is unable to take care of his own property, and in consequence thereof is liable to dissipate or lose the same and to become the victim of designing persons.” (10)
Permilla died Nov. 7, 1934. The New Castle News reported that she died of a heart attack. The Butler Eagle reported: “Mrs. Permilla Wehman, aged 75, widow of Earnest Wehman, died at the family residence in New Castle street, Zelienople, at 6:25 o’clock today after a lingering illness. Her husband preceded her in death two years.” Her funeral was held at her home with the Rev. Milton May, pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Harmony, conducting the service. (10)
Family tradition says that she left everything to Dell except for an umbrella because she thought Charlie was unwise with his money.
Permilla and George are buried under the same headstone at the English Lutheran cemetery in Zelienople.
(1) Birth date comes from George and Permilla’s tombstone at Zelienople Cemetery, Butler County, Pa. George’s parents are identified in the 1860 Census of Hollenback Township, Luzerne County, Pa., and 1880 Census of Caroline County, Md. His place of birth was listed in his obituary in the Connoquenessing Valley News, June 5, 1913. Most other information in this item comes from interviews with Mary Bowers, Edward Bowers and Velma Holfelder in 1989 and 1990. George’s year of birth is incorrectly stated as 1858 in the listing for the English Lutheran cemetery in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the (2) Dell’s birth date comes from his draft registration card for World War I, dated Sept. 9, 1918. Charlie’s comes from his obituary. (3) “Caroline County Marriages, Births, Deaths – 1850 to 1880,” page 54. Also, Denton Journal, Dec. 20, 1879. (4) Permilla is listed as Dell’s daughter in his will in Beaver County Will Book T, page 163. The Hawk book say she was born Feb. 14, 1859. Birth date comes from Permilla and George’s tombstone. (4a) Denton Journal of Denton, Md., Aug. 20, 1881. (5) The first transaction is recorded in Beaver County Deed Book 163, page 367, and the second is in Deed Book 240, page 401. (6) George’s death noticed in the Connoquenessing Valley News lists his son Dell’s home as Spokane. When Dell registered for the draft during World War I in 1918, he was a gas engineer for Lincoln County. He was single at the time, but later married Effa D. Osborne, according to “Washington State Death Certificates: 1908-1960.” They couple had no children, according to family tradition. (7) Date of death from Beaver County Register’s Docket No. 11, page 115. The cause of death is noted in death notices in the June 2, 1913 editions of The Butler Citizen and The Butler Eagle, both of which list his name as “George Bowser.” (8) Undated clipping from Ellwood City Ledger. (9) In some cases, the couple are indexed under Weleman because of the way the census taker wrote the name. (10) Beaver County docket for March Term, 1921, page 117. (11) The Butler Eagle, Nov. 7, 1934.
CHARLES and LAURA BOWERS
Charles Leverne Bowers was born March 21, 1886, in Ridgely, Md., to George W. and Permilla (Lesnett) Bowers. (1)
Married Laura Estella Moyer. (See below.)
Velma, born Oct. 11, 1910. Died July 9, 1994. Married Harry Holfelder.
Cleo Mildred, born Dec. 27, 1915 and died of disease in 1937. Married Roy Douthitt.
Edward Charles, born May 16, 1919. Died Aug. 8, 1996
Omar, born May 23, 1921. Died June 14, 1997.
Charles’ parents moved from Maryland to Beaver County, Pa., in about 1891.
When Charlie was young, his parents once left him and his brother Dell at home alone. The house had rats and the boys decided to do something about it. They poured kerosene on the tale of one of the rats and set it on fire. Unfortunately, the rat ran into the house and set the curtains on fire. The boys were able to put out the fire before it caused extensive damage.
Charlie married Laura Estella Moyer on Jan. 27, 1909 in the home of the Rev. H. Meyers, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, Pa.
The 1910 Census shows the newlyweds living with Laura’s parents in Franklin Township. Charles Bower is listed as a teamster. (3)
Laura was born May 8, 1889 in Beaver County, Pa., to Louis Edward and Mariah (Bellas) Moyer. The Moyers spoke German at home. Laura couldn’t speak English very well when she began school, so the other children made fun of her. This made her determined to improve her English and the family started speaking it more at home. Charles’ mother, Permilla, was very disappointed with his selection of wife. She looked down on the Moyers because they were relatively poor. She also said that a Moyer wasn’t good for anything but having children. Most Moyer families in the area were very large.
A 1917 directory of Beaver County farmers, lists C.L. Bower as a tool dresser. He owned 18 acres but no crops are listed. He also is listed as having two minor children and Bell Telephone service. They lived in Franklin Township in the Celia Post Office’s rural delivery area 1, off Highway 22. (4)
The 1920 Census finds the family living beside Hosey Lesnett, Charlie’s 20-year-old half-brother. Also living with Hosey were his mother, Olive, and uncle, John. Hosea was the son of George Bower and Olive Lesnett, Permilla’s sister. John was deaf, and the 1900 and 1920 censuses note that he could speak English. He also suffered from a mental disability, at least in later years.
On May 16, 1923, a tornado swept through the Bowers farm. It flattened the barn, killing Charlie’s uncle, John, and all the animals. The Ellwood City Ledger reported: “The dead man was John Lessnet of Camp Run, a victim of the terrific wind who was buried beneath the ruins of the barn of his farm when it was torn from its foundation and scattered to the winds in pieces.” The force of the wind also knocked down other houses and buildings in the area. (5)
The family sold this farm and Charlie’s mother gave him money to help buy a new one, according to family members.
Charles farmed and butchered until the Depression, when he lost his farm. He had borrowed money so he could buy all the latest equipment. When times got tough, he couldn’t make the payments and the bank foreclosed.
After losing the farm, Charles got a job with the state highway agency.
In the 1930 Census, Charles is listed as a laborer who held a job in road construction. His home in Franklin Township was valued at $1,000. His household also contained his wife, Laura E.; Velma E., age 19; Cleo M., 14; Charles E. (Edward), 10; Omar D., 8; and Clyde L., 3 8/12.
On June 26, 1937, Charlie and Laura purchased property on the Ellwood City/Zelienople Road – Route 288 – in Franklin Township. (6) Personal noticed in the New Castle News note that the family lived in North Sewickley Township until at least 1935 and in Fombell in 1936.
According to family members, 1937 also brought some economic misfortune. Family member said a political shakeup in that year led to layoffs for many road workers hired under the previous leaders – including Charles and his son Edward. Charles suffered a nervous breakdown and Edward and his new wife, Mary, moved in so they could help out by paying rent. When he recovered, Charlie borrowed money and bought a truck, which he used to haul glass to a factory. He later worked as a watchman and a janitor.
It seems possible that some of these events actually occurred – or spilled into – 1939 because the 1940 Census indicates Charlie was unemployed for much of the preceding year. It indicates that while he was employed as an equipment operator for the “State Highway,” he had worked for only 39 weeks in 1939, earning $900. In the column indicating “duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940,” 22 weeks is listed. The census also asks whether the person was employed during the week of March 24-30 and Charlie answered “no” and indicated that he had not been assigned “emergency work” on the government payroll. He did indicate that he was seeking employment.
It seems that very likely that the unemployment was caused by or led to health problems. A notice in the New Castle News for March 18 says, “Charles Bowers is seriously ill at him home, on the Ellwood-Zelienople road.” The April 1 edition says, “The many friends of Charles Bowers, who has been ill at his home on the Ellwood-Zelienople road for several weeks, will be sorry to learn that his condition remains unimproved.”
The census says Charlie was age 53 and had completed eight years of schooling, which was a very typical amount of education in that area, according to the census.
When the United States mobilized for World War II, virtually all men in the country were required to register for the draft. Charlie’s registration card shows that he was employed by Vance Coal Co. of Wampum, Pa. It also indicates that he was 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighed 155 pounds and had blue eyes and blonde hair and a ruddy complexion.
All three of the Bowers sons served in the military during the war. Ed was a heavy machine gunner in the 60th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division and served in Germany near the end of the war. Omar was a medic with the 357th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division, in Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army. Omar was wounded twice and also contracted trench foot, thus missing the Battle of the Bulge. Ed’s other brother, Clyde, served in the Navy, working on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Shangri La and later the carrier Antietam.
Charlie is said to have been very quick with math. When he would go out logging, he could calculate how much lumber a tree would produce before it was cut down.
The Bowers were very active in the church. They first attended North Sewickley Presbyterian Church, where Laura was a Sunday school teacher and a deacon. (7) Decades later, each of her children remarked on her kindness and Christian values.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Laura was very active in the church’s Women’s Missionary Society and Mrs. Charles Bowers frequently appears in meeting notices in the New Castle News as hosting a meeting, leading in prayer or leading a discussion on topics such as stewardship, “rapid changes,” the young generation, China and “Spanish speaking America.” Charles also appears in several listings as working with the church’s youth or attending meetings of the presbytery. The Oct. 2, 1934, edition of the paper states that Laura was elected a deaconess at the North Sewickley Presbyterian Church.
After the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was published in 1952, the church ordered all Sunday school teaches to use it. The Bowerses preferred the King James version, like many Evangelical Christians, believing some of the scholarship involved in the translation of the RSV was flawed. They quit the Presbyterian church and joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Ellwood City. Laura taught Sunday school for their new congregation and Charlie became a member of the board and a trustee.
Their grandson, the Rev. Theodore E. Bowers, credited Laura with directing him toward a career in the church. A newspaper reporter once asked who had influenced him the most. Ted replied: “My grandmother – in terms of my faith and her love and support and prayers. She never had a negative word to say about anybody and I admire her strength in holding the family and farm together during the tough times of the Depression and my grandfather’s poor health and as well as her faithfulness to God.” (8)
Laura was also an avid quilter. She apparently began quilting in February 1908. The New Castle News reports in its Feb. 26 edition: “Miss Anna Nevin entertained the Q.Q.Q. club last Thursday at an all-day quilting. A sumptuous dinner and supper were served and in the evening the boys were invited in. The members of the club are Misses Helen Kaufman, Jeannette Means, Florence and Elizabeth Nogel, Laura Moyer, Leona Koch, Alice Nogel and the hostess. The girls are very proud, it being their first attempt at quilting and they entirely finished a quilt in one day.”
She even had a room dedicated to the craft. Family members said that a friend once fainted in the room and Laura dragged her out because she didn’t want anyone dying in her quilting room. She was also an excellent cook. While growing up, she frequently cooked for the Moyer family since she was the oldest daughter.
Charlie was very strong-willed. His stubbornness extended to indoor-plumbing. Until the 1950s, he refused to have an indoor toilet installed because he didn’t think it was proper to relieve yourself beside the kitchen. He also loved to ride horses – neighbors called him the Lone Ranger.
When television became popular, the Bowers refused to get one. When their grandson Ted bought a TV with money he had earned from delivering newspapers, Charlie told Ted’s parents they were going to hell because of “that sinful box.” However, after Charlie died, Laura’s sons got her a TV and she enjoyed watching the evening news.
Although he didn’t want a TV in his house, Charlie wasn’t really against watching it. He enjoyed boxing and almost every Friday night visited the neighbors so he could watch the fights on TV.
Charlie also enjoyed dancing. Many people held dances in their barns and invited all the neighbors. The entire family would go, but Laura didn’t like to dance. She would sit out while Charlie danced with the young girls.
Laura did enjoy playing the piano, although she wasn’t very good at it.
During this generation the family name was decisively changed to Bowers. At one point, Laura Bowers added an “s” on the family mailbox, possibly in an effort to distance herself from the German language and almost certainly in an effort to upset Permilla.
Charlie died Dec. 13, 1962. (9) Laura died Dec. 18, 1974, at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Home in Carlisle, Pa. She had lived there since1969.
The Bowerses are buried at North Sewickley Cemetery in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County. They didn’t leave wills because they didn’t believe in them.
(1) Most of this information comes from interviews with Edward, Mary and Theodore Bowers in 1989 and 1990, a letter from Omar in 1992 and interviews with Kenneth Bowers, Bill Nye and Ethel May Graff in 2004. Information also comes from Laura and Charles’ obituaries and anniversary announcements in undated clippings from the Ellwood City Ledger. Information from other sources is noted. Charlie’s obituary also appears in the Dec. 14, 1962, edition of the New Castle news and Laura’s obituary appears in the Dec. 15, 1974, edition of the newspaper. Charlie’s birth dates and parents are named in his obituary and the 1900 Census Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. Laura’s are named in her obituary and the 1910 Census of Franklin Township. Charlie’s date and place of birth are noted in his World War II draft registration. (2) Dates from Velma Holfelder’s family Bible. (3) Living with parents and occupation is recorded in 1910 Census of Franklin Township. (4) “1917 Beaver County Farm Directory,” reprinted for the Tri-State Genealogical Society, page 78. (5) Ellwood City Ledger, 50-years-ago item from May 16, 1973. (6) Beaver County, Pa., Deed Book 441, page 101, as reported in Deed Book 940, page 403, which records the sale of the property by Laura on Aug. 6, 1968. The 1940 Census notes that the family lived in the “same place” in that year as they had on April 1, 1935. This indicates that they lived in the same municipality. They purchased the property they lived on in 1940 in 1937 and newspaper items from 1936 mentioned that they lived in nearby Fombell. (7) “History of Ellwood City,” page 277. (8) The Evening Sun of Hanover, Pa., May 30, 1987. (9) Beaver County, Pa., Deed Book 940, page 403, says that Charlie died May 13, 1961. I have not had the chance to check for his death certificate, but this date seems unlikely. The December 1962 date comes from family sources, but it also agrees with Charlie’s obituary. Although no date appears on the newspaper clipping, it mentions that he and Laura “would have been married 54 years next month.” Their 54th anniversary would have been in January 1963.
EDWARD and MARY BOWERS
Edward Charles Bowers was born May 16, 1919, in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. His parents were Charles Leverne and Laura Estella (Moyer) Bowers. (1)
Married Mary Louella Nye. (See below.)
Kenneth Ralph, born Jan. 10, 1942. Died Aug. 9, 2008.
Robert Lee, born Sept. 22, 1948. Married Patricia Marshall. Died 2003.
Ed attended Lincoln High School in Ellwood City for two years. (2) When he was 16, his father, Charlie, helped him gain employment with the state highway department. Ed then quit school since he had a job – all anyone needed to get started in life in rural Pennsylvania in the 1930s. Ed worked for the highway department for three years, until there was a political shakeup and many of those hired by the previous administration were fired. Ed then got a job driving a coal truck, which he held for four years.
Ed married Mary Louella Nye on Aug. 26, 1937. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. D.W. Webb in Cumberland, Md.
Mary was born May 10, 1919, Wurtemburg in Beaver County, Pa. Her parents were Victor Pierre and Mary Louella (Graff) Nye. (3) Her father. Perry, lost his job during the Depression and took up farming and dug coal for extra money. The family, which had 11 children, was very poor.
On Feb. 27, 1935, Perry Nye died of a heart attack while working in a coal mine. Mary wrote the poem “When Death Came” just after her father’s death. It reads:
“Once our home was oh, so happy./ In our heart we felt no pain./ Till the day of stricken sadness/ could our hearts have felt more pain.
“When the word came from our teacher,/ “Your father has passed away.” Then the tears of sadness could have/ melted our heart away.
“The day we laid him in the church yard,/ oh, little did we know,/ that we buried our home with him/ in that quiet old church yard.
“We tried to make it cheerful/ but no one could bear/ to see our home so vacant/ without our father there.”
Mary didn’t finish school. At age 16, she took a job as a housekeeper for a dentist. She lived in a small room in the family’s house and made $5 a week, which seemed like a lot at a time when bread cost only 5 cents a loaf.
Ed and Mary met at a roller-skating party when Mary’s date refused to skate.
After they were married, the couple moved in with Ed’s parents. Their first son, Ted, was born in the Bowers farmhouse. Laura Bowers taught Mary how to cook and the two always got along very well. Mary used to say, “I loved her as much as I loved my own mother.” However, Mary didn’t get along quite as well with Charlie.
In 1941, Ed went to work for Spang Chalfant in Ambridge, Pa. He worked in the department that manufactured 105mm artillery shells. His job as an acetylene burner operator is described in his military discharge papers: “Worked for Spang and Chalfant, Ambridge, Pa for 2 years. Cut 4 inches bars with acetylene burner to specified lengths in the manufacture of steel shells. Controlled heat of electric torch. Adjusted torch.” (4)
On March 31, 1944, Ed and Mary purchased the property in Franklin Township, Beaver County, where they lived for the rest of their lives. (5)
Because Ed had two children and worked in an arms center at New Cumberland, Pa., where he enter service as an unassigned private and was given serial factory, Ed received four deferments before being drafted into the Army during World War II.
Ed was ordered to report for a preinduction physical on April 24, 1944, at the local Selective Service board in Baden, Pa. (6) On Aug. 28, he was notified that he was ordered to report to Baden for induction into military service on Sept. 11. (7)
He then went to the recruit number 33 925 758. On Sept. 13, he took out a five-year insurance police worth $10,000, with a monthly premium of $6.70, naming Mary Luella Bowers, his wife, of R.D. 2 Ellwood City, as his beneficiary. (8)
Mary remained at home to care for Ted and Kenny. Mary said the family was allotted $100 a month by the government and was allowed to reduce mortgage payments so that they only covered the loan’s interest. However, it was still difficult to feed two young boys. Relatives provided produce from their farms and the family got by with cheap cuts of meat and plenty of soup.
After induction, Ed underwent basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama. He completed training on Jan. 6, 1945, receiving special qualification as a heavy weapons crewman. (9)
Ed left for the European Theater of Operations on Feb. 24. (10) He once said that he sailed to Glasgow, Scotland, aboard the Queen Mary, the world’s largest ocean liner at the time. His ship arrived in Europe on March 4.
After arriving in Great Britain, Ed said he sailed to France and was eventually assigned to Company M of the 60th Infantry Regiment. The 60th Infantry – the “Go Devils” – was part of the 9th Infantry Division in the U.S. First Army.
The Company Morning Report for Company M dated March 31 shows that Pvt. Edward C. Bowers, No. 33925758, and three other privates had joined the unit as replacements. At the time, the company was in Odenhausen, Germany. Company M and the rest of the 60th Infantry’s 3rd Battalion was in a static position and hot meals were served that day. (11)
By this point, the 60th Infantry had crossed the Rhine River and was moving through the Rheinland. Ed later recalled crossing a major river, but did not remember which it was. Upon reaching the river, his commander warned the troops to be extra wary because they were entering territory that was precious to the Germans, which scared Ed. The River may have been either the Rhine or the Ruhr. (12)
Ed once said that the first time he was fired upon, his unit was walking through a forest. “We walked into the woods and everything opened up and everyone hit the ground.” Ed said he buried his face in the dirt until his commander came over and kicked him in the head.
The 60th Infantry Regiment’s history, titled “Follow Thu,” offers an account of the regiment’s progress after crossing in the Rhine at Remagen in mid-March. (13)
“The Go Devils finally broke out [from the bridgehead near Remagen]. They captured the high ground east of Erpel and opened a flank. As the strong points were cleared of the enemy, the 78th and 99th Infantry Divisions had room to move in on the flanks of the Ninth.
“Unforgettable town names like Hargarten, St. Katherinen, Lorscheid, Notscheid, Vittelschoss and Strodt were engraved in the minds of the men who did the savage fighting necessary before they fell.
“At Lorscheid almost two companies were trapped by enemy tanks and infantry for a day and a night before friendly troops and tanks could finally break through the desperate Kraut defense and take the towns.
“G-2 expected the enemy to send mobile reserves from the south of the Ninth Army bridgehead area in the north. The 60th was dispatched to cut the Cologne-Frankfurt Autobahn and prevent this. Then they continued eastward, made the Wied River crossing, took Strauscheid, Rahms, Weissenfeld, Hodden, Hombach, Epgert. Here the 7th Armored began the first of a series of long dashes which carried it deep in to the heart of the Reich.
“The 60th boarded trucks, tanks and TD’s [tank destroyers] and began the chase through rolling hills, broad, green valleys and countless little villages where hundreds of Jerry deserters would be waiting to be picked up. Then, even as had happened during the rapid dash across France after the breakthrough, they were halted by lack of supplies and forced to keep near Marberg, Fronthausen.
“Other elements of the First Army rolled over the Krauts in the Ruhr area until they were practically surrounded. The 60th was moved to Winterburg and Neu Astenburg to hold the last possible enemy escape route out of the Ruhr pocket.
“At Neu Astenburg fanatical SS troopers had retaken the town and begun breaking out when the 3d Battalion Go Devils appeared. [Ed’s Company M was part of the 3rd Battalion.] In the midst of a freak snow storm, Riegel mines, roadblocks and country-resort hotels the 60th doughs set up house. The Ruhr pocket was closed.
“The Nazi super troops were using tanks, infantry, self-propelled guns and artillery of all kinds to break out and at least save some of their SS men, but to no avail.
“The 60th began stabbing into the Ruhr. …
“Final objectives were reached by the 10th [of April], and the 60th was pinched off into a secondary position by other units.
“Throughout the Third Reich at this point, SS, SA and make-shift Volkssturm groups of resistance were holding pockets of opposition. ‘Heil Hitler’ and propaganda-heightened fear of Allied occupation and ‘American massacre of Germans soldiers and civilians’ gave rise to fanatical, well organized delaying units. One of these, in the Harz Mountains, was the 60th’s next destination.
“Lucky Friday the 13th the 150 mile motor march from east of the Ruhr region to the sector near Nordhausen, site of one of the more infamous of the many Nazi concentration camps, was begun.
“Organized resistance in the Harz Mountains ended on 20 April, and the line became static while we waited for our Russian allies. Patrols crossed the Mulde River to return loaded with prisoners, pistols, and cameras. …
“1830 hours 27 April, a patrol of the 3d Battalion Go Devils contacted elements of the Russian forces. The Eastern and Western Fronts were one. The fighting part of the war was over.
“On the 2d of May, a Russian Major rode up to the last of the 60th outposts on the bridge. He was accompanied by a truckload of happy, shouting, singing Russian soldiers, all carrying submachine guns. This was the relief for the last Go Devil outpost of World War II.”
Ed recalled linking up with troops of the Soviet Union’s Red Army. “It was a glorious day,” Ed said. The soldiers, who couldn’t understand each other, drank and celebrated.
Ed was always reluctant to talk about his service, stating plainly: “War is a bad thing.” His family rarely asked about his experiences but, over the years, he occasionally mentioned things that had happened. In fact, the only time he spoke more than a few sentences about the war came when his grandson Brian visited just before moving to Germany to work for the Stars and Stripes newspaper in 1992. The first thing he said was: “You won’t like it. It’s all bombed out.” Even at this time, he told only one story that actually involved combat – the account of his first encounter with enemy fire.
One of his few stories involved the first time he took prisoners. Ed was manning a machine gun when German soldiers walked toward him with their hands raised. He commanded them to halt, but they didn’t understand and kept walking toward him. He didn’t open fire on them, but he said he was probably more scared than they were. It was common for American troops to take medals and weapons from captured Germans. Ed brought home several medals and a Luger pistol, which he later sold for $95.
One night, Ed was sleeping in a tent when an artillery shell exploded nearby, burying the tent with dirt. For the rest of his life, he suffered from mild claustrophobia. His military service also contributed to his hearing loss, which grew progressively worse with age.
On another evening, Ed said, he was stationed in a foxhole along a small road to watch for Germans. Both he and a man stationed across the road fells asleep. This allowed “a whole mess of Germans” to walked past unhindered as they searched for someone to surrender to. They reached the company headquarters before encountering any Americans. Ed said he and the other man were thoroughly scolded for sleeping on duty.
Ed said the weather was very cold in early 1945. The soldiers did a lot of walking, on patrol or heading toward battle, which kept them warm. At night, they would keep warm in houses or barns if another company was leading the attack. One night, when Ed’s platoon was resting in a barn, a young soldier starting going around and rubbing others men’s legs. Ed got up and left when the soldier tried to do it to him. The soldier was removed from the unit the next day.
During the war, troops were allowed to write letters called V-Mail. A letter from Pvt. Edward C. Bowers in Germany to his son Ted was dated April 30. It opens: “Just a few lines to write to let you know that daddy still loves you and your big brother, Kenny. Your mummy, although tell her that I love her very much also and give her a real big kiss for me.” It’s filled with questions about what Ted, Kenny and other relatives were doing. It ends: “Well son, this war will soon be over and I’ll take you and Kenny fishing a lot and will buy a whole car load of hot dogs afterward. Please write to me and don’t forget to give mummy and Kenny a big kiss for me and tell them I love them. God bless you all. Your daddy.”
Ed’s uniform bore three battle stars for participating in the campaigns of the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. These are mentioned on the Separation Qualification Record. However, the Enlisted Record and Report of Separation states that he received only two stars, for Central Europe and the Rhineland. This is one of a few discrepancies among his records, which did not become apparent until after his death.
At the end of hostilities, the 9th Infantry Division was stationed in Ingolstadt, a town on the Danube River about 40 miles north of Munich. Ed was promoted from corporal to staff sergeant and assigned to the motor pool because of his experience driving and working on trucks. He said he was able to drive around quite a bit and “goof off” because jeeps and trucks often needed repairs and test drives. The Separation Qualification Record describes his job: “Supervised 24 men and was responsible for 20 trucks. Assigned men to trucks, routed trucks. Supervised 2 mechanics in the maintenance and repair of vehicles. Made up reports, kept pertinent records. Supervised 3 transportation corporals.”
The German residents of Ingolstadt were a “mixed bag,” some very nice and some nasty, Ed said. He recalled spending a lot of time with the family of a police officer.
Ed’s motor pool assignment gave him the opportunity at one point to drive to Czechoslovakia, where his brother Omar was stationed. However, after a two-day drive he arrived and found that Omar was on furlough in England. Several months later, he was able to spend a month with Omar in Switzerland, providing Ed with what he said were his only pleasant memories of Europe. Unfortunately, on the train trip back to Germany, many of the soldiers got sick from eating bad chicken. The trip became very messy because of limited restroom facilities aboard the train.
Omar was a medic with the 357th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division, in Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army. Omar was wounded twice and also contracted trench foot, thus missing the Battle of the Bulge. Ed’s other brother, Clyde, served in the Navy, working on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Shangri La and later the carrier Antietam.
From October 1945 to January 1946, Ed said, he was in Bremerhaven, Germany, waiting for transportation back to the United States. The food, which was cooked by Germans, was very bad. The second week he was there, he found bubble gum mixed with his eggs. Also, every meal offered some sort of cheese – which he came to dislike intensely and continued to avoid throughout his life.
Ed left the European Theater of Operations on March 2, 1946. On the trip home, Ed said he traveled on a ship that had once been a cattle transport. It took six days to pass through the English Channel because of fierce storms. All the hatches had to be closed and no one was allowed on deck because of the rough seas. Nearly everyone got seasick – except Ed, because he could no longer stand the food and hadn’t eaten anything at the beginning of the trip.
He arrived back in the United States on March 12. He received an honorable discharge from the Army on March 17 at Fort Dix, N.J. His total length of service amounted to 1 year, 6 months, 7 days – with foreign service totaling 1 year, 19 days. During that time, he attained the rank of staff sergeant, participated in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns and received the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He was never wounded. His mustering-out pay amounted to $300. His discharge papers describe him as being 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing 156 pounds. He had brown hair and blue eyes. (14)
After returning home, Ed went back to work at Spang-Chalfant. However, later that year, he was laid off because of a “power strike.” On Sept. 26, he applied for a readjustment allowance based on his temporary unemployment and his former military service. (15)
Ed eventually got a position in Spang Chalfant’s research department. The job was to last six weeks, but actually led to the one he had until retirement in 1981. He also returned to school to study metallurgy and became a metallographer.
For his last 15 years at the company – which later was bought by Armco Steel Corp. – Ed tested oil-well pipe that had been returned by customers because of defects. He would write up the reports but could not sign them because he didn’t have the college degree to back his decisions.
According to his sons, Ed had quite a temper as a young man, but he mellowed with age. He was always extremely neat and orderly – qualities that often drove less-tidy members of his family to distraction. Ed had an ornery sense of humor and enjoyed joking around with people. He was always a kind and generous grandfather. He enjoyed golf, fishing, hunting, camping and maintaining a large vegetable garden. When he was young, he also played baseball. His obituary noted, “He played softball in his youth in the Frisco area.”
Ed was also very active in his church, Lillyville church of God in Franklin Township, where he served as an elder, trustee and Sunday school teacher.
Mary was very close to her family – especially her sisters, sons and grandchildren. Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, she prepared a large feast for her children and grandchildren. She enjoys playing games, golf, needlework and reminiscing.
Each winter after retirement, Ed and Mary traveled to Florida, where they lived in a mobile home for a few weeks. While visiting Cape Canaveral in January 1986, they witnessed the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
Ed died Aug. 8, 1996, after battling a form of leukemia for about two years. During the previous Christmas season, doctors had said that he could die at any time because he could not fight off the disease. To combat the disease, Ed was given transfusions every week. He remained very active although rather weakened in his last months. In late July, he came down with an infection in his arm that spread because of his condition. He maintained his jovial nature for much of his two-week stay in the Ellwood City Hospital, endearing himself to the nurses. The last few days he was often unconscious. He died peacefully in his sleep with Mary and Kenny by his side.
Mary died Feb. 26, 2003, at Ellwood City Hospital. Although she continued to grow weaker in her last few years, she continued to golf and enjoy spending time with her extended family.
Ed and Mary are buried at Lillyville Church of God in Franklin Township, Beaver County. (16)
(1) Certification of Birth, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, File No. 75749-19. Most of the information in this item comes from interviews with Ed and Mary Bowers in 1989 and 1990. Much information is also listed in Mary’s obituary in the Ellwood City Ledger of Feb. 28, 2002. (2) Army of the United States, Separation Qualification Record, WD AGO Form 100. (3) Certification of Birth, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, File No. 75750-19. (4) Information on Ed’s military service comes from his draft notice and various discharge papers, which were found in a bank box after his death. Questions concerning his service dates didn’t arise until these were discovered. The information on his job at Spang Chalfant appears in the Separation Qualification Record. (5) Beaver County Deed Book 516, page 339, as reported in Deed Book 1183, page 274. (6) Selective Service System Order to Report Preinduction Physical Examination, DSS Form 215. (7) Order to Report for Induction, DSS For 150. (8) Application for National Service Life Insurance, Veterans Administration Form 350. (9) Replacement and School Command, Army Ground Forces, Certificate. (10) Enlisted Records and Report of Separation, Honorable Discharge, WD AGO Form 53-55. (11) Company Morning Report for Company M, 60th Infantry Regiment, courtesy of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo. (12) The outline of the 9th Infantry Division’s actions in in World War II come from “Eight Stars to Victory” A History of the Veteran Ninth U.S. Infantry Division,” Joseph H. Mittelman, Columbus, Ohio, 1948. (13) “Follow Thu,” by 1st Lt. Morton J. Stussman, printed by Chr. Scheufele in Stuttgart, Germany. Excerpts are from pages 104-111. (14) Enlisted Records and Report of Separation, Honorable Discharge, WD AGO Form 53-55. (15) Application for Servicemen’s Readjustment Allowance, VA Form 4 – 1382. (16) Ed’s tombstone is mentioned in “Lillyville Church of God Cemetery,” compiled by Dwight Copper, New Castle, Pa., page 1.