Bowie Family

Bowie Family Photos

Courtesy of Katherine Hill

Frances Sophia
Milhous Bowie

15 Sep 1826 - 26 Jun 1899

Wife of
George John Bowie

Buried at Bowie Cemetery
Cedar Lane, Texas



Richard T. "Dick" Chinn

1857 - 1929

Buried at Cedarvale Cemetery,
Bay City, Texas

Half-brother of
Louisiana Thompson Bowie



Harris W. Bowie

Mr. Harris W. Bowie, a resident of Matagorda County since 1852, died at his home in this city last night and will be buried in Cedarvale Cemetery tomorrow morning at 10:30 o’clock with services at the Catholic Church.

At the time of his death Mr. Bowie was entering his 72nd year. His wife survives him.

Harris W. Bowie was born in Dallas County, Alabama, on October 9, 1846, and in 1852 moved with his parents to Texas, settling in Matagorda County. In 1876 he married Miss Louisiana Thompson, of one of the most prominent families in this section of the State.

Decedent has been ill for many months and while his death is seriously regretted by the hosts of friends of the family, it was not unexpected.

Mr. Bowie was highly respected and much loved by those with whom he spent a lifetime and his friends were legion. He has been identified with the progress and upbuilding of the county and in his younger days took a keen interest in its development.

To his companion in life for over 40 years The Tribune extends its deepest sympathy.

As stated the funeral will take place tomorrow at 11:30 from the Catholic Church.

Matagorda County Tribune, May 18, 1917      


Louisiana Thompson Bowie

1848 - 1933

Wife of Harris Bowie

Buried at Cedarvale Cemetery,
Bay City, Texas



Mary Louisiana Thompson Bowie
Mrs. Bowie Tells Of Storm And Early Matagorda Days
By Merle Wainner Jeter

Mrs. Harris Bowie, a native of Matagorda County, died in Bay City in 1933. From an obituary notice I have copied the following:

“Mary Louisiana Thompson Bowie, born in Matagorda County, Texas, Jan. 10, 1848 to Elbert Asa Thompson and Anna Taliferro Thompson. Married in 1876 to Mr. Harris W. Bowie, also of this county, died at the age of 85, Bay City, July 12. Funeral services were held from Holy Cross Church July 13 with solemn requiem high mass. Father Carey, pastor celebrant, assisted by Rev. Father Muski of El Campo, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Schneitzer of Blessed Sacrament Church delivered the funeral sermon. In the death of Mrs. Bowie the county loses a woman of the fine qualities that go to the upbuilding of a community, spiritual and idealistic. She was one of the ardent and early workers of the Catholic faith and one of those who were instrumental in the building of the church here. She was prominent in the musical and literary life of the county in the days of the pioneers. Mrs. Bowie was educated in Mrs. Wright’s Seminary for young ladies in old Matagorda.”

On August 10, 1927, I visited with Mrs. Bowie, who was then blind. I wrote down very briefly the many things that she told me that day. The notes follow:

“My father, Mr. Thompson, said that he would deed land for the depot if the railroad company would let him name the place.

The would call it At Last. The place is Gainemore.

“The people at Matagorda were very aristocratic.

“We heard of early storms. We went to the beach every summer and lived in huts on the beach. Many logs were seen on the land as far up as around Sargent.

“In 1854, I heard that the Episcopal Church in Matagorda was very old. When I was about six years old I went to the Episcopal Church to Sunday School. I was baptized by Mr. Ives, the minister of the Episcopal Church in Matagorda at that time.

“My father was living here at least as early as 1826. He married about 1842. We lived on the old plantation until 1854. A law suit came up unexpectedly against my mother who was a widow, and she moved to Matagorda during the summer. There was evidence of storms previous to that summer of 1854. I was six years old when that storm came up in September.

“The Matagorda Church was a beautiful church. Mrs. Pledger was my Sunday School teacher, very cultured and refined and aristocratic. My mother would leave me in charge of Mrs. Pledger when she had to go to the plantation. Our home was then in Matagorda. The storm came up on September 23, 1854.

“The storm came up gradually. Rain began early in the spring and continued until September. All at once there was a great crash as if everything was going to destruction. The Negroes were all about. There was a great rush to the door. Mother looked back and saw that the lamp was still glowing on the piano. The house was off the blocks. Across the street was the Bowie family formerly of Alabama. We went to the Bowie home. They had a home in Cedar Lane also, but went to Matagorda because of the mosquitoes. Everyone was in the parlor of the Bowie home.

“The Cheesmans were interesting English people. Charles and George Cheesman were great violinists. Charles was teaching in Matagorda and living with the Bowies. The wind as blowing terribly. A dreadful crash came, then a flash of lightning. There was a mad rush to get out of doors. I clung to Mama. Everyone scattered. I slid along on the ground as I could not walk. Harris Bowie, later my husband, was hugging the gate post when a splinter went up his leg and he was crippled. A little Negro girl was just ahead. During the scramble for safety, with the wind blowing and howling Mama saw a light, then from a flash of lighting she saw a timber aimed at her. She wanted to pray. The timber went elsewhere. The Negro girl two years older than I, said, “Don’t give up, don’t you see that light?” We got to Mr. Chambers’ furniture store, where the light was. During a glare of lighting we saw a little naked girl--the Bowie girl. She said, “Oh! Aunt Thompson, save me,” and was caught by Mama. Mama gave a feeble knock at the door and someone came. Many people were already there. Mama was all bruised and was rubbed with lotion. A calico lounge cover was put on the floor and two little naked girls were put on it. Suddenly a cry went up that the house was going. The lady sitting at the head of Mama was Ella Gilcreast. Mama finally left the Chambers house, and went to the Colorado House owned by the Hodges, some people from New York who kept the hotel or tavern on the Colorado River, then they built a hotel. It was a fine place and they were fine people. Part of the hotel was blown away, the front part, and Mama had to drag over these ruins. She was the first one to make her way from one place to another during the storm.

“We finally got to one place near where the Selkirks lived. I did not have on a rag. Such a throng and nothing for me to put on! One lady held up a little shirt, pink and nice, and wanted me to put it on. But I did not want to because the shirt belonged to little Willie McCamley. I did not like him and wouldn’t put it on. After a while the people scattered to the only houses that were still standing.

“Nurse had sister Bertha in her arms all the time during the storm. The Bowie cook was crushed under the debris during the storm. Mary or Mamie Bowie was wedged between two timbers. Mr. Cheesman proved himself a hero the next day helping everyone.

“Judge Talbot was a man of family. He was County Judge of Matagorda County for a long time. He married Miss Gale. Their house stood and was a place of refuge. The Talbots were intimate with the Pledgers and Thompsons. They found a woman on a big ant bed and thought it was Mrs. Pledger. She groaned when spoken to. At the house she was discovered to be a Negro.

“The Talbot house was filled. Mrs. Elsie Rugeley (perhaps the grandmother of Mrs. P. G. Huston) was there. Mama was in mourning. She did not have a thing to put on. They found an elegant marino dress for her, and put her in the parlor. They then told Mrs. Rugeley that a visitor was in the parlor to see her. The suit haunted Mama; she wanted to get the good will of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Nannie, the widow of Watkins Thompson. Mama asked Mrs. Nannie to come see her and she came. They met at the fence. They wanted to make up, and they confessed to each other the hatred they had held. After that we children were allowed to go to Miss Nancy’s. Martha Thompson was four, and Bertha was a baby.


Bible of Laura Frances Bowie White
Typed by Faye Cunningham


First printed in Matagorda County Genealogical Society Periodical, Oak Leaves, Vol. 7 #4, August 1988


Children of George J. and Frances S. Bowie

George J. Milhouse Bowie born Jan. 23, 1844

Harris Walker Bowie   born Oct. 7, 1845

Sarah Rebecca Bowie born May 1844

Laura Frances Bowie born Nov. 15, 1848

Mary Jane Bowie born Feb. 7, 1857

Anna Milhouse Bowie born May 28, 1853

Freeman King Bowie born Oct. 25, 1855

Philip Milhouse Bowie born April 19, 1859


Father of Mrs. Frances S. Bowie, Philip Milhouse, son of Daniel and Frances Milhouse was born April 23, 1804


Frances Sophia Milhouse, daughter of Philip and Frances Rebecca Milhouse was born the 15th of Sept. 1826


Daniel Edward Milhouse was born Oct. 6, 1831



James K. White and Laura Frances Bowie were married November 15, 1875

Norris G. Pier and Vassar White were married January 23, 1901



George J. Bowie died Sept. 6, 1861 (age 42 years)

Sarah Rebecca Bowie died June 11, 1847

Freeman King Bowie died Feb. 18, 1859 (age 15 months)

Anna Milhouse Bowie died an. 2, 1860 (age 6 years)

George Milhouse Bowie died Jan. 1864 (age 20 years in Matagorda Bay Disaster)

Laura Frances White died Sept. 11, 1891

Frances Sophia Bowie died June 26, 1899

James K. White died Nov. 28, 1915

Infant daughter, Sophie, of Jas. K. and Laura F. White died Sept. 6, 1876

Mary Alma, daughter of Jas. K. and Laura F. White died Dec. 17, 1879, 18 months less one day


These names were added later:

Norris Gault Pier died June 5, 1940

Vasser White Pier died Feb. 5, 1957

Emmy Lou Pier Jenkins died Jan. 18, 1960

Laura Frances Pier died Aug. 17, 1968

Norris Gault Pier, Jr. died April 19, 1985

Adolphe Bowie Pier died Feb. 21, 1988 (buried Veteran's Cemetery, Portland Oregon)


Children of George J. Bowie and Frances Sophie Bowie

George J. Bowie was either drowned or froze to death along with 21 other young men in Matagorda Bay during the War Between the States. They were attempting to defend the peninsula from the enemy. He is buried with his companions in a common grave in Matagorda Cemetery.


Harris Walker Bowie married Mary Louisiana Thompson. He was Matagorda County Commissioner in 1895. He and his wife are buried in Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City.


Laura Frances married James K. White. They had two children, Vasser and James Bowie White.


Mary Jane "Mamie" married Green Cameron Duncan. They lived at Egypt in Wharton County. They were the parents of five children, one girl and  four boys.


Philip Milhouse Bowie married Hubert Weisiger, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Weisiger of Brazoria. She died in childbirth June 2, 1890. Their son, Hubert W. Bowie was raised by his Grandmother Bowie


Contributed by Nantie Lee and printed in Matagorda County Genealogical Society publication, Oak Leaves Aug 1988 - Vol. 7 #4

Diary of Miss Laura Frances Bowie

Matagorda County Genealogical Society publication, Oak Leaves, Volume III, No. 3, May 1984
Originally contributed by Nantie Pier Lee

Laura Frances Bowie was born November 15, 1848 and was nine years old in 1857 when she kept this "journal." She was the daughter of George J. Bowie and Frances Sophia Milhouse. Her father came to Texas and Matagorda County in 1848 and located on Caney Creek in the Tone and Jamison League which later became known as Bowieville, then Cedar Lane. Some of the land is still in possession of the Bowie heirs. Laura Frances married John Knox White in 1875 and became the mother of two children. She died September 11, 1891 and is buried in the Bowie Family Cemetery at Cedar Lane.

The Aunt Ann that she talks about in the diary was Mrs. Robert Chinn. Her husband was a doctor. Lou, Martha and Bertha were children of Mrs. Chinn by a former marriage to Elbert Thompson. Mr. Gracie was the school teacher. There was a school house on the Bowie place and children from surrounding plantations came there to school. Her grandfather was Philip Milhouse and Uncle Ed was his son. They both drowned when the ship they were on caught fire and burned off the coast of Louisiana. They were on their way home to Alabama from Texas.

The following are excerpts from Laura's diary: "Aunt Ann sent me this nice book, and I am going to copy my journal into it.

Jan 1. Clear and bright, evening dark and cloudy. Lou and Martha spent the day with me. We had a nice day for play. Went home with Lou and spent the night.

Feb 1. A beautiful day. I have not wrote in my journal for several nights. Pa and my two brothers are gone down Caney with a load of cotton. I expect they had a fine time of it.

Feb 16. Quite cloudy and wishing for rain. My little brother is very sick, I hope he will be better by morning.

Feb 17. My little brother is worse. We sent for Dr. Hanna.

Feb 18. My little brother died early this morning. I did not know how much I loved him until I saw him die.

Feb 19. He was buried today in the garden.

Feb 28. Dr. Chinn gave me two bits for asking questions. I think I will buy a book with it.

Mar 24. Went to Mrs. Hawkins today. I had a pleasant visit, saw the lake and gathered some pretty flowers. Spent two nights and days.

Mar 28. Mother went to the store today. She carried all the children but me and I spent the day with Lou and Martha.

Mar 29. Mother went to Aunt Ann's and spent the morning. Lydia and Bell Vandorne came to go to school.

Mar 30. Sister Mary and Pa went to town today. Ellen, my hen, is setting on 11 eggs and I hope she will soon hatch.

Mar 31. Mr. Adams came home with Pa and Sister Mary. He lives in Alabama not far from Grandpa.

Apr 13. Mr. Adams left this morning. Pa went as far as Matagorda and Mr. Adams said he would send me a pretty work box; I wish I could have gone with him.

Apr 16. Mother and Pa has gone to Col. Hawkins' party.

Apr 18. Today is Saturday. Sister Mary has got the measles and went to Aunt Ann and Lou had them too.

Apr 22. Went to town and called by Mrs. Sheppard. She gave us some cake and wine and went on to town and got there to dinner. We went shopping in the evening and I bought a little bucket. Spent the night at Mrs. Comptons.

Apr 23. Called to see Mrs. Nancy Thompson, then went to see Miss Ellen and Mr. Harrison married - had a nice little wedding.

Apr 25. Mrs. Warren and Wilkinson spent the day, and it rained some.

May 6. Delia and Mary Jones and Edith Gibson came to see me this evening.

May 8. Miss Eliza and Miss Narcissa came here today spent time with Lou.

May 9. Grandpa and Uncle Edward came today from Alabama. Mother had some company today to dinner, and we all went to Mrs. Gibson to see her granddaughters. We fished and caught 15 and brought them home for supper.

May 11. Grandpa and Uncle Edward's trunks came today and grandpa brought me a head dress and ink stand and Cousin Virginia sent me some little dolls.

May 27. Mr. Gracie told me that I may do the sums of multiplication in the book. We expect Grandpa and Uncle Edward to go away tomorrow.

Jun 3. Mother went to the store, Pa, Sister Mary and Anna went also. Cora died today very suddenly.

Jun 4. Walked over to Aunt Ann. They buried Cora today.

Jun 5. We heard Grandpa got drowned. The boat burnt up and Uncle Edward is lost and when we heard they had not found him. Mother and Aunt Ann is sick with the headache.

Jun 6. Aunt Ann spent the night with Mother. Did not go to school today. Friday we were all very sorry to hear the death of Grandpa. Pa went to Galveston. Alfred got saved.

Jun 10. Mrs. Vandorne spent the day with Mother. Pa returned from Galveston this morning. Have not found Uncle Edward's body. I am very sorry everything looks all lonesome and sad since we heard of their death.

Jun 20. The Negroes had a holyday today cleaning and brushing their houses and yards. I never saw the like and Mrs. Sheppard and Mr. Abe came here today and she brought me some pretty pieces for my doll and quilt.

Jul 14. Pa returned from town today. Capt. Jones came with him - had a nice feast of watermelons. Walked over to see Lou's lamb.

Jul 18. We had a real Negro wedding tonight. They were all dressed up started playing the violin and had the table under the trees.

Jul 25. Mother is going to spend the night with Aunt Ann and Martha is going to spent the night with us.

Jul 28. Aunt Ann has a fine boy. I went to see it today. Lou and Martha are very proud of it.

Jul 30. Col. and Mrs. Hawkins and Miss Sally and Virginia, Col. and Mrs. Hardeman came here today. Sister Mary is very sick.

Aug 25. Mother, Mrs. Hawkins and Miss Sally and Miss Virginia spent the evening with Mrs. Jordan.

Aug 27. Miss Narciss and Miss Anna Jones came from town today. Mother is still sick.

Sep 4. Went to Mrs. Hawkins today. I enjoyed myself very much. I saw Bert Williams and Ninna Cheesman.

Sep 17. Mr. and Mrs. Skennon came today and stayed all night; had prayers.

Oct 9. We have five gentlemen here tonight and Mrs. Thompson.

Oct 12. Went to school today. Miss Eliza Pledger came over.

Nov 1. We went to preaching today over to Aunt Ann. Dr. Chinn came from Galveston. He gave me a book.

Nov 8. Four Alabama gentlemen are here, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Price, Dr. Smith and Mr. Tody. Johnny Compton came home with Pa.

Nov 30. Mother is still sick. The Dr. called on her. It was a foggy morning and a sunny day. Aunt came over today and brought Lou and Martha. I made Mother some custard to eat.

Dec 3. Mother is still very sick.

Dec 25. Today is Christmas. Santa Claus came and brought some candy and raisins and apples. I think he gets poorer every year.

Dec 27. Mother is better but very weak.

Dec 28. Pa left for Alabama this morning. It is a rainy and muddy day.

Jan 1. Today is New Years. Mr. and Mrs. Harrison spent the day.

Jan 8. James and John Hawkins came today to see the boys. I wrote a letter to Cousin Ella.

Feb 1. Pa came home last night when we all was in bed fixing ourselves for a good nights rest. Today is the last day of holyday.

Feb 2.  Mr. and Mrs. Harrison came by and took dinner with us today a very cold morning. We started to school today, Sister Mary went too. I can say as Nancy Bay, my bird, is dead. My bird is dead for poor Julia died last night and nobody will pity me.

Feb 4. A cold day and fires are comfortable. Pa brought me a little saddle and I expect I will enjoy some nice rides on it. He brought me a nice little work box too.

Feb 27. Mr. Compton and Mr. Theold came here last night soon after supper.

Mar 8. A cool and warm day. Mr. Gracie did not teach school this morning. Pa, Mr. Gracie and Brother George and Harris went to school surveying.

Mar 11. A very warm day. I knew my lessons very well this morning; it makes me feel so happy when I know them. Now journal, let me tell you what Pa brought for me when he came home, he brought me a nice little bridle. My flower seeds are coming up, everything is putting forth its greenness."

Bowie - White Family Bible                   
Bowie Family Cemetery

Marker photos courtesy of Betty Crosby


Copyright 2006 - Present by Bowie Family
All rights reserved

Jan. 24, 2006
Dec. 23, 2015