Saturday, March 7, 2015

Surname Saturday - Bowers

This post is based on +Genea Bloggers #SurnameSaturday prompt that encourages genealogy bloggers to "create a post that discusses a surname, mention its origins, its geographical location(s), and how it fits into your genealogy research."

Oh my, the ever elusive Bowers of my family tree!  Despite hours and hours of personal research, consulting with other genealogists researching the Bowers surname, and talking to many a librarian specializing in genealogy, I have not been able to get past my paternal 3rd great-grandfather, Bradford Bowers (1818-1883), in the Bowers line of my family tree.  Perhaps I should rename him Bradford "Brick Wall" Bowers?

How I descend from Bradford Bowers.
My father (living) and I would be listed below John Egbert Wood.

From what I have learned so far, "my" Bowers started out in North Carolina, and then relocated to Davidson County, Tennessee, sometime before 24 December 1839, which is the date of Bradford's marriage to my paternal 3rd great grandmother, Susan Elizabeth Ford.  (Source: "Tennessee, Marriages, 1796-1950," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 March 2015), Bradford Bowers and Susan Ford, 24 Dec 1839; citing Davidson, Tennessee, reference ; FHL microfilm 2,020,810.)  My descendants from Bradford and Susan (Ford) Bowers stayed in Davidson County, Tennessee (primarily in Nashville) until my paternal grandfather, John Egbert Wood, came full circle back to North Carolina where I first find my Bowers.  My paternal grandmother and he later moved to Gainesville, Alachua, Florida, and then retired in Melrose, Putnam, Florida.

According to Internet Surname Database, the surname Bowers is of Anglo-Saxon, pre-8th century origin.  It is derived from the pre-7th century Olde English word "bur" meaning "a chamber; a cottage; a shady recess."  The addition of "er" to topographical terms such as "bur" was common in southeastern England at the beginning of the 14th Century.  Thus, "Bower" would have described a "dweller at the bower."

"Bower" can also be a location-based name.  Places in Somerset and Essex, England, are named Bower even today.  Additionally, the location-based name can be found in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Havering-atte-Bower" in Essex.

Another possibility is that the name is derived from a job performed by the person called "Bower."  It may be a variation of the Olde English word, "Bowyer," which described someone who made or perhaps used, a long bow, popular in the medieval British armies.

Earlier versions of the surname can be found as: "Labur," "Attebur," "le Bower," "Bouer," "Bowers." (Source)

Information on various Bowers family coats of arms can be found at

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.