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: http://www.mykithnkin.blogspot.com/2015/07/dna-may-have-revealed-family-secret.html


14 comments:

  1. Aime - This post strikes a common cord with me. I have spent the past couple of years seriously going back over my grandmother's research (along with research of her friends of that generation.) Like you these lines were all "finished" or complete - we though. Oh the mess we have on some lines. Researchers 60 to 80 years ago just didn't have the resources like we do today. If you think the unraveling of your line is the hard part you are mistaken. The real problem is how to convince everyone else that the "old" pedigree was in fact wrong and we need to adopt this new pedigree. This is especially problematic at a web site like FamilySearch Family Tree. Old pedigrees have a life of their own and resist change.
    Loved your post - good luck working this out.

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    1. Bob, you are absolutely right. I will likely have to give some real solid evidence to convince some people if we find out this line is "crooked!" And yes, I think it is amazing people did as well as they did without the resources we have these days...so much easier! Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

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  2. I am currently working out a discrepancy in my tree, too. Many people across the country have my DAR patriot married twice -- both time to an Elizabeth. I can no evidence that there was a second marriage. I traveled to New Jersey a couple of weeks ago. Could not find any evidence to suggest a second marriage. So the saga continues.

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    1. Hey Kathy! Good to hear from you! Yes, I would suppose there are quite a few errors in some of those DAR papers. Maybe we will both get a Christmas surprise and figure these lines out once and for all!

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  3. I was able to prove through actual documentation that the previously accepted lineage of one of my GGFs published in the 1970s by local family historians was incorrect. Autosomal DNA testing of my brother and me confirms my findings. Now if I could only find anyone in my family who actually cares. :-(

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    1. Here's to finding another family member who not only cares, but who wants to keep up with the family work you are doing!

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  4. I love your blog post.
    The more research that I do the more mysteries I find and consequently the more the story changes. And so far this is all without DNA. A new piece of evidence found can often change my view quite dramatically of what happened - perhaps this is why family history is so addictive. Anything I write and stitch together from my finds can only be considered "the most likely story" at this point in time based on what I currently know. I always hesitate before going public just incase I've missed something but now I think it's better to share, and then revise when something else comes to light . I do know however that the fear of being incomplete or wrong can be paralysing. After all we all spend a huge investment of time, energy and good intentions, and the thought that things might not be absolutely correct can be overwhelming, but this is part of our journey into our ancestral history.

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    1. Sandra, Thank you...I am so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I agree 100% that I often fight the fear of being wrong. It can be paralyzing! I like how you said "the most likely story" and in more recent years I have started using words like that too. "Most likely", "probably", etc. Thanks again for taking time to read the blog!

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  5. I've proven a published Bailey pedigree and history has daughters mixed up and my gggrandmother married to the wrong man. I don't know which is worse; the people who don't care or the people who don't believe me, even with the paper proof and documented children/parents. Kind of hard for her to have married that other guy and her children with her sister's husband's last name.

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    1. Oh boy! That does sound like a mess! I know exactly what you mean about people not believing you...even when you have the proof. Good luck T!

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  6. Yes. We must remember to question everything & our research is never finished.

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  7. After 20 years of genealogy researching, my DNA tested showed that a quiet rumor regarding a possible early 20th century paternity issue was indeed true. It was quite a jolt to me, which I covered in a blog of my own "I'm not who I thought I was" http://thedeadrelativecollector.blogspot.com/2015/04/so-i-am-not-exactly-who-i-thought-i-was.html if you're interested in my experience, so whole new branches now await me! Good luck in your Henry quest

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  8. Yes, "finished" lines are hard to get changed, if not impossible. A 1902 Rogers genealogy stated that my CT slave ancestor Adam had a father named Adam. DNA evidence suggests his father was one of the white Rogers family of New London CT. Circumstantial evidence says it was the Rogerene, John Rogers. Meanwhile that genealogy has been out there for over 100 years and will continue being referenced!

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