Gene Notes

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mary Elizabeth Bowman nee Chinn

Last Saturday for my Sympathy Saturday topic, I spoke of my great-great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Chinn Bowman and that she never remarried. One of my readers commented on that and wanted to know why.

Well, I can think of a few reasons, the first being a lack of men of a certain age after the war was over. Also, g-g grandma Mary Bowman had some children she was raising, Joseph who by the end of the war was 16, Edwin age 13, Frank 11 and Clifton age 7. Mary was named guardian of her minor children (daughter Isabelle was married prior to the war to George Mountjoy) and set about the task of raising them without a father.

Here is what I know about her children:

1. Isabelle Bowman born August 26, 1838 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, died April 23, 1912 in St. Louis, Missouri. She married George Mountjoy on November 1, 1857 in Lexington, Missouri, they had 11 children, 4 of whom died during infancy or childhood. George was born September 1836 in Mason county, Kentucky and died June 5, 1904 in Lexington, Missouri.

2. John C. Bowman, born about 1840 in Kentucky and died August 13, 1858 in Lexington, Missouri.

3. Joseph W. Bowman was born July 1849 in Lexington, Missouri and died December 10, 1919 in Kansas City, Kansas. He married Susan A. (maiden name unknown). Joseph appears on the 1880 census living with his mother and brothers. However, the 1900 census states that Joseph and Susan were married for twenty-five years, that would be 1875. They had 3 children, Robert T., Daisy & Leroy. Robert and Daisy were both born before 1880. Joseph had an uncle Robert Todd Bowman, possibly his son was named for his uncle.

4. Edwin F. Bowman, born January 28, 1852 in Lexington, Missouri and died August 5, 1930 in St. Louis. He married Alice V. Robinson February 16, 1882 in St. Louis. She was born March 1, 1864 in Ashtabula county, Ohio and died August 31, 1947 in St. Louis. They had 4 children. Edwin and his brother Frank established the Lexington News.

5. Frank G. Bowman, my great-grandfather, was born September 4, 1854 in Lexington, Missouri and died there on February 24, 1930, after a stroke. Family pictures show that Frank had suffered a stroke prior to the one that finally killed him. Frank married Elizabeth "Lizzie" Webb April 3, 1883. Lizzie was born June 12, 1861 in Waverly, Missouri and died October 8, 1949 in Lexington, Missouri. She was the daughter of John "Garland" Webb and Elizabeth Custis Carter. They had four children, Bessie, John, Frances and Mary. Bessie married James Rankin, John never married, Frances married Hugh Rogers and Mary married John Percival. Both Frances and Mary died young, Frances in 1932 at the age of 42 of complications from scarlet fever and Mary died at the age of 45 while on vacation in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

6. Clifton, the youngest child is 2 years old and listed as Cliff on the 1860 census. In 1870, Cliff becomes Peter and he and Frank are in reverse birth order, with "Peter" born in abt 1855 and Frank in 1858. In 1880, Clifton now is listed as age 20 and as a brakeman on the railroad. This is also the last time he is heard of. However, on the 1900 census, his mother is listed as the mother of 6 children with 5 living. If indeed, Clifton were still living this would be correct. Unfortunately, however, he disappears from records.

Even though my father would sometimes spend summers with Maw-Maw Bowman (Elizabeth Webb Bowman) he only knew what we found in the newspaper articles my uncle had saved. Dad was 13 when his own mother died in the waning years of the depression. So any stories she had to tell were gone. Aunt Bessie, my grandmother's oldest sister lived in Claremont, California with her son, James Rankin, Jr. who had been seriously crippled in a diving accident when he was 18. He never walked again and whatever money had been earned and saved by her husband was spent caring for her son and later his wife, Amelia, who was a polio victim. James Jr died in 1958, his mother two years later. Bessie never recovered emotionally from the devastation of James' accident. John Bowman, grandson of Mary Elizabeth Chinn and John Parker Bowman, never married. When dad would spend part of the summer with him after his own mother died, Uncle John and he would scour the battlefield of Lexington, Missouri for minie balls.

Why weren't Mary Chinn Bowman's children mentioned in the obituary? I have no idea. Her son, Frank was still editor of the paper in 1900, maybe by 1904 he wasn't and they didn't want to spend the extra money to pay for a decent obituary? So often, a woman's life is ignored. However, if it weren't for this woman, what would have become of her children after their father's death?

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. I wonder how she supported them? And why is "Garland" in quotes? Wasn't that his middle name?

  2. It was his middle name, but he was called Garland, not John. There was another John Webb in the county.

    Unfortunately, no letters from this side of the family exist.