John and Celia (Sally) Bowles raised a family in Barren/Metcalfe Counties KY during the early to mid 1800's. Because they did not transact much business or sign many documents, and because they were not a prominent or wealthy family, it has been a challenge to learn much about them. What follows has been pieced together carefully, and is supported by documentation.
John Bowles was born in Virginia about 1790-1791. While the 1850 census gives his age as 58, in the 1860 census he is 70. Earlier census records (1820, 1830, 1840) provide a window between 1791 and 1794.
John Bowles' middle name might be Marcotte. This information was provided by Anne Lucille Bowles, a great-granddaughter.
He may have been in Barren County KY by 1813 since a John Bowls is listed on the tax roll for that year. We know that he was in Barren County KY by 24 Jan 1817 for he signed a joint power of attorney with his father-in-law, Obediah White, on that date. No verified information is available as yet to the identity of John's parents, although there is significant conjecture.
John's wife, Sally (White) Bowles, was a daughter of Obadiah and Rhoda (Arthur) White. Her given name was Celia (spelled variously as Selia or Sealia). It is estimated that she was born about 1797 in Virginia.
[In 1810 Obediah White's family was in Franklin County VA. The census shows him with eight children at home including two boys and a girl under 10 (Austin, Middleton, and Elizabeth), two boys and a girl between 10-16 (Henry, Obadiah Jr., and Sally), and a boy and a girl between 16-26 (Stephen and Susannah). Thus Sally (Selia) would be born between 1795-1800. Then John Bowls is listed in the 1820 Barren County census with three boys and a girl under 10, and a wife between 16-25, making her born between 1795-1804. With 4 children already, it seems that she should be at least 22 or 23 years old by 1820, rendering her birth year between 1797-1798. Additional information about Obediah White is available.]
No record has yet been found of John and Celia's marriage. We believe they were married in Barren County KY sometime between 1813-15 based on several facts. We know they were married by 24 Jan 1817 from a statement by her father on that date. We also know Celia had her second child only six days later on 30 Jan 1817, so simple math would indicate a marriage at least as early as 1815. Since the White family was in Barren County as early as February 1813 when Obadiah is mentioned in the Barren County Order Book 4, it is almost certain that John and Celia married in Barren County.
John and Sally Bowles had fourteen children, eight boys and six girls. Depositions taken to settle the estate of Obadiah Bowles of El Dorado, California, give his father as John Bowles of Metcalfe Co KY, and his siblings as Ednatha Bowles as the oldest sister, Elizabeth Bowles (Shockley), Rhoda Bowles, Eliza Bowles, Martha Bowles, Harriett Bowles, Elzy M. Bowles, W.A. Bowles, Henry P. Bowles, Austin W. Bowles, John M. Bowles, Lafayette Bowles, and Willis W. Bowles. We will examine each of them later.
A partial examination of the Barren County KY tax rolls from 1813-1816 provide the following information. In 1813 John Bowls has no land, no slaves, and no horse. I suspect that this is the husband of Sally White, although I can't be absolutely certain. In 1814 John Bowles has no land, no slaves, but 1 horse worth $30. In 1815, John Bowles has no land, no slaves, 1 horse.
I have no additional information about John, Celia, and the family until 1837 when John Bowles purchased 458 acres on Fallen Timber Creek in Barren County. This is the first deed for land found in the Barren County deed books for John.
The 1850 Barren County census lists the family of John Bowls, but does not mention his wife; thus we may conclude that she died sometime between the birth of her last child (approximately 1841) and 1850. Nothing more has been determined about her at this time.
According to the Barren County KY tax rolls, in 1856, John Bowles has 299 acres on Falling Timber Creek worth $1794. On the 1857 Barren County tax rolls, John Bowles has 310 acres on Falling Timber Creek worth $2480. He is also listed as the administrator of Lucinda White, deceased. This is the second wife of Obadiah White.
The 1860 Metcalfe County KY tax roll shows John Bowles with 310 acres on Falling Timber Creek. Then the 1861 Metcalfe County tax roll shows his son William A. Bowles as the administrator of John Bowles, deceasedd. From this we know that John Bowles died sometime during 1860-1861.