People, Place, and Time

Telling my family's stories

Who was Hannah Bowker?

On the 1850 census, there is a family group living in Lenawee County, Michigan with the following members: Shirley B. Williams, age 53, b. Conn.; Hannah Williams, age 51, b. NY; and Silas O. Williams, age 17, b. NY.


When Silas died in 1910, his parents (as listed by the informant William J. Emery) were S.B. Williams and Hannah Bowker:


These are the only two documents that I have found which mention Hannah; after the 1850 census she disappears, and I have not found any death certificates for Silas’ siblings (he had at least 3) that name her either.

So Hannah Bowker seems to have been born around 1798 or 1799 in New York. My best guess, also shared by a researcher who has independently done quite a bit of work on the Bowker family, is that she is a daughter of Daniel Bowker and Azubah Gregory, who were living in Delaware County, NY about the time Hannah would have been born.  They had 9 known children, including 4 “lost” daughters, in the 1790-1810 era, so the time fits.  There are several very suggestive names that run through both Shirley & Hannah’s family and Daniel & Azubah’s family.  

  • Silas: Daniel’s parents were Silas Bowker (the patriarch) and Esther Hobbs; Daniel had a brother named Silas.  Silas is a name that runs regularly throughout the Bowker family.  
  • Hannah: While Hannah is a common name, Silas Bowker the patriarch was the son of John & Hannah Bowker.  Daniel could very well have named this daughter after his grandmother, a common naming practice at that time.  
  • Cynthia: Like Silas, Cynthia is a ubiquitous name in the Bowker clan: Daniel has a sister, a daughter, and at least one granddaughter with this name.  Shirley and Hannah also named their daughter Cynthia (my gg-grandmother: b. ~1824, in NY; d. in the early 1860s; married twice: Stephen Wells Graves and William Henry Hinds). 

With not just one, but several shared names in the two families, the link certainly looks plausible!

I am currently looking for documentation to back up this guess.  Daniel Bowker died in 1829 in Delaware County; as far as I can tell, he left no will or estate papers, but this is one thing to check on.  Another avenue of research is to track out the known siblings.  Because Hannah disappeared so early (well before vital records were being kept in Michigan), it seems unlikely that we will come up with anything on that front.  Another name link that I am checking is Silas’ middle name.  The initial is O, and I am wondering if this stands for Orsimus, another Bowker family name.  If so, that would help the case, as it is an uncommon name.  I am also trying to figure out where Shirley Williams comes from (a whole ‘nother story!), where they married, etc: if we could establish a location in or near Delaware county, this would help a great deal.  Currently, the earliest I have Shirley and Hannah’s family is in 1830, when they appeared on the census for Clarendon twp, Orleans Co, NY.


One comment on “Who was Hannah Bowker?

  1. Bob Mazzi
    January 10, 2012

    Clare, I am working on the Bowker line and found a bit of information on Hannah and Daniel. I don’t have a link between the pair. I am however interested in what information you have on Daniel and Azubah as I only have information on 4 kids in that family. I’m also curious who you’ve collaborated with on the Bowkers as I’d like to trade information with them as well. FWIW, I tend to agree about the names being common among Bowkers. However, that does not necessarily tie into this couple as some of the names are common across the centuries. I have 10 Silas’s from 1733 through 1848, 38 Hannah’s from 1699 to 1870, 7 Cynthia’s from 1768 to the 1940s. Orsimus is uncommon with only one from 1770 and that one female. I also have one Orsemus and one Orsamus both male 1854 and 1800 respectively. I can be reached at with any comments or to trade information.Regards, Bob Mazzi

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2011 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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