The Brothers Bourden: Men of Family

The family first enters the marriage bond records of Duplin County September 29, 1779 when Samuel acted as surety for John Shuffield to purchase one to marry the widow Elizabeth Graddy. And on October 17, 1780, Nicholas acted as bondsman for William Rogers and Sarah Screws.  As we enter the 1780s, the next generation of Bowdens/Bourdens begin to appear in these and in land records.  Remember, Baker and his family moved to New Hanover County. They were living there by July 8, 1783. On that date, in that county, James Holmes, “a mulatto boy,” was bound to him “until 21 to learn trade of a shoemaker” (New Hanover County Court Minutes, Part 2, 1771-1785, Abstracted, Compiled and Edited by Alexander McDonald Walker, page 78).  So everyone in the Duplin County records from the next generation from that point on belongs to either Samuel or Nicholas.  They’ve been a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to fit together, but thanks to the resources available through the Duplin County Register of Deeds website,, I’ve been able to sort out the male children.  Through deeds of gift of both land and, unfortunately, slaves, we can identify most of the sons of Samuel and Nicholas.  Even a few of the grandchildren can be placed in this way.  Their girls, however, remain guess work.

On January 9, 1781 James Bizzell, with Willis Cherry as surety, purchased a bond to marry Mary Bowden. James was the son of William Bizzell and his wife, Hannah. Due to proximity, I’m as certain as I can be without it being written in black and white that she was the daughter of Nicholas. Another marriage bond was purchased November 30, 1782, by James Winders, son of John Winders, Sr., and his first wife, Ann Bright Winders, for him to marry Anne Bowden. Samuel Bowden, her father, I think, was bondsman.  Using an average marriage age of 16 for these girls, I estimate they’d have been born in about 1765, give or take a year.

There is a tax list extant for Duplin County for the year 1783, but the first page is missing and the Bowdens, and maybe the Spences, were quite likely on it (Journal of North Carolina Genealogy, Volumes 18 and 19, by William Perry Johnson, page 2778 then continued on page 2813). There are several missing pages at the end, as well, according to Mr. Johnson.

In New Hanover County Court (County Court Minutes, Part 2, page 82), January Term, 1784, two deeds were proven upon the oath of Joel Parrish in which Daniell Bourdeaux sells land to Baker Bourden. Baker was appointed to be a juror next session on October 6 (page 89).

There is a second Baker that, now, enters the records.  He purchased a marriage bond April 2, 1785 to marry Mary Branch. Baker II is the son of Nicholas, as is proven by a deed of gift (Deed Book M, Page 71), dated March 21, 1801, in which

…Nicholas Bourden of the County of Duplin & State of No. Carolina for and in consideration of the natural love and good will & affection that I have & do bear unto my Son Baker Bourden…

grants his son 222 acres of land on the south side of the Northeast Cape Fear River.  The deed was witnessed by Levin Watkins and Reading Bourden, we’ll get to him in a minute, and proven in July 1802 by the oath of Levin Watkins.

Burwell Branch and Archelaus Branch acted as sureties for the marriage bond. Just what relation they were to Mary is unknown at this time, but I’m thinking they were her brothers. In his Revolutionary War Pension Application Burrell Branch says he was “born in Dobbs County N.C. now Greene County in the year 1757.” If Mary was 16 when she married Baker, she’d have been born in 1768 or 1769. Archelaus also married in 1785, March 30, to Hepsibeth Weston, daughter of Reuben Weston. Burwell, again, acted as bondsman. Say he was twenty when he married, Archelaus would have been born in about 1765. I figure Baker to have been about the same age.

Reading, as proved by a deed of gift (Deed Book M, page 74) dated July 15, 1799, was also Nicholas’s son and, thus, Baker’s brother.

…Nicholas Bourden of the County of Duplin & State of No. Carolina for & in consideration of the natural love good will & affection that I have and do bear unto my Son Reading Bourden of the same County and State…

Nicholas gave Reading 405 acres on the south side of the Northeast Cape Fear River and east side of Poley Bridge.

Also in 1785, a project was launched to improve the navigation of Goshen Swamp. A committee was appointed in April of that year to divide the area into manageable districts and to take a kind of census of the inhabitants. The committee reported its findings in July. The result was 17 districts. Samuel Bowden, Sr., was in the 8th district which was “from the upper end of Sampson Grimes Slew to the head of Outlaws Slew,” and Nicholas and his sons Baker and Samuel, were in the 11th district “from Winders foot path up to the lower end of Rogers Slew.” Isaac Spence was also in the 11th. (“Navigation on Goshen Swamp, Duplin County, NC 1785” by Tom Byrd, North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Volume 8, no. 1, page 2, via William and Nathan Bullard family: history and genealogy by Spence Bullard Ardell, pages 276-279). The project never really got off the ground.

In 1784-1786, a State Census was taken (Duplin County, North Carolina : census taken by the state of North Carolina, 1786 by Alvaretta Kenan Register, or see Duplin County 1784-1786 State Census).

Head of
Free White
21-60 -21/60+ 12-50 -12/50+
List of Capt. Bowden’s Company taken by Francis Olliver & Returned April 1786
1. Nicholas Bowden 1 4 2
2. Baker Bowden 1 1 1
55. Saml. Bowden 1 3 3
64. Jas. Bizzel 1 1 2
List of Capt. Kenan’s Dist., taken by Daniel Hicks & Returned April Term 1786
25. Jas. Winders 1 1 2

So, according to this census, Nicholas has himself, four sons under 21, his wife, and a daughter at home. Unfortunately, free white females weren’t differentiated by age. He and his wife have two Bizzell grandchildren, a boy and a girl, and young Baker and his wife, Mary, have already given them a grandson. This may be the William Bowden who would marry Louisa Price December 30, 1807 with Robert Southerland as bondsman. Samuel and his wife, Catherine, have three sons at home, all under 21, and two daughters. James and Anne Winders have given him two granddaughters.  So, with the exception of Baker, all of the sons accounted for in this census were born after 1765.

On the 1786 Tax List, again in Bowden’s District, we find Nicholas listed between two Bakers and two Samuels. Yes, there are, now, two Samuels to go with the two Bakers.  Samuel II is another son of Nicholas as proven by this deed of gift (Deed Book M, page 72), dated July 15, 1799, in which

…Nicholas Bourden for divers good causes & considerations him thereunto moving but more Especially for and in consideration of the natural affection and good will which he hath and doth bear to his said Son Samuel Bourden…

grants him him 220 acres of land “on the dreans of White Oak Swamp.”

It’s interesting that the younger Samuel is listed separately, instead of as a second poll in his father’s household.  Was he married, then?  There exists a Samuel Bowden Family Bible.  According to this document, his first child, Dorcas, wasn’t born until 1808.  However, this does not discount his having been married before, the first union being childless.  It is possible that the Tabitha Bowden I discussed in my previous post, The Brothers Bourden: The Wives, was Samuel II’s first wife instead of his mother.  I have nothing to prove who she was, just that she was.  At this point the minimum age for a free white male to be considered taxable was 21.  I don’t know when in 1786 this tax list was taken, but, if after April, we may conclude that the younger Samuel was born after that month and turned twenty-one in the interim and, thus, was born in 1765, though later census data suggests something closer to 1769.

James Bizzell and his father, William, are also present in Bowden’s District. And James Winders, two listings, is found in Kenan’s District. There are no Spences on this list or on the state census roll discussed previously.

Baker, Sr., was again appointed a juror for the next term October 7, 1786 (New Hanover County Court Minutes, Part 3, 1786-1793, page 12). He wrote his will October 20, 1787 in which he appointed “My Brother Samuel Bowdin” as one of the executors, the other being Joel Parrish. Only his three oldest children are mentioned by name:  John (the plantation he lives on, bordering Baker’s own), Rebecca (a feather bed she already has and a chest), and Richard (the plantation on which Baker lived, a cow and calf, one heifer, two sows and pigs, and one feather bed).  These children must have been of age, meaning they were of or over 21.  Thus, they were born in or before 1766.  Richard Bowden Jones concludes that Richard was underage, but it doesn’t read that way for me.  Both Rebecca, whose last name is not given, and John were probably already married.  We’ll discuss Rebecca’s husband later, but  John’s wife was named Elizabeth.

22 May 1792…John Bowden ack. two deeds from himself, Elizabeth Bowden and Susanna Nelson to James Bloodworth; and William Wright to examine Elizabeth Bowden as to her consent (New Hanover County Court Minutes, Vol. 3, page 72).

Baker specified that his wife, unnamed, was to have the right to live on the home plantation for the rest of her life and that she was to receive everything else “and for her to give to the Rest of My Children as she shall think proper.” The will was proven in New Hanover County Court January term, 1790. From New Hanover County Court Minutes, Part 3, 1786-1793, Abstracted, Compiled and Edited by Alexander McDonald Walker:

5 January 1790 … Estate of Baker Bowden, Decd.–Will proved by Jno. Fulwood; and Joel Parish qualified as Exr. (page 48).

9 Apr 1790 … Estate of Baker Bowden, Decd.–Martha Bowden, decedent’s widow appointed Admrx. with will annexed; bond 200 pounds; John Erwin and James Stanley, sur. (page 52).

On April 8, 1789, three Bowdens, Tabetha, Samuel, and Bryan, witnessed a deed between Owen O’Daniel and William Duncan.  Samuel, we’ve already introduced, but this is the first time we meet his brother, Bryan.  Their father, Nicholas, gifted (Book 4A, page 292) him,

…for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which I have and do bear unto my beloved son Bryan Bourden…a certain negro girl slave named Hannah now twelve years old…

September 10, 1810.  The deed was witnessed by Simeon Garner and Readin Bourden and proven in July 1811 on Reading’s oath.  Samuel II, as I’ve already noted, may have been born in 1765.  Having witnessed this deed in 1789, Bryan was likely born in about 1768.

Isaac Spence and Levin Watkins purchased a marriage bond April 27, 1789 for Isaac to marry Elisabeth Bowden. Elisabeth is a little harder to pin down than the other girls. The evidence could be made to fit either Samuel or Nicholas being her father. Remember, in 1786, both of them have a daughter still at home.  Using our benchmark of 16, Elisabeth would have been born in about 1773.

In 1790, Samuel was living in Duplin County in “the Division allotted to James Kenan,” with his wife, 3 sons under 16, and one daughter. So one of his daughters died or married between 1786 and 1790.  Could she have been Elisabeth Spence?  And the living daughter could be the elusive Tabitha? Nicholas also lived in Kenan’s Division with his wife, 2 sons of or over 16 (Samuel and Bryan), and 2 under 16 (Reading and James). So two were born in or before 1774, and two after 1774.  His daughter is no longer living at home.  Right above him on the page is Isaac Spence.  He and Elisabeth have a son, probably Elisha, and a daughter. They’d only been married a year! Did he and Elisabeth have twins? Or did they anticipate their marriage vows? I’ve discussed this in more detail in my post Dolly Bowden. Young Baker is on the same page as Samuel with himself, Mary, two sons, and a daughter. This could be the Ann Bourden who married William Arnett December 15, 1814 with Edward Albertson as bondsman.  The boys could be William and either James II or Nicholas IV.

Heads of Households Free White Males Free White
Other Free Slaves
16+ <16
Samuel Bowden 1 3 2 0 0
Isaac Spence 1 1 2 0 0
Nicholas Bowden 3 2 1 0 0
Baker Bowden 1 2 2 0 0

Meanwhile, in New Hanover County, John and his wife, Elizabeth, have a son and three daughters, whereas Martha has herself, Richard, the only male over 16, and three boys under 16, all of whom would, thus, have been born after 1774, and two daughters at home.

Heads of Households Free White Males Free White
Other Free Slaves
16+ <16
John Bowden 1 1 4 0 0
Martha Bowden 1 3 3 0 0
James Stanley 1 2 1 0 1

Martha Bowden “of Long Creek” dictated her own will March 11, 1792 (Be sure to read Richard Bowden Jones’ post, Baker and Martha Bowden Wills, at In it she leaves her son John a linen wheel and her daughter Rebecca Stanley a mirror.  If Rebecca wasn’t married in 1787 when her father wrote his will, she is now.  Remember the James Stanley who was one of the sureties for the administrator bond for Baker’s estate?  Could this have been Rebecca’s husband?  Or, maybe her father-in-law.  There are two James Stanleys in New Hanover County on the 1790 census, one of whom is distinguished as “Senr.”  If the younger James was Rebecca’s husband, then they had two sons in 1790.  In her will, Martha does not mention Richard.  Where was he, I wonder?  She goes straight to the “other children.”  Sons Jesse, Nicholas, and Lemuel are left the cattle, respectively, called theirs.  Nicholas is also left a gun.  All of these goods are to be sold, and the money “put to interest for his use till he may attain the age of twenty one years.”  There are also two daughters Sarah and Molsey.  Both are left feather beds, bedsteads, and furniture.  She also left Sarah “one loom & implements thereto belonging, also one woolen wheel and one pair of cotton cards, and one large clothes chest,” and Molsey “six silver teaspoons.”  There is no indication of Sarah’s age, but Molsey was under eighteen.  Martha required that “the remainder of my property I desire may be sold and my just debts paid therewith; and what money may remain after payment of said debts, I bequeath to my said daughter Molsey Bowden to be put to interest for her use till she marry or attain the age of eighteen years.”  Thus, Molsey, like her brothers, was born after 1774.  She appointed Samuel Bowden “of Duplin County” Executor. Her will was proven upon the oath of her oldest son, John, in May 1792. Samuel filed the accounts of the sale of her Estate in New Hanover Court November 19, 1792 (Court Minutes, Part 3, page 80).

Nicholas was appointed an Executor, with Francis Oliver, in the will of John Ivey October 3, 1792. Both Nicholas and Samuel were witnesses. The will was proven on their oaths later that month. Samuel Bowden, Jr., bought a slave named Isaac from the estate of John Ivey November 15, 1794 for the sum of 220 silver dollars. Francis Oliver and Nicholas Bowden signed the bill of sale.

Reading Bourden probably married in about 1795.  This date is based on the fact that Reading sold some land to his son, Reading Jr., in Onslow County, in 1817.  For Junior to have been of age, i.e. of or over twenty-one years of age, at that time, then he’d have had to have been born no later than 1796.  Reading Sr.’s wife’s name was Nancy.  The only reason we know her name is because she left a will in Jones County, Georgia dated October 31, 1832 in which she appoints her son, Readin Bourden, Executor.  By then, Reading, Sr. was already dead and she had remarried a Stephenson.  Utilizing our average marriage age for men, 20, Reading would have been born in about 1775.

George Outlaw sold 185 acres of land “on the No. side of Goshen Swamp & on Cowhole branch, part of a patent granted James Hurst December 23, 1740”, to Bryan Bowden March 10, 1793 (Deed Book, K19, page 454). A portion of the price is covered by a piece of tape, but is was one hundred some pounds, lawful money. The deed was proven April 1798, on the oath of Francis Oliver.

Benjamin Bowden and Isaac Spence purchased a bond for Benjamin to marry Elizabeth Dunckan, daughter of William Dunckan (his will) and Ann Kornegay, January 20, 1798.  Using the benchmark of twenty for marriage for a man, Benjamin would have been born in about 1778.  This gels with later census data.

Samuel Bowden, along with Zachariah Turnage and Francis Oliver, partitioned the estate of William Taylor, deceased, between his sons-in-law, John Rhodes and Henry McCulloch, July 2, 1798.

In 1800 census, Benjamin and the younger Samuel make their first appearance on the census:

Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ <10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Isaac Spence 3 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0
Nicholas Bowden 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Samuel Bowden 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
James Bizzel 1 2 0 0 1 1 2 0 1 0
Baker Bowden 2 1 0 1 0 3 1 0 1 0
Benjamin Bowden 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Samuel Bowden 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1
New Hanover County
John Bowden 0 1 2 2 0 0 2 1 1 1
James Standley 3 1 0 2 0 2 0 0 1 0

Isaac and Nicholas are on the same page, as are Samuel II and James Bizzel.  In fact, Bizzel and Samuel II are right beside each other.  On another page Benjamin is right beside Samuel I and so is John Winders, Anne’s father-in-law.  Benjamin and Elizabeth have a son, but who is the other man 16-25 in Benjamin’s household. Was he one of Elizabeth’s brothers?  Samuel, Sr. has two sons and a daughter still at home.  And Samuel, Jr. has two other men, not boys, men, in his household, but no wife. Was he a widower? If he was, maybe the other men were her brothers? Or, more likely, they were his brothers. Although, if they were Reading and Bryan, it begs the question where was Reading’s wife, Nancy?  Nicholas and his wife have only one son at home, though he’s over 16 (most likely James), and a mysterious boy under 10. I’m wondering if this was Mitchell? I’ve talked about Mitchell some in my posts Dolly Bowden and Hiram Wright and the Bowden Sisters. According to later census data, he was born in about 1792, so he would fit the scant data provided by this census. Though, whether he was a late-life “oops!” baby, or a grandson, I can’t discern. Baker and Mary have added two more daughters and another son to their family.  Are the other men in John’s household his younger brothers?  The older woman almost has to be his mother-in-law.  And is the extra adult male living with James and Rebecca Standley his brother or hers?

Another of Nicholas’s sons, Bryan, probably got married in the spring of 1801.  According to her Find-a-Grave page, his oldest daughter, Mary, was born January 18, 1802.  His wife, Nancy Ann, was the daughter of Benjamin Hodges and Patience Hallowell.  She is mentioned as Nancy Bourden in her father’s will, dated June 7, 1823.

Samuel gave his own son, Benjamin, 285 acres of land (Deed Book N, page 79) January 18, 1802 and Nicholas gifted land to his son, James (Book N, page 256), in February 1803. James received 160 acres. Bryan and Samuel (most likely Jr.) witnessed James’s deed and it was proven on Samuel’s oath in April 1803.

The year 1803 also saw Baker, Sr.’s daughter, Rebecca Standley, become a widow.  The will of her husband, James, dated January 20, 1803, was proven during the March Term that year.  Oddly, his brother, Spirus, did not qualify as Executor until March the following year.  Anyway, in the will, his wife’s name is given as Rebeccah, and he names their seven children:  James, Samuel, Spirus, William, Eleanor, Martha, and Sarah.

On December 26, 1803, Henry Bowden and Benjamin bought a bond for Henry to marry Mary “Polly” Gibbs, daughter of John Gibbs. Henry, as we discussed in my post about the wives, was the son of Samuel and Catherine, and, thus, Benjamin’s brother.  And, just a few days later on January 12, 1804, James and Samuel Bourden purchased one for James to wed Dolley Southerland. This, I think, is the younger Samuel.  Bryan Bourden was surety for Elisha Gibbs to purchase a marriage bond September 1, 1804 to marry Rebecka Gaylord.

The Sale of the Estate of John Winders, Sr. took place November 14, 1805.  Bryan Bowding purchased a bed & furniture, James Bowding a Dutch oven, Henry Bowdin 2 pare cards, and Benjamin Bowdin 2 boles (bowls or boles of cotton?).  Isaac Spence bought a few things, as did his brother, Timothy.

Finally, on the 1806 Tax List (better Source: “Duplin County – Alphabetical List of Taxables For the year 1806,” Journal of North Carolina Genealogy, Volume 10, Number 1, page 1258 and Number 4, page 1371), we have everyone.

Name Land White Polls BlackPolls
James Bizzel 485 0 3
Baker Bourden 0 1 0
Samuel Bourden 256 1 1
Ridden Bourden 405 1 0
James Bourden 200 1 0
Henry Bourden 0 1 0
Samuel Bourden 250 1 1
Benjamin Bourden 285 1 2
Nicholas Bourden 200 0 2
Isaac Spence 210 1 0
James Winders 682 1 2

James Bizzel and Baker come one right after the other on the list, as do Bryan and Samuel, Ridden and James, and Henry, Samuel, and Benjamin.  Notice everyone has 1 white poll besides James Bizzel and Nicholas Bourden? This means that there was only one male per household between the ages of 21 and 50 (see Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – North Carolina Tax Records). Mitchell would have been 14 and William 20, so both were too young to be taxable. Nicholas, and, maybe, James Bizzel were over fifty. Nicholas, in fact, would have been 65. But what of Samuel? Both Samuels on this list have one free white poll. Samuel, Sr., would have been 69 in 1806. So, Samuel’s mysterious third son still lives, though he doesn’t appear in any deeds that I can find.  As I said in my post The Brothers Bourden: Men of War, I think the Ephraim Bowden, Ensign, mentioned in the pension application of Private Jeremiah Rackley may have been the son of one of the brothers, mostly likely Samuel, but the dates don’t fit for him to be this one.  This son was under 16 in 1790 and Ephraim would have had to have been at least 16 to have fought in the war and was quite likely older having attained the rank of Ensign by 1781.  I think he’d have been something close to 30 in 1790.

The sale of the estate of Elisha Gibbs was held August 19, 1806.  Bryan, Readen, Henry, and Benjamin Bourden all purchased items, as did Timothy Spence.

Also, Samuel may have been one of the Executors appointed in the will of John Cowan of New Hanover County July 19, 1810. If you look at the actual will, it’s actually kind of hard to tell if it says Samuel or Lemuel. The other Executor, or Executrix, was John’s wife, Sarah. Two of John’s daughters, Catherine and Susannah, were married to Samuel’s nephews, sons of Baker, Sr., Nicholas IV and Lemuel. The will wasn’t probated until November 1815. It doesn’t say who qualified as Executor.

If Samuel was alive at the time John Cowan wrote his will in 1810, he wasn’t by the time the census was taken. There is only one Samuel Bowden on it, and he’s listed as being between 26 and 44. Nicholas is the only one of the brothers still living. And Mitchell is no longer in his household, yet does not have one of his own, yet, either. Also, with Will appearing on the census, the grandchildren are starting to creep into the records and distinguishing everyone gets even more difficult. Baker II had sons named James and Nicholas!

Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ <10 10-15 16-25 16-44 45+
Duplin County
Bryan Bowden 2 1 2 1 0 2 0 0 1 0
Henry Bowden 1 0 2 1 0 3 0 0 1 0
James Bowden 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 0
Reddin Bowden 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0
Sam’l Bowden 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 0
Will Bowden 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0
Benjamin Bowden 2 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 0
Nicholas Bowden 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Wayne County
Baker Bowden 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 0

Henry and James are right next to each other, and Reddin and Samuel II are close to each other.  Baker II’s in Wayne County, but I think that’s because the county line moved not Baker.  None of these guys is over 44 years of age (the obvious exception being Nicholas II).

Nathan Garner purchased a marriage bond December 18, 1811 to marry Penelope Kornegay.  Readin Bourden acted as bondsman.  This has caused me to wonder if his own wife, Nancy, was a Garner or a Kornegay.

At one of the many Vendues of the Estate of Levin Watkins, the one on December 22, 1812, James bought 35 pounds of tobacco. If you read through all of the sales, you’ll note purchases by Benjamin, Bryan, and Reading as well.

The only Bowden I’ve been able to find on any War of 1812 Muster Roll is Reading Bowden, 1814 Muster – 3rd Regiment – 6th Company.  William Arnett, who would marry Reading’s probable niece, Ann, also served in this war.  His pension application files can be accessed at Fold 3.  After the war, Reading and his family moved to Onslow County, then to Craven, where they appear on the census rolls in 1820.  His oldest son, Reading, Jr., was most likely the Reading Bourden on the census rolls that year in Onslow County.  There are several land transactions in Onslow County during the late 1810s and the 1820s involving Reading, Sr. and Reading, Jr.

And Nicholas is still going in 1820. He does not appear in the 1830 census, so he must have died sometime in the 1820s. That’s as specific as I could get, until I made a few discoveries in Cumberland County. With the help of the Cumberland County Register of Deeds website, I found this in Deed Book 37, page 220:


Let me repeat that: “Nicholas Bowden of Cumberland County“! What the bleep?! The land in question was “on Hector’s Creek adjoining the line of Wake County.”  If you’ll remember that’s where the Spences and Nicholas’s son, James, ended up. In fact, the Spence family had several patents along Hector’s Creek near the Wake County line.


The first names of the witnesses are cut off by the way the book curls, but two of them have the surname of Bowden. And the deed was proven on the oath of Mitchel Bowden in June of 1827. I don’t know if Nicholas was still alive in 1827 or not. The only other reference I’ve found of him is in Abstracts of the minutes of Cumberland County NC Court of pleas and quarter sessions 1823-1824 by Carolyn N. Gibbons:

6 Dec 1823
Following persons drawn to serve as Jurors of next Term: Thomas RICHARDSON, Gilbert CARMICHAEL, Nicholas BOWDEN…Ordered Sheriff to summon them accordingly. (page 50)

1 Mar 1824
At a Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions held for Cumberland Co at Court House in Fayetteville 1st Mon in Mar being the 1st day of the month, AD 1824 & 48th year of American Independence. Present the worshipful John A. CAMERON, John HOGG, David OCHILTREE, Esqs. The Sheriff returned the Venire Facias to him directed, Endorsed Executed on all but Nicholas BOWDEN. (page 52)

Could it be that Nicholas was not served because he died during the winter of 1823-1824? There are three men listed as being “excused from serving as Jurors at this Term.” Nicholas is not one of them. Nor was he one of the three fined “ni si for failing to attend & answer as Jurors.” So, his death is the only reason I can think of for his exemption.  He’d have been 82, nearly 83, a very great age for the time.

In sum, this is what I have.  Birth order is tentative and all dates are guesstimates:

Samuel Bowden (1737-1810) married Catherine ? (-after 1809)

  • Anne Bowden (c. 1765) married James Winders, son of John Winders and Martha Bright, November 30, 1782
  • Unknown Daughter
  • Unknown Daughter
  • Benjamin Bowden (c. 1775-1860) married 1)Elizabeth Dunckan, daughter of William Dunckan (his will) and Ann Kornegay January 20, 1798, 2) Mary Eliza Brown, daughter of Arthur Brown and Lucy Butler (pension application), July 5, 1832
  • Unknown Son (c. 1777-after 1800)
  • Henry Bourden (c. 1780) married Mary “Polly” Gibbs, daughter of John Gibbs (his will) and Sarah, December 23, 1803

Nicholas Bowden (1741-1824) married ? (-after 1820)

  • Mary Bowden (1765-1823; her will) married James Bizzell, son of William Bizzell and Hannah, January 9, 1781
  • Baker Bowden (1766-after 1816) married Mary Branch April 2, 1785
  • Samuel Bowden (1769-1841) married Mary “Polly” Stanley, daughter of Moses Stanley (Moses left a will dated 1811 in Wayne County) and Dorcas Croom (Samuel and Polly’s children are recorded in a family bible)
  • Byran Bowden (1771-1828) married Nancy Ann Hodges, daughter of Benjamin Hodges and Patience Hallowell
  • Daughter (1773)
  • Reading Bowden (1775-before 1830) married Nancy
  • James Bowden (1778-after 1850) married Dolly Southerland January 12, 1804
  • ? Mitchell Bowden (1792-after 1870) married Charlotte Jones

As I’ve said repeatedly, Elisabeth Spence could go either way

Parentage of Elisabeth Bourden Spence
Samuel & Catherine Nicholas
Daughter in household in 1786 that wasn’t there in 1790 Daughter in household in 1786 that wasn’t there in 1790
Isaac Spence acted as surety for marriage of Samuel’s son, Benjamin Right under Isaac Spence on the 1790 census
Same page as Isaac Spence on the 1800 census
Nicholas Bowden “of Cumberland County” sold land on Hector’s Creek on the Wake County line in 1823

and Mitchell Bowden could just as easily have been Nicholas’s grandson as his son.  Tabitha and Ephraim are complete  unknowns.

Baker (1743-1789) married Martha (?-1792)

  • John (1764) married Elizabeth
  • Rebecca (1765) married James Standley, son of James Standley, Sr.
  • Richard (1766-before 1840) married Elizabeth Williams, daughter of Jonathan Williams and Frances Cowart
  • Sarah (1772)
  • Jesse (1776)
  • Nicholas (1778-1844) married Catherine Cowan, daughter of John Cowan and Sarah
  • Lemuel (1780-1841) married Susannah Cowan, daughter of John Cowan and Sarah
  • Molsey (1782)

I wonder if James Standley/Stanley of New Hanover County was related to Moses Stanley of Duplin and Wayne?

Next, we’ll narrow the focus to James, Dolly, and their family.

6 thoughts on “The Brothers Bourden: Men of Family

  1. Lindsey Bowden

    In this entry, you mention that Baker Bowden, son of Nicholas Bowden the younger and his wife Tabitha, had sons named James and Nicholas. I am very interested to find out where this piece of information comes from. Do you have any more information on these two sons, such as ages or age ranges? I wonder if this James may be the same as my ancestor who came to Barbour County, Alabama in the middle 1830s. Evidence seems to point to the fact that my James and the William Bowden who also moved with him to Alabama were potentially brothers. This would line up with your theory that the William Bowden who married Louisa Price was the eldest child of Baker and Mary Branch Bowden.

    Your entries on the Bourden/Bowden family have been wonderful and informative to read, as most researchers of this family seem to keep the same incorrect information going and rarely have any sources. Thank you for being analytical in your research and for making clear when you have a personal educated guess which is not yet supported by documentation.

    Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Lindsey Bowden


    1. Becky Post author

      Hello, Lindsey, and thank you. It always annoys me when people don’t cite their sources, or, when they do, it’s just a tree at Ancestry. I much prefer real, original documentation.

      To answer your question. Proof of Baker’s son Nicholas can be found in Duplin County Deed Book 5A, on page 136: “…Nicholas Bourden Senr. for and in consideration of the natural love good will and affection which he bears unto his said grand son Nicholas Bourden son of his son Baker Bourden…”

      Also, in the same book, page 356, there’s a deed of gift from Nicholas Bourden to his grandson Nicholas Bryan Bourden of a one year old slave girl named Tamar. I’m not sure if this same grandson or another.

      As for young James, Deed Book DFTU, page 358: “…I Nicholas Bourden…for & in consideration of the natural love & affection which I bear towards my Grandson James Bourden son of Baker Bowden….” The gift to James was a slave boy named Mingo.

      As for their ages. All I know of Nicholas’s age comes from the 1850 and 1860 censuses. In the first, he was living in Duplin County, aged 59 (1791), and in the second he was in Wayne County aged 60 (1800). Don’t you wish you could age just 1 year in a decade?

      I don’t have anything else on this James.

      Hope this helped.



      1. Lindsey Bowden

        Thank you for your quick reply! That helped very much! Yes, I rarely look at the trees on Ancestry and similar sites, since they usually have the problems that I mentioned in my previous post.

        If the James Bowden who was gifted a slave sometime between 1815 and 1818 is the same as mine, he would have been anywhere from 13/14 to 16/17 at the time, depending on when the gift (ugh!) was made legally final. The approximate year of birth is only taken from census records, as my James is buried in an unmarked grave. The dates are consistent through all of the census records in which he and his family are enumerated, so I would be surprised if they were not fairly accurate. Would this have been too young to receive the gift of a slave?

        Probably the discrepancy in Nicholas’ age between the two census records was due to the possibility that he wasn’t asked personally. If an enumerator was tired or a family lived too far out, the enumerator would just ask the neighbors. They may or may not have had correct information.

        Thank you again,
        Lindsey Bowden


        1. Becky Post author

          After going through my notes, I found a deed, Duplin County Deed Book 8A, page 217, bearing date August 8, 1823, wherein James Bourden, Junr. of Wake County, sells Mingo to Lewis Herring of Duplin County. Unfortunately, the 1820 census for Wake County is missing.

          Also, young Nicholas was listed on the Duplin County 1815 Tax List, Basil Kornegay’s District, with 170 acres of land and no polls. You can view this tax list here. Kornegay’s District begins with image 16. My James is on that page with 200 acres valued at $200 and 1 white poll. The next page has the elder Nicholas, young Samuel, Reading, and William. And the page after that has Henry and Benjamin. Bryan was enumerated in John Beck’s district.


  2. Lindsey Bowden

    Thank you so much for all of your help. I will continue to search for exact proof of the parentage of my James Bowden. Based on the research I’ve done on him, I am looking carefully into Baker and Mary (Branch) Bowden and Benjamin and Elizabeth (Dunckan) Bowden, as those two couples are the top candidates for James’ parents at this time. I won’t say one or the other for sure, as I don’t yet have solid evidence.

    When you say your James Bowden, the one who was listed in the 1815 Tax List, would this be the James Bowden that was the son of Nicholas Bourden/Bowden and his wife Tabitha and therefore the brother of Baker Bowden?

    Thanks again!


  3. Becky Post author

    You’re quite welcome. And, yes, my James was the son of Nicholas and Tabitha. He and Dolly moved to Cumberland County some time in the 1820s. To be quite honest, I don’t have anything that says, outright, that my Sarah was the daughter of James and Dolly. Sarah Bowden married Hiram H. Wright in 1842. She was already dead and he remarried by the 1850 census. His second wife was Elizabeth Bowden, who he married in February 1850. In 1850, two of his children with Sarah, Charity and Sarah (my ancestor), are living with he and Elizabeth, while the other two, Dolly Jane and James, are living with James and Dolly. In the 1840 census, there is no girl of Elizabeth’s age (about 10) in James’s household, so I concluded that Sarah and not Elizabeth was their daughter. I think that Elizabeth and Hiram’s third wife, Nancy Ann Bowden, were daughters of Mitchell Bowden and Charlotte Jones. The 1860 census shows Dolly and several other Bowdens who I think were children of Mitchell and Charlotte living with Hiram. Elizabeth was deceased by that time, and he hadn’t, yet, married Nancy Ann.



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