Monday, January 14, 2013

Samuel Bower - Not A Family Man

My maternal gr-grandfather, Samuel Bower, was born in Lawrence, MA, in 1858, married Irene McCord in West Farms, NY, in 1886, left his family in 1901, and died in 1913.

Sam Bower was the 5th child of English immigrants, Robert Bower and Phebe Marsland. In 1880 he was 22 years old living with his older brother, William and family, in Rhode Island. His occupation was "working for a printer."


He was Commander of Oliver Tilden Post #26 in NYC in January 1885 and again from 1892-98. Membership in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was open to any man who could prove his ancestry to a member of the Grand Army of the Republic or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. Sam's father, Robert Bower, served in the Civil War with the 50th MA Volunteers from 1862-63.

During his term of office, he instituted the Vanderbilt Auxiliary, an organization open to wives, mothers, sisters and all female descendants of Civil War veterans, as well as widows, nieces, and grandnieces. Years later, his daughter, Leila Bower Kroepke would serve as its president from 1915-1917.

Sam married Irene McCord on November 4, 1886 at Grace Church in West Farms, Bronx, NY. He was 28 years old, she was 19. He gave her a gold wedding band engraved "1886." 

Irene Florence McCord, daughter of James McCord and Maria Miller, was born August 1, 1867. I believe this is her wedding photo. Her left hand prominently displaying a wedding ring :-)

Sam and Irene had two children, Stanton M. Bower (my grandfather) born 1888 and Leila Bower born 1890.

On the back of this c. 1895 photograph his daughter wrote: "Father, Samuel Bower, Uniform of Signal Corp." 

In the 1900 census the family was still together though Sam was unemployed. The following year he left home and never returned. Correspondence I had with relatives in the 1970s shed a little more light:

From Leila Bower Kroepke (his daughter), April 20, 1972:
"After Stan and Ethel were married and had Etta they got in touch with Samuel Bower and took the baby to see him - only once that I know of. I never saw him after he left home - until he died and was buried from Gleason Ave. Bronx . . .[my note: Stan and Ethel were my grandparents, Etta my mother. It's sad to think that my mother never knew her grandfather and that he never made the effort to stay in touch.]

From Josephine Bower Weeks (his niece), postmarked Feb. 24, 1979:
"When he [Sam] was sick with pernicious anemia, and he needed care, he lived with us for six weeks, thinking it would be a curative vacation, but was not so, as he died soon afterwards in New York. He was wonderful to me, I was his pet--and after he went back to N.Y. he sent me presents--one was a beaded bag, and, coming from N.Y., it was the envy of my schoolmates . . . Uncle Sam was a huge man, that is in height--I think he was well over 6 ft. He looked like my father, and, too, had many of the characteristics." [my note: this letter portrays a much more loving Sam Bower.]

In 1995 my Aunt Midge and I went to St. Michael's Cemetery in Astoria, Queens, NY. We knew the section, plot and # of Sam's grave so a very nice employee helped us find it by taking "giant steps" to pinpoint its exact location--between the two graves above. Unfortunately, there is no headstone. We were told it was probably buried when that section of the cemetery was cleaned up.

All in all, we were comforted in knowing that we finally "found him." I wonder if he "felt" the same about us.

As for Irene, she remarried but that is another story.


 Copyright 2013, Barbara Schaffer

No comments:

Post a Comment