Sally Bourden

Okay, yet another mystery woman has popped up in my Bourden research.  The following is a deed between Baker Bourden and John Watkins, dated September 9, 1815, and witnessed by Sally Bourden and Readin Bourden (Deed Book 5a, page 531):

This Indenture made this 9th day of September in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifteen, Between Baker Bowden of the County of Duplin & State of North Carolina and John Watkins of the County & State above mentioned, Witnesseth, that I the said Baker Bowden for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred & eighty three dollars to him the said Baker Bowden in hand paid by the said John Watkins before the sealing & delivering of these presents, the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge, hath given granted bargained and sold and doth hereby give grant bargain sell alien convey & confirm unto the said John Watkins his heirs or assigns forever, a certain tract or parcel of land situate lying & being in the County of Duplin on the head of Calf Pasture branch, on both sides of the main road & joining Wayne County line, Beginning at a pine & Black Jack Jacob Taylor’s corner, & runs along Reuben Johnston’s line Wt. 100 poles to a pine, thence No. 210 poles to a pine, thence Et. 100 poles to a pine on Jacob Taylor’s line by his corner, thence to the beginning, containing one hundred & twenty five acres be the same more or less, which said bargained lands & premises with all the improvements privileges or advantages to the same belonging or in anywise appertaining, I the said Baker Bourden do bind myself my heirs exers. or admns. to warrant secure & forever defend unto him the said John Watkins his heirs excrs. admins or assigns forever against all person or persons whatsoever.  In witness whereof I the said Baker Bourden have hereunto set my hand & affixed by seal this day & date above written.

Baker Bourden

Signed sealed acknowledged in presence of

Sally (her mark) Bourden
Readin Bourden

State of No. Carolina Duplin County, July Term 1816 –
Then was the within deed proved in Court by the oath of Sally Bourden & ordered to be registered.

Copy Th. Routledge, Esq.
Test, W. Dickson, C.C.

Who the heck is Sally Bourden?  Sally is probably short for Sarah.  Did Reading have another wife before he married Nancy?  Or did Mary Branch Bowden predecease her husband and Baker took a second wife?  Or she could be one of Baker and Mary’s daughters.  This is the first time I’ve come across this name.

August Reads 2016

SisQ_GregoryWell, this month started slow and, when I finally did find the time to pick up a book, Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory, I ended up dropping it in frustration.  With the heroine.  Margaret Tudor is one of the most idiotic female leads in a historical fiction novel not a bodice-ripper I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across on a page.  Complete airhead.  She can be having a serious conversation or thinking about her next political move, then, all of sudden, it’s all about jewels, or gowns, or whether or not her sister Mary or sister-in-law Katherine have more, or better, of either of these than her.  It’s annoying.  While enjoying the story, I just couldn’t take her stupidity any more.

Wild-Embrace_SinghNext, I picked up Nalini Singh’s new Psy-Changling anthology, Wild Embrace.  This one was fun.  Dorian was definitely my favorite story of the bunch.  I adored the little peeks into their cubhood and the scene with Lucas, when he finds out what happened, is priceless.  The one I liked the least was Kenji and Garnet’s story, Flirtation of Fate.  It was a good story, don’t get me wrong, but I still find I want to smack Kenji and am annoyed that Garnet didn’t do more of it.  I want more Desi and Felix and I really, really, really want to know how Aden, Judd, and Vasic found out about Stefan and Tazia.  Can we get a newsletter short story?  Please?

Luck_ReichertAfter I finished wallowing and sighing over Dorian, Felix, and Stefan, I, finally, opened Luck, Love and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert.  This novel is about MJ and Chris Boudreaux, a couple who have been married for twenty years, have two teenagers, and have grown apart.  Each of them uses poker as an escape, building a seemingly unscalable wall between them.  Add in an old rival and a gorgeous Irishman and you have a whole lot of trouble.  All of which could, of course, have been prevented if MJ had just talked to her husband the way her friends advised her to do in the beginning.  While she made me want to roll my eyes at times, I still enjoyed the story.  Okay, I did roll my eyes.  And may have huffed out an annoyed sigh or two.  Or three.  But it was a fun read, for all that.  And, now, dang it, I want a fat slice of lemon pie.  Fortunately, I have a recipe for a really good one without the baking and without the guilt:  Simple Lemon Pie.

Mothers_MalladiThen, at last, I sat down with Amulya Malladi’s latest, The House for Happy Mothers (my full review). I’ve been looking forward to this since Malladi announced it on her blog last year.  I’ve read all of her books and especially loved A Breath of Fresh Air.  That one I’ve read more than once.  It makes me cry.  The House for Happy Mothers didn’t do that, but it’s still a poignant read.  I liked Asha and sympathized with her and the other women throughout.  Linden-Scandal-2What they do is a very difficult thing.  And, while I liked Madhu, it took me a while to really warm up to Priya.  Mostly because she was just so blind where Dr. Swati was concerned.

To end the month, I read It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden.  This the second book in her Scandalous series.  You have your brooding, tortured hero with Gothic overtones, including a mad father, and who’s still pained by wounds suffered at Waterloo and a nouveau riche heroine, who, surprisingly, is not an American.  And let us not forget the rather cartoonish villain and a mischievous little dog.  In other words, It Takes a Scandal was a romance novel cliche.  Not that a cliche can’t be entertaining if you’re in the right mood.  Which I wasn’t. This one just annoyed me.  I did a lot of exasperated eye rolling with this one.  I doubt I’ll read anything else in this series.

Proof: Tabitha, wife of Nicholas Bourden

Just hours after scheduling the previous post, The Brothers Bourden: Men of Family, I’ve discovered proof that Tabitha was, indeed, the wife of Nicholas Bourden, Revolutionary War Captain.

I was reading deeds at, focusing on James and trying to untangle him from his nephew, when I found a bill of sale (Deed Book DFTU, page 433) wherein Nicholas Bourden sells to James Bourden a “certain Negro woman named Sue, aged twenty one years, for the sum of three hundred dollars.”  I’m unsure if these are James and his father or his two nephews, or some other combination thereof.  The witnesses were Nathan Garner and William Bourden.  At the bottom, after the witnesses’ signatures, it says:

a mistake in the [can’t make out this next word, but it begins with an “f”] of the Bill of Sale of Excepting Nicholas Bourden Senr. & Tabitha his Wife‘s lifetime.  a mistake by me James Bourden.

Here’s a screenshot so you can read it yourself.


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 (1772-1844) 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.

The House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

I’ve been looking forward to this book since Malladi announced it on her blog last year.  I’ve read all of her books and especially loved A Breath of Fresh Air, which I’ve read more than once.  It makes me cry.  The House for Happy Mothers didn’t do that, but it’s still a poignant read. Mothers_Malladi

Priya and Madhu live in California.  They are happily married and successful, but have been unable to have children.  So, as a last resort, they turn to a surrogate in India.  Unfortunately, this has become somewhat of an industry among the poor women of India.

Asha, the surrogate, is doing this in order to give her young son, Monaj, a better education.  Monaj, you see, is extremely intelligent, as in genius, but, as poor as they are, he’d never have the opportunity for an education equal to his aptitude.  Her husband, Pratap,  would also like to purchase a flat, like his brother has, to give his family a stable home.

I liked Asha and sympathized with her and the other women throughout.  What they do is a very difficult thing.  I can’t imagine it.  To carry a child within your womb for nine months, nurturing it, feeling it move, going through the pain and sweat and blood of childbirth, then giving the child to strangers. And, while I liked Madhu, it took me a bit to really warm up to Priya.  Mostly because she was just so blind where Dr. Swati was concerned.  Dr. Swati was a cold, manipulative bitch and so was her niece.  You can’t help just getting so angry on behalf of the women in that half.  I gave a resounding “It’s about time!” when Priya finally clued it.  I also gave a little cheer when she stood up to Sush.

The end of the novel is very happy-sad in a good way.  I liked this book very much.

Rating:  4.25 out of 5 stars

The Brothers Bourden: The Wives

Before discussing the children, I want to take a moment to talk about their mothers. In various genealogies posted across the web, I’ve seen the maiden name of all three wives given as Holder. No records are ever cited, no evidence given. The only sources are other genealogies and Ancestry. Similarly, the given name of Nicholas’s wife is often said to be Elizabeth, but, again, no documentation is sourced. If some descendant somewhere has record of these things, a family bible, perchance, I wish they’d come forward. Otherwise, in reality, only the first names of Samuel’s and Baker’s wives are known with any certainty.


We learn the name of Baker’s wife, Martha, through the court and probate records of New Hanover County.  Both he and Martha left wills, which I’ll discuss in more detail in the next post.

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).

My personal theory, and it’s just that, a THEORY, regarding Martha is that she was a Parrish.  My reasons are pretty diaphanous.

  1. Joel Parrish was one of the Executors appointed in Baker’s will.
  2. Joel Parrish’s own will, he mentions a son named Richard and a daughter Molsey. Baker and Martha have children with those names.

That’s it. See? It couldn’t get much more flimsy and still have any basis in documentation whatsoever. I’ve also toyed with her being a Cowan, based on even shakier grounds:

  1. John Cowan is listed right next to Martha in 1790.
  2. Two of his daughters married sons of Baker and Martha.


The name of Samuel’s wife, Catherine, comes down to us through a deed of gift, dated March 30, 1809 (Deed Book 4A, page 17):

The only other surname I’ve seen suggested for Catherine is Hodges, which makes a lot more sense than Holder. This comes from a tree at FamilySearch, but no source is given, and no parents suggested.

Mrs. Nicholas

As for Mrs. Nicholas Bourden, Jr., my working hypothesis is that she was a Bryan or Bryant. My only basis for this is that one of their sons was given that name. But, as any researcher knows, names can be clues. Her own given name may have been Tabitha. My one and only source for a Tabitha Bowden is a deed, dated April 8, 1789, “…between Owen O’Daniel of the County of Duplin & State of N Carolina of the one part and Wm Duncan of the same County & State aforesaid of the other part…”, which can be found in property book DFTU, page 101). It was “Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of Tabetha Bowden, Samuel Bowden, Bryan Bowden….”

My first thought was that she was one of the unknown daughters of Samuel, Sr., found in the censuses. But, with Bryan being the other witness….  You see, there is another Samuel, son of Nicholas, and Bryan is another of his sons (Deed Book M, page 72, for Samuel and Book N, page 257, for Bryan) I find myself wondering if she was their mother and, thus, the wife of Nicholas, Jr. In any case, to have witnessed a legal document, she was, more than likely, of or over 21. Therefore, whether wife or daughter, Tabitha Bourden was probably born in or before 1768 (if wife, obviously, well before).

Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh

Wild-Embrace_SinghSeries are wonderful because they invite you into a world and acquaint you with so many different people.  People you get to know with an intimacy that just doesn’t exist in a stand-alone novel.  Each book gives you the opportunity to visit with old friends.  There’s such comfort in that.  Wild Embrace does that in spades.  I loved it.  So good.  So emotionally satisfying.

Echoes in Silence

In this first story, we finally get to meet Stefan, the mysterious Arrow who isn’t an Arrow, and his Tazia.  And fall more than a little in love with him. 🙂  The trip home was beautiful.  It left me wanting more.  I especially would like to know how Aden, Vasic, and Judd found out about Tazia.


I get see what our beloved Dorian went through growing up latent.  It was so sweet.  So poignant.  And happy.  I especially enjoyed the war games.  And the pit of slime.  What will he do in revenge for that, I wonder.  Of all the stories in this book, I think this one was my favorite.

Partners in Persuasion

This is Felix and Desi’s story.  The submissive male wolf and the dominant female leopard.  The dynamic here was very interesting.  I enjoyed watching Felix come alive and his wolf come out to play with his dangerous cat.  The scene at the restaurant was fun!  And the flower petals were a very nice touch.

Flirtation of Fate

This the longest novella in the book, taking up about half of it.  This is the story of Kenji and Garnet.  What happened between them all those years ago and Kenji, finally, coming clean.  Like Garnet, I wanted to smack him.  I know you have to take into account just how young they were, but still.  I will say that the murder mystery wasn’t that much of a mystery.  Though why still is.  But, then, people are strange.

I have a feeling I’m going to be re-reading this whole thing very soon!

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars


Tea Sampler: Honey Mango White Tea

teacupMy latest order from the Republic of Tea arrived yesterday, complete with samples, one of which was Honey Mango White Tea. I’m not a huge fan of honey outside of honey-buns and Cheerios, but I decided to give it a try anyway. Opening the pouch, you immediately smell the freshness of mango and the distinctive sweetness of honey. After brewing, I taste it first before adding just a smidgen of Splenda. I know a drizzle of honey would be more apropos, but, like I said, I’m not really a fan. I’m not even sure I have any. A bigger sip and mango dances over my taste buds while the honey gives an odd, very slight, impression of saltiness. Weird. But in a good way. I find I like this blend, but not to point of ordering 50 bags of it.

The other sample is get clean® Herb Tea. Lots of herbs and roots in a red tea base with some vanilla and almond thrown in for flavoring. Frankly, it doesn’t sound very appealing, but I’ll probably brew a cup eventually.

LibraryReads September List

library_reads_logo_websiteForman_LeaveMeLibraryReads has released their September list, and the favorite, Leave Me by Gayle Forman, looks pretty good. It’s main character, Maribeth Klein, is a magazine editor, wife, and mother of preschool-aged twins. Her life is so busy, so demanding, that when she has a heart attack and doesn’t realize it. Told to rest, she tries but this seems to be an imposition on the lives on others, she packs up and leaves. Of course, with distance, her life looks very different.

Colgan_BookshopPatchett_CommonwealthThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan and Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth also perked my interest. In the first a city librarian loses her job, moves to Middle-of-Nowhere, Scotland, and buys a van which she turns into a bookmobile, and the second features two families closely intertwined by adultery, betrayal, and abandonment.  A married father of four and a married mother of two leave their families to be with each other.  Commonweath explores the aftermath.

Bolton_Daisy I find I’m wavering back and forth about Sharon Bolton’s Daisy in Chains about a man convicted for being a serial killer, and, continuing to protest his innocence, hires a hotshot lawyer famous for getting convictions overturned. When I check, it actually sounds more intriguing on Goodreads than at LibraryReads.

Also on the list is the second book in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, The Masked City. I haven’t gotten around to reading the first one, yet, but they sound interesting.

What about you? Anything on this list going on your TBR pile?

The Brothers Bourden: Men of War

We know from various sources that at least two of the brothers fought in the Revolution, and most researchers say that all three served, but, frankly, I have my doubts about Samuel.  Both Richard Bowden Jones and Josie Bowden contend that he was among the many soldiers captured in the aftermath of Camden, a major battle which took place August 16, 1780 in South Carolina between Charles, Earl Cornwallis, and General Horatio Gates.  It was an epic defeat for Gates, who, in an astonishing display of cowardice, turned his horse and galloped hell-for-leather from the field.

In an article entitled “Twelve North Carolina Counties in 1810-1811,” published in The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume 5, Number 4 (Internet Archive, the Duplin County portion begins on page 429), William Dickson (no relation that I’m aware of), a prominent citizen of Duplin County and longtime Clerk of Court there, tells us:

Three Companies of Duplin Militia, Marched with Major John Tradwell to Cambden, and were followed by a small Company of light Horse Voluntiers under Capt. William Routledge; and were with Genl. Gates when defeated near Cambden (page 434).

So we know that at least some Duplin County militiamen were there.  And there was a Samuel Borden, Bowden, or Bourden (I’ve seen all three spellings on various sites) North Carolina Militia, among those captured there.  However, it is my understanding that, after Gates’s … precipitous … departure,

Only the 2nd Maryland Brigade, the Delaware Continentals, and Lt. Col. Henry “Hal” Dixon’s North Carolina Militia continued the battle (The American Revolution in South Carolina – The Battle of Camden).

And, in fact, according to this list of NC Militia Losses at Camden and Fishing Creek, Private Samuel Borden was serving in Dixon’s Regiment.  Hal Dixon (NCpedia) commanded the Caswell County militia, so, in all likelihood, Samuel Borden was from there, not from Duplin.  And this list identifies him as Private Samuel Boudin, Caswell County, POW. However, before moving on to Nicholas, I will note that this List of Sampson-Duplin Revolutionary War Soldiers, includes Samuel Bourden, Pvt. NC Militia.  Also, the pension application of Kidder Harrell proves that at least one militiaman from Duplin County was among the captured at Camden.  Private Harrell was serving under Captain James Love and Colonel Thomas Owen.

There are three pay vouchers for Baker, Wilmington District. I haven’t seen them, yet, but they are on my list.  Incidentally, North Carolina Revolutionary Pay Vouchers are among the historical records on the schedule to be made available at FamilySearch.  It’s possible, even probable, that the younger Baker, Nicholas’s son, also fought in the war. And, in fact, I’ve wondered about another of Nicholas’s sons, Samuel.  If there was a Private Samuel Bourden in the Duplin County militia, I really think it would have been this younger Samuel rather than the elder.

Nicholas himself was a militia Captain, commanding a light horse company under Colonel James Kenan.  Much of what I’ve learned about his militia service comes from the accounts of soldiers who served under him.  In 1832, legislation was passed giving “full pay for life to officers and enlisted men who had served for two or more years and partial pay for service of six months to two years” (Using Revolutionary War Pension Files to Find Family Information). Many applicants came forward to apply throughout the 1830s.  During the application process, veterans were asked to describe their time/s in service.  Where they were living at the time, who they served under, in what battles and/or skirmishes did they fight, etc.  It’s all very informative.  You can read the original pension files at Fold 3.  And transcriptions of the southern ones, all in .pdf format, can be found at Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters. Keep in mind, though, that these accounts are the memories of old men.  Some of it is a little garbled and, at times, confusing.  I’m going to attempt to arrange them in chronological order the best I can, but I may not entirely succeed, so bear with me.

About 18 miles from Wilmington, in what is now Pender County, at a bridge over the Widow Moore’s Creek, a battle (Moore’s Creek Bridge) took place February 27, 1776 between the Tory and Patriot militias.  The Wilmington contingent of the Patriot militia was commanded by Alexander Lillington and the New Bern by Richard Caswell.  There was also a regiment of NC Continentals under Colonel James Moore.  During the night, ahead of the Loyalist approach, Caswell’s men threw up “some entrenchments on the west side of the bridge.”  They also removed some of the planks and greased the rails.  In school, I remember, we were taught that they used soap.  Among Lillington’s men was a Nathaniel Bowdan, Corporal, Duplin County Militia (see Roster of the Patriots at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge by Bobby Gilmer Moss, or Roster of the men they fought in the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.doc).  According to this list of known Corporals, he was serving under Captain William Taylor.  Could Nathaniel Bowdan actually have been Nicholas Bowden?  Think about it.  If the names are abbreviated, Nathl. and Nichl., and written in the somewhat sloppy cursive of the times…. Picture it.  They could look very similar.  This is just speculation, of course, since I’ve not seen the record from which it was taken.  However, a quick search for “Bowdan” at the NC MARS Archives website nets me a Revolutionary War Army Accounts folder for Bowdan, Nichl.   Incidentally, a search for “Bowden” resulted in:

  • Bowden, _____ (Capt.)
  • Bowden, Baker
  • Bowden, N. (Capt.)
  • Bowden, Nicholas
  • Bowden, Nicholas (Capt.)
  • Bowden, Nicholas (company of)
  • Bowden, Nichos.
  • Bowden, Nichs
  • Bowden, Samuel

1st. In a company of Duplin militia as a volunteer and private in December 1780 under Captain Taylor, Lieutenant not recollected, Nicholas Bourden Ensign, forgets his Colonel was under General Lillington, marched from Duplin to Cross Creek thence to Big Pedee, thence for the Headquarters of the American Army, but before we arrived there were ordered back and marched to Wilmington NC and was stationed at and guarded the Big Bridge in New Hanover County and remained there till the 3 months for which he volunteered were expired, having served the term out and was discharged in March or April 1781 : that in this tour he was in a skirmish at Drowning Creek, and during this tour there was one at the Big Bridge where we were stationed guarding but before we arrived there.

© Karl Musser – CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The foregoing account is from the pension application of Daniel Boney given December 21, 1839.  Drowning Creek is now known as the Lumber River, and Cross Creek is now the town of Fayetteville.  Calendar and Record of the Revolutionary War in the South: 1780-1781 by William Thomas Sherman, 8th Ed. (here), has the following entries about actions on Drowning Creek in January 1781:

Early January. [skirmeshes] Drowning Creek, et al. (N.C.) Constant skirmishing and personal fracases between loyalists and whigs continued in the Upper Peedee and Drowning Creek regions of South Carolina and North Carolina, including one defeat of the tories at Drowning creek by Col. James Kenan (page 338).

On 10 jan., Gov. Rutledge wrote the S.C. delegates: “Some Tories embodied here last week, on Little Pedee–Colo. Kolb had dispersed ’em as he could find collected…” (page 338).

11 January. Brig. Gen. Alexander Lilington was at Cole’s Mill, North Carolina with the Wilmington and New Bern militia. He was awaiting the arrival of Col. James Kenan of Duplin County whose militiamen had recently put to flight a gathering of tories at Drowning Creek (page 345).

17 January. 150 loyalists under Col. Hector MacNeil, at Amis’ Mill on Drowning Creek (near the N.C.-S.C. border), of late had begun causing problems for the whigs of that region. Greene, at his camp on the Peedee, on this date dispatched Major Archibald Anderson of the Maryland line with detachment of 200 light troops against them…Before Anderson had arrived to take care of the business, MacNeill was dispersed by a force of N.C. militia under Col. James Kenan of Duplin County (page 360).

So, the action at Drowning Creek occurred sometime during the week before January 10, 1781, that is, between December 31 (Sunday) and January 6 (Saturday), and, given the religious conviction of the times, it was unlikely to have been fought on a Sunday.  Not impossible, mind you, but unlikely.

© Karl Musser – CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Big Bridge was another name for Heron’s Bridge, about ten miles from Wilmington, crossing the Northeast Cape Fear River, on what’s now the New Hanover/Pender County Line.  A battle took place there January 30-31, 1781.  This was right after the redcoats, under Major James H. Craig, took Wilmington on the 28th and 29th.

The Captain Taylor referred to is Jonathan Taylor.  Nicholas Bourden or Bowden is said to be an Ensign, this is contradicted by the following account given by Ephraim Shuffield of his third tour of duty given in Todd County, Kentucky September 9, 1833.

…I volunteered into the service as a private in the militia under Captain Nicholas Bowden I think about the middle of October 1780 for three months…

How is Nicholas a Captain when Shuffield enlisted in October yet an Ensign in December when Boney enlisted?  I’m confused.  Was he demoted?  And if so, why?  The only other Nicholas Bourden/Bowden around at the time, that I know of, would have been the son of Baker, Sr., and he’d have been a baby if he’d been born yet at all.  But wait just a minute.  On November 4, 1833, Jeremiah Rackley gives his service account in Bladen County, saying:

In a company of Duplin militia under Captain Jonathan Taylor — ___ Fillygrw [?] Lieutenant Ephraim Bowden Ensign — and joined General Green’s Army at their camp near Cheraw Hills, a short time after the battle of Guilford in the spring of 1781 [the Battle of Guildford Court House occurred March 15] and served 3 months as a private…that he marched from Cross Creek where he embodied to General Greene’s camp where he was detached under Captain McCulloch to Georgetown SC after salt and on his way was taken sick, and remained till his company returned and then went with them to Cheraw, from thence to Cole’s Bridge on Drowning Creek, thence to Cross Creek now Fayetteville, thence down into New Hanover County and was discharged….

Ephraim Bowden?  Just to be sure, I logged in at Fold 3, and looked at the actual written document.  The first name really is written as Ephraim.

Could this be the same person as Ensign Nicholas Bowden?  Mayhaps Private Boney misspoke, for Captain, later Major, Nicholas Bowden, would have been the better-known quantity.  So who was Ephraim Bowden?  I have no idea.  This is the first I’ve heard of him and he is not mentioned in any Bourden/Bowden genealogy I can find, including Richard Bowden Jones’s book.  To have been eligible to be serving in the militia in 1780, the latest he could have been born was 1764.  And, in order to have made ensign, it’s quite likely he was born earlier, say the late 1750s.  I’m thinking he was the son of one of the brothers, though I have no clue which one.  Heck, with that birth date, he could even have been their nephew, son of their brother John.  Later census and tax list data tell us that Samuel had a third son that is never named in the records (that I can find, at least), but he is too young to have been Ephraim.  Maybe Ephraim died in the war, or moved to another state.

Private Shuffield continues:

…we were marched from Duplin towards Charleston South Carolina within 30 miles of that place and we turned our course and marched to Rockfish Creek there we remained a good while from thence we were sent to Kingston [now Kinston] on the Nouse River where we remained until our three months expired and we were discharged and returned home.  I never received any written discharge about the middle of Jan.

William Dickson has this to say about Capt. Bourden:

A Company of Duplin Militia under Capt. Bourden, Marched out to Uhara, near the Yadkin, to Suppress the Torries in that place.–While General Lillington was there, Major Craig with a Body of Brittish troops took Possession of and Fortified Wilmington, Colo. James Kenan Marched down with about 350 of the Duplin Militia and Encamped at the long bridge 10 Miles above Wilmington, and was there joined by the Militia of New Hanover; Onslow, and Jones Counties; When Genl. Lillington Marched down from Uhara, and took Command… (page 435).

In his pension application, Benjamin Clark, Dobbs County Militia, says:

…a corps of troops under the command of General Lillington, with which corps at the time was Colonel Brown, Major Watson and Captain Love. They marched from the county of Duplin to the Pedee and ranged the country on the Pedee. He cannot say whether they passed into the state of South Carolina or not. He states that during this service the troops under the command of  General Green [Nathaniel Green] were a part of the time encamped at Guilford Courthouse. That he accompanied Colonel Brown who was sent with an express from General Lillington to General Greene whilst General Greene was encamped at Guilford Courthouse, and that upon the return of Colonel Brown and himself to the encampment of General Lillington, the troops under the command of General Lillington were immediately marched down near to Wilmington and encamped on the opposite side (from Wilmington) on the northeast fork of Cape Fear River.

Dickson continues:

…Earl Cornwallis Marched from Guilford Court House to Wilmington, Genl. Lillington Retreated up the Country, and the Militia Tour of three Months being ended, the whole Militia was discharged at Kingston.

Cornwallis at that time proceeded on his March from Wilmington to Virginia.  He passed through Duplin unmolisted, there being no Troops Embodied to Impede his March, or Harrass his Rear.–As he approached the Inhabitants of Duplin Retreated to places of Safity, Removeing their Stock, and such Property as they could out of the Enemies way; It was now the first week in May 1781 (page 435).

The pension application of William Stroud, given October 2, 1832 in Hinds County, Mississippi, says (At this point, he is not yet, serving under Captain Bowden.  But he gives a better idea of troop movements leading up to and immediately following the Battle of Rockfish Creek):

…passed through Wilmington and encamped near Brunswick : from thence he was marched to Town Creek Bridge and from thence to the former Camp of General ___ Caswell a short distance from Wilmington where he lost a Brother who was also a private in the same Company.  From the Caswell Camp he marched above Big Bridge over the North East Fork of Cape Fear River, from thence to the Bridge over Rock Fish Creek.  Here the Company was disbursed by the enemy.

There was a battle at Rockfish Creek August 2, 1781 between the militia under Colonel Kenan, with little to no ammunition, reinforced somewhat by General Caswell, William not the more famous Richard, against the forces of Major James H. Craig, commander of the garrison and Tory militia left at Wilmington by Cornwallis.  Rockfish Creek is located on what is now the Duplin/Pender County line but was then the boundary between Duplin and New Hanover Counties.  It was a sound defeat of the Patriot militia that saw Tory depredations unleashed on Duplin County and Craig’s march to New Bern, with yet more destruction, followed by his return to Wilmington.  A first-hand account of the battle and its aftermath can be found in the Dickson article and in The Dickson Letters, also written by William Dickson and edited by John O. Carr.  Stroud continues

This Applicant was again called into service by order of Colonel Kennyon [Kenan] & marched into the Richlands of New River between Wilmington & New Bern where he was commanded by Major ___ Moulton.  The forces assembled at this point did not exceed a hundred strong and by order of Colonel Kenan (he having been disappointed in the arrival of the other man) were dismissed, to their respective homes from which they were again called, and served at a place called the Bull Pen, in opposition to the Tories who when taken were lodged there for safekeeping.

The “Richlands of New River” is probably a reference to what is now western Onslow County where there is a town called Richlands.  From other applications, Joseph Williams and Daniel Merritt, for example, I learned that the “Bull Pen” was a reference to the county jail and was located near the courthouse on land belonging to James Kenan.  Ironic when you consider what the term bullpen now means!  Again, Stroud

He afterwards volunteered in a Light Horse Company, commanded by Captain Nicholas Bowden & scoured the Country in search of Tories; especially the Horse Pen Pocosin which was a place of resort & concealment for them.  Cornwallis shortly afterwards passed through North Carolina by the Bull Pen and after destroying a large quantity of public Pork stored on Neuse River left the State in comparative peace.

On a modern map, Horsepen Pocosin is in Wayne County, not all that far south of Indian Springs.  To the east-northeast is the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park where I spent many a childhood summer camping with my family.

Other applicants from Captain Bowden’s Company include William Taylor:

That he again entered the Service in a light Horse Company which was raised in Duplin County by Captain Nicholas Bowden of which John Bradley was Lieutenant & William Hooks was Ensign that this was a tour of three months that this troop were altogether engaged during the time in scouring the County of Duplin & the adjoining County to prevent depredations of the Tories that the troops of Light Horse to which he was attached were commanded by Colonel _____.

and John Charles Slocumb:

…he again volunteered for six months in a Light horse company – Nicholas Bowden being Captain Lieutenant Watkins, Cornet Hooks, Major James Love commanded the horse company of Dupeland County in which this applicant lived.  After having served for six months this applicant volunteered for three months longer in the same company & under the same officers.  Left the service in 1782 the exact time not recollected…applicant was engaged in the battle of Guilford Court house in North Carolina during his first term of service…he was also engaged in the battle of blue fords bridge when General Linnington commanded and he was also at a battle at Rock Fish bridge where the light horse Captain Bowden commanded.

It is disputed whether “blue fords bridge,” or more correctly, Bluford’s Bridge, was yet another name for Heron’s Bridge, aka the Big Bridge, or another structure altogether.  Some have suggested it crossed Limestone Creek (NC Patriots 1775-1783: Their Own Words, Volume 2, Part 1 by J. D. Lewis, page 321).  Philip Koonce “…was marched to Bluford’s bridge on Cape Fear River not far from Wilmington….”  Samuel Watkins “…crossed the River [the Cape Fear River] and marched through the Country to the N. E. fork of said River in Hanover County to Bluford’s Bridge…” and was there about a month when he heard that “Lord Cornwallis was taken at Yorktown.”  Sarah Fitzpatrick, widow of John Fitzpatrick, thought Bluford’s Bridge was on the Black River.

After the war, Nicholas would attain the rank of Major in the Militia and serve for a time as President of the Regimental Court-Martial.  Yet another book I need to take a peek at:  Minutes of the Regimental Courts-Martial, Duplin County Militia, North Carolina, 1784-1853.

For a more detailed account of Cornwallis’s movements along and across the Neuse, read the application of John Abernathie, Wake County militia, which places Cornwallis on Contentnea Creek at a place called Horn’s Mill in what is now Wilson County.  See the map in this post about Henry Horn, the Quaker.