I thought you might be interested in the story below, well documented
in county histories of Muskingum and Zanesville. And maybe you might
know how I can find out more about it.
My ancestor Charles Bowen and three of his brothers
left Massachusetts for Zanesville. One of his brothers, William
Bowen, ran a big flouring mill and when he hit a financial bad
spot, Charles decided to bail him out (perhaps because Charles had
co-signed some of his notes). He went into the grocery business.
In the fall of 1845 he chartered a steamboat, (pardon me if I'm
not using the right terminology) called the "Belle
Zane," to take goods to New Orleans. He and his wife and his
son went on the trip leaving two daughters (6 and 9 years old) behind.
The Belle Zane hit a snag and sank. Of the many people on board,
only the Bowen family was lost. Their bodies were never found. (I
am descended from one of the orphaned daughters.)
Jane Peppler (Jane, I need a current e-mail address - Dave)
More from family records sent in by Jane Peppler:
Letter from the sister of Charles and William Flint Bowen, and John
Langley Bowen, written to Daniel Bowen, a cousin who compiled a
"Charles was a wholesale bookseller and publisher in Boston ...
I think my brother William, who was the first to go to Zanesville,
O., went in 1835, perhaps earlier; then John, a year or two afterwards,
and Charles in 1838. My sister went in 1837, I believe. Charles
bought a dairy farm about two miles from the town, and built a fine
house for himself in a very commanding situation. ... "Charles was
as successful with his farm as with his other business ... he was
a Whig, and he went several winters to the State Legislature ...
"William went into the flour business on a large scale, and built
large flouring mills at Duncan's Falls, about ten miles from Zanesville.
He was doing very well till one of the fluctuations incident to
the business caused his failure. Then Charles, who had endorsed
for him, felt it necessary to go again into business. He took hold
of the wholesale grocery business, something quite new to him -
but he was doing well with it, when he chartered a small steamboat
for a cargo of goods to and from New Orleans. He took with him his
wife and son, leaving his little daughters, six and nine years old,
with my mother. So they started on the trip, from which they never
returned. The steamboat, Belle Jane [actually Belle Zane], struck
a snag in the night in the Mississippi and sank immediately. It
was in November 1845.
"My mother, with my sister and myself, were living in Zanesville,
and of course the little girls remained with her. ... William took
his family to Texas soon after Charles' death, [the spring of 1846]
but, after about two years, George wrote to him that if he would
cross the country to San Francisco, he would join hem there. He
therefore sent his wife and children to my mother, in Ohio, and
started on the journey, from which he, too, was never to return.
[He was killed on the way by Mexicans.] His widow and children remained
with us about a year, and then went to Cambridge, where they lived
till 1865, when they went to San Francisco, where, as I wrote you,
they now are. "John's business, at the time of his death, was that
of a smelting furnace, at Dresden, fifteen miles from Zanesville.
He died quite suddenly of a fever [in 1848] ... Thus my mother lost,
in less than five years, the three sons she went to Ohio to live
For more on Capt Bowman and Zanesville boats see notes from
History of Muskingum County
More on Capt. William Bowen
From Site Visitor Scott Gravson
I just wanted to give you a little more info on Willliam F. Bowen.
He moved to Rio Grande City, Tx by 1848, and was Captain of Del Norte
(which snagged on the Rio Grande in 1849.) He was part of a overland
trading party that was attacked by Mexicans near Salinas, Mexico in
1850. He and a few of his party were brutally murdered:
From 26th February 1850 Zanesville Courier, Zanesville, OH
Letters received here, on Saturday evening announce
the death of Capt W. F. BOWEN, formerly a citizen of this place.
The accounts are, substantially, as follows:.
Mr. BOWEN and five others were on a trading expedition
to the interior of Mexico. After crossing the Rio Grande at Roma,
in Texas, they proceeded on their way until near the town of Salinas,
in Mexico, about 75 miles from Roma, where they were met by three
Mexicans, who demanded their passportsthe party not having passports,
were permitted to pass upon the payment of 50 dollars to each Mexican.
Shortly after the same three men with thirty more made a similar demand.
Mr. Bowen's party then commenced unpacking their mules
and making breastworks of the packs. Two of the party then went out
to negotiate with the leaders of the gang, and while so doing, an
attack was madeby 15 or 20 Mexicans crowding upon BOWEN's party,
and the fight immediately commenced, and resulted in the death of
three Americans (or 2 killed and 1 wounded) Capt BOWEN, being the
last who fell. The two men who went out to negotiate were made prisoners,
and sent to the Camargo prison,
Capt. IRVING, the last of the party, was by some accident
a few miles in the rear, and escaped and has returned to Roma.
We also copy the account of this melancholy occurrence
from extracts of New Orleans papers in the Baltimore Sun
AMERICANS KILLED ON THE RIO GRANDE The New Orleans
papers contain new from Brownsville, Texas to the 30th ult. The Texans
are much excited on the subject of protection of their frontier, and
find great fault with the secretary of War for furnishing them with
infantry instead of cavalry, and call for the raising of companies
of rangers The New Orleans True Delta publishes a letter dated
Camargo Jan (39?), giving an account of the murder of Texans by Mexicans
A few days ago, a number of Texan merchants were brutally
murdered near Salinas, by the official bandits that occupy this line,
seemingly for the purpose of enforcing the revenue laws, but in reality
to plunder and brutally murder, without any provocation, all parties
that are not in sufficient force to protect themselves. I will state
the particulars of the late atrocity as related to me by one of the
Americans now in prison here. L. WARTHINGTON, W. F. BOWEN, R. CAMPBELL,
--- HILLMAN and PETER MANGUS, all of Roma, brought over some goods
to this side of the river. If they complied not with the law, they
did with the customs of this Mexican frontier, by paying the guards
to let them pass. The same was agreed upon $250. The traders were
only a few leagues on the road, when the same officers who took the
bribe, overhauled them and demanded another stipend, which was complied
with by the Americans. A few days afterwards, while the party was
encamped at a creek near Salinas, they were surprised by the very
same officers, who has already received two bribes to pass the goods,
and a force of twenty-five soldiers, and fired upon before they had
time to seize their arms. At the first volley, Mr. WORTHINGTON was
shot through the head. CAMPBELL gallantly returned fire, but he soon
fell, pierced by eight balls. BOWEN, who was desperately wounded by
the first fire, retreated towards the creek, and was pursued by the
ruthless miscreants, who beat his brains out with the butt of WARTHINGTON's
gun. HILLMAN and MANGUS being left alone, and when all hope of being
able to defend against such fearful odds had ?? surrendered at discretion.
The latter requested only permission to bury the remains of their
fallen comrades, but even that ?? was denied them. The Mexicans, after
mutilating the dead, (left them) a prey to the wolves and vultures.