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Bowen Surname

The Bowen surname is apparently Welsh in origin. More than likely, our line descends from Henry Bowen, a Welshman, who settled in Pennsylvania.


1st Generation:

John Bowen was born circa 1745 in Virginia. He died in about August 1826 at Craigs Creek, Montgomery Co., Virginia.

John's parentage is unknown. Various sources suggest he was the son of Henry Bowen and Anna Moon of Frederick County, Virginia; but that connection is unlikely. Henry and Anna did indeed have a son named John, as documented in Henry's will of 1778. Yet their son John was living in Augusta County, Virginia in 1807 when he was involved with a lawsuit involving his father's estate. Note that in 1807, "our" John Bowen was documented in Montgomery County, Virginia. Also, family history from Henry Bowen's descendants indicate that his son John never married and died as a bachelor before 1823.

Many family trees also confuse "our" John with a different John and Elizabeth Bowen couple. That couple, John Bowen (a Revolutionary War veteran) and Elizabeth Mayo, lived in Albemarle County, Virginia; where John probably died during the 1810s and his widow later applied for a pension for her husband's war service.

Although John's parents and origins are unknown, he was probably descended from the immigrant Moses Bowen and his wife Rebecca Rees, who settled in Pennsylvania in the late 1600s. Many of their descendants, including many different John Bowens, lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Both John Bowens listed above (John Bowen - son of Henry and Anna; and John Bowen - husband of Elizabeth Mayo) were related to the same family.

"Our" John Bowen was probably born and raised somewhere in Virginia. He was married to a woman named Elizabeth, probably in the late 1760s or early 1770s. Many online family trees suggest that all of John's children were born in Montgomery or Boutetourt County, Virginia. In reality, we have no idea where John was married or his children were born. The first known record of him that I have been able to find was in 1787, when he was taxed in Botetourt County, Virginia. The following year, in July 1788, John purchased 290 acres of land along Craigs Creek in Botetourt County, Virginia (this is in what is now either Craig County or Botetourt County). In 1791, they sold a portion of that 290-acre estate. They probably moved to neighboring Montgomery County, Virginia at that time, where John was first taxed in 1792. In July 1796, they purchased 299 acres on Clover Hollow in Montgomery (now Giles) County, Virginia. Eventually (probably before 1806) they moved south to a different part of Craigs Creek that is now in Montgomery County, where they remained. Between 1808 and 1812, they lived briefly on Catawba Creek in Botetourt (now in either Roanoke or Botetourt) County, before returning to their Craigs Creek home in about 1812/3. In September 1823, John and Elizabeth signed an agreement with their son James that James would support his parents for the duration of their lives and then inherit their real estate at their deaths. John died prior to August 19, 1826, when an inventory of his estate was entered in court.

John married Elizabeth circa 1771 in Virginia. She was born circa 1750 in Virginia. She died between 1834-1835 at Craigs Creek, Montgomery Co., Virginia.

Various family trees provide her maiden name as Lafon. The source or rationale for that name is unknown. But if true, she was possibly related to her son-in-law John Lafon (1775-1840).

Many family trees also list her name as "Mary Elizabeth", yet there is no evidence in any contemporary record that she ever used the name Mary. (Most likely, some researchers were confusing her with her own daughter, Mary Bowen, who married John Lafon.) In different deeds, Elizabeth signed her name both as "Betsy" and "Betty", and probably used both nicknames.

They had the following children:
1 Bethia Bowen
2 William Bowen was born circa 1774 in Virginia. He died in May 1823 in Montgomery Co., Virginia. He married Margaret.
3 Mary Bowen was born circa 1776 in Virginia. She died in June 1849. She married John LaFon on July 8, 1797 in Montgomery Co., Virginia.
4 John Bowen was born circa 1778 in Virginia. He married Rachel Mills on August 3, 1803 in Montgomery Co., Virginia.
5 Hugha Bowen was born on October 29, 1784 in Virginia. He died on July 1, 1867 in Wayne Co., West Virginia. He married Elizabeth Owen on June 19, 1805 in Montgomery Co., Virginia.
6 Magdaline Bowen was born on April 23, 1787 in Virginia. She died on October 24, 1850 in Wayne Co., West Virginia. She married William Joseph Adkins on July 25, 1806 in Montgomery Co., Virginia.
7 James Bowen was born circa 1790 in Virginia.
8 Sally Bowen was born circa 1791 in Virginia.

2nd Generation:

Bethia Bowen was born circa 1772 in Virginia. She died sometime between 1812 and 1816 in Giles Co., Virginia.

Father: John Bowen
Mother: Elizabeth

Bethia Bowen was born in about 1772, somewhere in Virginia. She was probably the oldest child in her family. It is not known where Bethia was born or raised. Sometime in her youth (at least before 1787), she had moved with her family to Craigs Creek in Botetourt County, Virginia. She was married there to Anthony Plymale in January 1789. Bethia was apparently close to her birth family. As an adult, she lived on land adjoining her father. Several of her children's names (including Magdalene, Hugh, and Bowen) apparently came from her family.

Most family histories suggest that her real name was Elizabeth and that she used the name Bethia as a nickname for Elizabeth. I am not sure where this theory came from, but it is not true. "Bethia" was a biblical name that was unrelated to "Elizabeth".

Bethia Bowen's name only appears on two known contemporary records: her 1789 marriage bond (where it was spelled "Bathia") and an 1811 deed (where it was spelled "Bethiah"). The name was quite popular in her family. She had one daughter, at least 2 nieces, and at least 7 granddaughters with the name (note that most of these families also had daughters named Elizabeth). The name was admittedly unusual, other spellings besides Bathia and Bethiah include: Bertha, Bethire, Bethier, and Bethel.

Bethia married Anthony Plymale on January 11, 1789 in Botetourt Co., Virginia.
For information on their children, see his page.