Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It Was a Bad Decade

Even without the Great Depression, the decade of 1930-1939 was a sad one for the Bowman family of Lexington, Missouri. This is one of my direct line families, and I often wonder how they got through it.

First, the family patriarch, Frank G. Bowman died on February 24, 1930 after suffering a stroke. He was 75, which was a good age for someone of his generation.

Second, Frances Bowman Rogers, aged 42, daughter of the above Frank Bowman and his wife Elizabeth Webb, died of complications of scarlet fever on March 23, 1932. She left a husband, Hugh Rogers and a ten-year-old daughter, Mary Elizabeth.

On July 23, 1932, James Rankin, Jr., son of James Rankin and Bessie Bowman, the oldest daughter of Frank & Elizabeth Bowman, dove into the surf at Malibu, California and broke his neck. He was 19 years old and spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. From family accounts, I don't think his parents ever got over this tragic accident to their only child.

Then on August 11, 1938, death took Mary Anne Bowman Percival, the youngest child of Frank & Bessie Bowman. She was 45 and left a husband, John S. Percival and two sons, John, age 17 and Frank, age 13. After transcribing all the letters my grandparents left behind, I recognize now that Mary was John's great love and I don't think he ever really got over her death. He certainly seems a different person from the rather formal, stern man I knew as grandfather.

So by the end of the decade, Elizabeth Webb Bowman was left with a son, John Bowman who lived with her and a daughter, Bessie Bowman Rankin, who lived in California with her husband and disabled son; also surviving were Hugh Rogers and daughter Mary Elizabeth of Lexington, Missouri  and John Percival and sons John & Frank of Detroit. From their letters, my grandfather thought highly of his in-laws and my grandmother was close to her sisters and mother. She must have been a strong woman to withstand that decade.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

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