Bowles DNA Project
The Bowles of co. Laois, Ireland in New Orleans
Brothers Joseph S. and Robert H. Bowles accompanied by their half-sisters, Mary and Anna Taylor, arrived in New Orleans from Quebec City, Canada. Their sister Jane Bowles McGaughy joined them there in the late 1840’s. This family had arrived in Canada from Ireland sometime between 1822 and 1824, settled for a time with their father’s cousin, John Bowles of Quebec City, who had preceded them to Quebec City in 1818, and then they moved on to New Orleans in 1835.
New Orleans in the mid-1800's
It can be a bit difficult to visualize this family relationship; it may help to refer to The Family Tree of the Bowles from Quebec in New Orleans.
It is still a bit of an assumption that Joseph S. Bowles was Robert H. Bowles’ brother and Mary and Anna Taylor’s half-brother but it does seem to be very likely. The best proof is their long association in New Orleans and Mary’s obituary in 1840 which mentions her brothers J. and R. Bowles. Full names would have been much nicer but they are the only J. (Joseph) and R. (Robert) Bowles that we know of who were connected to the Taylor sisters in New Orleans.
Joseph S. Bowles was born on Feb. 12, 1811 (per his obituary). If Joseph was the son of John and Elizabeth Bowles of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois, Ireland he would have been born between their son Thomas in July 1809 and their daughter Jane in Dec. 1812. That would fit very nicely but we have found both Thomas and Jane’s baptisms at the Castletown-Killabban church near Ballickmoyler and Joseph’s baptism is not listed in that register. Still he may have been baptized at another nearby church or perhaps at his mother’s family’s church. There was no civil registration done at that time so that cannot be checked. Robert Henry Bowles was also baptized at the Castletown church in Feb. 1817 by John and Elizabeth Bowles and a daughter Eliza was baptized in 1814. Note Their father, John Bowles, died in 1818 leaving their mother, Elizabeth, a widow with several very young children. In 1821 she married their neighbour Thomas Taylor and by 1824 the Taylors with their Bowles children and their daughter Mary had arrived in Quebec City. They had another daughter, Anna Taylor, in about 1825. In January 1825 the eldest Bowles brother, Thomas, was buried at the Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City. Their father’s cousin, another John Bowles, was a witness at the funeral as was their step-father Thomas Taylor. In May 1829 Jane Bowles was married to John McGaughy, a private in the 79th Highlanders Regiment; Thomas Taylor was again a witness. In 1834, Joseph married Sarah Winson in the St. James Methodist Church in Montreal. In 1835, Joseph, Robert and their half-sisters Mary and Anna all moved to New Orleans. They were joined there by their sister Jane about 1850 after the death of her husband.
I can’t imagine what led them on from Quebec City to travel all the way down to New Orleans. When they arrived there they set up shoemaker shops. Had they heard that was the city in the U.S. that was the most desperate for shoemakers or were there other family members already there who convinced them to move down? There were Bowles in New Orleans prior to their arrival but we have not discovered any which they might have a connection to.
Joseph opened several shoe shops in a row but does not seem to have been too successful. He declared bankruptcy from one shop in 1842. His wife Sarah died in 1846 and he married another Sarah (Harding) around 1848. In 1849 they moved to California where he found success supplying goods to the mining operations.
Robert was more successful in New Orleans and built up a prominent position for himself. He married Elizabeth Ann Cook there in 1845 and they had a son Henry Taylor Bowles in 1846. Following the family occupation, he opened shoemaker shops at several locations (36 Camp St. in 1842, 1 Royal in 1851, 103 Canal in 1861). His wife died in 1852 and their son died in 1858. Robert then married Orleania Bennett in 1859 and they had five children (Annie, Henry Belmont, Stonewall, Thomas A. and Robert Jr.). During the Civil War, Robert served as a Captain in the Confederate Army. Robert died in 1871 and Orleania in 1881. See Robert H. Bowles of New Orleans
In May 1829 Jane Bowles was married to John McGaughy, a private in the 79th Highlanders Regiment. The 79th was a Scottish Regiment sent to Ireland in 1820 and then to Quebec in September 1825. They were in Ft. Henry, Kingston, Ontario from 1830 to 1831. When the Regiment returned to Portsmouth, England in 1836 John appears to have transferred to the 15th in order to stray in Canada. Jane and their children appear to have followed him around on his various postings. Jane’s husband died between 1845 and 1850 as we next find her living in New Orleans with five children the youngest being only 5 years old. See Jane Bowles McGaughy of Quebec City and New Orleans
Mary and Anna Taylor
Their half-sisters, Mary and Anna, were only about 12 and 9 respectively when the family moved to Louisiana in 1835. Her parents do not seem to have accompanied them though. Joseph Bowles 1840 census record lists him with a household including ‘1 female 10 to under 15’ and ‘1 female 15 to under 20’. This would have been Mary and Anna Taylor, now 17 and 14, who had accompanied him to Louisiana in 1835. Mary died ‘of congestive fever’ in October 1840 at her brother’s house. Anna married Thomas Ong in 1851 in a ceremony performed in Robert’s home.
J. Bowles ?
There are some indications that there was another family member there for sometime after 1835 but not as late as 1851. The 1842 New Orleans City Directory lists Joseph Bowles' shoe store at 31 Royal Street, Robert Bowles a shoemaker at 36 Camp Street and also a J. Bowles' shoe shop on Camp Street between Gravier and Common Streets. ref. 36 Camp Street was between Gravier and Common Streets so the 1842 directory seems to indicate that a J. Bowles and Robert Bowles together had a shoe shop on Camp Street while Joseph had his shop on Royal Street.
The 'J' may stand for James. The 'List of Letters' held for pickup at the New Orleans Post Office, as printed in the Times Picayune, included ones for a James Bowles on Dec. 8 & 9, 1840 and for a James S. Bowles on May 12, 1841.
As on all these Bowles in Louisiana pages, I would like to express my appreciation to Kay Emery, a descendant of 5.3 Henry Belmont Bowles. Kay has done most of the research on this branch and has kindly allowed me to publish it here.