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The Bowen Family

Written by Jay Guy Cisco
From Historic Sumner County, Tennessee


Moses Bowen and his wife, Rebecca Reece Bowen, emigrated from Wales to the American colonies in 1698 and settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania. John Bowen, their son, married Lily McIlhaney and in 1730 moved to Virginia. They had twelve children, one of whom, Captain John Bowen, was the father of Captain William Bowen, who was the first to emigrate to Tennessee.

Captain William Bowen was born in Fincastle County, Virginia, then Augusta County, in 1742. He was a very active, enterprising man, and by the time he was 35 years of age he had accumulated quite a handsome estate for that day by adding to the portion given to him by his mother. He took part in the several campaigns against the French and Indians as a member of the Colonial Army of Virginia before the Revolution of 1776. He was a First Lieutenant in Captain William Russell's company in the campaign against the Shawnee and other Indian tribes in 1774, the confederation being commanded by "Cornstalk" a noted chief of the Shawnees. He was in the hotly contested battle of Point Pleasant on October 10, 1774. He was also with Captain Russell while that officer was in command of Fort Randolph, when that garrison was ordered to be disbanded by Lord Dunmore on July 1775, fearing the fort might be held by rebel authorities. Prior to this date he was with Russell's Rangers when they assisted in relieving the besieged fort at Watauga.

Captain Bowen was principally engaged in the partisan warfare on the border of Virginia and Tennessee during the Revolution. He was in the cavalry service, employed in scouting and protecting the frontiers from the inroads of the British, Indians and Tories. At the termination of the long struggle for independence, he with fifteen other soldiers of the Continental army, traveled all through Kentucky and the Cumberland county, as Middle Tennessee was then called, prospecting warrants, which had been received for services I the war of independence. Captain Bowen was so pleased with the country that he located some of his land in what in now Smith County, Tennessee, but the larger portion in Sumner County, Tennessee, about twelve miles from Nashville. He moved his family from Virginia in the early autumn of 1784 to Sumner County, where he built a double log house in which he lived for two years: then built a two-story brick, which is still standing near Goodlettsville and in good preservation. Though it was built in 1787, when what is now Tennessee was part of North Carolina. It is said to have been the first brick house built in Tennessee. General Daniel Smith, his fried and fellow soldier built a stone house, known as "Rock Castle," in the same vicinity. The two sent to Lexington, KY., for stone and brick masons to erect the two houses.

Captain William Bowen, in 1777 married Mary Henley Russell, daughter of General William Russell and his wife, Tabitha Adams, in Augusta County, Virginia, now Washington County, near where Abingdon now stands. He died in Sumner County on December 15, 1804. He left eight children. Tabitha married Colonel Armstead Moore of Virginia. They moved to Smith County, Tennessee, where they died, leaving eleven children.

Colonel John Bowen, son of Captain William Bowen, was born in Virginia in 1780; came with his parents to Sumner County in 1784. At the age of 16 years he was sent to Lexington, Ky., to school. About the year 1800 he commenced the study of law in the office of John Breckinridge in Lexington. After two years he returned home and began practice of law in Gallatin and soon rose to prominence.

In 1813 Mr. Bowen was elected to Congress as a Democrat and served one term, at the expiration of which he returned to the practice of his profession at Gallatin. In 1815 he married Elizabeth Allen, daughter of Grant Allen and his wife, Tabitha Marshall, of Dixon Springs neighborhood. They had four children; two died in youth and two reared large families. The eldest, Mary, married Judge Jacob S. Yerger of Greenville, Miss. a member of the famous Yerger family formerly of Lebanon. They had three sons killed in the Confederate army. William G. Yerger, a prominent lawyer of Greenville, is the only living son. Henry Yerger, another son, died at his home near Greenville, leaving a family. Grant Allen Bowen, son of John H. married Amanda Yerger. They left two children John H. Jr., and Mary.

Colonel John H. Bowen died on September 25, 1822. He was an accomplished scholar, a just and upright man, a great lawyer, a pure statesman and a true friend. The brick house which he erected for his home in Gallatin is still standing. It was bought after his death by Governor William Trousdale, and from him it passed to his son, the Hon. Julius A. Trousdale, and after his death was presented by his widow, Mrs. Anne Berry Trousdale, to the Daughters of the Confederacy.

Levisee Bowen, daughter of Captain William Bowen, married Colonel James Saunders. They had their home in Wilson County, where six children survived them.

William, son of Captain William Bowen, married Mary Rankin, and after her death, Polly McCall. They removed to LaGrange, Texas, where they died, leaving seven children.

Samuel, son of Captain William Bowen, married Amanda Stone. They removed to Missouri, where they died, leaving seven children.

Mary Bowen died young. Celia married Rev. Barton W. Stone, a noted divine, and one of the founders of the "Campbellite Church." They lived in Kentucky and Missouri; left six children.

Catherine Bowen, third daughter of Captain William Bowen, was born in Sumner County in March 1785. She was married in 1807 to David Campbell, who was born in Washington County, Virginia, on March 4, 1781 and died near Leeville, Wilson County, Tennessee on June 18, 1841. She died at "Campbell" the home of her eldest son, Governor William B. Campbell, March 7, 1868. They lived in Sumner County for some years after their marriage, then moved to Carthage, Smith County. They had six children- William B. Campbell, who married Frances Owen and left seven children; John H. died unmarried; Mary R. H. married E.P. Scales; Margaret died unmarried; Virginia T. I. married Rev. William Shelton; David H. R. married Lucy Goodall.