Early Settlers of Washington County

1773 – 1843

John Bowman was the third child (second son) of Jacob (Jr.) and Susannah Milhouse/Mulhaus Bowman. He was born in Rockingham Co, VA on 13 April 1773. John married Eve Elizabeth Steele in Rockingham Co. on 25 April 1796. She was born in Frederick Co, MD on 4 October 1778 (underage), the daughter of Christopher Steele (Stahl/Stihl) and Catherine Wine. All lines of this family and union were of German or German-Swiss descent.

Following John’s father’s disastrous trip to East Tennessee to procure land in 1794 during which time he died or was killed, his mother remarried Isaac Hammer, a Brethren minister in Rockingham Co. in August 1795. Thus with the settling of Jacob’s estate in Rockingham Co, much of the family, including John and Eve Elizabeth began a migration to the Washington Co. TN area.

It is not known exactly when John and Eve Elizabeth Bowman arrived in Washington Co. but it was in about 1797 following the birth of their first child, Catherine, in Rockingham in December 1796. Their second child, Susannah was said to be born in Washington Co. in March 1798. Soon thereafter in November 1799, John purchased 190 acres on Boones Creek (Washington Co. Deed Book 6, page 468) from Wm. Ellis for $1000. The following August (1800) he purchased an additional 20 acres (Deed Book 6, page 540) from Wm. Ellis for $100. On this property John built what is said to be the first grist mill in the county and the area ultimately took on the name of Flourville (now Boones Creek). John’s ventures were successful to the extent that he was able to buy land, including over 450 acres on the Holston River, to ensure each of his surviving married children would receive land as an inheritance. John and Eve Elizabeth had fourteen (known) children all of which, except Jacob the twin, survived to adulthood, quite an accomplished for that time. Their children were in order of birth: Catherine (1796), Susannah (1798), Sarah (1801), Mary (1803), Joseph (1805), Jacob (b/d 1806), Isaac (1806), Daniel (1810), John, Jr. (1812), Jacob (1813), Benjamin (1815), Samuel (1818) and Madison (Rev.)(1821).

Although John and Eve Elizabeth were not married in the Brethren Church because of her underage status, we assume they re-associated themselves with that faith (i.e. German Baptist or Dunker Church) in Washington Co. After a seemingly very successful farming and business (milling) life, John died in Flourville, Washington Co. TN in January 1843 based on the proof of his will in Washington County Court at that session. Eve Elizabeth lived the rest of her life under the care of her sons John, Jr. and Madison Bowman. The date of her death is unknown but assume to be before 1850 as she has not been found in that census. Since John signed his will and conducted a successful business it is assumed he was to some degree literate. In Volume 3 of Washington County, Tennessee Tombstone Inscriptions, by Charles Bennett, p. 79, it states that John and Eve Elizabeth Bowman were buried on the D. Hale Farm across from the Boones Creek Baptist Church, however the graves have been destroyed.

Submitted by Ronald L. Akers, 21061 Vandenberg Ave, Riverside CA 92518-2889. Telephone 951-567-5978, e-mail: relmlakers@earthlink.net. Ronald is the great-great-great-grandson of John Bowman through Catherine Bowman and her daughter Susannah Klepper.

If you wish to share information about early settlers of Washington County, contact Margaret Hougland.