Biography of John P. Bowman
Rutland County, Vt. Biographies





BOWMAN, JOHN P., is a native of Rutland county, Vt., and was born in the year 1816. His grandfather was one of the early settlers of the town, coming there from the neighborhood of Lexington, Mass., a short time subsequent to the Revolutionary War. He and two brothers came to this country from England. His son, John Bowman, who married Lorinda Hart, was the father of the subject of the present sketch.

Mr. Bowman's boyhood life ran much in the way of that of ordinary New England youth at that period. School advantages were few and much of the time of early years was given to practical industry. At the age of fifteen years he commenced learning the tanning and currying trade at Rutland, Vt. He worked there about five years, when he went to New York State. There he continued at the same trade for eight or nine years at Hunter, in Greene county, Saugerties, Ulster county, and at Warrensburgh, Warren county. At Warrensburgh he was in the employment of Burhans & Gray, hemlock sole leather manufacturers. The wages received during all this time were very moderate, but he gave himself diligently to his work and became thoroughly proficient in all its parts. For the first year's work at Saugerties he received one hundred and forty four dollars, only four of which he drew previous to the end of the year. From Warrensburgh he came to Cuttingsville, Vt., and established himself in a general tanning and currying business. For a time he also manufactured and dealt in boots and shoes. He occupied the tannery near Cuttingsvikle now conducted by Huntoon & Son.

In 1851 he was honored by his fellow citizens of the town of Sherburne with an election to the Legislature. He served his constituents faithfully and with credit to himself. But business was more to his taste than politics and public affairs, and he afterwards neither held office nor sought political preferment.

In January, 1852, Mr. Bowman moved to the town of Stony Creek, Warren county, New York. Here he found water power and plenty of hemlock bark, but few other facilities or conveniences. This section of country was then new and sparsely settled. The land was uneven, very stony, and not adapted to farming pursuits. Saratoga, the nearest accessible railroad point, was thirty miles distant. There were but two or three small houses, a saw mill and a tannery, then partly built where the village of Creek Center now stands. Mr. Bowman completed the tannery and put it in operation, commencing then the business of sole leather manufacturing, at which he has since continued. He has added to and improved the tannery, until now it is one of the best in the State. Its capacity is 40,000 sides of leather a year. In addition to the tannery proper there are extensive bark sheds, storage buildings, a carpenter and repair shop, a large boarding house and houses for sixteen families.

He has a commodious and pleasant residence, barns, carriage house and convenient office. Around his residence there are many shade and fruit trees, some of the latter being planted by Mr. Bowman's father years ago. Good order and neatness prevail about the whole premises. Consequent upon the growth and development of Mr. Bowman's business enterprise quite a village has grown up in the vicinity, and now churches, school houses and stores occupy ground that was covered by an unbroken forest when he commenced operations there. Mr. Bowman has attained an enviable position in business circles where he is well known, and his name is the synonym of the highest honor and integrity. He has acquired a competency and has earned it by his own hard labor, careful attention to business, and the exercise of his bestjudgment in business affairs. It is worthy of note in this connection that his is one of a very few out of numerous kindred enterprises undertaken in this region of country that has succeeded. Through financial panics and periods of business depression Mr. Bowman has managed his affairs with such sound judgment and conservative methods as to maintain his commercial standing unimpaired.

The parent's grandparents and brother of Mr. Bowman are buried in the cemetery at East Clarendon, Vt., and the place of burial is marked by a stately monument erected by him.

In his domestic life and associations Mr. Bowman has known much of happiness and sorrow. He was married in 1849. His wife was Jennie E. Gates, the youngest of seven daughters of Franklin Gates, of Warren, Herkimer county, N. Y. Mrs. Bowman was peculiarly fitted for the duties and relations which followed her marriage. She was prepossessing. in appearance, dignified and graceful in manner, self reliant and courteous. Her qualities of mind and heart gained for her more than an ordinary measure of esteem and regard among. her large circle of friends and acquaintances. She was a member of the Episcopal Church, but her Christian and beneficent work knew no sectarian bounds. To those in less fortunate circumstances than herself she was the kindest and most considerate of friends, always doing her kindly acts in pleasant and thoughtful ways. In her home she was a most faithful wife and mother. It was her aim to make home pleasant and attractive, and she accomplished this as only a truly good and noble woman can. She manifested her devotion to her husband by the most constant endeavors for his welfare, and brought to his aid much of prudent counsel and cheerful encouragement.

Two children, Addis and Ella H., were born of this marriage. The former died in infancy. Ella attained the age of womanhood and justified the expectations of her parents in the traits of character she displayed. She was given excellent educational advantages, and she carefully improved them. Her personal qualities bound to her the affections of her parents with strong and loving ties. She was more fond of home than other society, and her presence there shed continual sunshine about the family circle. She was much interested in benevolent works, and took real pleasure in making others happy.

Mr. Bowman thoroughly appreciated his pleasant family and found his highest enjoyment in the companionship of his wife and daughter.

In June, 1879, Ella's death threw a heavy pall of gloom over the once happy home. The hope and bright joy of the household were gone. This affliction did not remain the only one. In January, 1880, Mrs. Bowman died, leaving her husband alone to bear a grief made more poignant by the happiness that had preceded it. The remains of his family were taken for interment to Cuttingsville, Vt.

Soon after the death of his daughter Mr. Bowman gave his thoughts to the building of a family tomb, and he devoted much study to the formation of plans and designs for the work. For this purpose he visited different cemeteries and examined many structures of the kind. Soon his idea took definite shape, and early in the summer following Mrs. Bowman's death he began the construction of a mausoleum at Cuttingsville. The general plan of the work was Mr. Bowman's own conception. The hands of skillful workmen wrought out the accomplishment of Mr. Bowman's design and soon brought the work to completion. The mausoleum stands on a plain upon the hillside in Laurel Glen Cemetery. It is quadrilateral in form and is about eighteen by twenty four feet in its ground dimensions and twenty feet in height. The walls are built of granite, and marble is principally used for the interior work. The exterior is wholly plain, while within the finish and ornamentation are elegant and elaborate. Busts chiseled in purest marble serve to perpetuate the features of the different members of \the family. This massive tomb, at once enduring in its strength, impressive and grand in appearance, is but a feeble expression of the great love the husband and father bore his wife and daughters. When the building of the mausoleum was accomplished Mr. Bowman gave attention to its surroundings. He added to the extent of the cemetery, graded the surface of the grounds, ornamented them with shade trees, arranged grass plots, made gravel walks and carriage drives. A large green house has been built by him near the tomb, where the rarest plants and choicest flowers are grown. He has erected an elegant summer residence upon a pleasant site opposite the cemetery. The surrounding scenery lends a charm to the spot which has become one of the pleasantest that can be found. Visitors to this sacred scene number many thousands and are from distant as well as neighboring parts of the land.

From:
History of Rutland County, Vermont
Edited by: H. P. Smith and W. S. Rann
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1886


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