top of page

Dear Kerry Kely,

In attached  information by Bob Winn :


Descendants of William Russell Bowen

Compiled by Robert B. Winn (


Generation No. 1

1. WILLIAM RUSSELL1 BOWEN was born 1787 in

Gallatin, Sumner Co., TN, and died November 3, 1855

in Fayette Co. or McLennan Co., TX. He married

(1) MARY H. RANKIN August 5, 1812 in Henderson

County., Kentucky, USA, daughter of ADAM RANKIN

and ELIZABETH SPEED. She was born 1789 in

<Kentucky>, and died Before 1828 in <Tennessee>.

He married (2) POLLY MCCALL About 1828. 


     "William Russell Bowen must have been a strong, adventurous man, but it must have been difficult to live in the shadow of his father, Captain William Bowen and his grandfather, Captain William Russell. Yet it must have also inspired him, and instilled a belief in himself that he could accomplish anything. William grew up on the family plantation, being the third son and fifth child. Of his life in Tennessee we do not have much about, but it must have been a full one. His father died while he was still but a teenager, and he lived with his mother running the plantation and farming as a living until at some point and for reasons unknown he moved to Hendersonville, Kentucky. Here he married his first wife, Mary Rankin, daughter of Dr. Adam Rankin. Dr. Adam Rankin, etween the years 1811 and 1813, had as a house guest the reknown John James Audubon and his wife Lucy and their children. Indeed, two of Audubon's children were born in Dr. Rankin's house.


     In 1817 Audubon commissioned to build a steamboat, which was later sold to William, his brother Samuel A Bowen, Robert Speed (likely a cousin to William's wife), George Brent and Bennett Mar-shall. Audubon placed an attachment on the boat, and the men sued him for $10,000 damages. The case was finally dismissed when the plaintiff failed to appear in court. Later, one of the Bowens attacked Audubon and in the fight was stabbed by Audubon. Assault charges were placed against Audubon, but they were subsequently dismissed. William further had disagreements with a man by the name of Robert Eadis, because from 1824 until as late as 1837 he is named in a lawsuit as owing money to the estate of Robert. William continued to refuse to pay.

     By 1835 William Bowen was back in Tennessee farming the plantation where he had grown up. In most stories and records written about the Bowens of Tennessee, little information is given on this son that carried on the family farm after his father and mother had died. Mary Russell Bowen had died in March 1827, leaving an extensive will, and leaving a large portion of the homestead to William. Also, his wife Mary had died and William had remarried to Polly McCall. The exact dates of Mary's death and his marriage to Polly are in much debate. Perhaps because there was few things to hold him there and perhaps it was also the influence of the stories of the frontier, especially of the war brewing in Texas, fueled by the adventures and real life deeds of his father, William Russell Bowen aparently was not one to settle into the gentile, and perhaps somewhat placid life of a gentleman farmer. After all, he had grown up in a household of men who never settled for anything less than the best. No doubt he had also listened to Andrew Jackson tell his tales of adventure when he came to visit. At any rate, on January 13, 1835 William sold the house and 420 acres of land for $4608 to George Keeling. He stipulated that the family cemetery remain and be cared for. He then headed for Texas, and a new life. We do not know if he took his family with him right away or if he left them behind until the politics in Texas, then still a part of Mexico, were more settled. Either way, he most likely headed down the Natchez Trace where he either cut off at Jackson, Mississippi and proceeded overland across Mississippi and Louisiana to Nacogdoches, or he may have continued down the Natchez Trace and on to New Orleans where he would have boarded a ship to Galveston or Indianola. Upon arriving in Texas in October 1835, he immediatly joined the Texas Army in thier struggle against General Santa Anna. His service papers state he was promoted to the rank of Major on April 2 or 3 1836 by General Thomas Rusk and that he received an honorable discharge by the same Thomas Rusk on 8 May 1836. In Feb 1838 William filed his survey for "eight and one third labors of land to which he is entitled by virtue of a certificate #109 issued by the board of land commissioners for the County of Montgomery" for his war service. There are some notes that claim William and Polly move their family to La Grange in Fayette County when they arrived in Texas, and perhaps that is where the family stayed while William was serving in the Texas Army. When William claimed his 600+ acres in present day Grimes County, Texas, he moved his family there and stayed until in 1849 when he moved his family to Huntsville in Walker County, Texas, just east-northeast of Grimes Co. Once again,

     William's life becomes more vague, and little if any is mentioned of him in the history books. The only other account of his life is a story from J H Dickson, of San Angelo, Texas in an WPA interview on January 5, 1938."

     "The entire story follows: "In the spring of 1855, my father, W M Dickson was a home guard at Kerrville. Old Bill Bowen was a home guard in Atascoca County. The Indians came, to steal whatever they could get away with. They got two women, a boy, and many horses. Bill Bowen and his men set out after the Indians. They traveled by the way of Kerrville, got my Dad and his gang, with strong determination to get the women and boy. They followed them all the way to the Big Hubbard Creek, in Shackleford County. Bill said, "They have seen us, and are out-ridin us. As our horses are about done, we will circle through and cut in on Big Hubbard". This creek was widened by a slue of water which grew china trees, sunflowers and tall weeds. Just as they had gotten their horses well hidden, they saw the Indians coming over the hill right in front of them on the other side of the creek. The two women and the boy had been stripped of their clothes and tied to the wild stolen horses. Their feet were tied under the horses' bellies and their hands up around the horses neck and to the mane. They had ridden thirty six hours in this position with the wild horses running at full speed through he wild country. As they got to Big Hubbard the horses made a dash for water, as neither horse nor man had had a drink of water nor a bite to eat on the way. The Indians roped out the horses that carried the woman and the boy and tied them to a tree. They killed a steer and ate the raw meat, cut hunks out and threw near enough to the captives for them to smell.

     There were 17 Indians and about 300 horses in the Indian's bunch. Papa and Bill's gang began firing. They killed and got fourteen scalps of the Indians then went over, released the women and boy, and divided clothes with them. They made up a fire and roasted some of the meat that the Indians left and ate and watered up. In a few hours the women were able to start homeward. They were given the best horses and saddles. When they got back as far as Mason County, they borrowed a hack and carried the women and boy home. Papa and old Bill Bowens' names went down in history for this act." William would have been 68 years old at this time. 

     This is the last report of William Russell Bowen, until a small entry in the Galveston Weekly News on November 18, 1856 reads "On the 3rd last, at the residence of his son, John H Brown at Blue Bluff, McLenan County, Texas, Mr. Wm Brown formerly of Grimes County". While this reads "Brown" in the original newspaper, could it be "Bowen" instead?

A most remarkable life, yet all the excitement and passion is left only for us to imagine." 

Source: and associated pages.

Wm R. Bowen was a Justice of the Peace in Montgomery Co., TX circa 1842.

Source: Montgomery County Genealogical & Historical Society, Inc., Early Montgomery County, Texas Marriages--Found in the "Black Boxes"--1838-1872, (Conroe, TX: 1986), page 13.

In Headright Certificate No. 149 issued to William R. Bowen in 1838 by the Board of Land Commissioners for Montgomery County for one league of land and Headright Certificate No. 182 for one labor of land it is stated that he arrived in Texas March 1, 1835.

Source:, accessed Nov. 3, 2000.

Children of WILLIAM BOWEN and MARY RANKIN are:


ii. ADAM RANKIN BOWEN, b. September 30, 1821; m. TRISCILLA ROE, April 4, 1844, Montgomery Co., TX.

2. iii. WILLIAM RANKIN BOWEN, b. About 1819, <Tennessee>; d. May 22, 1891, Santa Barbara, Sao Paulo State, Brazil.

iv. SUSAN SPEED BOWEN, b. January 19, 1824.



vi. JOHN H. BOWEN, b. 1833.


Generation No. 2

2. WILLIAM RANKIN2 BOWEN (WILLIAM RUSSELL1) was born About 1819 in <Tennessee>, and died May 22, 1891 in Santa Barbara, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. He married (1) ELIZABETH S. WHITE October 3, 1843 in Montgomery Co., TX, daughter of CHARLES WHITE. She died About April 1860 in McLennan Co., TX. He married (2) ALMIRA DUNN July 10, 1862 in Collin Co., TX, daughter of DANIEL DUNN and PAMELIA BARKER. She was born March 26, 1828 in Lyons, Wayne Co., NY, and died July 28, 1910 in McKinney, Collin Co., TX. He married (3) ANNA MARTINS About 1867 in Brazil. She was born in <Brazil>, and died Unknown in <Brazil>.


The following notes about William Bowen are not arranged in any specific order. They are provided as a basis for further research.

     According to family legend, William Bowen served during the Civil War under Confederate General Hood. He was so discontented with the outcome of the war that he left the country and migrated to Brazil. He may have remarried and started another family in Brazil. Source: Jane McKemie Schmidt, a story told to her by her father, Jack F. McKemie.


Early days of William Bowen

     "Adam Rankin Bowen was born on the old Bowen homestead on Mansker's Creek in Tennessee. When he was about 16 years of age, he, his older brother Will, all of his younger siblings and his mother arrived in Texas to join his father William Russell Bowen. William R. had journeyed to Texas approximately a year earlier in April of 1836 to help the Texians whip ole' General Santa Anna. Finally, after months of waiting, they had recieved word from his father that the country was secured and safe for the women and children. It is not unlikely that young Will and Adam, being head of the family in their father's absence, joined with many other families heading for the newly opened Republic of Texas, and made their way down the Natchez Trace to Natchez, Mississippi. There [their] families would either procede [sic proceed] to the port of New Orleans and board a ship to Galvez [Galveston] Island or to Indianola, while other families chose to continue by land across Louisiana and on into East Texas. Which ever way the Bowens came, they settled on 400 acres which William R. Bowen was now entitled to by means of his military service, and choose a parcel just east of Navasota. The Declaration of Independence had been signed just a few miles south of Navasota some 13 months earlier...."

Source: Accessed May 17, 2000.


     A search of Collin County, Texas deed records found no land transactions for William Bowen. However, there is one transaction between William Bowen and his wife Almira transferring land to her children by her previous marriage to William H. Perkins, who died in 1860. Source: Deed Records, Collin County, Texas, County Clerk, McKinney, TX. Researched by Robert B. Winn, March 3, 2000.

     Almira Bowen filed for a divorce from William Bowen on the grounds that he abandoned her in 1864. The divorce and custody of their daughter Lily Bowen was granted on March 30, 1868. 

Source: Collin County District Court Civil Minutes, Book C, page 342, McKinney, TX.

     William Bowen lived in Milam County, TX in 1860. Source: U. S. Department of Interior, Census of 1860, Manuscript Population Schedules, Milam County, Texas, residence number 362, page 1358 (as quoted in Griggs, The Elusive Eden, p. 171].

     Colonel William Bowen, along with Major Frank McMullan and Major S. S. Totten arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on December 9, 1865. They traveled from New York aboard the Ann & Lizzie. Source: Griggs, The Elusive Eden, p. 20.

     Bowen, his children and his new Brazilian wife, 23-year-old Anna Martins, were living on the Ariado [river] in Brazil circa August 1867. The census of McMullan-Bowen Colony (taken by Bowen, dated November 9, 1867) lists Anna Bowen, aged 23 living with William and family. The ages of the children of William Bowen and his first wife Elizabeth ? are documented in this census. Their birth years are calculated from the ages listed in the census. Source: Griggs, The Elusive Eden, pages 101, 151.

About Bowen's marriage to Ana Martins:

     "The New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 2, 1867, carried a news brief about Bowen's mar-riage: 'Southerners going to Brazil will have a good crop of children,' the newspaper editorialized. 'Col. Bowen is about to lead to the alter a blooming rosebud of Brazil. He has joined the Roman Catholic Church.' "

Source: as quoted in Griggs, The Elusive Eden, p. 181.

     Guilherme Bowen joined the Roman Catholic Church. He was christened September 17, 1867 at Nossa Senhora De Assuncao, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. [It is believed that this is Col. William Bowen, who joined the church prior to marrying Anna Martins. RBW].

Source: FamilySearch International Genealogical Index, v4.01, source call number 1155114, (accessed February 28, 2000).

The children and grandchildren of William Bowen and Ana Martins are documented in a genealogy chart in Soldado Descansa! by Judith MacKnight Jones, p. 235. 

William R. Bowen

     Griggs, in The Elusive Eden mentions William R. Bowen as being the author of the Bowen Census of the colony in Brazil, footnote 2, p. 169. This bit of information leads us to William Rankin Bowen. There is a very strong possibility that the two men are the same person. 

     William Rankin Bowen, who went to Brazil after the Civil War, is probably the same William Bowen. He married Elizabeth G. White October 30, 1843 in Montgomery County, TX. He was the son of William Russell Bowen (1787-1855) and Mary H. Rankin (1789-1828).

Sources:, accessed March 21, 2000.

Participation of William Bowen in the War for Texas Independence:

     There is no proof that this is the same William Bowen, however, William C. Griggs, author of The Elusive Eden, mentioned in an e-mail to Robert B. Winn that Bowen was quoted as saying he was a veteran of three wars--Texas war for independence, Mexican War and the Civil War.

     Military service during Texas war of Independence and Mexican American War: 

     The following information was extracted from John C. Barron, et al, Republic of Texas Pension Application Abstracts, Austin Genealogical Society, Morgan Printing & Publishing, Inc., Austin, TX: 1987. 

[Page 131] John C. Gahagan pension application: A reference was made to "...Capt. W. R. Bowen's company prior to Oct. 1836." [Note: this may have been his father. RBW.] 

[Page 250] "Wm P. Zuber, Grimes Co., served in Capt. Wm Bowen's company under Col. Joseph L. Bennet...."

[Page 220] In the pension application of Samuel McGown the following statement was made: "In 1842 he [the applicant] was in Capt. Wm Bowen's company A in Bennett's command on the Mier Expedition." 

[Note] No application for pension was filed in the name of William Bowen. RBW.


William Bowen's Republic of Texas military service (discharge papers):

Montgomery January 6th 1838

     I (this date) certify that Wm Bowen was a private in the mounted gunmen company for the term of three months under my command commencing the 20th of May 1837 and proformed [sic] his duty as a soldier and gentleman. [signed] J. L. Bennett Col Commandant mounted gunmen.

[On the reverse of the discharge document is the following note written by H. L. Upshur, actg Adjt Genl: "The discharge does not state to what Company Bowen belonged consequently it is impossible to find him in this office without more information. August 1851."

[Source: Texas Adjutant General Service Records, 1836-1935. Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, TX, Record of William Bowen, call number 401-2. Copy of record obtained by Robert B. Winn, April 28, 2000.


Texas Land Grants

     William Bowen is not listed in the list of Texas land grants for service between 1835 and 1845. Source: NAME INDEX TO MILITARY BOUNTY AND DONATION LAND GRANTS OF TEXAS, For service between 1835 and 1846 from records of the Texas General Land Office as published in BOUNTY AND DONATION LAND GRANTS OF TEXAS 1835-1888, Thomas Lloyd Miller, Univ. of Texas Press, Austin, 1967. (accessed May 11, 2000).

Military Service (War with Mexico):

Bowen, William (Capt.), Company [later reorganized], 1 Regt., 1 Brig. South Western Army, Col. Jos. L. Bennett Comm. Time: 3 Mo., Enlistment from Oct 1, 1842 [to] Nov 10, 1842, Departed San Antonio for Somervell Campaign into Mexico.

Sources: (accessed May 11, 2000); ATTACK AND COUNTERATTACK: The Texas-Mexican Frontier 1842, Joseph Milton Nance, 1964, pages 628-629; Military Rolls, Adjutant General's Records (RG401) Texas State Archives (online index; Sam S. Smith Collection, ms., Archives Collection, Univ. of Texas Library.

Military Service:

William Bowen was a company commander in the South Western Army, Oct. 1 [27], 1842. 

Source: Republic of Texas Military Rolls, 1836-1845, Texas State Library, Austin, TX; indexed in

     In 1916 Lillian Bowen McKinstry of Sherman, Grayson Co., Texas, daughter of William Bowen and Almira Dunn, initiated a power of attorney for the purpose of acquiring any properties in Brazil that might be due her as an heir of William Bowen deceased. In the document she referred to her father as Capt. William Bowen. This can be interpreted several ways; two immediately come to mind: Bowen was not a colonel, Bowen was captain when he married Almira Dunn Perkins.



Burial: 1891, Campo Cemetery, Santa Barbara, Sao Paulo State, Brazil


The death of Elizabeth Bowen is documented in McLennan County, Texas, Inventory of Community Property of Elizabeth Bowen, Deceased, Probate Records, Volume E., pages 184-185, dated December 29, 1862. William Bowen, husband of the deceased, was appointed the guardian of the estate and guardian of Leonidas L. Bowen, Sarah Bowen, Mary H. Bowen, Adam L. Bowen, Susan L. Bowen, Elizabeth B. Bowen & William R. Bowen.

Notes for ALMIRA DUNN:

Her second husband, William Bowen, abandoned her and her unborn child in 1862. She divorced him several years later. See notes about William Bowen for more detail.


Her name is spelled Ana Martins in Jones, Soldado Descansa!, p. 235.


3. i. LEONIDAS SAUNDERS "LON"3 BOWEN, b. About 1846; d. May 21, 1902, Brazil.

4. ii. MARY H. BOWEN, b. About 1849; d. <Texas>.

5. iii. ADAM L. BOWEN, b. About 1850; d. <Brazil>.

iv. SUSAN SPEED BOWEN, b. About 1851; m. EUGENE BELLINGTON SMITH, October 11, 1868, <Brazil>.


The children and grandchildren of Marsene(?) Smith and Sue Bowen are documented in: Jones, Judith McKnight, Soldado Descansa! Uma Epopeia Norte Americano Sob Os Ceus Do Brasil, (Sao Paulo, Brazil: Jarde, 1967), p. 279, genealogy chart of Alfred Iverson Smith and family.

v. ELIZABETH BOSQUEANAH BOWEN, b. About 1854; d. <Brazil>; m. MARSENE ARLINGTON SMITH, December 16, 1876, <Brazil>.

vi. WILLIAM R. BOWEN, b. About 1856.

vii. JOHN H. BOWEN, b. April 1860, <McLennan Co., TX>; d. Before December 29, 1862, <McLennan Co., TX>.


6. viii. LILLIAN LEE3 BOWEN, b. January 31, 1865, Collin Co., TX; d. May 19, 1956, <Burbank>, Los Angeles Co., CA.


ix. ANTONIO3 BOWEN, b. <Brazil>; m. GEORGINA DRAIN, <Brazil>.

x. DINA MARY BOWEN, b. <Brazil>; d. Unknown, <Brazil>; m. GEORGE HARDEMAN, <Brazil>; d. Unknown, <Brazil>.





Generation No. 3

3. LEONIDAS SAUNDERS "LON"3 BOWEN (WILLIAM RANKIN2, WILLIAM RUSSELL1) was born About 1846, and died May 21, 1902 in Brazil. He married MADORA MCKNIGHT in <Brazil>, daughter of CALVIN MCKNIGHT and ISABEL WENK. She was born in <Brazil>.


     L. S. Bowen: served as a private in Company A of the 8th Texas Cavalry (also called Terry's Texas Rangers). He fought at Shiloh, Chicamauga, Murfreesboro, Knoxville, the Atlanta Campaign and surrendered in Georgia on April 26, 1865.

Source: Sons of Confederate Veterans web page,, accessed March 2, 2000.

     The marriage of Leonidas Bowen to Madora McKnight and their children is documented in Jones, Judith McKnight, Soldado Descansa! Uma Epopeia Norte Americano Sob Os Ceus Do Brasil, (Sao Paulo, Brazil: Jarde, 1967), p. 235, in a genealogy chart of Col. William Bowen and family. This book is written in Portuguese.

     There is some debate about the children of Leonidas "Lon" Bowen. According to the Sarah Bellona Ferguson List of May 29, 1935, Lon Bowen had the following in his household: Lon, Mary, Sue, Berry, Bill, Bettie. Source: The Elusive Eden by William Clark Griggs, Appendix B. On the other hand, in Soldado Descansa! by Judith MacKnight Jones, Leonidas Bowen's family consists of an entirely different set of children. Source: Judith MacKnight Jones, Soldado Descansa!, Bowen genealogy chart, p. 235.


i. GEORGE4 BOWEN, b. <Brazil>.

ii. EDWARD BOWEN, b. <Brazil>.

iii. JULIA BOWEN, b. <Brazil>; m. GEORGE STEWARD, <Brazil>.

iv. WILLIAM BOWEN, b. <Brazil>.

v. LUCIEN BOWEN, b. <Brazil>.

vi. IRA BOWEN, b. <Brazil>.

vii. FREDERICO BOWEN, b. <Brazil>.

viii. NINA BOWEN, b. <Brazil>; d. Unknown; m. ---- MCMULLEN, <Brazil>; d. Unknown.

4. MARY H.3 BOWEN (WILLIAM RANKIN2, WILLIAM RUSSELL1) was born About 1849, and died in <Texas>. She married C. C. JOHNSON in <Texas>. He died in <Texas>.

Child of MARY BOWEN and C. JOHNSON is:


5. ADAM L.3 BOWEN (WILLIAM RANKIN2, WILLIAM RUSSELL1) was born About 1850, and died in <Brazil>. He married JOSEFA UMBELINA MOREIRA in Brazil. She was born in <Brazil>, and died in <Brazil>.

Children of ADAM BOWEN and JOSEFA MOREIRA are:








viii. JOSE MOREIRA BOWEN, b. <Brazil>; d. <Brazil>; m. LUCIA ASSIS MOREIRA, <Brazil>; b. <Brazil>; d. <Brazil>.

6. LILLIAN LEE3 BOWEN (WILLIAM RANKIN2, WILLIAM RUSSELL1) was born January 31, 1865 in Collin Co., TX, and died May 19, 1956 in <Burbank>, Los Angeles Co., CA. She married JAMES M. MCKINSTRY January 20, 1886 in Collin Co., TX. He died in <Texas>.


     According to family tradition, Lillian Lee Bowen McKinstry, daughter of William Bowen and Almira Dunn Perkins (widow of William H. Perkins) traveled to Brazil to claim her father's land after his death. She gave it up after three years, because of the language barrier and of nearly dying from hookworm disease. Source: Jane McKemie Schmidt, a story told to her by her father, Jack F. McKemie. [Note: we cannot prove this this story is correct, but it is known that she did give an attorney the power of attorney to investigate the possibility that she was entitled to any portion of her late father's estate. RBW]


Residence: January 8, 1923, She was a resident of Grayson Co., TX in 1923.


J. M McKinstry purchased part of lot 49 in the Town of Ladonia, Fannin Co., TX for the sum of $150, July 4, 1882. Source: Fannin Co., TX Deed Record Book 13, page 18, County Courthouse, Bonham, TX.


i. MAUDE4 MCKINSTRY, b. December 16, 1892, <Fannin Co.,> Texas; d. January 10, 1954, <Burbank>, Los Angeles Co., CA; m. N. H. HOLT.

Report generated by Family Tree Maker.

bottom of page