James Philemon Bowers, b. 1836, Macon, GA.Died 1925, in Junction, Kimble County, Texas.
It is believed or assumed that James Philemon Bowers is the son of John W. Bowers b. 1812 in S. Carolina and Frances Dobbs.
John and Frances were married in 1832 in S. Carolina.It is assumed that they had at least 2 children, James Philemon and Kezziah (DOB unknown).
John W. Bowers is the son of Philip Philemon Bowers, b. 1788 in SC and deceased 1857, Stewart County, GA.
Philip Philemon is the son of David Bowers and Ann (maiden name unknown) who died in 1793 - 1796 in the Old 96th District, Edgefield, SC.
The lineage of David, to Philip Philemon to John is proven and well documented by a number of Bowers family researchers.
The lineage from James Philemon to myself (and a number of 2nd and 3rd cousins, through any number of children of James and Epsy Ann) is well documented and proven.
Background.James married Essa / Epsy Ann Johnson, in Stewart County, GA in 1854.He served in the Civil War.They had a total of 13 children, of whom only 6 or 7 survived into adulthood.
The family moved to Texas in 1870.The moved about around Texas for some time.Various census records show them in Gillespie Co, Gonzales Co, Kimble Co., Bastrop Co. and Bandera County.
These movements are proven and documented via census records, marriage records, birth and death records, cemetery records, James' application for Civil War pension and various family histories.
Problem.While the lineage of David, to Philip Philemon to John is proven and well documented by a number of Bowers family researchers, the connection from John to James is unproven.
Likewise, while the lineage from James Philemon to myself (and a number of 2nd and 3rd cousins, through any number of children of James and Epsy Ann) is well documented and proven, the connection to John and Frances Dobbs Bowers is unproven.
While many researchers have listed James Philemon Bowers as a child of John and Frances, I have seen no documented proof or evidence of this connection.Frankly, it is my suspicion, while as yet unfounded, that what has proliferated across the internet, is a case of one person saying it is so, and a number of other researchers simply copying the links, adding or inserting the information into their own line without evidence (which I admit I have been guilty of) or many cross links between trees on Ancestry.com, as an example.
But as many times as I have seen these claims of the connection between John Bowers and James Philemon, I have not yet seen a document that can prove that connection.This would have to be in the form of census records, marriage records, birth or death records, wills or probates, guardianship records, family Bible records etc.To date, I have seen / nor found any such evidentiary proof.
As a matter of fact, I know of a couple of researchers trying valiantly to document this connection to prove eligibility for entry into various historical societies (such as the DAR).To date, they have been unable to make this connection with sufficient evidentiary proof to gain membership in the societies.
Various researchers have placed John geographically in various locales (SC, NC, GA) from 1832 through 1880.But they have not documented their source records (census minimally).So I am not convinced that this John is our common ancestor.
A number of researchers have documented a Kezziah Bowers as John's daughter. However , upon closer examination or reflection upon their source documents (mainly census records), it is clear that the Kezziah in question is the daughter of Philip Philemon.It is known that he had a daughter born in 1836.
But is also known from his will that he left some property to a granddaughter Kezziah, daughter of John.So we can indeed minimally make that connection.But no connection can be made or assumed from this to James Philemon.
I have found no census records for any time from 1836 (James Philemon's birth) to his marriage in 1854 that would place him with the household of John Bowers and Frances Dobbs Bowers.What is interesting, is the discovery of a Jas (presumably James) Bowers in the 1850 census, but residing with a family not his own.In the 1850 census, Stewart County, GA, 20th Dist, enumerated 21st day of Nov, 1850, on page 280, line 20, there is a Joseph Scott family.Lists wife Amanda, and two children Abraham and Mary.It also lists a Jas. Bowers, age 15, male, farmer, place of birth, GA.
I find this significant and will explain in more detail in a different paragraph below.
Having stated the above in terms of the problem, I am however, inclined to believe or think that James Philemon Bowers was indeed the son of John, grandson of Philip Philemon and great grandson of David Bowers of Edgefield Co. SC. and that we (myself and James Philemon descendents) do in fact descend from this line.
While not documented, there are some reasonably sound and logical reasons for making the connection between John Bowers and James Philemon.They are not sufficient to satisfy documentation or evidentiary requirements to gain entrance into a genealogical society, but on the surface, and anecdotally, they can aid us in our search for the truth.Additionally, they do give us some possible direction in terms of where we search for information.
A couple of the primary reasons that i think we can draw this conclusion are below:
1. Geographic - Many of the other documented Bowers' of this line also originate in SC and end up in GA during the mid 1800's.There is a likelihood that they are related or allied families who moved around together.Many Bowers' in the census records of the early to mid 1800's claim their birth or origin in the same area of SC.They all also lived in close proximity in GA during census periods.
2. Common names - the common thread of naming convention within the line.especially the use of Philemon as a first or middle name across generations.
3. Related to the above, it is noteworthy that during early colonial times in America, it was very common for families to follow a standard patronymic naming convention.By that i mean, they named children after forebears.Common practice was that a 1st son was named after the father's father (grandfather).In this case, note that James Philemon Bowers could be the grandson of Philip Philemon if John did name his first born son after his father.Likewise, James Philemon named his first born John W. (different middle name).So he could have been naming his first born after his own father.Conjecture to be sure, but well grounded in common practice of that time.
4. There are probably other items that we could name that could lead to assumptions, but the above mentioned are my most compelling.
More recent facts we can document.Lastly, an item that recently came to my attention, has given the argument that James is son of John more weight.
It is well documented (census, marriage and other records) that Philip Philemon Bowers had a son, David Bowers.That son married Dorcas Croone Stanley and that union produced various children.This line is well documented and proven via various records.
These children would have been 1st cousins to any off spring of John and Frances Dobbs.
One of the aforementioned children was Thomas W. Bowers, b. 1848 in GA.Again, he would have been a first cousin to James Philemon.
I have documented Thomas or T. J. Bowers from his family when he was still living at home as a child (through census records - i can provide upon request) through his residence in Texas (again through various census records, i can provide upon request).
Two compelling factors tie this all up neatly though.
1. In the 1880 census, in Gonzales County, Texas, enumerated on 17th of June 1880, page 45, supv district 6, enumeration district 69, there is a Thomas W. Bowers, married with one child.Listed as residing in that household is George W. Bowers.The relationship listed is cousin.I am pretty certain that this is the same George W. Bowers, son of James Philemon and Essa Ann, b. 1860, in GA:.Information provided in census (age, where born, father place of birth and mother place of birth) all coincide with this George Bowers.
2. More compelling though is the relationship to T. W. Bowers that is mentioned in James' 1919 application for Civil War pension.(I have this application and associated affidavits that i can share).James applied for a Civil War pension in 1919, while residing in Bandera County, Texas.Submitted as a proof and supporting documentation with this application was an affidavit provided and signed by T. W. Bowers.In this document, he states that he knew for sure of James' war record, enlistment date etc, because James was known to him.He further stated that "my father partly raised him".This indeed leads me to believe was a cousin to Thomas W., and therefore a definite descendent of Philip Philemon, most probably through John W.
Speculation.Given that T. W. Bowers indicates his father partly raised James, and the lack of census records (at least thus far) that show a John Bowers living with children named James, i cannot help but wonder if something happened to the Bowers family, causing children to either be orphaned, or causing them to have to live with relatives or other allied families.
James married in 1854.He shows up in census records regularly from 1870 onward.However, unless the Jas Bowers living with a Scott family in 1850 is indeed him, I have as yet located no records of him prior to 1870..
Next steps.I think that research in this area needs to focus on any birth or death records, probate, wills, estate records, guardianship of minor children etc.Additionally, this should be focused on John W. Bowers, Frances Dobbs Bowers and in the Stewart County and Quitman County GA region from 1840 - 1860.This will likely entail significant correspondence with genealogical societies and / or records archives in that area, or researchers traveling to those locales to conduct research.
I also think itwill be fruitful to search in earnest for any proven descendents of T. W. Bowers, and / or proven descendents of Philip Philemon from one of the other lines for the purposes of DNA testing.
If you have any information that might shed additional light on this, please correspond with me at [email protected]