John Wesley Bowie was born . . . where??

Sunday Monday Tuesday Afternoon Take on Saturday Night Genealogical Fun: John Wesley Bowie

(Yeah, it took awhile to get this together!)

Randy Seaver at Genea-musings has made a relatively regular item a feature called “Saturday Night Genealogical Fun.” It usually involves some quiz or meme or game and is highly popular with the Facebook genealogy crowd and others. These items are not only fun, but they give family historians and others the opportunity to get into their data or apply their skills. For various reasons, I haven’t been able to participate very often. This weekend, though, things worked out so that I could take up Randy’s challenge. It was entitled “Ahnentafel Roulette,” and here’s how it’s done:

1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person? [What’s an “ahnentafel“?]

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the “roulette number.”

4) If you do not have a person’s name for your “roulette number” then spin the wheel again – pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

Without going through all the math, I’ll tell you that my roulette number came out as 20. I used my primary database which is currently in RootsMagic 3 (I have version 4, but haven’t put this primary database there yet).

In RootsMagic 3, the ahnentafel can be created by following this pathway: Reports>Lists>Ahnentafel. With me as the root subject, No. 20 is John Wesley Bowie (1845?-1926?).

John Wesley Bowie would be my great-great-grandfather and my genealogical connection to James Bowie, free man of color, in Louisiana. Three facts about him:

1. He was married to Amanda McCray (1848-1924).

2. He lived in Longview, Texas.

3. He and “Mandy” had thirteen children, one of whom, Elias Bowie, Sr., was my grandmother’s father.

So is that all there is to this little exercise? No. Recall I said these things give researchers a reason to get into their data a little bit? Well, in this case, that proved to be a very valuable opportunity.

I discovered in my data discrepancies about where John Wesley Bowie had been born. Conventional wisdom, as reflected on the website maintained by my cousin Steven C. Bowie, holds that John Wesley Bowie was born in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. Catahoula is basically original ancestoral ground for Bowie FMC descendants.

Here’s how John Wes;ey Bowie appears in census records:

1860 census, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

[in household of Rufus Bouie]

BOUIE, John

5

M M LA

1870 census, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana

[in household of Julien Berzat] [Berzat’s daughter was married to John Wesley’s uncle, Albert Bowie]

BOWIE, John

15

M M LA

1880 census, Gregg County, Texas

BOWIE, John Mu

35

Louisiana LA LA

1900 census, Gregg County, Texas

BOWIE, John Wesley B M May 1850 AL AL AL

1910 census, Gregg County, Texas

BOWIE, John M B

70

AL VA VA

1920 census, Gregg County, Texas

BOWIE, John M B

75

NC US AL

So this is strange enough, but then I looked into death certificates. I could not find one for John Wesley Bowie, but I found some for some of his children. The death certificate of John’s son Bob Bowie, who died in 1939, states “father’s birth place” as Arkansas. Ed Bowie’s 1943 death certificate says that his father was born in Arkansas. In 1952, brother Robert [a different person from Bob] died, and Arthur Bowie wrote “unknown” where the certificate asked for father’s birthplace. When Arthur himself died in 1959 in Grayson County, Texas, there was no place on the death certificate form to indicate either parent’s birth place.

Just where was John Wesley Bowie born? I’d still bet on Catahoula! I’ll explain why in the next post.

OFF
Craig


September 2009
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