Updated December 2020
DIEL and ELIZABETH BAUER
Diel Bauer was born in Germany and immigrated to America around 1750.
Dielman Bauer, born 1744.
Dietrich Bauer, born April 4, 1749.
Maria Sophia Bauer, born April 24, 1750. Married Frederick Paul.
Elizabeth Bauer, born Dec. 7, 1751. Married Valentine Metz.
John Bauer, born April 6, 1753.
Margaret Bauer. Married George Peter Gauff.
Barbara Bauer. Married Conrad Kocher.
Eve Bauer, born Dec. 6, 1762. Married William Freeman.
Catherine Bauer. Married Abraham Shupp.
Diel’s parents are unknown. The name “Diel” is very unusual and may point toward 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. He signed his own name “Diel Bauer” in a 1772 deed that covered the sale of his farm to his son Dietrich.
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 consulted the English translation of the will and believed that this indicated Diel was this man’s son-in-law. However, genealogists in Germany, consulting the original German version of the will, said this reference indicates Diel was his stepson. Also, other married daughters are listed under their own names and not under their husbands’ so it seems unlikely that Elizabeth would be different. 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 or half-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. Diel was naturalized in Philadelphia on April 10, 1760. Normally, German immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania swore allegiance to the British king upon arrival. However, this does not appear to have been the case with Diel. He does not appear in Pennsylvania immigration records until 1760 but he does appear in other records as early as 1750. It’s possible that he immigrated through another port that was less conscientious about immigration procedures. Diel’s immigration record 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 was living 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 northward to Northampton County. He was among the early settlers of the area, which had been “purchased” from the Lenape Indians about 15 years earlier in a controversial stunt known as the Walking Purchase. In the 1700s, German immigrants 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)
Either at this point or soon thereafter, Diel settled in what would become Plainfield Township in 1762. He lived there until his death. (9)
“History of Northampton County and The Grand Valley of the Lehigh” describes Plainfield Township during the time the Bauer family settled in the area. (10)
“The name Plainfield was given to it as describing its appearance to the first settlers. The surface of the township is almost devoid of trees, except on the margins of the watercourses, where a few dwarf oaks and stunted evergreens grow on the high lands. … There is an opening, or pass, in the mountains called by the German settlers ‘Die Wind Kapf” (Wind Gap), through which no stream or water passes. … It is the only crossing for wagon roads leading from the township across the Blue Mountains,” William J. Heller writes in the history. Diel’s farm was near what is now the town of Wind Gap.
“The first settlers were Germans, who immigrated from their native land, settled around Wind Gap, and erected a house of worship … These were immediately followed by German settlers, and on December 24, 1762, a decree of the court authorized and ordered the laying out and erection of the township,” Heller writes. The new township contained only 300 inhabitants.
Heller is apparently referring to the French and Indian War when he states: “The settlers suffered during the Indian troubles, a temporary fortification being build as a place of refuge.”
The Bauers worshipped at Plainfield Reformed Church, whose congregation was made up of Germans who settled in the area. The first confirmation class listed in the church’s records contained Diel’s daughter Barbara, who was confirmed April 10, 1763. The second class, which was confirmed Dec. 22, 1765, contained John. (11)
Diel appears to have been a respected member of the community who was given important tasks by county authorities. In 1763 and 1767, the Northampton County Orphan’s Court appointed him to report on the estates of deceased residents of the township. In 1767, he was also appointed tax collector for Plainfield Township. In 1778, he is listed as “next friend” when Christian Stout was appointed guardian of two children of Joseph Stout. (12)
In 1772 tax lists, Diel is listed as a farmer. (13)
However, Diel seems to have retired from farming in that year. On Aug. 26, he sold his farm to his son Dietrich. The deed recording this transaction says the farm covered 127 acres and was purchased by Diel on Dec. 20, 1763. Dietrich – who is actually listed as “Richard Bauer,” a mistake that was cleared up in a later deed – also received “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.” (14)
In payment, Diel and Elizabeth received 250 pounds. Dietrich also agree to provide annual allotments of produce, including “Four Bushels of wheat, Twenty Bushells of Rye, One Hundred & fifty Pounds of Pork, twelve pound Hatcheld Flex & twelve pound Hatcheld Tow, each of us a new pair of Shoes, & to keep for use, two cows, at his Expence, and to Give us each year the wool of two sheep, as we shall choose, also apples for own use And when the orchard Hits well a Barrell of syder.” The agreement also called for Dietrich to provide “a quarter part of the Garden-ground, and our Dwelling place in the House, or otherwise to Build us a Room at the Gable end thereof fit and Suitable for us to live in.”
Finally, 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 that of Dielman Bauer, who is believed to be Diel’s eldest son. (15)
Diel died sometime before July 21, 1796, when a deed indicated he was deceased. (16) However, it’s possible that he died several years earlier. Diel’s name does not appear among the heads of households in Northampton County in the 1790 Census. That’s not a surprise since he and Elizabeth had become part of Dietrich’s household in 1772. However, Dietrich’s household contained only one adult male and two adult females. It seems most likely that these people were Dietrich, his wife and his mother, and that Diel had already died.
It is unknown when Elizabeth died. She is not listed as deceased in the 1796 record. However, only one adult female is listed in the 1800 Census, possibly indicating that she had died by that point.
It is also unknown where the Bauers are buried. It seems likely that their graves are in the cemetery across the road from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Plainfield, south of Wind Gap. Several of their children are buried there. If Diel and Elizabeth are buried there, it’s possible that they lie beneath small, irregular stones that don’t bear full inscriptions.
(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 specifically states 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. It should be noted that Dielman is not listed in the deed that names Diel’s children. In addition, a power of attorney giving Dietrich authority to act on Dielman’s behalf calls Dietrich “my trusty and loving friend” rather than brother. The transaction appears in Northhampton County Deed Book F2. (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 343. (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. The purchase involved an agreement – possibly fraudulent – that called for the Lenape tribe to sell to the Penn family a tract of land extending from Easton, Pa., as far north as a man could walk in a day and a half. William Penn’s sons hired a professional walker who covered 70 miles in the allotted time. This was far more territory than the Lenape had anticipated. The tribe complained to the Iroquois Confederation and British officials but to their concerns were rejected and they left the area. The Lenape – also known as the Delawares – filed suit over the purchase as recently as 2004. (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) “History of Northampton County and The Grand Valley of the Lehigh,” by William J. Heller, Vol. II, page 484. (11) “History of the Plainfield Reformed Church,” by the Rev. W.H. Brong, page 4. (12) “Genealogical Abstracts of Orphan’s Court Records Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Vols A-E, 1752-1795,” by Candace E. Anderson, pages 31, 49 and 98. The tax collection is noted in “Miscellaneous Manuscript Records of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 1727-1851,” at FamilySearch.org. The county account lists for 1767 shows two listings for Diel Bower, one in June and one in September. (13) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. XIX, pages 62. (14) Northampton County Deed Book C-2, page 223. (15) DAR file. (16) The 1772 deed was recorded in Deed Book C-2 in 1796.
DIETRICH and CATHARINE ELISABETH BAUER
Dietrich Bauer was born April 4, 1749, to Diel and Elizabeth Bauer. (1)
Married Catharine Elisabeth, who was born Dec. 21, 1744. (2)
John Jacob Bauer, born Jan. 11, 1777.
Abraham Bauer, born Nov. 28, 1778. Died before 1783.
Elizabeth Bauer, born Oct. 1, 1780. Married Peter Frutchy.
Abraham Bauer, born Feb. 11, 1783.
Frederick Bauer, born July 5, 1785.
George Bauer, born March 16, 1788. Probably died before 1818.
Catharine Bauer, born before 1790. Married Philip Shierman.
Dietrich is sometimes referred to as Dieter or Deeder and his last name is often spelled “Bower” in civil records. One property record refers to him as “Richard Bauer.” However, his own signature always reads “Dietrich Bauer.”
Dietrich’s place of birth is unknown. His father doesn’t appear in American records until 1750, so it seems likely that Dietrich was born in Germany. The family settled in Northampton County, Pa., in the early 1750s and Dietrich liven there the rest of his life.
In 1772, Dietrich is listed as a “single man” on the tax records for Plainfield Township, Northampton County. This indicates that he wasn’t married and didn’t own land. (4)
In Aug. 26 of that year, Dietrich acquired his father’s 127-acre farm. He paid 250 pounds and agreed to provide his parents with annual allotments of produce and a space to live in his house. In 1789 and 1794, Dietrich acquired additional adjoining property from George and Elizabeth Pfeiffer. (5)
It is not known when Dietrich married Catharine Elisabeth but it seems likely that they wed in 1776 if Jacob was their first child. However, since the younger Catharine’s birthday is unknown, it’s possible she is the oldest child, which would push the Bauers’ wedding a year or two earlier.
The Bauers worshiped at Plainfield Reformed Church. Most of their children were baptized there between 1777 and 1788. In 1779, Dietrich contributed grain toward the pastor’s salary. He also served as an elder in 1783 and 1794 and as a deacon in 1793. And 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)
“History of Northampton County and The Grand Valley of The Lehigh” describes the Plainfield church. “St. Peter’s Reformed and Lutheran Church dates back to the middle of the eighteenth century. The regular records, however, are extant since 1763. … The original founders of the church were principally Palatines, though there were some Swiss and French Huguenots. The congregation was originally of the Reformed faith.” However, Lutherans began holding services in the same building and in 1832 “were granted equal right in the church and landed property, and from that time it was been practically a union church.” The Reformed and Lutheran congregations maintained a close relationship in the 1900s. The church that currently stands on the property is St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The Reformed church eventually became Hope United Church of Christ in Wind Gap. (6a)
Dietrich appears to have been someone whom neighbors could turn to in time of need. Northampton County Orphans Court records show that 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. In 1800, he served as the executor of the estate of George Pfeiffer – perhaps the son of the George Pfeiffer from whom he purchased property – and as guardian of his daughter when his wife, Catharine, died a year later. 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. Pennsylvania required that men swear allegiance to the patriot cause and join the militia if they were able. Those who didn’t were fined. Militia units mustered when a threat manifested itself or they were needed to patrol the frontier.
In Northampton County, threats usually involved attacks by Native Americans who were allied with the British. The only large engagement fought in the county was the Battle of Wyoming, which occurred in July 1778 near what is now Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County. Loyalists and their Indian allies wiped out a patriot contingent and forced the surrender of nearby forts. Although the county was generally pretty quiet, Easton was a strategic crossroads. Continental troops often passed through the area en route to campaigns in New Jersey and elsewhere and wounded troops were treated in the town following several battles. (8)
From 1777 to 1780, Dietrich 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 by members of the unit. (9)
On May 28, 1782, Dietrich’s militia company was called to active duty “in the service of the United States on the frontiers of said county for two months service.” 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. This service probably involved patrolling the frontier to reduce the risk of attack by Native Americans.
State records also list Dietrich as a private on the rolls of those receiving depreciation pay following the war. This pay was in the form 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 no records of service at that rank have turned up.
Dietrich continued his militia service after the war’s end. (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 continued to work the farm in Plainfield Township. Tax records for 1779 indicate Dietrich owned 160 acres. In 1785 tax records, Dietrich is recorded as owning 100 acres of land, two horses and three cows, which was about average for that township. Tax records show one less now in 1786 and a total of four cows in 1788 but the rest of the totals remained the same. (11)
The 1790 Census records that nine people were living in Dietrich’s household – one adult male, four males under age 16 and four females. Three of the females were Dietrich’s wife and two daughters. The fourth was probably his mother, who presumably had lived with Dietrich since 1772. If that’s the case, it seems likely that Diel had died by this time.
In 1800, the census shows that Dietrich’s household contained one male age 10-15, one male 16-25, one male 45 and older, one female under 10 and one female 45 and older. Since it seems certain that Dietrich’s daughter were both born by the time of the 1790 Census, it seems likely that the young girl listed in 1800 was one of the orphans whom Dietrich cared for.
The 1810 Census indicates that only Dietrich and Catharine Elisabeth were living in their household.
On March 26, 1818, Dietirch and Catharine Elisabeth sold their three contiguous properties to their son Abraham for $4,000. (12) It appears that the couple continued to live with Abraham’s family on the old homestead. Dietrich’s name doesn’t appear among the heads of households in Plainfield Township in the 1820 Census. However, the household of the 37-year-old Abraham contained a male 45 or older, almost certainly Dietrich.
However, Catharine Elisabeth died on July 7, 1818, only a few months after the property transaction. (13)
Dietrich died April 1, 1826. He had written his will on the same day that he sold his farm. The will mentions that Abraham had paid only $300 of the $4,000 due for the properties. Abraham was to pay off the remaining $3,700 after his parents’ deaths. He was to make annual payments of $200 to his siblings Jacob, Catharine and Elizabeth in rotation until each had received $925. The remaining $925 of the debt was Abraham’s portion of the inheritance. The will also mentions that Dietrich had given money to his son Frederick beforehand so he would not receive payments like his siblings. Since George is not mentioned in the will and does not appear in census records covering Northampton County in the early 1800s, it seems likely that he died before 1818. In subsequent years, Dietrich wrote codicils to his will that reduced the total figure of Abraham’s indebtedness from $3,700 to $2,800 and then to $2,000.
Dietrich and Catharine Elisabeth are buried in the cemetery across the road from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Plainfield, south of Wind Gap.
(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 Elisabeth’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) The births and baptisms of most of Dietrich’s children are listed in “Church Record of the Plainfield Reformed Church, Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa., Vol. I.” The husbands of the daughters are named in Dietrich’s will. Presumably the earlier Abraham died before 1783, when the latter Abraham was born. George probably died before 1818 because he isn’t listed in Dietrich’s will, which was drawn up in that year. The only mention of Catharine appears in Dietrich’s will, which states she was the wife of Phillip Shierman. Since there’s no baptismal record for Catharine, her birth date is unknown. The 1790 Census indicates that four females lived in the household – these were probably Dietrich’s mother, wife and two daughters – which would indicate that Catharine was born before that time. (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, pages 249, 253 and 254; “First Settlers of the Forks,” pages 401 and 402; and “History of the Plainfield Reformed Church,” by the Rev. W.H. Brong, page 9. (6a) “History of Northampton County and The Grand Valley of the Lehigh,” by William J. Heller, Vol. II, pages 484 and 485. (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) “History of the Lehigh Valley,” page 110. (9) The service as sergeant is listed in militia records available through the Pennsylvania State Archives Web site at www.phmc.state.pa.us. No specific muster dates are listed. 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. (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 are on page 265 and those for 1788 are on page 380. (12) Northampton County Deed Book E-5, page 66. (13) Catharine Elisabeth and Dietrich’s death information is in St. Peter’s burial record, page 10.
JACOB and ANNA BAUER
John Jacob Bauer was born Jan. 11, 1777 in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, Pa., to Dietrich and Catharine Elisabeth Bauer. (1)
Married Anna Hess. (See below.)
Catharine Bauer, born Aug. 12, 1802. Possibly died young.
Jacob Bauer, born April 20, 1804.
Thomas Bower, born Aug. 19, 1806.
Marianne Bauer, born Dec. 15, 1809. Married David Walter.
Margaret Bauer, born about Jan. 6, 1813. Married Daniel Sandt.
Tobias Bauer, probably born June 13, 1816, and died Dec. 12, 1836 of consumption.
Elisabeth Bauer, born Feb. 4, 1819. Married Charles Reeser.
Salome Bauer, or Sarah, born April 8, 1821. Married Joseph Metzger
John Dietrich Bauer, born Oct. 12, 1823, and died Sept. 5, 1825.
Jacob was raised on his father’s farm in Plainfield Township. He is listed separately from his father in the Pennsylvania state census of 1800. However, his name does not appear in that year’s federal census, which indicates that he was still living in Dietrich’s household.
In 1801, Jacob married Anna Hess. (3) Anna was born Dec. 6, 1783, in Northampton County to Jeremiah and Elisabeth Hess. (4) Around the time of Anna’s birth, the Hess family lived in Williams Township, which is near Easton. However, they appear to have lived in Plainfield Township about the time of Anna’s marriage to Jacob. A Jeremiah Hess with roughly the right number of children appears in the township in the 1800 Census.
The Bauers worshiped at the German Reformed church in Plainfield. Most of their children were baptized in that church and Jacob was listed among contributors to a renovation of the church in 1805. (5)
At some point, the family moved southward to Forks Township in Northampton County. Jacob does not appear in the 1810 Census in either Plainfield or Forks Township so it is uncertain exactly where he lived at the time. The move probably occurred after the birth of Margaret 1813, who was the last of their children to be listed among the baptisms at Plainfield Reformed Church. The next child to appear in baptismal records is Elisabeth, who was baptized in 1819 at Salem Union Church in Forks Township.
The 1820 Census lists Jacob Bower in Forks Township. His household contained one male under 10, two males age 10-15, one male 26-44, two females under 10, two females 10-15 and one female 25-44. Two people were engaged in agriculture.
Jacob died Jan. 7, 1825. (6) After his 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. (7)
In the 1830 Census, Anna Bowers is listed in Forks Township. Her household contained one male under 5, one male 15-19, one male 20-29, one female under 5, two females 15-19, one female 20-29 and one female 40-49. Judging from the ages of the people listed, it seem certain that one of Anna’s adult children and his or her spouse where living with her. After consulting the 1840 and 1850 censuses, it seems most likely that the child was Jacob.
Anna’s name does not appear in the 1840 Census, but it seems likely that she was living with her son Jacob in Forks Township. While he and his wife were in their 30s, his household contained one female 50-59, which is the right age range for Anna.
In the 1850 Census, Anna Bowers, age 66, is listed in Jacob’s household.
Anna is frequently listed as Nancy in civil records, especially real estate transactions involving the Hess family in Luzerne County. She does not appear to have been able to write because she always signed with a mark rather than a signature. That was quite common for women in the early and mid-1800s.
Nancy died March 21, 1857. The Bauers are buried at Arndt’s Lutheran Church in Forks Township, just north of Easton. (8)
(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’s Marx Room. (2) The records linking Jacob to his children are a mishmash. Most are in “Plainfield Reformed Church,” appearing on pages 50, 53, 58, 65 and 77. Elisabeth’s birth is recorded in “Church Record of Salem Union Church in Forks Township, Northampton County,” which is available at the Easton Public Library. The births of Margaret and John Dietrich are recorded a St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Easton, which are available at the Easton Public Library. For some reason, Margaret’s birth, but no baptism, is also recorded in the Plainfield record. The dates in these two records conflict with each other and with the date on her tombstone at Forks Cemetery in Forks Township (see Anna Margaret Sandt). The youngest surviving children – Margaret, Tobias, Elizabeth and “Sarah” – are listed in Northampton County Orphan’s Court Record 10, page 270, a record made after Jacob’s death. “Sarah” was actually Salome, who’s listed as “Somla Metzger” in Nancy’s estate papers. Salome’s birth date comes from her tombstone at Niskey Hill Cemetery in Bethlehem (see Findagrave.com). The married names of the daughters appear in Nancy’s estate papers. 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 and this is the correct Tobias. (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 is probably 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. 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. (4) 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.” (5) Plainfield Reformed Church, page 250. (6) Jacob and Anna’s death dates listed in “Burials at Arndt’s Church Near Easton, Pennsylvania,” page 15. Jacob’s estate papers are in Northampton County, File No. 3681. (7) Northampton County Orphan’s Court Record 10, page 270. (8) “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)
Married twice, to a woman surnamed Switzer and to Anna Ernst. (See below.)
Child born to his first wife: (2)
Mary Ann Bower, born Feb. 4, 1830. Married William Walp.
Children born to Anna Ernst:
Jacob D. Bower, born Jan. 12, 1834.
Margaret Ann Bower, born July 17, 1838. Married George Thomas.
John Bower, born Nov. 11, 1842.
Elsa Bower, born March 30, 1844, probably died before 1850.
Thomas J. Bower, born in 1849.
Thomas was born in Plainfield Township but his family moved to Forks Township while he was young.
It appears that Thomas was married for the first time by the late 1820s. The 1830 Census lists Thomas Bowers as the head of a household in Forks Township. The household contained one male age 20-29, one female under 5, one female 10-14 and one female 20-29. This would represent Thomas, his wife and their daughter, Mary Ann, who had been born earlier that year. The older girl – age 10 to 14 – would have been too old to have been the 24-year-old Thomas’ daughter. She was probably a sister of either Thomas or his wife.
The full name of this first wife is unknown. No marriage or birth records have turned up and Mary Ann died before Pennsylvania death records listed the names of the deceased’s parents. 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. If this is accurate, a likely candidate for her father would be Conrad Schweitzer, who is listed relatively close to Thomas in Forks Township in the 1830 Census. Presumably, Thomas’ first wife died sometime between 1830 and 1833.
Thomas married Anna Ernst on Feb. 2, 1834, which was about a month after Jacob’s birth. (3) At that time, he probably still lived in Forks Township since the wedding was recorded in the church book of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in nearby Easton, Pa.
Anna was born Nov. 9, 1809, to Daniel and Magdalene (Leibert) Ernst of Upper Nazareth Township, which was near Forks Township. She was baptized as Anna Justine Ernst, but was frequently listed as Nancy in records. (4)
At some point before 1840, the family moved northwest to Luzerne County, where the family of Thomas’ mother had migrated in the early 1800s. This began a series of moves within western Luzerne County and eastern Columbia County.
Before the first move, the family’s last surname was usually spelled “Bauer” with a few uses of “Bower” in civil records. Thomas signed his name “Bauer” in a 1847 deed. (4a) Afterward, it was usually “Bower.” This probably happened because there were fewer Germans in northeastern Pennsylvania and those who kept records were unfamiliar with German spellings.
The 1840 Census lists Thos Bower in Salem Township, Luzerne County, where his household consisted of one male age 5-9, one male 30-39, one female under 5, one female 10-14 and one female 30-39. One person was employed in agriculture.
While the family lived in Salem Township and neighboring areas, they worshiped at Salem Church, a union church serving both Lutheran and Reformed congregations. From May 1841 to March 1854, Thomas and his family are listed as taking communion there. In addition, John and Elsa were baptized in that church. German was the language used in services and early records. (5) The Bowers are also listed as Lutheran communicants at a similar union church in Nescopeck Township, Luzerne County, from Nov. 23, 1862 to November 1884. (6)
In the 1850 Census, Thomas Bower is listed as a farmer in Centre Township, Columbia County. This household also consisted of Nancy, age 40; Mary A., 20; Jacob D., 15; Margaret A. 12; John, 8; and Thomas, 1.
The Bowers’ second son, John, was mentally disabled. Although early census records don’t give any indication that John was disabled, the 1880 Census lists him as “idiotic” and unable to read or write. The Schedule for Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes notes that John’s “idiocy” began at birth and he was not self-supporting. It states that his head was “small” and that he had never been in a training school.
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 household also consisted of Nancy, age 40; John, an 18-year-old farm laborer; and Thomas, 10. Notes indicate that the younger Thomas was attended school and that Nancy could not read or write. In addition to Thomas’ household, his son Jacob appears to have lived on the property at that time because Jacob’s household is listed beside Thomas’ but Jacob is not listed as owning any real estate.
Interestingly, the census also seems to indicate that the household included the family of Jacob Radler (actually Readler). The family consisted of Jacob, his wife Lydia and their seven children. Among the children was Mary Jane, who would marry the younger Thomas a decade later. It uncertain whether the Readlers actually lived in the same household or the census contains an error.
By 1870, Jacob had moved away but the Bower home was still a busy place. That year’s census lists Thomas Baur as a 63-year-old farmer in Hollenback Township, where he owned real estate valued at $6,000 and personal property valued at $740. Nancy was 61 and keeping house and John was listed as a 26-year-old farmhand. Young Thomas had married in that year and his wife had moved into the household. Thomas is listed as a 21-year-old farmhand and Mary is listed as a 24-year-old domestic servant. In addition, the census lists John Thomas, age 5. John was the son of the Bowers’ daughter Margaret, who was married to George Thomas and lived in Salem Township.
In 1873, Thomas bought land in nearby Nescopeck Township. “Atlas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania 1873” shows T. Baur’s farm in the southwest corner of Hollenback Township, near the border of Nescopeck Township. The Bower farms generally covered about 150 acres, according to Luzerne County deed books. (7)
The 1880 Census lists Thomas Bower as a 73-year-old “gentleman,” a term used for respected retired farmers. His household in Nescopeck Township contained Nancy, age 71, and a 15-year-old listed as “George Thomas.” However, it’s most likely that the boy was actually the same John Thomas who lived in the household in 1870. George Thomas – who was John’s brother and was actually only 12 years old – appears with his parents in Salem Township in the 1880 Census. The Bowers’ son John is listed in the household of his brother younger Thomas, who also lived in Nescopeck.
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.”
A little more than two years later, Thomas and Nancy moved to Ridgely, Md., where their son Jacob had lived since the late 1860s. The communion listings of the Nescopeck church note that Thomas moved there between Nov. 2, 1884, and May 17, 1885.
Nancy died Feb. 9, 1887. (9)
Thomas Bower died Dec. 6, 1890 in Ridgely. His death notice 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.” (10)
Thomas’ will was filed in Luzerne County. (11) In addition to addressing the younger Thomas’ situation, the will provides for the care of John. It 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.” The 1900 Census records that John lived with Jacob in Ridgely. John died there in 1902. (12)
In a codicil that was written Aug. 8, 1882, Thomas left $200 to John Thomas, the grandson listed as living with him in 1870 and 1880. The codicil also mentions: “I further give & bequeath to my son Jacob D. Bower my sausage grinder & stuffer and a lot of grain sacks and also a lot of meat I brought to him.”
(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 are 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. Jacob’s birth date is listed in his death certificate in the Maryland State Archives. Margaret’s birth date appears on her death certificate, available at Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944. Mary and Margaret’s husbands are identified in Thomas’ will. Elsa probably died before 1850 since she does not appear in that year’s census. (3) The marriage to Anna Ernst is recorded in the church book of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Easton, Pa., which is available at the Marx Room at the Easton Public Library. (4) Anna’s birth date appears on her tombstone, “Beneath These Stones: Cemeteries of Caroline County, Vol. I,” page 157. Her parents are identified through Daniel’s will in Northampton County Will Book 6, page 351, which mentions one of his heirs was “my daughter Nancy the Wife of Thomas Bower. The baptismal record is available at the Moravian Archives’ Moravian Roots Genealogy Database, at roots.moravianchurcharchives.org. (4a) Thomas signed his name when the heirs of Anna’s father sold property in Bushkill Township in 1847. The deed appears in Northampton County Deed Book E-8, page 289. (5) “Church Book of the Salem Church.” (6) “Church Book of the Nescopeck Congregation,” which later became Mount Zion. (7) Luzerne County Deed Books 71, page 50; 167, page 370; 168, page545; and 300, page 479. (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) “Beneath These Stones – Cemeteries of Caroline County, Vol. I,” page 157. (10) Denton Journal, Saturday, Dec. 13, 1890. (11) 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. (12) Denton Journal, April 5, 1902.
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 on Aug. 15, 1857, in Luzerne County, Pa. Lucy was born Oct. 12, 1838, in Luzerne County to John and Fanny Hawk. (2)
John Wesley Bowers, born in Nov. 11, 1856.
George Washington Bowers, born in Feb. 22, 1859.
Jacob’s parents moved to Salem Township in Luzerne County, Pa., within a few years of his birth. As Jacob was growing up, his family moved several times within the same general area. They lived in Salem Township in 1840; Centre Township, Columbia County, 1850; and Hollenback Township, Luzerne County in 1860.
In Luzerne County, the family worshipped at union churches, where Lutheran and Reformed congregations met under the same roof. They probably worshiped at a similar church when they lived in Columbia County, but records have not yet turned up. In 1854, Jacob took communion at Salem Union Church. He communed at a similar union church in Nescopeck in starting in 1862, when the family moved to neighboring Hollenback. (4)
In 1857, Jacob married Lucy Ann Hawk. The wedding was performed by the Rev. J. Dorrance, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre. The ceremony is recorded in what appears to be an account book, which notes the service was performed for $1.50. Since surrounding marriage listings are from a wide variety of towns in the area, it seems that Dorrance performed weddings and baptisms as he traveled the area.
In 1860, Jacob was a farmer in Hollenback Township, according to that year’s census. He probably lived on his father’s property because his household is listed next to his father’s and he is not listed as owning any real estate. Jacob’s household also included Lucy, age 21; John W., 2; and George W., 1. He owned personal property valued at $100.
From 1866 to 1868, Jacob owned 3 acres beside his father’s farm in Hollenback Township, according to Luzerne County land records. (5)
About 1868, the family moved to Caroline County, Md. Since they do not appear to have had any connection to eastern Maryland, it seems unusual that they would move south rather than west if they were looking to migrate. However, it seems that cheap land was available in Caroline County at the time. A group of men had decided to plant a city where the Maryland and Delaware Railroad ran by the Choptank River. They named the town Ridgely, after a local pastor who was helping them with their plans. They drew up a street map and started building in the summer of 1867, but they couldn’t attract enough interest to keep up with the bills and the project died within a few months. Soon afterward, a real estate firm set its sights on Ridgely and “for the first decade the most apparent growth lay outside the boundaries of the village. New settlers bought farms in the surrounding country where land was plentiful and cheap.” Jacob’s family was among the settlers mentioned. (6)
The 1870 Census shows Jacob Bowers living in Caroline County’s Second Election District, which was covered by the Greensborough post office. Jacob is listed as a 39-year-old farmer who owned $2,000 in real estate and $200 in personal property. It mistakenly says that he and his entire family were born in Maryland. The household also included Lucy, age 30; Wesley, 11; and George, 9.
Early records usually list the family’s surname 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 Caroline County’s Second District. It says Lucy A. was 43 years old and keeping house and John W. was 22 and working on the farm. The household also contained George W. – age 21 and working on the farm – and his wife Permilla, 21.
Jacob and Lucy sold off several tracks of land during the 1880s and 1890s. In 1885, they 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 town of 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 appear 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 D. Bower as a 66-year-old miller living in Ridgely. He owned a house that was mortgaged. His household contained wife Lucy, age 62, 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 mental disability, which caused him to be listed as “idiotic” in the 1880 Census. The 1900 Census says he could not read, write or speak English. This seems to have been a serious decline from previous censuses, which list him as a farm hand. John died in 1902.
The 1910 Census indicates that Jacob and Lucy had moved in with their son John and his wife, Rosie. John owned the house, which was on Central Avenue in Ridgely. Jacob D. Bowers is listed as 76 years old and having his “own income.” Lucy A. Bowers was 73. John W. was a 52-year-old carpenter. His wife, Rosie B., was 48. The household also contained Beatrice Passwater, a 12-year-old boarder. Beatrice was actually Rosie’s niece, whom John and Rosie adopted several years later. (7)
In that year, Jacob sold a property in Ridgely to his daughter-in-law Rosa for $1,500, according to the Sept. 3 edition of the Denton Journal.
Jacob died Oct. 21, 1910 in Ridgely. His death certificate states he had suffered from “general debility” for about a year and died from “inability to take food.”
After Jacob’s death, Lucy continued to live with 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 80-year-old Lucy living with John, who is listed as Wesley Bowers. The census also inaccurately lists Lucy and John’s mother-in-law. John was a widower. 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 five years.
The Bowes were buried in Ridgely, according to their death certificates, but their graves have not been located.
(1) Information comes from Jacob’s death record at the Maryland State Archives. (2) The marriage of “Mr. Jacob D. Bauer of Hollenback to Miss Lucy Anna Hawk of Newport” is recorded in the pastoral accounts of the Rev. J. Dorrance of First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barres, which is available in “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records,” at Ancestry.com. Lucy’s birth date is listed in her death records in the Maryland State Archives. However, the 1900 Census of Ridgely, Caroline County, Md., 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) “History of Caroline County, Maryland, from its beginning,” by Laura Cochrane, 1920, pages 299-300. (7) According to the 1910 Census, John and his wife had no children. The will of Rosie B. Bower is in Caroline County, Md., Estate No. 1917-217-D.
GEORGE and PERMILLA BOWER
George Washington Bower 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 Bowers, born Nov. 1, 1880.
Charles L. Bowers, born March 21, 1886.
George received his first and middle names because he was born on the anniversary of the birthday of the first president.
His parents moved the family from northeastern Pennsylvania 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.”
In the 1870 Census, George Bowers is listed as a 9-year-old attending school and living with his parents in Caroline County’s Second Election District, which was covered by the Greensborough post office.
George married Permilla Lesnett on Dec. 18, 1879 in Ridgely, Md. The Rev. Joseph Hannaberry, the pastor of the town’s Reformed church, performed the ceremony. (3) Millie was born Feb. 14, 1859, in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa., to Dell W. and Emeline (Potter) Lesnett. (4) The Lesnetts moved to Maryland during the 1870s and later moved back to Beaver County.
For a while after their marriage, the couple lived with George’s parents. The 1880 Census lists George W. Bowers and his wife Permilla as part of the household of Jacob D. and Lucy A. Bowers in Caroline County’s Second District. George is listed as a 21-year-old working on a farm, presumably his father’s. The couple’s marriage record also noted that George was a farmer.
In 1881, George was taxed $4 for road work in Caroline County. (5)
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. (6)
According to family accounts, George had another son in addition to Charlie and Dell. This child, Hosea, was born in December 1899 to Permilla’s sister, Olive, who had lived with the Bowers for a while. Hosea grew up in the household of his grandfather, Dell Lesnett, and used Lesnett as his surname. (7) In the 1920 Census, he is listed as the head of a household in Franklin Township that also included his mother and his uncle John. 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. (8)
The 1900 Census lists George W. Bower as a farmer who owned a farm free of mortgage in Franklin Township. His household also contained Permilla, age 41; Dal D., a 19-year-old farmer laborer; Charls, age 14 and attending school.
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, especially after natural gas was discovered on her father’s property. Permilla also didn’t like her son Charlie’s decision to marry Laura Moyer. She said 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 said 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 illness. (9) The Connoquenessing Valley News reported, “Mr. Bower had been in declining health for several years.” His funeral was held at home, 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. However, even if she was a Christian Scientist in 1913, it should be noted that her funeral in 1934 was conducted by a Reformed minister.
A few months after George’s death, Permilla and her son Charlie sold the farm in Franklin Township to her other son, Dell, for $1,500. This sale occurred on Nov. 7, 1913. (10)
Permilla married Ernest Wehman sometime before 1917, when Ernest J. Wheman and his wife Primilla are listed as living on Grandview near Milton in Zelienople in the Butler County directory. (11) Ernest was born Oct. 22, 1856, in Germany. It’s uncertain when he immigrated because of conflicting information in census records. His first wife, Elizabeth (Bierman), had died Jan. 29, 1913. (12)
In the 1920 Census, the Wehmans are listed as owning a house on New Castle Street in Zelienople. Ernest is listed as a 64-year-old carpenter. Permilla’s age is listed as 60. (13)
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.” (14) It’s uncertain what John’s disability involved. Family tradition says that he and his sister Olive were deaf, but that isn’t indicated in census records. However, John’s World War I draft registration indicates he was “decrepit” and an “imbecile.” (15) John was killed in 1923 when a barn collapsed during a storm. (16)
In the 1930 Census, Ernest F. and Wehman are listed as owning a house worth $7,500 on East New Castle Street in Zelienople. It says Ernest was a carpenter who was born in Germany and immigrated in 1871.
Ernest died April, 6, 1931, in Zelienople. He suffered from chronic bronchitis and died of lung congestion, according to his death certificate.
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. (17)
Family tradition says that she left everything to her son 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) Much of the information in this item came from interviews in 1889 and 1990 with George and Permilla’s grandchildren Edward Bowers and Velma (Bowers) Holfelder and Edward’s wife, Mary (Nye) Bowers. Since George died when Velma was very young, the ultimate sources of most of the information were Charles Bowers and his wife Laura (Moyer). The birth date and parents appear on George’s death certificate, which is available at Ancestry.com, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944.” However, the death certificate lists Maryland as his birthplace, which is incorrect. His correct birthplace is listed in his obituary in the Connoquenessing Valley News, June 5, 1913. The association with Northeastern Pennsylvania is confirmed by the family listing in the 1860 Census of Hollenback Township, Luzerne County, Pa. 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 Butler County Historical Society. The actual tombstone at Zelienople Cemetery, Butler County, Pa., says “1859.” (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 from an undated, unnamed newspaper. (3) “Caroline County Marriages, Births, Deaths – 1850 to 1880,” page 54. Also, Denton Journal, Dec. 20, 1879. (4) Permilla’s parents are listed on her death certificate, which is available at Ancestry.com, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944.” In addition, she is listed as Dell’s daughter in his will in Beaver County Will Book T, page 163. Records that mention her birth are inconsistent. Her birth date is listed as Feb. 14, 1858 on her tombstone. Her death certificate only says “Feb. 14” and skips the year. However, her exact age is listed and subtracting that from her date of death seems to indicate that she was born Feb. 15, 1859. Census records – which are highly unreliable but would seem to be helpful in this case – consistently indicate that Permilla was more likely to have been born in 1859 instead of 1858. “Genealogy of Conrad and Elizabeth (Borger) Hawk,” page 271, says she was born Feb. 14, 1859. It’s uncertain how that date was obtained, but it seems the most likely when all factors are considered. (5) Denton Journal of Denton, Md., Aug. 20, 1881. (6) Beaver County Deed Book 163, page 367. (7) Documents proving this connection have not turned up but the family memory of the situation was very strong when interviews were conducted in the 1980s. In the 1900 Census, Hosea is listed as the 4-month-old grandson of Dell W. Lesnett in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. It lists his birth month as December 1899. Olive J. Lesnett, age 30, also lived in the household. (8) 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. Dell died in Spokane on March 18, 1946. (9) Date of death from death certificate and 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.” (10) Beaver County Deed Book 240, page 401. (11) The Butler County directory for 1917 is at Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. (12) Ernest and Elisabeth’s death certificates are available at Ancestry.com, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944.” (13) Records for the Wehmans are often difficult to locate in computer databases because the name is often spelled Weyman or badly transcribed. Census records for the Wehmans seem to contain more errors than is usual. For example, the census taker in 1920 indicated that Ernest and his parents were born in Pennsylvania and Permilla’s were born in Germany while the opposite was true. And the 1930 Census states that Ernest was 43 years old and Permilla was 41, ages that are about 30 years off. (14) Beaver County docket for March Term, 1921, page 117. (15) United States, Selective Service System, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. (16) Ancestry.com, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944.” (17) The Butler Eagle, Nov. 7, 1934.
CHARLES and LAURA BOWERS
Charles L. Bowers was born March 21, 1886, in Ridgely, Md., to George W. and Permilla (Lesnett) Bowers. (1)
Married Laura Estella Moyer. (See below.)
Velma Bowers, born Oct. 11, 1910. Died July 9, 1994. Married Harry Holfelder.
Cleo Mildred Bowers, born Dec. 27, 1915. Died April 6, 1937. Married Roy Douthitt.
Edward Charles Bowers, born May 16, 1919. Died Aug. 8, 1996.
Omar Bowers, born May 23, 1921. Died June 14, 1997.
Clyde Bowers, born July 9, 1926.
About 1891, Charles’ parents moved from Maryland to western Pennsylvania, where his mother had been born and her family still owned a farm. In the 1900 Census, Charls Bower is listed as a 14-year-old who was living with his family in Franklin Township, Beaver County.
Family traditional remembers one escapade involving Charlie and his brother Dell. When they were young, their parents once left them home alone. The farm had rats and the boys decided to do something about it. They poured kerosene on the tale of one of the rodents and set it on fire. The rat then ran into the house and set the curtains on fire. Fortunately, the boys were able to put out the fire before it caused extensive damage.
On Jan. 27, 1909, Charlie married Laura Estella Moyer in the home of the Rev. H. Meyers, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, Pa.
Laura was born May 8, 1889, in Beaver County, Pa., to Louis Edward and Mariah (Belles) Moyer.
Although most of the Moyers’ ancestors had lived in America for more than a century, the family still spoke German at home. Laura couldn’t speak English very well when she started 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 a 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 – a reference to the large size of many Moyer families in the area.
The 1910 Census shows the newlyweds living with Laura’s parents in Franklin Township. Charles Bower is listed as a 24-year-old teamster. Laura is listed as 20 years old. (3)
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 off Highway 22 in Franklin Township in the Celia Post Office’s rural delivery area 1. (4)
In 1918, Charles registered for the draft for World War I. His registration card indicates that he lived in 1 RFD Fombell, which was the part of Franklin Township covered by the Fombell post office. It also mentions that he was a self-employed farmer. It describes him as being medium height and medium build with blue eyes and brown hair. (4a)
The 1920 Census lists Charles Bower as a 35-year-old farmer living on Camp Run Road in Franklin Township. His household also included Laura, age 33; Velma, 9; Cleo, 4; and Edward, whose age is listed as 0/12, although he would have been almost a year old at the time.
In 1920, the census also shows that the family lived 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, but 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 15, 1923, a hurricane swept through the Bowers farm. It flattened the barn, killing John Lesnett and all the animals. The Ellwood City Ledger reported:
“One man was killed, scores of houses, barns and car stop stations, school houses and churches were blown down, cattle killed, electric lines torn to pieces and telephone communications cut off last night in a hurricane.
“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 farm is owned by Charles Bowers and farmed by the storm victim and his sister.” (5)
The family later 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 44-year-old laborer who held a job in road construction. His household contained his wife, Laura E., age 41; Velma E., age 19; Cleo M., 14; Charles E. (Edward), 10; Omar D., 8; and Clyde L., 3 8/12. The family lived on a farm in Franklin Township and their home was valued at $1,000. They didn’t own a radio.
Apparently, the family moved several times in the mid-1930s. Personal notices in the New Castle News show that the family lived in North Sewickley Township until at least 1935 and in Fombell in 1936.
On June 26, 1937, Charlie and Laura purchased property on the Ellwood City/Zelienople Road – Route 288 – in Franklin Township. (6)
According to family members, 1937 also brought some economic misfortune. A political shakeup in that year led to layoffs for many road workers hired under the previous leadership. Charles and his son Edward were among those who lost their jobs. 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 that 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 his 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 Laura was 50. Both had completed eight years of schooling, which was a very typical amount of education in that area, according to the census. His household included Omar, a 19-year-old paperhanger; and Clyde, a 13-year-old student. It also contained Edward and his young family. Ed was listed as a 20-year-old weight-master at a coal company. Mary was age 20 and Theodore E. was 2. The Bowers home was on Route 288 and was worth $3,000
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. (7)
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. Clyde served in the Navy aboard 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. (8) 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. A newspaper item about their 50th anniversary celebration in 1959 notes: “The couple are members of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. A retired trucker, Mr. Bowers is a member of the church board, serving for six years as chairman. He is also a trustee of the church. Mrs. Bowers has been teacher Sunday school for the past 30 years, working with the adult and youth classes.” (9)
Their grandson, the Rev. Theodore E. Bowers, credited Laura with directing him toward a career in the ministry. 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.” (10)
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 also was an excellent cook. While growing up, she frequently cooked for the Moyer family because she was the oldest daughter.
Laura also enjoyed playing the piano, although she wasn’t very good at it.
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 Bowerses 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.” Although he didn’t want a TV in his house, Charlie wasn’t truly against watching it. He enjoyed boxing and almost every Friday night visited the neighbors so he could watch the fights on TV. After Charlie died, Laura’s sons got her a TV and she enjoyed watching the evening news.
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.
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 from which “Bower” derived and almost certainly in an effort to upset Permilla. However, Charlie still signed his name as “Bower” on some documents into the 1940s.
Charlie died Dec. 13, 1962. (11)
Laura lived in the family home for several years before moving to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Home in Carlisle, Pa., in 1969. She died there Dec. 18, 1974, when she “succumbed to a three-week illness.” (12)
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. (4a) Ancestry.com, “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” (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) Ancestry.com, “U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.” (8) “History of Ellwood City,” page 277. (9) The information comes from an undated clipping from an unidentified newspaper. (10) The Evening Sun of Hanover, Pa., May 30, 1987. (11) The date was provided by Mary (Nye) Bowers. 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. (12) The date was provided by Mary Bowers. The information on the “three-week illness” is contained in Laura’s obituary in an undated clipping from an unidentified newspaper.
EDWARD and MARY BOWERS
Edward Charles Bowers was born May 16, 1919, in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. His parents were Charles L. and Laura Estella (Moyer) Bowers. (1)
Married Mary Louella Nye. (See below.)
Theodore Edward Bowers.
Kenneth Ralph Bowers, born Jan. 10, 1942. Died Aug. 9, 2008.
Robert Lee Bowers, born Sept. 22, 1948. Died Dec. 12, 2003. Married Patricia Marshall.
Ed grew up in Franklin Township and 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 because 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. Many Pennsylvanians went to the town just across the border to be married because there was less bureaucracy and waiting involved.
Mary was born May 10, 1919, in Wurtemburg in Beaver County, Pa. Her parents were Victor Perry and Mary Louella (Graff) Nye. (3)
The Nye family was large and poor. Her father, Perry, lost his job during the Great Depression and took up farming and dug coal for extra money to support his 11 children.
On Feb. 27, 1935, Perry Nye died of a heart attack while digging coal near the family’s home. 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 earned $5 a week, which seemed like a lot of money 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 house on Route 288 in Franklin Township. Laura Bowers taught Mary how to cook and the two always got along very well. Mary said, “I loved her as much as I loved my own mother.” However, Mary didn’t get along quite as well with the strong-willed 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, where they lived for the rest of their lives. (5)
Because Ed had two children and worked in an arms factory, he received four deferments before being drafted into the Army for World War II.
First, 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 was designated recruit number 33 925 758. On Sept. 13, he took out a five-year insurance policy 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 covered only 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) His ship arrived in Europe on March 4. When Ed arrived at the front, he was 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 were in a static position and hot meals were served that day. (11)
By the time Ed joined the regiment, the 60th Infantry had crossed the Rhine River and was moving beyond 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 fell 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 home 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 time 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 cards, board games, bowling, 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) Much of the information in this item comes from interviews with Ed and Mary Bowers in 1989 and 1990. Birth date and parents are listed in Certification of Birth, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, File No. 75749-19. Some 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. Ed once said that he sailed to Glasgow, Scotland, aboard the Queen Mary, the world’s largest ocean liner at the time. However, a listing of voyages by the Queen Mary during World War II – available at www.ww2troopships.com – doesn’t list a trip starting on that date. (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.