Tom Nagy's account of his trip to find
the Bowser Graves:
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 10:54:09 -0400
From: "TLN" <email@example.com>
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago my wife and I drove to Bedford
County with the intention of finding the gravesite of John "Hopewell"
BOWSER d.1813. This is an account of that trip. It is rather long
but I have had a few request from direct descendents of John's
asking what we found.
First, my wife, Sandy is the direct descendent of John BOWSER,
I'm just her husband!
We first stopped at the Bedford Pioneer Historical Society. We told
them we wanted to locate the grave of John BOWSER. They had a
listing of the Revolutionary War veterans buried in Bedford County.
John was a Rev. War vet. We quickly found John BOWSER in the
listing and the historical society gave us a map to the Oppenheimer
Farm cemetery where John was buried. The Oppenheimer Cem.
was on the west side of Tussey Mountain. Hopewell Twp. where
John BOWSERs farm was is on the east side. I questioned why he
would be buried on the other side of a vary large mountain from his
homestead. Then I noticed that the John BOWSER buried in
the Oppenheimer Farm cemetery wife's name was Eve. Our John
BOWSERs wife's name was Mary. I then remembered John and
Eve BOWSER a probable distant cousin of John "Hopewell"
BOWSER. Apparently, this is why John "Hopewell" BOWSER is
referred to as "Hopewell". The John married to Eve died in 1809,
four years before John "Hopewell" BOWSER. Either John (md. Eve)
BOWSER was a veteran of the Rev. War or he has been confused
with John "Hopewell" BOWSER who was in the Rev. War. John
"Hopewell" BOWSER was in the Rev. War and is not listed in
Bedford Counties Rev. War veterans gravesite file.
I told the volunteer at the historical society that John BOWSER
was buried in Hopewell Twp. in 1813 on his homestead and that in
1921 the grave was unmarked according to the BOWSER Family
History. A. B. BOWSER, the author of the BFH visited the
gravesite in 1921. The historical society gave me the names of a
few BOWSERs in Hopewell Twp. that may be able to help. We
decided to drive to Hopewell Twp. and talk to these and some
farmers in the area.
We talked to many farmers asking about the old BOWSER
homestead and if there knew of an unmarked graveyard on their
farm. No one did. I did locate an unmarked graveyard on the
Clapper farm but this was too far from where I suspected the
BOWSER homestead was. Plus the Clappers had the original land
Driving the back roads we came upon a BOWSER Farm Road.
There was a farmer standing near the road of the next farm we
came to. I asked him the question I asked a hundred times that
day. He suggested I go to there farm house and talk to his
grandmother. She was interested in genealogy. She was married to
a BOWSER although her husband had passed away a few years
ago. She told us that 3 years ago a Grant BOWSER from Ohio had
stopped and was also trying to locate John BOWSERs burial site.
They did not find it but they had decided that part of the BOWSER
homestead is on what is now the Hall Farm. We left and drove to
the Hall Farm. Did not see anyone and we were not certain
if the farm was the Hall Farm. It was getting late and we decided to
stay in Bedford for the night and go to the courthouse the next
The next morning we went to the courthouse and told them we were
trying to locate the John BOWSER property that he purchased in
1797. They had the deed and John's will. The deed does not give
the location of the property. They have no way of searching the
owners of property from 1800 to today. One would have to search
the Hall property back through every owner. Plus the gravesite may
not be on the current Hall property as the BOWSER homestead
was 1100 acres and had been subdivided many times through the
years. I decided to go back and talk to more farmers. On the
way we stopped at a business named BOWSER Trailer Sales. We
talked to the owner about the John BOWSER property. There was
another fellow there and from what I told him about the BOWSER
property being 3 miles towards Loysburg from Hopewell he said
that sounded like his property. But he said as far as he knew there
were no graves on his farm. He gave me the name of an adjoining
farm and suggested I talk to the owner of that farm. So off we went
again. No luck again. I'll say, the farmers were more than will to
take the time to talk to us.
It was late afternoon and I wanted to drive around Tussey Mountain
and take some photos of the "other" John BOWSERs grave since
the historical society had given direction to the area of the
Oppenheimer Farm Cem. Clare Medgley, the listowner of the
Allegheny County mailing list is a direct descendent of John and
Eve BOWSER. I wanted photos for her and other descendents. We
also want to stop at the BOWSER covered bridge that is located
near Osterburg and was mentioned on the BOWSER list.
Coincidentally, there is a covered bridge on Yellow Creek very
close to the Hall farm. The bridge is named the Hall covered
bridge. I'm guessing the location of this covered bridge is on what
was John "Hopewell" BOWSER original 1100 acres, although the
bridge was built 90 years after John died.
I asked a farmer in the area of the Oppenheimer Farm Cem. if he
knew of the cemetery. He directed me to a farm lane and told me
the current owner's husband was buried in the Oppenheimer farm
cemetery. There were many no trespassing signs at the entrance
to the lane. I drove in cautiously and when we got to the house I
told my wife that she better come with me. At first the women was
reluctant to direct us to the cemetery but then she told us she
would get her car and to follow her. We drove out to the main
road and turned in the next lane. Nothing but two tracks of dirt with
the grass high enough in the middle to touch the underbody of my
car. We even drove through a little stream. We came to a place
where a car could turn around and stopped. The road continued but
entered a pasture that was encircled with an electric fence. The
power was off. The women told us to follow the road on
foot up to the top of the rise and the cemetery was there. It was
one of those 90 degree plus days we've been having in
Pennsylvania. She left and I got my camera and an extra roll and
film and my wife and I started up the path to the Oppenheimer
Cemetery. The women told us her husband was buried
there but she hadn't been to the cemetery in a long time. From the
looks of the path no one had. From where she left us there was
nothing between us and the top of Tussey Mountain. Bedford
County has not changed much since our ancestors settled there. It
is still farm county and this area was never strip mined. We walked
about 3/4 of a mile and there, as the women told us, in
a grove of pine was the Oppenheimer Farm Cemetery. It was about
30 feet square. Her husband had died in 1986. There were three
newer headstones for some CAMPS. One died in 1949 the other
two in the 1960's. Then there were the very old BOWSER
headstones. I had the cemetery listing from the historical society
that was done in 1939. It did not include the 4 "new' graves.
There were three very old headstones standing all alike. One for
Eve BOWSER died 1803, one for John BOWSER died 1909 and
one for there granddaughter that died in 1819. There were three
more headstones exactly like the BOWSERs but they were broken
and had fallen over. I did not see any writing on them and I did not
turn them over. There was also a rock stuck in the ground with
some writing scratched on it but it was illegible. I saw a depression
that was probably another grave. I'm guessing there were a total of
16 or 18 graves. There was a nice stone bench that must have
been place by the women whose husband was buried there. It was
nice to have a place to sit, rest and think about our BOWSER
forefathers. I though about what life must have been like for John
and Eve BOWSER, having both died before 1810, they lived their
lives in the time of the American Revolution. They were both in there
70's when they died.
I photographed everything but all of the photos are still in the
camera except two that were on another roll of film. I had that roll
developed. They are the photos of John and Eve's headstones.
Left the cemetery and hiked to the car and stopped at the
BOWSER covered bridge just outside of Osterburg. Took a couple
fast photos and drove home.
I know this is a long account and I hope it is interesting to you
especially the "out of staters".
The day before we left for Bedford I placed a message on the
BOWSER list asking anyone for any information on the location of
John "Hopewell" BOWSER gravesite. The only replies I got were
that when I return home to place what we had found on the
When I returned from Bedford I check my email and waiting for me
was a message from a new BOWSER list subscriber. She told me
her mother and her had driven past the site of the old BOWSER
homestead on Memorial Day. They did not stop. She told me it
was the Hall Farm. Her grandmother had been the last BOWSER
to live on this part of the farm. Her grandmothers name was
Rebecca BOWSER. Rebecca was married to a Cogan. The farm
was then called the Cogan farm. Rebecca BOWSER and the
COGANs are in the BOWSER family history book. I emailed
Rebecca's granddaughter. She lives in Washington. We made
arrangements to meet the following Wednesday in Hopewell Twp.
She said she would call the HALLS and inquire about the
unmarked BOWSER graves. She did but the older women she
talked to knew nothing about the BOWSERs. She did tell her that
just up the road was an old cemetery.
On Wednesday we met and drove past the HALL farm looking for
the cemetery that the women mentioned on the phone. We found
the cemetery on the top of a hill surrounded by vacant farm land.
There were lots of old headstones so before we could walk to the
cemetery we knew this wasn't the BOWSER burial sites as there
were no headstone where John BOWSER was buried according to
A. B. BOWSER in 1921. Of the 30 or so headstone not one was a
We then went to the HALL farm. One of the HALLs was in the farm
yard and we stopped and talked to him. We asked about graves on
his farm. He told us he knew of none. He did the plowing so he
knew the farm well.
Between 1921 and today the site of John BOWSER grave has
probably been lost. John's son Nicholas BOWSER was also buried
there in the 1860's or 70's.
I may make one more trip to Bedford to search for his grave. In the
BOWSER Family History book there is a photo of A. B. BOWSER
standing on the grave site with Henry P. BOWSER and Henry's
son-in-law, a FLUKE. The photos in the reprints of the BOWSER
book are not very clear. I know of two libraries that have original
copies of the BOWSER Family History book. I suspected the
original books would have a clearer photo. Last week I photocopied
the photo from one of the original books. It shows more detail of the
distant mountains. Some time this fall I want to take that clear
photo to Hopewell Twp. and try and locate the graves by matching
the scenery in the background.
When I get the photos developed I'll post a message and email
scans to anyone that would like to see them. I have scans of John
and Eve BOWSER's headstones now.
This is probably the longest email I have ever written. Hope it has
been of interest to some of you.