|That’s Our Henry!
By Candice Lynn Buchanan
Now and again, however, and in fact perhaps more often than not, our ancestors make these decisions for us. Accidental discoveries of tombstones, newspaper clippings or the occasional scary photograph catch our attention and direct our curiosity. In this case, great-great-great-grandfather Henry had my notice.
So I went to visit him. Henry is buried in a small family cemetery on the farm where he lived in Center Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Beside his gravestone, markers still stand for his wife Penelope (Stewart) Bowler and nine of their close relatives. Standing on this hilltop a cemetery visitor can look out on the land where Henry spent his daily life.
I wanted to know what that life was like – his life. Who was Henry really? The person in this photo left quite an impression, but revealing an individual’s personality and personal story is not generally as obvious, sometimes nearly impossible.
Not for Henry though. I’m convinced this fellow had a story to tell.
Obituaries from the turn of the century can be brief or non-existent. They remain one of my favorite resources though because sometimes they are, well, just awesome. Henry's was one of these awesome ones. Possibly one of the best I have ever found. Though my research on Henry is far from done, once his obituary was transcribed and in my records I felt like I really had done well by him already.
This is an excerpt from his exceptional obituary published 26 May 1904 in the Independent an early Waynesburg newspaper:
“Henry Bowler was one of the oldest citizens of the county and we might say in some respects a very peculiar man. He was never outside of Greene county but once and that only across the line for a few hours. He had never seen a train of cars nor a steamboat. Had not been away from the farm on which he lived but twice in the last fifteen years. Had not been to Rogersville, which is in sight of his farm, for something like thirty years.
Henry Bowler was a remarkable man in other respects. Being of a rugged constitution, his eyesight never failed him. Within the last two years he would go hunting and always with the old time piece, the rifle, and find more game than the young men with their latest improved hunting pieces. He had a remarkable memory and was a great reader. One would be surprised at his knowledge of affairs of the world, both past and present. Always taking the papers that kept him reliably informed as to what was taking place in the world, and in this respect he was a mine of information, and while a helper at home for many years he never lost interest in the affairs of the government, being a staunch Republican all his life and knew the party leaders and their positions on all the important questions. In early life he accepted the gospel and became a member of the Christian church and for some years was an active worker in the church which at that time met at Crouse's school house, just below Rogersville. He was a lover of music and in his younger days loved the service of song in which he took a leading part. In conversing with him a short time before his death he talked of the church and its work and was happy in the fact that the kingdom of Christ was advancing and reaching unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”
When this account of my “peculiar” ancestor is considered against the humorous introduction of his photo – I can’t help but laugh and think that this was a hunt that seemed to me to have gone full circle. Henry's photo is the first one you will see if you ever open my family photo album and scary or not he never fails to make me smile. And so, I think it is safe to say that he is now an ancestor remembered….One at a time.
All material within this
web site has been compiled by Candice Buchanan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(63 W. Franklin St.; Waynesburg, PA 15370).
Data sources documented whenever possible. Contributors credited for shared information. Questions, feedback and contributions welcome.
Copyright © 2003-2008 Candice Buchanan. All rights reserved.