Bowers Family 1757 – 1955 Part 3

Charles Bowers

Charles Bowers

Charles was born in 1828 in Terrington-St Clements, Norfolk, England to Bonnet Bowers and Eliza Linford.[1]  Charles’ mother died when he was just a little over two years old.[2]  Charles grew up in England with his father and brothers.  One wonders if Bonnet had help with the care of the children.  There were aunts and uncles living in Terrington-St. Clements perhaps they helped.

Charles left England when he was just 21 years old. He left Liverpool, England on February 1, 1851 with his father Bonnet Bowers aboard the sailing ship Conqueror of New York.[3]   If Charles had friends or family already in the United States they might have paid for his passage.  If his passage was not previously paid he would have to pay his passage and make the best bargain he could with the passenger-brokers.  The competition in this trade was very great, and fares varied from day-to-day, and even from hour to hour, sometimes as high as 5 pounds per passenger in the steerage and sometimes as low as 3 pounds 10 shillings.[4]

Charles’ experience immigrating to the United States was probably much like the following description of the typical emigrants experience leaving England through Liverpool.  “Notices were placed though out Liverpool with dates of sailing.  Most of the ships were owned and operated out of New York.   The average number of steerage passengers accommodated by most ships at that time was 400, but some had room for double that amount.  After the emigrant had chosen the ship that he would sail on, he had to bargain with the “man-catchers” a class of persons who received commission from the passenger- brokers for each emigrant they brought to the office of the passenger-broker.

The emigrant’s next duty was to present himself to the medical inspector.  A medical practitioner appointed by the emigration office of the port had to inspect the passengers to check for contagious diseases.  When the emigrant and his family had undergone this process, their passage-ticket was stamped, and they had nothing further to do until it was time to board.

The scene at the Waterloo dock in Liverpool, where all the American sailing ships were stationed was very busy at all times, but on the morning of the departure a large ship full of emigrants was particularly exciting and interesting.  Many of the emigrants boarded twenty-four hours before departure bringing quantities of provisions, although the government supplied the emigrants with liberal provisions to keep them in good health and comfort.

The following is the list of provisions provided by the government per week.

2 and ½ lbs of bread or biscuit

1 lb wheaten flour

5 lbs oatmeal

2 lbs rice

2 oz tea

½ lb sugar

½ lb molasses

3 quarts of water daily

On the day before sailing and during the time that a ship may be unavoidable detained in dock, some of the immigrants played the violin or bagpipes for their fellow passengers.   Young and old alike would dance and party.

A large number of spectators were at the dock-gates to witness the final departure of the ship full with anxious immigrants.  As the ship was towed out hats were raised, handkerchiefs waved, and people shouted their farewells from shore and the emigrants waved back from the ship.  It was at this moment emigrants realized this would be their last look at the old country.   A country in all probability associated with sorrow and suffering, of semi-starvation, never-the-less it was a country of their fathers, the country of their childhood, however little time was left to indulge in these reflections.

The ship was generally towed by a steam tug five or ten miles down the Mersey.  During this time the search for stowaways is done and a roll-call of passengers.  All passengers except those in state cabins were assembled on the quarter-deck.  The clerk of the passenger-broker, accompanied by the ship’s surgeon called for tickets.  A double purpose was answered by the roll-call, the verification of the passenger-list, and the medical inspection of the emigrants, on behalf of the captain and owners.  The previous inspection on the part of the governor was to prevent the risk of contagious disease on board.  The inspection on the part of the owners is for a different purpose.  The ship had to pay a poll tax of $1.50 per passenger to the State of New York; and if any of the poor emigrants were helpless and deformed, the owners were fined in the sum of $75.00 for bringing them and were compelled to enter in a bond to New York City so that they did not become a burden on the public.  The emigrants then settle in for the long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.[5] After almost 3 month of sailing across the ocean, Charles arrived at the Port of New York on April 21, 1851.[6]  Before 1855 there was no immigrant processing center.  The shipping company presented a passenger list to the Collector of Customs, and the immigrants made whatever customs declaration was necessary and went on their way.’[7]

Robert and his wife, Rhoda, followed to the United States in November 1851 aboard the ship Emma Field.[8] Robert, his wife, and Bonnet settled in Syracuse, New York[9].  At this time, I cannot find when Richard came to the United States, however he is found living in Syracuse, New York in 1870[10]

In 1855, just one year after Charles arrived in Ottawa, it became a chartered city.   “Ottawa, Illinois is situated at the junction of the Fox and Illinois rivers, nearly the geographical center of LaSalle County.  The Fox enters the Illinois from the northeast and with its rapid currents feeds the Chicago and Illinois Canal, which follows the banks of the Illinois River.  In 1854 Ottawa had about 4,000 to 6,000 inhabitants.  The bridge over the Illinois River was under constriction connecting South Ottawa with the main city on the North.  Ottawa was and still is the LaSalle County seat.  In 1854 Ottawa had a mill on the Illinois River that turned out 100 barrels of flour per day.  Ottawa also had a foundry, two large machine shops, and other large manufacturers.” [11]

The same year(1854) that Charles came to Ottawa, he applied to become a United States Citizen in the LaSalle County Circuit Court. 12]   I often wondered what brought Charles to Ottawa, Illinois when it appears that his brothers and father stayed in New York.  I recently found that his step-brother William Linfor(d) was living in Ottawa, Illinois in 1854.[13]  You can read my post “Finding Brother William” published November 24, 2012 on this blog.  I assume that Charles came to Ottawa because he knew William Linfor.                      

Statue of Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Statue of Lincoln-Douglas Debate

On August 21, 1858 the first Lincoln-Douglas debate took place in Ottawa at the stand in Washington Park.[14]  I wonder if Charles attended and what his thoughts were about the two men.  He was not yet a United States citizen so he could not vote.  He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in January 1859.  He signed his naturalization papers with an X indicating he could not write.[15]

In 1860 Charles is found living in Lisbon, Kendall County, Illinois working on a farm and living with a family by the name of Leach.[16]  Charles bought a house In 1868 on the corner of Chapel and York Streets (543 Chapel Street) in Ottawa, Illinois for $1,000 cash from William K and Ellen M. Stewart of Ottawa, Illinois.  The house sits on a high bluff across the street from the Fox River.  It is located in a rather well-to-do area of Ottawa surrounded by Victorian houses.  Charles’ house is rather modest compared to houses around it.[17]  The house had living room, dining room, kitchen, parlor, storage room, and one bedroom on first floor.  The second floor had four bedrooms and bath (bath may have been added later).[18]

In December 1868 Charles married Alexena Frazer.[19]  They had five children Richard, Elizabeth, Robert, Genevieve, and Ethelyn.[20]   There may have been two children who died as infants.  According to Ottawa Avenue Cemetery records there is an E. E. and a J.A. Bowers buried in grave one.[21]

Charles worked as a janitor for the East Ottawa Public School.[22]  He and Alexena lived at 543 Chapel Street in Ottawa.[23]  He was a member of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows for over 30 years.  He was a kind-hearted man, patient with children and liked by everyone.[24]  Charles died in 1897 and is buried in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, in Ottawa, Illinois.[25

Bowers' Family Headstone

Bowers’ Family Headstone

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst                        


[1]Baptism for Charles Bowers baptized on 2 October 1828; Register of Baptisms in the Parish of Terrington St. Clements, Norfolk, England; 1813 – 1841 manuscript on microfilm #13640109 Item 3; Utah: filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England.

[2] Burial record for Eliza Bowers (wife of Bonnet Bowers) buried on 22 January 1831. Church of England, Parish Church of Terrington St. Clements, Norfolk, England;  Terrrington St. Clements Parish Register Burials 1813 – 1856; manuscript on microfilm #13640109 Item 8; Utah:  filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah 1988 at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England.

[3]Year: 1851; Arrival: New York, United States; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm roll M237_107; Line: 26; List number: 1664. Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls); Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[4] GEN UKI UK and Ireland Genealogy web site.  Extracts from an article printed in the Illustrated London News on Saturday July 6th 1850. It is a contemporary account of the procedure of Emigration from the port of Liverpool to the New World and the Colonies.

[5] GEN UKI UK and Ireland Genealogy web site.  Extracts from an article printed in the Illustrated London News on Saturday July 6th 1850. It is a contemporary account of the procedure of Emigration from the port of Liverpool to the New World and the Colonies.

[6] Year: 1851; Arrival: New York, United States; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm roll M237_107; Line: 26; List number: 1664. Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls); Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[7] GEN UKI UK and Ireland Genealogy web site.  Extracts from an article printed in the Illustrated London News on Saturday July 6th 1850. It is a contemporary account of the procedure of Emigration from the port of Liverpool to the New World and the Colonies.

[8] Year: 1851; Arrival: New York, United States; Microfilm serial M237; Microfilm roll: M237-107; Line: 26; List number 1664.  Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006 Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls); Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36; National Archives, Washington D.C.

[9] Year: 1860, Census Place: Onondaga, Onondaga, New York, Roll: M653_829, Page 579; Image: 367. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1438 rolls.

[10]Year: 1870 Census Place: Syracuse Ward 7, Onondaga, New York; Roll M593_1063; Page: 464; Image: 239. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003. Original data: 1870 United States Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington D. C. National Archives and Records Administration, M593, RG29. 1761 rolls.

[11] Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of Ottawa Illinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 39.

[12] Declaration of Intent (naturalization) for Charles Bowers, LaSalle County, Illinois,  Circuit Court, LaSalle County, Illinois Courthouse, Ottawa, Illinois; Book 2, Pg. 227.

[13]  (Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 227. 

[14] Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of Ottawa Illinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 45.

[15] Final naturalization record for Charles Bowers.  LaSalle County Illinois, Circuit Court LaSalle County, Illinois  Court House, Ottawa, Illinois; Book E, Pg. 85.

[16] Ancestry.com 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census, Eight Census of the United States, 1860, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration 1860, M653.               

[17] Author’s personal view of the house after visiting the area and seeing the house first hand in July of 2008.

[18] Probate File of Elizabeth A. Bowers Record A-6 page 176.  In possession of the LaSalle County Genealogical Guild, 115 Glover W. Glover, Ottawa, Illinois.

[19] Marriage License and certificate for Charles Bowers and Alexena Frazer.  License issued November 25, 1868, office of the clerk of the county, LaSalleCounty, Ottawa, Illinois.  Marriage date December 2, 1868 by Abraham R. Moore, Minister of the Gospel, filed with the LaSalle Illinois, CountyClerk office, LaSalle County Courthouse, Ottawa, Illinois.

[20] Year: 1880; Census Place: Ottawa, La Salle, Illinois; Roll T9 223: Family History Film 1243112; Page 516.10000, Enumeration District 81; Image: 0553.

[21] Ottawa Avenue Cemetery records; Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois, Record number 8539, Cemetery Card CCY-TS, Burial location OT18-7

[22] Year: 1880; Census Place: Ottawa, La Salle, Illinois; Roll T9 223: Family History Film 1243112; Page 516.10000, Enumeration District 81; Image: 0553.

[23] Ottawa Illinois City Directories 1866 – 1912.

[24] Obituary for Charles Bowers: Republican Times (Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois) February 18, 1897.

[25] Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Records: Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois. Record number 8539, Cemetery Card CCY-TS, Burial location OT18-7

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. darryldj Johnson
    Dec 02, 2013 @ 18:39:34

    Wonderful info and writings! I hope your family is proud of yr research. Cheers GJ

    Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2013 03:13:06 +0000 To: darryldj@hotmail.com

    Reply

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