Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Bowers Family Papers
1686-1982
 MS 2902

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Christine George

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 09, 2020
Finding aid is written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical Note

The Bowers family has a longstanding history with Cooperstown, New York. Henry Bowers Jr. (1747-1800) married Mary Myer in 1772. They lived in Massachusetts and then, later, relocated to New York City. In 1791, Henry began surveying land from what was known as the Bowers Patent, located across the river from Cooperstown, N.Y. Mary's father, John R. Myer, originally owned the Patent, but it passed to Henry and Mary. Henry's plan was to construct a city to be called Bowerstown. However, rather than becoming a reality, Bowerstown remained merely a plan on paper.

After Henry's death in 1800, his son, John Myer Bowers (1772-1800), moved his family up to live on the Bowers Patent. John married Margaretta M.S. Wilson in 1802. Margaretta's mother, Martha Wilson, was the daughter of Colonel Charles Stewart of New Jersey, who was a member of General George Washington's staff during the American Revolution. Robert Wilson, Martha's husband who died during the Revolutionary War, was also close with General Washington, and Martha frequently entertained the General and his wife, Martha Washington. Martha was later included in Elizabeth F. Ellet's 1848 work The Women of the American Revolution. By 1803, John and Margaret were settled in Otsego County, awaiting the competition of their house, Lakelands. They took possession of Lakelands in 1805, and Martha Wilson lived with them until her death in 1852.

John and Margaretta had nine children, the youngest of which was their only son, Henry John Ray Myer Bowers. When Henry was born in 1824, church bells rang in Cooperstown so that everyone knew that the Bowers had a son after eight daughters. John died in 1846, but Margaretta continued to stay in Lakelands. Upon her death in 1872, Martha Stewart Bowers, John and Margaretta's daughter, continued the Bowers residence in Lakelands.

Henry married Philotheta Craine in 1848. They had nine children, including John Myer Bowers, who later became one of the most notable lawyers in New York state. In 1915, John represented former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt in a libel case that had been brought against him by William Barnes who owned the Albany Evening Journal. Roosevelt won the verdict. John married Susan Dandridge and they had five children. Family was important to John. He used Lakelands as a summer home, and, when he died in 1918, his will stipulated that should any of his children contest, they would receive nothing because of "the ruinous consequences of litigation."

Spotswood Dandridge was John's oldest son, born in 1876. Like his father, Spotswood was also an attorney. He practiced in New York, Ohio, Washington, and Connecticut. In 1918, Spotswood married Marjorie Sampson Smith, daughter of Capitan Roy C. Smith who was, at the time, the Governor of Guam. Roy was a U.S. naval officer. He had married the daughter of Admiral William T. Sampson, who was a celebrated hero of the Spanish-American War. Spotswood and Marjorie had five sons (John Myer Bowers, Spotswood Dandridge Bowers Jr., Nathan Pendleton Bowers, Roy Campbell Bowers, Alexander Stewart Bowers, and Sampson Pendleton Bowers) all of whom can contribute at least part of their names to their impressive ancestors.

Bowers Family Chronology
1772 Henry Bowers Jr. marries Mary Myer. They have five children in Massachusetts: John Myer Bowers (born 1772), Mary Ann (who married James Chatham Duane), Frances (who married David Campbell), Rebecca (who married a man with the last name Scott), and Harriet (who married Bejamin Maverick Mumford).
1802 John Myer Bowers marries Margaretta M.S. Wilson. They have nine children--eight daughters and then their son, Henry John Ray Myer Bowers.
1805 The Bowers Family moves into newly completed Lakelands, their estate in Cooperstown, N.Y.
1848 Henry John Ray Myer Bowers marries Phila Thea Crain. They had five children who survived childhood, including John Myer Bowers, Henry Crain Bowers, and Martha Stewart Bowers.
1875 John Myer Bowers marries Susan Bowles Dandridge. They have five children, including Spotswood Dandridge Bowers.
1918 Spotswood Dandridge Bowers marries Marjorie Smith. They have five sons: John Myer Bowers, Spotswood Dandridge Bowers Jr., Nathan Pendleton Bowers, Roy Campbell Bowers, Alexander Stewart Bowers, and Sampson Pendleton Bowers

The Bowers family, as well as the families that they are connected to, have a longstanding history with Cooperstown, New York. Henry Bowers Jr. (1747-1800) married Mary Myer in 1772. They lived in Massachusetts and then, later, relocated to New York City. In 1791, Henry began surveying land from what was known as the Bowers Patent, located across the river from Cooperstown, N.Y. Mary's father, John R. Myer, originally owned the Patent, but it passed to Henry and Mary. Henry's plan was to construct a city to be called Bowerstown. However, rather than becoming a reality, Bowerstown remained merely a plan on paper.

After Henry's death in 1800, his son, John Myer Bowers (1772-1846), moved his family to live on the Bowers Patent. John married Margaretta M.S. Wilson in 1802. Margaretta's mother, Martha Wilson, was the daughter of Colonel Charles Stewart of New Jersey, who was a member of General George Washington's staff during the American Revolution. Robert Wilson, Martha Wilson's husband who died during the Revolutionary War, was also close with General Washington, and Martha Wilson frequently entertained the General and his wife, Martha Washington. Martha Wilson was later included in Elizabeth F. Ellet's 1848 work, The Women of the American Revolution. By 1803, John and Margaret were settled in Otsego County, awaiting the completion of their house, Lakelands. They took possession of Lakelands in 1805, and Martha Wilson lived with them until her death in 1852. In 1813, John was appointed as a replacement for the 15th District for New York in the U.S. House of Representatives.

John and Margaretta had nine children, the youngest of which was their only son, Henry John Ray Myer Bowers. When Henry was born in 1824, church bells rang in Cooperstown so that everyone knew that the Bowers had a son after eight daughters. John died in 1846, but Margaretta continued to stay in Lakelands. Upon her death in 1872, Martha Stewart Bowers, John and Margaretta's daughter, continued the Bowers residence in Lakelands.

Henry married Phila Theta Crain in 1848. They had nine children, including John Myer Bowers, who later became one of the most notable lawyers in New York state. In 1915, John represented former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt in a libel case that had been brought against him by William Barnes who owned the Albany Evening Journal. Roosevelt won the verdict. John married Susan Dandridge and they had five children. Family was important to John. He used Lakelands as a summer home, and, when he died in 1918, his will stipulated that should any of his children contest, they would receive nothing so as to avoid "the ruinous consequences of litigation."

Spotswood Dandridge was John's oldest son, born in 1876. Like his father, Spotswood was also an attorney. He practiced in New York, Ohio, Washington, and Connecticut. In 1918, Spotswood married Marjorie Sampson Smith, daughter of Capitan Roy C. Smith who was, at the time, the Governor of Guam. Roy was a U.S. naval officer. Roy had married the daughter of Admiral William T. Sampson, who was a celebrated hero of the Spanish-American War. Spotswood and Marjorie had five sons (John Myer Bowers, Spotswood Dandridge Bowers Jr., Nathan Pendleton Bowers, Roy Campbell Bowers, Alexander Stewart Bowers, and Sampson Pendleton Bowers) all of whom can contribute at least part of their names to their impressive ancestors.

Sources:

Biographical Review: This Volume Contains Biographical Sketches of the Volume 11: Leading Citizens of Otsego County, New York, Boston: Biographical Review Publishing, Co., 1893.

Ralph Birdsall, The Story of Cooperstown, Cooperstown, N.Y.: Arthur H. Christ Co., 1920.

Bowers Estate $3,000,000,   N.Y. Times, March 14, 1918.

Captain Roy Smith, Ex-Guam Governor; Retired Naval Officer Received Surrender of First German Vessel in War—Dies at 82,   N.Y. Times, April 12, 1940.

Oscar Jewell Harvey and Ernest Gray Smith, A History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, volume 1, Wilkes-Barre, Penn.: Raeder Press, 1909.

Nathan Bowers,   Daily Star, Aug. 31, 2005, available at http://old.thedailystar.com/news/community/obits/2005/08/ob0831.html.