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William H. Bowman Papers

Identifier: SC 0087
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The William H. Bowman Papers, 1856-1897, consist of 334 items arranged in three series: Financial Papers, 1850s-1890s, Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872, and Personal Papers, undated.

Series 1: Financial Papers, 1850-1890, is arranged in five folders. The first four folders detail the years from 1850-1890 and are primarily made up of receipts, purchase and debt payment notices, and tax forms. Earlier documents from the 1850s and 1860s include information on slaves owned by Bowman and his land holdings. Also included are subscriptions to the Old Commonwealth, Rockingham Register, and Harrisonburg Free Press newspapers, along with orders to the Atlantic and Virginia Fertilizing Company for “EUREKA” Ammoniated Super-Phosphate Fertilizer. A March 8, 1890 receipt details a payment of three dollars for tuition paid to the Shenandoah Normal College and fire insurance purchased for one thousand one hundred twenty-five dollars from the Rockingham Home Mutual Fire Insurance Company on May 1, 1890. Of particular note is a July 17, 1897 purchase for a headstone for William Bowman by Annie Bowman. The final folder in this series consists of medical bills for such items as pain management and a prescription for Bowman’s wife.

Series 2: Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872, is divided into two folders of documents from Bowman’s tenure as Justice of the Peace. The first folder contains items from 1870, the large majority of which are addressed to Rockingham County constables with orders to summon various individuals for hearings. The second folder spans the years of 1871-1872. Summons to court once more are the greater part of the folder but judgments commanding individuals to pay debts within an allotted time period are also included.

Series 3: Personal Papers, undated, is comprised of four items. Of interest is a letter from the Shenandoah Normal School principal, G.W. Hoenshel, dated February 15, 1891, with information concerning tuition and room and board expenses along with a brief description of the school and the date of the beginning of the spring term. A July 12, 1861, letter from Port Republic, Virginia, exempting William Bowman from military duty after a Regimental Court of Inquiry for the 58th Regiment is present.


  • Creation: 1856-1897


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

William Harpine Bowman was born on August 26, 1833 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. George Bowman, his first ancestor in Virginia, built the old Bowman homestead, called Fort Bowman or Harmony Hall, at Cedar Creek near Strasburg in 1751. After marrying Emily Frances Huffman, born January 25, 1837, in Harrisonburg, William Bowman settled in Peach Grove, Virginia, in Rockingham County, just southeast of Harrisonburg. There, he was involved in community affairs and served as the treasurer and possibly as the president of the Undine Lodge, where he also worked to support a community effort to purchase a stove for the New Union School in 1857. He further served his community by acting as a Justice of the Peace in the Ashby Township, Rockingham County, from 1870-1872.


0.2 cubic feet (1/2 Hollinger box; 334 items)

Language of Materials



The William H. Bowman Papers, 1856-1897, consist of the papers of William H. Bowman, including bills, receipts, and legal documents along with personal letters.


This collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Financial Papers, 1850s-1890s
  2. Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872
  3. Personal Papers, undated


Packaged in a large envelope on which was written: "From Dorice Graham from her great Uncle Ott Minnich. Donated [as a] collection of old papers from the collection. Presented [to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society] on April 30, 1980."

Acquisition Information

On deposit by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.


  • Wayland, John B. Men of Mark: and representative citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Virginia. Staunton: The McClure Company, Inc., 1943.

Processing Information

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 2020.

A Guide to the William H. Bowman Papers, 1856-1897
Sandra A. Joyner, Chelsea Gutshall
January 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2013-11-21: Converted to schema conforming EAD by dtd2schema.vh.xsl.
  • January 2010: Updated by Chelsea Gutshall
  • 2017: Collection renumbered.
  • 2020-04-01: Minor revisions to finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612