By Mavis Bowen Cox-Burton, Feb, 2005


Adam Bowen was one of the early settlers of the Big Sandy Valley of Kentucky. His

descendants intermarried with families of  other early settlers: the Wards, Castles,

Copleys,  Chapmans,  Stapletons,  Packs,  Mollets , Johnsons et al.    Adam’s parentage and nationality is unknown to this writer.   Could  the difficulty in tracing his ancestry  in PA be due to a  change in spelling of his Surname phonetically  by a  Ky  bureaucrat 

influenced by the fame of Hugha Bowen across the Tug River in Wayne Co.,  VA

(WV)?.  This writer has found no family  connection to Hugha Bowen. 


According to several successive Ky censuses,  Adam Bowen was born in 1783  in PA

(probably Washington Co. which later became part of VA)   .  Adam m. Rhoda Wooten

(b. ?NC)  probably ca. 1800. According to the 1820 census her parents, Silas Penix & Phoebe Blevins Worth Wooten lived near Adam.  Silas  P. Wooten  was a Revolutionary War Veteran.  .


The lst record of Adam Bowen  in the Big Sandy Valley appears to be  in the Floyd Co.  tax list of 1810   (Pioneer Families of Eastern & S.E. Ky., by Kazee.

When Lawrence Co. was formed in 1821, from parts of Greenup and Floyd Counties, 

a boundary description  included  Adam’s home as follows: “…thence a straight line to

the first point above Adam Bowen’s; thence with the ridge between the waters of Greasy

Creek and Rockcastle …”   In  one  censuses, his occupation was “manager of a mill”


In the 1830 census, his household consisted  of  2 boys ages 5-10, 1 boy 10-15, l male 40-50 (?Adam)  , and l male 70-80.  There is l female 10-15, l female 15-20, l female 30-40 (?Rhoda) , and l female 60-70.   One wonders if the older adults are his parents,  whose names are unknown to this descendant.

.  . 

Most published data indicate Adam and Rhoda’s children (listed below not in birth order)

were  James (m. Mary Ann Vernatta);  Elizabeth ( m. Hezekiah Ward);  John  (m.

Elizabeth Chapman);  Mary Jane (m. Basil Stapleton;)   Matilda (m. William Pack); 

Daniel (m. Cynthia Mollett);  Henry (m. Mary Pack);  William (m. Nancy Williamson); 

Phoebe (m. Lindsay Castle);  and Alfred (m. Mahala Jane  Castle. Mahala is often

confused with her sister Matilda).  Lindsay and Mahala were children of Zedediah and 

Julia Ann Penix Castle.  Zedediah’s ancestors include Jacob Castle Jr., and

Native American  Mary and Dennis Shane (Shawnees)   Jacob Jr was the son of Jacob

Castle Sr and  Native American Sowega.  .


Adam’s son Alfred is listed in some family histories as “Thomas Alfred” although I have

found no record of the name “Thomas” in any official record.  I believe he may have

been confused with his maternal uncle, Thomas Alfred Wooten. 


From “A History of Johnson Co. Ky “ by  Mitchell Hall:  in a list of persons residing in

Johnson Co. when it was formed…1844-1848: Henry and Daniel Bowen are listed, as

                                                                                                                                    P.  2

well as Lindsey Castle, Benjamin Cary, and Bazwell Castle.  In the Floyd Co. Tax List of

10-4-1837 are Alfred Boin (Bowen),  Lindsey Castle, and  Baswell Castle.

In the 1844 Johnson Co. Tax List, Adam,  Daniel, and Henry Bowen were listed. 


 In an article by Billie Edyth Ward in 1984, Adam’s son Daniel was described as” a

restless individual who owned land in a variety of locations, but sooner or later he traded

or swapped it away.  Some of his holdings were locations on the Left Fork of Two Mile

Creek, Banjo Branch, etc.  He was a hunter who loved the stealthy pursuit of game as

well as the chase.  He kept a number of dogs suited to various kinds of game. This

affinity to the outdoors environment led  to the saying:  “All a Bowen ever needed was a

dog, a skinning knife, and a rifle—with that he could make it.

“The long silences of the woodlands were counteracted by the natural loquacity of Daniel

Bowen when he found an audience.  He has been referred to as the ‘Baron Munchausen

of Lick Creek’.”


In Johnson County Land Grants, Adam Bowen was granted 200 A. on Bakers Br. In

1846 ;, Daniel received 20 A. on Greasy Cr in 1865;   & Henry Bowen 50 A. on Toms Cr

in 1845.


Adam and Rhoda Bowen are listed in subsequent  Lawrence Co.  Ky.  censuses.  In the

1850 census, Adam & Rhoda, 67 and 62, are listed in HH 175 with son Henry & Mary

Bowen and their  children Frances, Elizabeth, John, Phebe, George & Safera.  Rhoda died 

in 1855.  We find Adam in the 1860 census,  age 77  ,HH 1081, married to Mary Gibson,

Age 47,  with Gibson children  Abraham, Mary, Lydia, & Shadrack.   Adam’s 

occupation is listed as manager of mill.


(I would welcome information about Mary  Gibson, who was probably a widow at the

time she married Adam .  MBC-B).


Adam probably died soon thereafter, as this is the last record of him I have found..Son

Alfred and Mahala Jane  Castle Bowen had a large family, including  son

Franklin Bowen who in 1859 m. Margaret Cary, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Cary. 

Franklin Bowen served in Co. F, 45th Regiment, Ky Infantry Volunteers in the Civil War

In his Declaration for Pension, he is described as 5’10” tall, light complexion, light

colored eyes, light colored hair.  He lists his children as Louis (sic),  W.H., Hannah,

Ambrose, Alfred, Ary , Rosity, Benjamin, and Alen (sic).


Franklin and Margaret’s son Lewis, b. 1860,  married Martha Johnson in 1877,

daughter of George  W. and  Mary Polly Damron Johnson and had a large family.  .  

Franklin’s brothers Henderson and Shadrack (Ralph) married Martha Johnson’s sisters

Phoebe and Amanda Elizabeth (Amy or Ama).    





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 Lewis and Martha Johnson’s   son  Millard m. Mary Jane Moore in 1901, daughter of

Harrison and Alifair Copley Mosely Crum Moore,    daughter of James Dickie  and

Margaret Copley.   Mary Jane’s father, Civil War veteran  Harrison Moore,   died shortly

after her birth in 1882. 



 Mary Jane Moore Bowen  died suddenly before 1915,  leaving three young

children, including my father, Blaine Bowen .   In  1921, Blaine m. Ollie Marie Spears,

descendant of the Smyth  & Justus families  in Hurley, Va.    Blaine worked for the N&W

RR as did his father Millard.



Blaine died of tuberculosis at the age of 36 in Lindsay, WV, leaving a widow and 5

children: Mavis, Willis, Donald, Wannis, and Joan Carole.  .  It is a sad coincidence that

Blaine, his mother Mary Jane , and her father Harrison Moore  all  died before age 40. 

This writer is Blaine’s oldest child, Mavis Bowen Cox-Burton.  My e-mail address is

included, and I would welcome additions or corrections to this brief family history.

I have absolutely no information about great-grandfather Harrison Moore,b. ca.

1840 in WV, Civil War vet.  Alifair’s pension application yielded only information about her life.  . I would especially welcome any information about him.

His and Alifair’s  elder daughter Hester Ann Moore is believed to have married into the

Evans family.   If so, perhaps some of Hester’s descendants have some information.


This article has been profoundly influenced by generous sharing of family data by newly-

Found cousins:  Betty Chaffin Lambert in FL. (Johnson/Keaton ancestry);Randal

Bowling and his extensive family histories; Sue Gordon in Arizona who sent me a huge

parcel of priceless Bowen data; Libby Preston, Nancy Morrison & the Cary Girls, as

well as letters and pictures from dear cousin Grover Bowen, now of Norfolk, VA, son of

Christopher Bowen, who tied up many loose ends, and other unnamed relatives.  Early

on in the 1970’s when I was searching fruitlessly in Wayne Co. files, cousin Bertie Starrs,

though severely crippled and bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis, sent painfully

handwritten letters with information which finally  sent me in the right direction to the

Big Sandy Valley.


I think often of the difficulties in the lives of our forefathers  and especially our foremothers.  Small cabins, usually 2-room and loft, cooking in fireplaces for a brood of hungry children and usually pregnant;  no nearby markets to run to for a loaf of bread & jar of peanut butter;   laundry facilities a nearby creek or heating water in an iron pot used also for making hominy and lye soap;  caring for farm animals and a garden; I do not know how they managed.


Tributes  are due to all of those who went before.  I wish I could have known them personally.

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