More on family of William & Matilda Bowie

James Louis Bacon, a descendant of William & Matilda Bowie, is working on a family history that includes the Bowies, as well as his Jackson ancestors who were key figures in the Underground Railroad in Jersey City, New Jersey. He has very kindly shared information about the Bowies and answered many of the questions left open in my page about William & Matilda. I have updated that page, accordingly.

William & Matilda and three of their children were manumitted by the will of Roderick McGregor. (Two older sons were not included in that manumission.) One of their grandsons (William A. Bowie, son of Nathaniel Bowie) was co-founder of a bank in Washington D.C. and prominent in the black community. Considering that Nathaniel was 15 when he was manumitted, that his parents were illiterate and that he himself received little formal schooling, it is truly impressive that his son William achieved so much. I am very grateful to Mr. Bacon for sharing this information and pointing me to articles and advertisements in the Washington Bee (a black newspaper in  D.C.) that detail William A. Bowie’s career. I look forward to reading the history of his family, on both sides.

I also have new information about slaves inherited by Roderick McGregor’s wife, Ann Eleanor Eversfield Berry (widow Eaton), in 1832. I’ve not yet had time to update the page on the slaves of Roderick McGregor, but will do so soon.

4 comments on “More on family of William & Matilda Bowie

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Do you have any information on a James Charles Bowie born October 10, 1880? My mother said he was born in Baltimore (not sure if county or city), but oddly has no knowledge of his relatives. My mother was born in Brooklyn, NY, and her mother’s name was Pearl Matilda Johnson.

    • susantichy says:

      Hi Gabrielle. Have you done the basic research, checking census records on line, for example? A birth date and place of birth is a good starting place. If you don’t find him in the right time/place, start widening the search–say, “Maryland” rather than Baltimore, and plus or minus five years. That would be the way to start. Was James Charles Bowie your mother’s father? If so, you can also search for marriage records using either his name or Pearl’s name–having her maiden name is very helpful. I am not a genealogist, nor do I happen to have any information on this Bowie gentleman; but I will forward your question to James Louis Bacon, in case he recognizes these names. On my page about his family (William & Matilda Bowie) you’ll see that Margaret Bowie’s married name was Johnson. In Maryland, Bowie is not an uncommon name, but it’s far easier to search among public records for Bowies than for Johnsons! Still, Margaret B(owie). Johnson is a name you might come across in your searches.

      If your Bowies are not related to James Louis Bacon’s family, another way to search is to take what you find in the later census records and look for the same families in the crucial 1970 census. Wherever you find James Charles Bowie or Pearl Matilda Johnson, record the names of all family members, plus families at least five households before and after in the census. Then work backwards to 1870. If you can’t find your family at first, search for the neighbors/relatives, any associated names you have. Sometimes it’s hard to find someone just because their name was misspelled on the census form or misread by the transcriber when the record was digitized. If so, this “cluster searching” can often be very helpful. Good luck in your search.

      • Djed Rising Blog says:

        Thanks for responding. I searched on Ancestry.com in 2011 but hit a dead end since the death certificates have not been made available for either grandparent. Oh dear, maybe that is what I should have done – contact the NYC Bureau of Vital Records. I feel so silly not to have thought of this.

    • susantichy says:

      I meant “crucial 1870 census” in my first response–you probably figured that out. I’ve brought your message to James Bacon’s attention.

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