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Bowman Family Papers

Identifier: SC 0159

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

This collection consists of three folders of deeds, indentures, financial records, wills and a few other miscellaneous documents from 1765-1998, relevant to John Bowman and his descendants David, Joseph, Alpheus, Solon, and others. The wills contained in the collection belong to John Bowman Jr. and his son John Bowman, as well as several others. The land treaties and financial records belong mostly to David Bowman, grandson of John Bowman Jr. John Bowman was issued a Land Office Exchange Treasury Warrant for 374 acres in a section of Rockingham County, VA called "the forest" in 1811. Some documents indicate connections with George Keezel and Charles E. Long. Six rolls of names and amounts record subscriptions for erecting a new Rader's Church in 1878-79. Most of the financial records correspond to sales of lands and deeds made to David and John Bowman, as well as records of money and notes given by various family members and acquaintances.

Folder 1, Deeds and Indentures, 1765-1893, undated, includes deeds and indentures relating to John and David Bowman, regarding mostly land sales throughout Rockingham County. Includes naturalization document for George Bauman.

Folder 2, Financial Records, 1871-1926, undated, includes lists of household property, 1888-1900 as well as notes, letters, and records on money exchanges and sales.

Folder 3, Wills and Estate Records, contain wills and records pertaining to the settlement of Bowman and Long estates, 1816-1998, and undated.


  • 1765-1998


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 Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

John Bowman Jr. was born on July 1, 1750 in Greenwich Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He married Mary Magdalene Surface most likely in 1777. They had six children: Elizabeth, George, John, Barbara, Catherine, and Mary. George and John Bowman were the eldest and only sons of John and Mary. John Bowman Jr. died on March 7th, 1816, three days after compiling his last will and testament. This particular Bowman family is a branch of the prominent pioneering and military family of Rockingham County of the same name (descended from George Bowman who settled in the area in 1731). There are financial records in the collection indicating the sale of a significant tract of land to David Bowman (son of Solon Bowman) from the heirs of the prominent Isaac Bowman (son of George Bowman mentioned above). One such heir from the deed, Mattie S. Bowman, also penned a letter to David Bowman, found in the second series of the collection, confirming that she was his niece and that the Bowman’s of this collection were related to the prominent Bowman family of the area. Another such heir mentioned was Alpheus M. Bowman, a very prominent and successful statesman and businessman in Virginia. Solon Bowman, to which some of the wills relate to, was born July 11, 1844 and was said to have been an active and pleasant man in the Rader’s Lutheran Church Community, and was also a soldier in the Civil War, said to be “gallant and brave.”


0.36 cubic feet (3 folders, 1 flat file)

Language of Materials



The Bowman Family Papers, 1765-1998, consisting of one box and one flat folder, contain various documents related to John Bowman, and his descendants David, Joseph, Alpheus, Solon, and others. These documents include deeds and indentures pertaining to land granted to John Bowman, as well as wills and financial records, and records pertaining to the construction of a new Rader’s Church, 1878-1879.


The collection is arranged topically.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society in April 1999.


  • Tyler, Lyon Gardner. Men of Mark in Virginia: Ideals of American Life; a Collection of Biographies of the Leading Men of the State. Virginia, Men of Mark Publishing Company, 1906.
  • Wayland, John W. A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia. Baltimore, Regional Publishing Company, 1980.
  • Stirewalt, Jerome Paul. A Brief History of Rader’s Lutheran Church Near Timberville, Virginia from May 20, 1765 to April 11, 1921. Henkel’s Lutheran Publication Establishment, 1922.

Processing Information

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in 2017-2018. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 4019.



A Guide to the Bowman Family Papers, 1765-1998
Chris Bolgiano, Alicia Henneberry
August 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612