Bowman in the Northeast

The Bowman name has long been connected to Native families in the northeast, as the documentation below clearly illustrates. The exact reason this English family name quickly became so prominent among northeast Native families is unknown. In some cases, the name came through intermarriage, in others it appears to have been given, or chosen. It also may have been an Anglicization of a similar Native word. The mysterious origin of my own family’s Bowman line has led some of us down incredible and varied paths of discovery, paths whose final endings have yet to appear on the horizon. However, with our continued research, things are always coming into better focus as new pieces of the puzzle are uncovered. The value of the information presented goes beyond my family and should be useful to others doing similar research on their families, or into the rich history of the northeast in general.

In the collection of documents that follow I am not suggesting these people are all related. While some very clearly are, there’s insignificant data to link all the Bowman family branches together and they likely have divergent origins. I’ve done my best not to include any opinions but to just provide the facts as they unfold in documents. I further realize that when I do offer potential theories, others may see things in a different way. Definitive answers in the field of genealogy are often illusive, especially so in the arena of northeastern Native communities. An experienced genealogist knows its more an art than a science, but, when done right, genealogy employs solid scientific methods. Eventually though, we are left to make some assumptions based on the facts at hand and as new documents are found these assumptions will inevitably be modified.

The fact that so many documents concerning Native Bowman families can be found and the early date of their appearance is particularly intriguing. I can only imagine all that has not been recorded, has been lost, or has yet to be discovered! Looking at the records I have compiled thus far, we see the Bowman name spreading across the northeast and then into the Midwest in step with the displacement of northeastern Native peoples due to war, disease and removal over the last three centuries. Equally interesting is the way it follows the migration and amalgamation of Eastern Algonquian languages during this period. Although far from complete, the compilation of these documents should be useful to many. In addition, it may help to better illuminate at least a small part of the deep network of interrelation between Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Lenape, Mohican, Abenaki, Mohawk, and many other communities.

Finally, keep in my this is an ongoing project that will continue to grow as more information is discovered. Every effort has been made to present sources, along with the original historic documents. If you can provide useful additional information, don’t hesitate to share so that it can included. – wliwni (thank you) Jesse

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