Marion May Day

Bowers Home Place - Black Creek VA

John Henry Bowers


  I am a member of the Bowers - Day family, which has it's United States Bowers roots in Black Creek, Southampton County, Virginia, near Franklin, and its Day roots in Vermont. This site is an attempt to record the research we have done and to continue that research until perhaps we can reach our forbears in Africa.

The Southampton County, Virginia locale has many names; Black Creek, Baffle and Bowers. Bowers was designated a post office around 1800. As can be seen by the road sign, there is an intersection of Bowers Road and  Black Creek Road which is approximately 200 yards from the Bowers Home Place.

The earliest Bowers that we have indentified to date is my great grandfather Henry Bowers.  We first found him in the 1870 census (blacks were not included in any earlier Southern census) of Jerusalem District, Southampton County, age 53, a laborer. His wife is Georgeanna, age 21. According to my uncle, John Melvin Bowers, Henry had 3 children from his first wife, 10 children of his second wife, and 13 children with his third wife Georgeanna, who was born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

Please remember that age and birth years were not accurately kept in these years, so that you will see a great variance from census to census.

The 1870 census is interesting more for what it does NOT say. When taking the census, the enumerator (person asking the questions) would go family to family in order.  The family immediately before Henry was Bartholomew Bowers, white and a farmer.  Going back further in census and tax records at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Bartholomew inherited the farm, 1228 3/4 acres plus another 100 acres, from his uncle, Dr. Carr Bowers. 

Carr Bowers was an influential farmer (see link). His main house still exists and it is in a large parcel at the intersect of Bowers and Black Creek Roads. In the 1850 slave census, which listed only age and gender, he owned 2 male slaves, both age 31. One very well could have been Henry, who after the civil war, stayed on and worked the Bowers farm! The family listed immediately after Henry was a Meritt Bowers, black, age 52 - could very well have been the other 31 year old from the 1850 slave census.  Where would blacks with large families go, especially if they were well treated and had work.

My husband Kevin, who does the genealogical research, then went with my father, Charles Bowers, to the Southampton County Court house and found Carr Bowers will! It is dated May 5th, 1860 and probated on July 15th, 1861. There it was! Carr Bowers gave most of his estate to his nephew Bartholomew Bowers (named in the will as Bartley Bowers) and one paragraph reads:

"And I also give to the said Bartley Bowers & his heirs forever the following negroes, viz: Clement, Sam, Henry, Tom, Nelson, Ormond, Nero, Edy & Sydney, and I also give to said Bartley Bowersfifty shares of the Farmers Bank of Virginia stock. And I leave my negro boy George to the care keeping of the said Bartley Bowersuntil the first of January 1868, at which time I set free and emancipate the said boy George, and then I direct this and Bartley Bowers to pay George the sum of two hundred fifty dollars; and this legacy to mGeorge, I charge the above estate devised and bequeathed to Bartley Bowers, with the payment of."

This was a remarkable find! The problem is now that the only way to go back further is to get Carr Bowers farm records as to when he acquired the various slaves., and that is most probably impossible.  Henry must have been the mainstay of the farm, the estate inventory dated September 13, 1861 lists Henry as one of the most valuable - and sure enough, the neighbor Meritt Bowers is listed!

"An Inventory and Appraisment of the chattel estate of Col. Carr Bowers duly taken by James Holmes, William Lankford, Patrick Rom and Thomas E. Joyner and Bartholomew Bowers & Ludlow Lawrence Exors this 13 day of September 1861" (partial only slaves listed)

Negro man Clemens $600.00
   D Sam 1000.00
   D Henry 1200.00
    D Nelson 1200.00
    D Allmon 1000.00
    D Marct 1000.00
    D Allison 1200.00
    D Amos 1200.00
    D Tom 500.00
    D Nero 200.00
Negro woman Edy 500.00
    D Hannah 500.00
Negro Sydney 500.00
Negro boy George 700.00

As a comparison 5 mules were valued at $600.00 and 32 cattle at $640.00

Interesting that Georgeanna is not listed, due to this and her age in the 1870 census, Henry most probably met her much later.

We then go back to tracing the census records. The family children living with Henry and Georgeanna in 1870 were:-

William, 15, laborer
Jessee, 13, laborer
Joseph, 10, laborer
Alsburg, 8, at home
Giles, 3, at home
Delila. 9 months, at home

The next records we have is the 1880 census listing Henry Bowers, 66, farmer, his wife Georgianna (spelling change) and their children:-

Alsburg 18, laborer
Giles, 13, laborer
Lilia, 11
John, 7 (my grandfather)
Tom, 6
Annie, 5
Maggie, 2
Isabella V., 1

I might note that there was a wealthy former slave owner farmer in Isle of Wight County named Giles Bowers.  Whether he was related to Carr Bowers we do not know yet - but perhaps he was the former owner of Georgianna.  They also named one of their boys Giles. The Carr Bowers farm was bordered by the Black Water River, which separates Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

Bartholomew Bowers died in 1882 and in the accounting of his estate by John Bowers, administrator, it lists Georeanna Bowers paid $3.78, and Hannah Bowers paid $27.00 for cooking in 1880.

Then in 1884 Henry and Georgeanna Bowers purchase 113 acres (The Home Place) from Sallie Williams and Williams, her husband for $1,000.  This was an enormous amount of money in those times, and the real estate records reveal that this was financed by the Williams taking back a mortgage.  Says a lot for Henry's reputation.

The 1890 census records were destroyed, so we must jump to 1900.  All these records are for Southampton County, Jerusalem District. In 1900 Georgeanna , age 55, is living with son Thomas, age 27, listed as head of household, her children:-

Mary A. Bowers, 18
Ernest C. Bowers, 15
Martha A. Bowers, 13
James A. Bowers, 11
Ethel M. Bowers, 9

Son William H. Bowers, age 55, is living with his wife Indiana, age 43, and their children:-

William H. Bowers, 18
Susanna Bowers, 13
Benjamin H. Bowers, 11
Minnie Bowers, 8
Garfield Bowers, 6
Naomi Bowers, 2

Son Alsburg (now known as Asbury) Bowers, age 37, living alone.

In 1910 we cannot locate a census record for Georgeanna, she may have passed. However we found the following:

Son William H. Bowers, age 61, and wife Indiana, age 52, with their children:-

Susie, 28
Garfield, 16
Nelmie (Naomi?), 12

Son Asbury Bowers, age 45, is living with his wife Carrie W., age 30.

Son Ernest C. Bowers, age 27, is living with his wife Hevillia Story Bowers, age 25, with the wife's parents, James N. and Martha Story.

There is no record of my grandfather, John Bowers, in Southampton in the 1900 or 1910 census.  During this period he was working on the railroad between New York City and Burlington, Vermont.