by Ben Moyer
This semester in my genealogy class I had so much fun researching my ancestors. While I enjoyed discovering famous historical relatives and learning about what parts of the world my ancestors came from, I found that my favorite part was learning about my relatives that lived in my same county over two hundred years ago. Thanks to this class I was able to discover the generations of ancestors that lived in Perry County before me. Because many of these people I was learning about lived only a few minutes down the road, I became much more invested in my research. While I have many lines that originate in Perry County, I specifically decided to focus on my Bower line. The Bower story begins with my 5th great-grandfather, Christopher Bower.
Christopher Bower was born on April 24, 1744 in Baden-Würrttember, Germany. While not much is known about his childhood, we know that in 1752 he immigrated to the United States with his parents. While in Philadelphia he learned the tailoring trade, but then moved to central PA to try his hand at farming and whiskey brewing. In 1772, he married Maria Shearer and they went on to have 10 children together. Three years later, the Revolutionary war began, and Christopher Bower joined the American forces and fought under Washington. It is thought that it was at this time he changed his original last name of Bauer to Bower. This was a common practice among German immigrants who fought for the colonies because they did not want to be connected to the German Hessians who were fighting with the British. After the war, in 1790 he came to Perry County and bought more than 500 acres for farming. He made sure this land had nice limestone springs so they could make better whisky. Christopher Bower lived the rest of his life in Perry County until he died on February 12, 1814.
My Bower story continues with Solomon Bower who was born on November 28, 1780. On May 11, 1811 he married Magdalena Fosselman and they then went on to have eleven children. Soon after they were married, he bought his own farm and farmhouse nearby where he continued the family business of farming and whiskey making. This property has a very interesting history. The land was first owned by my half 6th great grand uncle Col Ephraim Blaine before it was first sold to James Adams and then subsequently to Solomon. He bought the property on June 1, 1816 and lived in the same stone homestead that Adams built in 1794. This exact property and farmhouse is still owned by Bowers today and is still an operational farm. I’ve actually been to the house and drank water from the same spring house they used to make whiskey from. Anyway, while Solomon was mainly a farmer, he also served as the County Commissioner in 1828. Its reported that although he was once a democrat, he eventually switched to the Republican party and became an avid supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He lived at the homestead for the rest of his life until he died on January 31, 1867.
Solomon Fosselman Bower
Next in the Bower line is Solomon Fosselman Bower who was born on May 23, 1827. On May 15, 1856 he married Eliza Jane Dromgold and they then went on to have five children together. It is known that he served in the Union army during the civil war, but little else is known of his time in the army. As the second Solomon Bower, he greatly followed in his father’s footsteps. Not only did he purchase the Bower homestead and continue its operation, but he also became commissioner of Perry County in 1875. He lived until he was 67 years old and then died on May 26, 1894.
Clark Milton Bower
Solomon’s son Clark Milton Bower was born on March 24, 1861. On May 19, 1885 he married Annie Elizabeth Bistline, who happened to previously be his teacher, and they then went on to have eight children together. Much like his father and grandfather before him, Clark lived on the homestead, farmed the land, and served as county commissioner in 1908. However, unlike both Solomons before him, Clark also went to serve as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He was elected in 1918 and 1920 and was instrumental in organizing the creation of the Pennsylvania farm show. He lived to be 80 years old and then died on August 10, 1941.
Anna Helen Bower
At this point in the Bower line, I depart from both the homestead and Bower surname. Anna Helen Bower was born to Clark and Annie on October 27, 1884. On August 22, 1917 she married Edward Lee Holman and they then went on to have four children together. After they married, she moved to New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania where she lived on the grounds of Carson Long Military Institute. They lived in the Maples, the same house where both my grandfather and mother grew up. She lived to be 83 years old and passed away on February 17, 1978.
Carson Edward Holman (Present times
We are now practically to the present, with Carson as he is my grandfather. He was born on June 10, 1930 in the Maples. He attended Carson Long Military Institute before attending the United States Military Academy. While in Alaska he met my grandmother and they subsequently married on Feb 16, 1957 in Arlington Virginia. They returned to New Bloomfield where Carson taught at Carson Long and raised their three children here, my mother being one of them. My mother grew up in the Maples in New Bloomfield, Perry County and eventually met my father here as well. As I grew up in Perry County and still live here today, I mark the 8th generation to live in this county.