Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Finished" Family Line Is Questioned

I was very excited to make a cousin connection a few months ago on Ancestry. She found me because our DNA matched.

We quickly began to email each other back and forth. Everything was going along nicely, until she was contacted by Our Families USA saying that our Bowser family line was incorrect. What? I couldn't believe that. My aunt and scores of other people recorded our great grandfather as John Bowser. John was the son of Henry Bowser and Catherine Long of Montgomery County, Ohio. Henry Bowser, born about 1810 in Ohio, was the son of George Bowser and Elizabeth Moyer. At least that is what we all thought. After all, this family line was "finished" a long, long time ago.

The message my cousin received called into question the validity of the relationship between Henry and his parents George and Elizabeth (Moyer) Bowser. Their evidence suggested that Henry's parents were not George and Elizabeth, but rather Henry Bowser Sr. and Mary Bowman, also of Montgomery county.

My cousin was worried. Not only because of their information, but she found something of her own.

"John Bowser, Retired Farmer, Tells Story of Vital Interest," read the newspaper headline. The Newark Advocate had interviewed our great grandfather and published his story in the March 15th, 1920 paper. It stated:

"It is told by John Bowser, 77 years of age this coming birthday, a retired Dunkard farmer, who is now living at the home of his son Arthur K. Bowser, at 1109 West Pleasant street, Springfield, O. In reciting his experiences he says: "I was born on a farm in Montgomery county, located between Salem pike and Wolfe Creek pike, which was owned by my father who was known as "Young Henry," and before that my grandfather, "Old Henry." This takes us back over a hundred years ago. This farm of one hundred acres cost $1,400, but is now part of the city of Dayton and is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars."

John Bowser 1841-1923. Picture courtesy of the Barnhart family collection.
Oh no! I had never seen this. In all honestly, I had never questioned this family line because like I said, this line was "finished."

Was it true? Was John's father Henry the son of a Henry Sr. described in this newspaper article as "Old Henry?" I am going to need to investigate...thoroughly!

It may be a while until you read the final proof summary of this investigation. The lesson learned today is never assume because a family line is "finished" that it is correct!

Update: More information in this "finished family line" has been discovered in the most unusual place! Read more of the unfolding story here: "Finished" Family Line Questioned, Part II.

More family mysteries uncovered. Read more here: