William Bowden Family
3rd Alley East, Lot 49
The Bowdens are direct descendants of the French Huguenot, Chevalier Pierre Boudouin, who came to the United States in 1639. The Bowden family has been prominent in Tidewater since colonial times, especially around James City County and Williamsburg.
William Bowden was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a Williamsburg farmer. He was a member of Congress and was married to Mildred Davis of York County, Virginia. They had three children: Henry Moseley, Lemuel J. (later a US Senator) and Mary.
Henry Moseley Bowden grew up on the family farm in Williamsburg. He was devoted to the Union cause at the outset of the Civil War and had to give up his property and move his family to Norfolk. He served as Clerk of Court for Norfolk. He first married a Miss White and then Eugenia Ware of Williamsburg. They had one child, Alice D. Henry later married Mrs. Henrietta Susan Stevens Stubblefield and they had one child, George Edwin.
George Edwin Bowden was born in Williamsburg in July 1852. He was 10 years old when his family fled to Norfolk. From the age of 13 to 19 George assisted his father as Clerk of Court. He was educated by his father and private tutors outside of work hours. George planned to attend college but his father died so he had to take over the family responsibilities. He became an “appointed receiver” for an insolvent national bank in Norfolk and by the age of 22 he was elected President of the Home Savings Bank. He served in this capacity for 14 years. During this time George married Ellen Evangelina Jones and had three children: Eva, Henry and Lemuel. In 1880, George was appointed Collector of Customs for Norfolk and Portsmouth by President Hayes. He held this office for four years and was then elected to Congress representing the second Virginia district as a Republican. He served two terms. During this time, George concentrated his political efforts on the development of Norfolk as a commercial port with great success. He returned to Norfolk and became Special Master of the Norfolk and Western Railroad as it was in litigation. Under his leadership, the Railroad recovered and he sold it in 1897, the same year that he was elected as a member of the National Republican Committee from Virginia later serving in the same capacity for the Virginia State Republican Convention. George was again appointed Collector of Customs for Norfolk in 1898, resigning from that office to become Clerk of the United States District Court serving Norfolk, Richmond and Alexandria. He became good friends with Presidents McKinley and Arthur and was especially close to Senator Mark Hanna. When George E. Bowden died in 1908, it was said that “He was faithful to every trust, a worthy foreman in politics and loyal to ever cause he espoused or friend he supported. His friends were many and his political opponents accorded him their personal respect.” Ellen, his wife, died in 1941.
Henry Bowden, one of George E. Bowden’s two sons, was born in February 1882 in Norfolk. He graduated from Hampton-Sidney College in 1901 and then University of Virginia Law School in 1903. Henry practiced law with the Honorable R.T. Thorp (Thorp & Bowden) until 1906 and then alone until 1913 when he partnered with J.L. Heard (Bowden & Heard). He married Katherine Marsden, daughter of William and Mary Louisa Jones Bruce of Portsmouth in 1914. He and Mary had two sons, Henry Bowden, Jr. and Bruce Bowden. Henry Bowden died in 1963 and Katherine died in 1967.
Lemuel Bowden, the other son of George E. Bowden, was born in June of 1888. He graduated from Hampton-Sidney College in 1909 and was appointed Deputy Collector of Customs for the port of Norfolk. Lemuel married Mary Gilbert Broughton, daugther of Alexander Bell and Rebecca Ghiselin Broughton. Lemuel and Mary had one child, Lemuel Jr., born on December 17, 1914. He died in 1997. Lemuel, Sr. died in 1939 and his wife Mary died in 1927.*
Other Bowden family members interred on this lot include: Rodney, d. 1884; George, d. 1899; Grace Louise, d. 2009; George Edwin, d. 2009; Alexander, d. 1996.
Photographs courtesy of the Sargeant Memorial Room, Norfolk Public Library.
*Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume IV, edited by Lyon Gardiner Tyler, 1915.
Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.
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