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