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Major Flavius J. Bowles

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Major Flavius J. Bowles, the son of Thomas and Susan Bowles, was born about 1841 in either Franklin county, Pennsylvania  or in Washington county, Maryland, depending on whether you believe the place of birth given on his marriage registration or on earlier census forms. In any case, the difference is a span of about 5 miles and not far from where he eventually settled in Leesburg, VA.  His parents were both born in Maryland and settled in Welsh Run, Franklin co., Pennsylvania where Thomas was the postmaster from 1839 to 1877 except for a span of 3 years. ref. 

With the onset of the Civil War, Flavius joined the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry with the rank of private and was promoted to Hospital Steward in 1864.  ref. That was a Non-Commissioned Officer rank ref. approximately equivalent to that of a Sergeant Major which might have been the basis for the Major title he adopted throughout his life.  No doubt that added credibility and status to his social and business position in the various communities he later become part of.

In 1871 he was living in Chicago but married Florence Elmore of New Orleans in the very small community of Woodstock in Oxford county in Southern Ontario. ref.  Why they chose to marry in an out of the way small community in Canada is a mystery.  Although there were other Bowles living there I cannot find his connection to them.

Flavius and Florence had one child in Ontario (1875) and one somewhere in the US (~1877) but first settled for any great length of time in Manitoba. 

Major Bowles in Manitoba

Initially they settled at St. Andrew's near Selkirk, MB in 1879 where Flavius established a building materials business with some success:

1881 Canada Census St. Andrews, Lisgar, Manitoba District 185-C2 p. 1 house 3  reel # C-13283 
Flavius Bowles       M         Male    English    40      USA   Contractor     Presbyterian
Florence Bowles     M         Fem.    Welsh     28      USA                      Roman Cath.
Florence Bowles                Fem.    English     6      Ont.                      Roman Cath.
Minor Bowles                    Male    English     --      USA                      Roman Cath.
Susan Bowles                   Fem.    English     2       Man.                     Roman Cath.

The 1881 Henderson's Directory of Winnipeg and Towns of Manitoba lists an 'F.J. Bowles, contractor' under the town of Selkirk heading.

In March 1881 a Messrs. Williams and Bowles of Selkirk were the successful bidders at $23,995 and were contracted to build the new Government House for the Province of Manitoba.  Before its completion Williams retired and Major Bowles became the sole contractor. ref. In March 1883 a separate contract for $18,082 was entered into for Major Bowles to add stables to the House.  ref.  Today this building is the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported that a son was born to F. J. Bowles in Selkirk on Jan. 24, 1882. ref.

They moved into Winnipeg in 1882-83, probably to be closer to his customers:

The Winnipeg Voter's List for the 1883 Federal Election includes an F. J. Bowles owning 12.5 acres in Ward 3.

The Saturday June 16 edition of The Brandon Mail had an advertisement for F. J. Bowles at 13 Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg, supplier of stone.

The 1883 Winnipeg City Directory has F.J. Bowles, contractor with a residence at 94 Edmonton St., Winnipeg.

The first references to his use of the title 'Major' Bowles and to his being a 'railway contractor' occur in 1884:

1884 Friday, Feb. 22, The Prince Albert Times, p. 3; Territorial News – Manitoba – Stonewall
"Major Bowles dropped into town on Thursday and disbursed $2000 (Stonewall News Feb. 9)"
(note: this is a reference to his operation of a limestone quarry in Stonewall ref.)
The 1884 Henderson’s Gazetteer and Directory of Manitoba and the North West under the Winnipeg heading has:
Major J. F., railway contractor, 396 Main, res. 94 Edmonton
From 1885, the city directories continue to refer to Major Bowles as a contractor or railway contractor in Ft. Rouge until 1890 and on Roslyn Road from 1891 until 1895 but they do not specify any local residence addresses. ref.
An 1888 reference indicates that the Major was possibly no longer resident in Manitoba.  If he had to remain in Selkirk for a week to look after his business interests he would have to have moved further away than just to Winnipeg:
"1888, Friday, Nov. 9, The Qu’Appelle Progress, p. 6, Manitoba and Northwest News – Selkirk heading
Selkirk, Nov. 2., Major Bowles is in town this week."
In 1896 Major Bowles entered into a partnership with John Gunn operating as Bowles, Gunn & Co., Stone and Lime out of the McIntyre Block on Main Street.  This venture was short-lived as the block was destroyed by fire on Feb. 2, 1898.  There are no further references to Major Bowles in Manitoba after that date.
From records in Virginia we learn that Major Bowles acquired land there in 1892 and moved his family there although he continued to operate his business in Winnipeg until the fire in 1898 put him out of business.

Major Bowles in Virginia

Major Bowles had recently purchased "the Jenning's Stock Farm" near Leesburg in early 1893 according to his son's obituary in the Leesburg Mirror in June 1893.
That had probably been in 1892 as his daughter's marriage announcement in 1896 states that the family had been living there for 4 years.
He seems to have remained in the Leesburg area until his death in June 1920 in Welshrun.  obituary

Major Bowles' Family's Origins

I would like to express my thanks to Charles Hartley of the rootsweb Bowles mailing list for all his help with this section.
It's uncertain whether Flavius was born in Washington county, Maryland or in Franklin county, Pennsylvania but that doesn't really matter as they are adjacent counties which meet only a few miles north of Leesburg.  Two family farms a few miles apart or even a single farm could span two counties.  His parent's, Thomas and Susan Bowles gave their place of birth as Maryland but their children usually gave their parent's birth places as Pennsylvania.  It seems clear that this branch was part of a Bowles line which had settled in the Maryland area as much as 100 years earlier and spread throughout the neighbouring counties. 
With Charles' extensive help I have been able to document Flavius' immediate family tree.  As this web site focuses on Bowles in Canada, Ireland and England I do not plan to follow Flavius' family further back but will continue to document his connections to Canada.  I will leave his origins up to other more capable Bowles family genealogists in the U.S.  Charles Hartley's excellently researched page for this family is at
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gensoup/bowlesthomas/index.html where you will find the source references for the following tree.

Major Bowles Family Tree

Thomas Bowles b. ~ 1808 Maryland (merchant)
m. Susan M.  ? (b. ~ 1818 Maryland) about 1837 (possibly Maryland)
(living in Montgomery, Franklin co., PA in 1860 and 1870)
1.  Samuel M. Bowles b. ~ 1838 PA (possibly MD)
2.  Major Flavius J. Bowles b. ~ 1841 Washington co., MD or in PA (building contractor)
(lived Chicago in 1871, Ontario 1871 to mid-1870’s, U.S. 1877, Manitoba 1879-1892, Leesburg VA 1892 to abt. 1920)
m. Florence Elmore (b. ~ 1852 New Orleans; William, Julia)
Dec. 13, 1871 Woodstock, Ont.
2.1  Florence Bowles b. March 1875 Ont.
m. Oscar Fitzgerald Bresee Jr. of Baltimore (b. June 1869 Maryland)
June 16, 1896 Leesburg, VA
2.1.1  Oscar FitzGerald Bresee 3rd b. Jan. 1897 VA
2.1.2  Mary Craig Bresee b. Feb. 1900 VA
2.1.3  Louis Bresee b. ~ 1906 VA
Oscar: divorced ~ 1909
2.2  Minor (or possibly F. J. Jr.) b. ~ 1877  USA
d. June 9, bur. June 10, 1893 (age 17) Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA
2.3  Susan b. ~ 1879 Manitoba
2.4  William b. Jan. 24, 1882 Selkirk, Manitoba
d. bef. 1910, possibly while quite young
Major Bowles d. June 1920
Florence d. aft. 1930
3.  Mary E. Bowles b. ~ 1844 PA
4.  Jacob Augh. Bowles b. ~ 1846 PA
5.  Rose Ellen Bowles b. ~ 1849 PA
6.  Anna Virginia Bowles b. ~ 1851 PA
7.  David (or Daniel) Bowles b. ~ 1854 PA
8.  Thomas O. Bowles b. ~ 1857 PA
9.  Luther M. Bowles b. ~ 1862 PA
Probably the above Luther M. Bowles living in Colorado by the 1900 Census
Luther M. Bowles b. Feb. 1861 PA
m. Addie L. (b. Feb. 1861 Iowa) ~ 1885
1.  Ada L. Bowles b. Mar. 1886 Nebraska
2.  Susan E. Bowles b. Mar. 1888 Colorado
3.  Thomas R. Bowles b. Mar. 1890 Colorado
m. Dorothea (b. ~ 1895, Colorado)
3.1  Evelyn Ruth Bowles b. 1917 Colorado
3.2  Thomas William Bowles b. 1920 Colorado
likely d. bef. 1930
3.3  Edward R. Bowles b. 1924 Colorado
3.4  Barbara L. Bowles b. 1928 Colorado
4.  Delia V. Bowles b. Aug. 1892 Colorado
5.  Luther M. Bowles b. June 1895 Colorado
6.  Horace (Harry) R. Bowles b. March 1899 Colorado
m.  Edan M. (b. ~ 1902 Iowa) ~ 1929 probably Iowa or Spokane, WA
Luther d. betw. 1910 and 1920 Colorado

This site was last updated 10/19/18