BOWERS OF GILLESPIE COUNTY

 

James Philemon Bowers (Sr.)

Born  1836 – Died 1925

 

 

These pages relate the history, as I understand it now, of James Philemon Bowers, born 1836 in Macon, Bibb County, GA.

 

I will begin with excerpting stories from two sources, and then highlighting the discrepancies, as well as the accuracies as I know them.

The following is excerpted from "Families of Kimble County", published by the Kimble County Historical Commission, Frederica Burt Wyatt, Chairman, Junction, Texas 76849, Shelton Press

"From stories passed from generation to generation, it is believed that James Philemon Bowers came over from Scotland, or maybe Ireland as the story goes.

He married Hepsy Ann Johnson (9/17/1835 - 8/8/1907), and lived in Macon, County, Georgia.  He fought in the Civil War.  Immediately after the Civil War, he rented 50 acres of land and planted cotton.  After he sold his crop, he moved his family to Waelder, Texas, in 1865.  They lived there until 1882, when they once again moved westward and settled in Harper, Texas.

There were eight children born to James and Hepsy.  It is believed the older ones were born in Georgia, and the younger ones in Texas.  The children were John, George, Charles, Robert, James Jr., Stonewall, Fannie and Julia.

Fannie died (cause unknown) when she was twenty years of age.  James, Jr. is buried in Junction Cemetery.  His tombstone reads, Pvt. 28th Brigade Texas Militia, Conf. St. Army.  Charles Joseph and Robert Lee both married and raised their families in or around Kimble County."

While it is probable that earlier generations of the James Bowers family immigrated from Scotland or Ireland, it wasn't James Sr.   We know now from census records and other sources that he was born in Macon, GA in 1836.   James Sr. can be traced back to David Bowers Sr. of the Old 96th District, Edgefield, S.C. (David Bowers, 1720 - 1793), Philip Philemon, John Bowers then James Sr.).   He actually moved to Texas in 1870.

His wife is listed in various records as Hepsey, Essa,and Anna.  Her name is listed in their marriage record, recorded in Stewart County, GA as Epsa Ann.

The note in the story above about James Jr. being buried in Junction Cemetery is incorrect.  I do not know who the James Jr. listed above might be, but James Bowers Jr., son of James Sr, died in 1935 and is buried in Harwood, Texas (obituary, The Gonzales Inquirer, March 18, 1935).  He was too young to have served in the Army of the Confederacy, having been born in 1865.

 

The following is excerpted from the book "Here's Harper: 1863 - 1963" published by the Centennial Committee, Harper, Texas

"The Bowers Family
John and W. P. Bowers were two brothers who were early settlers in this area.  W. P. Bowers married a Middleton girl, and he was one of the four men who organized the first school in Harper.  John Bowers had four sons:  John, Charlie, Stonewall, and Bob.  He came to Harwood about 1884.  He was a Confederate veteran from Georgia and had many stories to tell about the war and its ravages.  He was well off financially, his health was good, his sons were strong, and they made a good addition to the town.

John Bowers donated the land for the Harper Baptist Church.  He was a deacon in the Baptist Church and led the prayer meetings on Wednesday nights.  The young folks always enjoyed going to prayer meeting and hearing him tell his war stories, which always had a good moral.  He also taught a singing school.  He predicted the end of the world when a total eclipse of the sun was mentioned in the almanac.

Once when there was an unusually severe drouth, Mr. Bowers called an extra prayer meeting and prayed for rain for two days.  His prayer was answered immediately and the rain came in torrents.  Fences were washed away and gardens destroyed.  The Perdenales was on the biggest rise ever known.  Some of his friends then insisted that Mr. Bowers specify the amount of rain he would ask for after that experience.

Mr. Bowers finally moved to Segovia where he had an irrigated farm on the Llano and didn't have to pray for rain any more."

While some elements of this account may be accurate, and some of the humorous accounts true, some portions are incorrect.  There was no W. P. Bowers.  James P. Bowers Sr. moved to Texas from Georgia in 1870 after the Civil War.

The John Bowers mentioned in the above account was actually J.P.'s oldest son John William Bowers, born in 1858 in GA.   James and Epsa had a total of 13 children (1900 census) of which only 6 were still living at the time of the 1900 census.  His other children were:  Mary Francis b. 1855, George W. b. 1860 (mentioned above), Julia A. b. 1861, James P. Jr. b. June 23, 1865, Edward T. b. 1866, Stonewall J. b. April 29, 1868 (mentioned above), Robert Lee b. June 22, 1870 (Bob from above), and Charles Joseph b. December 26, 1877 in Bastrop County, Texas.  Charles was the only one of their children born in Texas..

The "W.P. Bowers" mentioned above who married a Middleton girl, was actually James P. Bowers Jr.   He married Maggie Alma Middleton, also of Harper, in 1887.   But he was married again two years later to Minnie Ford White in Gonzales County.   I can only assume that Maggie Middleton died in the intervening two years, presumably in childbirth, but I have no proof of this.

John Bowers (the son of J.P.) did in fact donate land for a Baptist Church in Harper, and J.P Bowers was involved in founding their first school.

James Philemon Bowers was born in March of 1836 (1900 Census), in Macon, Bibb County, GA.

 

He was born into the union of John Bowers (b. 1812 in SC) and Frances Dobbs.  John and Frances were married August 9, 1832.

 

To date, the only sibling record I have found (or that other researchers have found) is for a sister, Keziah Bowers.

 

Apparently, they were orphaned sometime before they became teenagers and were partially raised by an Uncle (this is documented in J.P.s application for Confederate Pension, by an affidavit signed by a cousin, T.J. Bowers).

 

I have to date, found no census information for J.P or Keziah prior to 1870 in GA (1870 GA census, Quitman County, GA.  Additionally, I have found no census information for J.P after the 1900 census in Texas.

 

James married Epsa Ann Johnson (b. 9-17-1835 in NC) in Stewart County, GA on January 5, 1854.  This is recorded in marriage books / records for Stewart County.

 

According to the 1900 Census, James and Epsa had a total of 13 children during their married life together.  However, by the time of the 1900 census, only 6 children remained living.  Their last child, Charles Joseph was born in Texas on December 26, 1877.  All of the other children were born in GA, some before the Civil War, and some after.  It is assumed that 4 of their children died in or very shortly after childbirth, as only 9 of their 13 children are mentioned in any of the census records from 1870 until 1900.  (Birth years for most of their children are estimated from ages given at the time of various census records).

 

James and Epsa’s children were:

 

Mary Francis Bowers, b. 1855

John William Bowers, b. 1858

George W. Bowers (possibly Washington as a middle name), b. 1860

Julia A. Bowers, b. 1861

James Philemon Bowers, b. June 23, 1865, d. 1935

Edward T. Bowers, b. 1866

Stonewall J. Bowers (probably Jackson), b. April 29, 1868

Robert Lee Bowers (probably for Robert E. Lee), b. June 22, 1870

Charles Joseph Bowers, b. December 26, 1877

 

By the time of the 1900 census, the only children who remained living were:

 

John William Bowers

George W. Bowers

James Philemon Bowers

Stonewall J. Bowers

Robert Lee Bowers

Charles Joseph Bowers

 

It is interesting that James P. Jr. was born so near the end of the hostilities of the Civil War.  Especially given that James Sr. served in the Army of the Confederacy during that conflict.

 

There is a notation in the affidavit of T. J. Bowers (J.P.’s cousin) noting that he remembered J.P. being home on a furlough sometime during 1864.

 

James served throughout most of the hostilities during the Civil War.

 

He enlisted or mustered in 1861 from Stewart County, GA.   He was a private in the 61st Regiment, Company F, GA Infantry (also known as the 7th Battalion or “Stark Guards and “Wiregrass Rifles”).  There are apparent discrepancies in some of the war records of his service.

 

CSA records show:

 

He was wounded in Sharpsburg, MD in the hip in 1862.

 

He was a POW in Fredricksburg, VA from December 1862 until he was paroled in May of 1863 in Richmond, VA.

 

He apparently returned to the Confederate Armies because he was later captured and was a POW again at Spotsylvania, VA in May of 1864.

 

He was paroled for exchange in March of 1865.

 

But a note sent from the War Department, Adjutant General’s Office in November of 1919 (in support of his application for Confederate Pension) states that he was captured at North Anna, May 8, 1862 and was paroled at Point Lookout, MD and transferred to Aiken’s Landing, VA March 17, 1865.  Received at Boulware’s Wharf, March 19, 1865.  Later paroled at Albany, GA May 16, 1865.

 

In the application for Confederate Pension, James states in his own affidavit that “I was honorably discharged or surrendered at Tallahassee Florida, sometime in May 1865, cause final surrender of the Armies of the South”.

 

James did return to Georgia and his family after the cessation of hostilities of the Civil War.  He listed his occupation in the 1870 census as “farmer”.

 

James is listed with his household in the 1870 Census, for Stewart County, GA. 

 

Specifically, he is found in the census for the Georgetown P.O., Quitman County.

 

James Sr. is listed in the 1870 Census for the Georgetown P.O., Quitman County, Georgia area. He is listed with wife “Epsy” and 8 children (Mary F., John W., G. W., Julia A., James, Edward T., Stonewall J. and R. L.

 

Sometime in 1870, after the 1870 census, James and Epsa moved their family to Texas.  James stated in his application for Confederate Pension in 1919, that he had been a resident of the State of Texas, “since 1870, for about 49 years”.

 

Various relatives have related differing stories of how the family migrated to Texas.  One story has it that the family boarded a steamboat or steamship from GA and sailed to Galveston Island, where they outfitted with a wagon train and traveled to Segovia, Texas and settled on a section of land.

 

Another story relates that the family traveled overland from GA to TX, in a small wagon train, driving a herd of brood mares to sell in Texas and buy farmland.

 

However they came to be in Texas (this author tends to believe the overland route), they did not intitally settle in Segovia, Texas.  John Bowers, the eldest son, did apparently relocate to the Segovia area sometime after 1900 and acquired land there. (Here’s Harper 1863 – 1963 and he is still in the 1900 census in Gillispie County).

 

The early Bowers settlers in Texas appear to have been a somewhat nomadic lot, having moved a number of times between 1870 and 1900.

 

In 1880, James, his wife and 5 of their then 8 living children were living in Jeddo, Bastrop County, Texas.

 

This is enumerated in the 1880 census in Vol. 2, ED 10, Sheet 7, Line 19.  He is listed here as head of household.  It notes that he was 45 years old at the time of this census.  His wife was listed in this census as “Anna”.  They were listed as having 5 children living with them: Julia A. Bowers 18 y/o, James Jr. 16 y/o, Robert L. Bowers 10 y/o, Charles J. Bowers 3 y/o and Stonewall Bowers 12 y/o.  No mention in this census of a Edward, presumably deceased. (He would have only been 14 as of the date of this census, therefore not likely to have been married or head of a household of his own).

 

In 1900, James was still living in Gillispie County, Texas.

 

He is listed in the 1900 Census as residing in Gillispie County, Texas. Listed as a farmer who owned his own farm free and clear. In this Census, information is found in Vol. 46, ED 35, Sheet 6, Line 62. He is listed as being married to Anna, his wife of 46 years at that time. He was 65 at the time of the Census. This Census lists both of his parents as being born in South Carolina. He and wife Anna are listed as the parents of 13 children, with only 6 living at the time of the Census.

 

For the 1900 Census, they are listed as having their son, Charles, with his wife Lizzie, and their children Annie and Walter residing with them.

 

There is no census data available (or that I have found) for James after 1900.

 

James wife Epsa Ann died on August 9, 1907, in Junction, Kimble County, Texas.

 

In 1919, James applied for a Texas State Confederate Pension.  One of the people who signed an affidavit for his application is a T.J. Bowers, who states he is James' cousin, and that James was partially raised by his father.

 

This application was submitted December 7, 1919 and approved January 17, 1920.  It is interesting to note that the application was filed in Medina, Bandera County, Texas.  James notes in his affidavit that he had been in residence in Bandera County for 6 months.  His stated age at the time of the application was 83 years old.  He stated in his affidavit that he was a farmer by occupation and that his physical condition was “good”.  However, he states that he has “no home now” and that the value of his other property was $500.00

 

One of the attachments to his application (from the State and County Assessor for Kimble County, states that he was charged on the tax rolls of Kimble County with a “homestead of the value of no dollars, and other property, personal or both, of the value of 625.00.

 

In a letter that James sent to the Board of Pensions in December of 1919, he stated “I am needing a little help awful bad in my old age”.

 

James drew his pension until the time of his death in 1925.  He died on December 20, 1925.  At the time of his death, he was living in Junction, Kimble County, Texas, with his grand daughter Annah Katherine Bowers Phillips (daughter of Charles Joseph) and her husband, Charles Craten Phillips.

 

James’ son, Robert L. Bowers, filed the “Application for Mortuary Warrant” to terminate his pension benefits on January 2, 1926.

 

James is buried in Junction, Kimble County, Texas

 

 

Sources

 

"Families of Kimble County", published by the Kimble County Historical Commission, Frederica Burt Wyatt, Chairman, Junction, Texas 76849, Shelton Press

 

"Here's Harper: 1863 - 1963" published by the Centennial Committee, Harper, Texas

 

1870 Census of the United States for the State of Georgia

 

1880 Census of the United States for the State of Texas

 

1900 Census of the United States for the State of Texas

 

Roster of Confederate Soldiers of Georgia 1861 – 1865

 

Soldiers Application for a Pension – State of Texas – Filed by James P. Bowers in 1919

 

Marriage record book for Stewart County GA

 

FamilySearch International Genealogical Index – Marriage Records – Film Number 6142802

 

Interview with Ottie Lee Bowers Jr.

 

Interview with Wilbur V. Bowers