Live For Today,
Hope For Tomorrow!!
Jones and Elmira Bowen?
These photos are circa 1870. They are the first 2 pictures found in the "family section" of photographs of the bible belonging to John Wesley Bowen. I believe them to be pictures of John Wesley Bowen's parents, Jones Bowen and his wife, Elmira Whitman. Jones Bowen(Thomas Jones Bowen, Sr.) is the grandson of Sterling Bowen and the son of Woody Bowen.
Origins of the Bowen Family
(and of Sterling and Woody Bowen)
before the Revolutionary War
(Click on links in text or left column for details)
The first sizable emigration of the Welsh to America came in 1680-1720. Over 30,000 Quakers and other religious immigrants from Wales came to America during this time. Some early Welsh settlers purchased land in the Delaware colony, which they called the Welsh Tract. Many made their way to the New World as indentured servants. As early as 1667 a congregation of Baptists from South Wales had founded Swansea on the Plymouth-Rhode Island border. In 1681 a group of Welsh-Quaker gentlemen obtained a tract of some 40,000 acres in Pennsylvania. By 1720 the Welsh were settled in southeastern Pennsylvania and in Delaware. The middle of the 18th Century saw the Welsh moving toward the Susquehanna frontier and into the Carolinas.
Our line(descendants of Sterling and Woody Bowen) begins with 2 couples William and Amy Bowen, and Robert and Avis Bowen, in Bristol Parish, Virginia(just west of present day Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, VA). The men were surely kin to each other in some way and possibly brothers, although that has not been proven. They were at least producing children at the same time in Bristol Parish during the late 1720's and early 1730's. It has not been determined exactly where these Bowen families were living at this time as no mention of them in earlier records has been found. Most likely they were living in Prince George Co, perhaps near a creek called Bowen's Branch, just upstream from George's Branch on the Namozine Creek.
At present, we have no idea where William and Robert Bowen lived prior to Bristol Parish. They are not found in any immigrant lists of the time. They quite possibly lived in Philadelphia or Delaware previously along with other Bowen immigrants, but no record proving this has been found yet.
The Bristol Parish records included the following Bowen birth records:
Wm. son of William and amy Bowen Born 2d Dcemr 1729 Bapt 10th May 1730
Lucie D of Robert and Avis Bowen born 23th August 1730
David of Wm. & Amy Bowen born 13th Novr 1731 bapt 30th July 1732
Ephraim son of Robt & Avis Bowen born 12th Feby 1731 bapt 30th July 1732
Jesse s of William and Amy Bowyon born 11th March 1734
We have no way of knowing how many children might have been born to William Bowen and his wife, Amy or to Robert Bowen and his wife, Avis before or after the five years or so that their children's births were recorded in the Bristol Parish records. We also have no birth dates or marriage records for either William or Robert. So we can't even begin to guess if these were their first children, their middle children, or their last children. We can't even be sure that William and Robert were close in age since one might have been in his early 20's while the other was quite a bit older, perhaps even producing a second family by a later marriage. But we do know from later records that William Bowen and Amy both were still alive in 1762, so probably there were quite a few more children born to them.
These Bowens disappeared from Bristol Parish after the birth of Jesse Bowen in 1734 and reappeared in the Brunswick Co Order Books(present day Mecklenburg County) by 1737. There are numerous land transactions, wills, and entries in the local county order books of the time listing these and other members of the Mecklenburg Bowen Clan. These early settlers are often associated with Little Creek, the Meherrin River, Eagle's Nest Creek, Long Branch, and others. There are still a very large numbers of Bowen descendants still living in the area today.
Either William Bowen, Sr. or Robert Bowen from Bristol Parish is most certainly the grandfather of Sterling Bowen. Drury Bowen could be the son of either and is the probable father of Sterling Bowen. Drury appears to have been born in Mecklenburg County just after the move from Briston Parish about 1738.
There are several reasons that Drury and his wife Elizabeth(Clack?) are very possibly the parents of Sterling Bowen. Drury was born at the right time .. about 1738. Drury is associated with William Bowen Sr. and other Bowens in Mecklenburg County on several land deeds and court orders. Most convincing is the fact that Drury Bowen moved to Abbeville County, SC along with Sterling Bowen in the late 1780's. Additional support comes from the fact that Sterling Bowen's first son is also named "Drury" and was a male recipient in his will.
Elizabeth Bowen, the wife of Drury, is thought to have been a daughter of the John Clack family that lived near Drury and next to William Bowen, Sr. in Mecklenburg County, VA. This Clack family appears to be the origin of the name Sterling. Elizabeth Clack is the granddaughter of James Clack and Mary Sterling who named their first son(Elizabeth's uncle) Sterling Clack.
Unfortunately, the church in Mecklenburg County(St. James Parish) where the elder Drury's and Sterling's birth and marriage records would have been located burned in the 1860's and all records were lost. And there is no evidence of a will by this Drury Bowen that anyone has found. Maybe someone can find more information.
Sterling Bowen entered the Revolutionary Way in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. His wife, Mrs. Susan Bowen(nee Susannah Meredith), stated that Sterling served in NC some two or three tours and was in the Battles of Camden(1780 near Camden, SC) and Eutaw Springs(1781 near Charleston, SC). After the war, in 1785, he purchased 50 acres of land near present day South Hill, VA in Mecklenburg County along Long Branch. He sold this land in 1787 after just 2 years. Soon afterwards, he moved to Abbeville County, South Carolina near present day Shiloh Church, with some of the other members of the original Mecklenburg Bowen clan(Drury and Isaac Bowen).
Many of Sterling Bowen's descendants including my direct ancestors Woody Bowen(son of Sterling), and Jones Bowen(grandson) are buried in Shiloh Cemetery near Antreville, SC. Sterling's grave and Drury's grave have not been located to date. My other direct ancestors who are also descendants of Sterling Bowen(John Wesley Bowen, Robert Burts Bowen, and Joe Bowen) are buried in First Creek Baptist Church, about 4 miles away.
Sterling Bowen's lineage from Woody Bowen has been fully documented by Eunice Branyon Bowen in her book "Family of Woody Bowen" and is now online.