CHRISTIAN Y. BOWSER is an extensive farmer in the western part of Armstrong County, having 310 acres located in the southeastern part of Sugar Creek township and the adjoining part of East Franklin township. He was born at that place in the latter township Jan. 31, 1853, a son of Benjamin S. Bowser, and belongs to one of the old Palatine families who have been in Pennsylvania from the days of William Penn.

When Penn was opening up the region now known as Pennsylvania. He not only lectured in England on what he called his �holy experiment,� but also crossed over into Germany and visited many cities on the same mission, telling the people of the joys of the new country, where self-government was to be one of the attractions. He gained many recruits for his colony in the Rhine Palatinate and the adjoining country of Switzerland, in the Canton of Berne, whose people spoke the same language. These �Dutch� from the Palatinate were the ancestors of that considerable part of the population of this state known as Pennsylvania Dutch, whose language is threefold. These people on the Rhine were said to be the best farmers in the world, but during the progress of the thirty years' war their homes had been destroyed by the armies and many took refuge in Holland and Switzerland, returning when it was thought peace had been restored. War had broken out again, however and the strife between the Protestants and Catholics being very bitter these people welcomed Penn's accounts of the wonderful advantages of the new land. Some of them built a boat in which they journeyed down the Rhine sailing for America from Rotterdam. A colony of Germans had come to Philadelphia in 1682, and settled in the woods at what is now known as Germantown, and the Germans who followed naturally settled among people of their own nationality. The first company of Palatines in Pennsylvania arrived in 1710, landing at Philadelphia, and being determined to set up an independent home, away from all other settlements, went to Lancaster in Lancaster county. In 1727 a law was passed requiring all emigrants to register at the courthouse their names and the names of the vessels in which they came. Previous to that time no such records had been kept. Among these records we find many familiar Pennsylvania family names. The first Bowsers on record, 1737, were Mathias (family name in the branch of which we are writing), Mathias, Jr., and Christian. The name was then spelled Bousser. Some of the name had also moved west into York County, where a Widow Bowser was found registered in the tax books. A Bedford County history mentions John, Jacob and Valentine Bowser.

Valentine Bowser, great-grandfather of Christian Y. Bowser, lived in Bedford County, where he married Elizabeth Fluke, of Hopewell, that county, whose people came from Switzerland and spoke the same language as the Palatine Germans. Some of their family were born in Bedford County, and in 1808 they moved to the vicinity of what is now Worthington, Armstrong County. They settled on a farm, now known as the Daugherty place, up the creek, one mile north of Walkchalk. Valentine Bowser and his wife had a family of twelve children, several of whom were born in Armstrong County.

Abram Bowser, son of Valentine, was a stonemason and farmer by occupation. He was industrious and a good businessman, acquiring the ownership of several farms, and he was a highly respected man in his neighborhood. He married Mary Stevens, a cousin of Alexander Stevens, and their large family was born and raised near Walkchalk, on the farm now owned by William P. Bowser. We have the following record of these children: Benjamin S. is mentioned below; Elizabeth married Fred Bowser and had a family of four sons and two daughters (she is deceased); Sophia, wife of Adam Wyant, had a family of eight children; Sarah Ann married Jacob Booker, and has had three sons and four daughters; Lillian, deceased, married Abe Frick, by whom she had five children and (second) John Wolfe, by whom she had four children; Rosa, deceased, was the wife of Archibald Bowser, and they had three sons and three daughters; Mathias Stevens married Elizabeth Booker, and had four sons and three daughters; Josiah Crawford married Kenziah Bowser and they had three children; James Hindmand married Maud Bowser, and had six children; one child died in infancy; Jane, deceased, married Adam Grantz, and had two sons and three daughters.

Benjamin S. Bowser, son of Abram, and father of Christian Y. Bowser, was born Dec. 20, 1823, in East Franklin Township. He lived in East Franklin and Washington Townships, engaged in farming, and is now living in retirement in the old home in Washington Township. He married Katherine Yearty, and they had six sons and five daughters.

Christian Y. Bowser was reared in East Franklin and Washington Townships, and received a common school education. He passed his early life principally on his father's home place, a tract of ninety-seven acres, in Washington Township, and after his school days was engaged at work in the oil fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. Returning to Pennsylvania he began farm work in Sugar Creek Township, this county, on what is now known as the Charles Read farm, which was in the Read family for 110 years. After his marriage he settled in New York State for a time, and then returning to Armstrong County lived in Washington Township until he moved to the farm where he now lives, and which he has owned for the last six years, a tract of 150 acres of woodland and pasture where he has put up all the buildings except the residence which the former owner built. He has three barns, including one 50 by 80 feet in dimensions, and has been engaged in general farming, though he expects to give special attention to thoroughbred cattle and hogs. Mr. Bowser has also opened a coal bank on his farm, having a four-foot vein, which is operated by the Phillips Gas Company, and the other by himself. Of the 310 acres he owns, the northern part is in Sugar Creek and the southern in East Franklin Township; it includes part of the Read farm.

On Jan. 31, 1881, Mr. Bowser married Sadie J. Helm, a native of Washington Township, this county, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Helm of that township, both of whom are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Bowser have had a family of eight children namely: Ralph D. is deceased; one daughter died in infancy; Vioma is married to C.E. Toy, and has had six children, Sidney, Hazel, Ralph, Christian, Stanley and ____; Mabel is the wife of Blair Gumbert , and resided in Butler, Pa. (they had no children); Watson, Arminta, Polly and Spurgeon are unmarried.

Mr. Bowser is a member of the Baptist Church, which he serves as deacon. He is a prominent member of the Washington Grange, P.O.H., of which he is master, and also belongs to the Knights of Malta and to the I.O.O.F., being a prominent member of the Odd Fellows lodge at Cowansville, where he has passed all the chairs. In political sentiment he is a Republican, but takes no active part in such matters. Rev. A. B. Bowser, a well-known minister of the Baptist Church in West Pittsburgh, was born May 22, 1858, in Washington Township, Armstrong County, Pa. He attended public school in Armstrong County, graduated from Reed Institute, in the class of 1884, and took his college course at Bucknell University, from which he was graduated in 1888. He then took a theological course at Crozer Seminary, Upland, Pa., graduating in the class of 1890, after which he was located in Pittsburgh as minister of the Third Baptist Church of that city, where he remained for three years. His next charge was the First Baptist Church at Danville, Pa., where he was located for nine years, after which he went to Millville, N.J., where he was pastor of the First Baptist Church for three years. On July 4, 1903, he came to his present church at Crafton, near Pittsburgh, where he is pastor of the First Baptist Church. For the last several months his congregation has been engaged in building what will be one of the most attractive churches in the city.

Mr. Bowser has been a successful composer of music, and has published several song books through such well-known men as E.O. Excell, Dr. George F. Root and Prof. E. Avergnet of Bucknell University. While in college Mr. Bowser wrote many songs for his own and other classes.

On June 10, 1891, Mr. Bowser married Ella Z. Stebbins, who was born at Watsontown, Pa., daughter of Akilias R. and Mary (Baker) Stebbins, the former a native of Corning N.Y., the latter of Painted Post, that state. They moved to Watsonville, N.Y. where they are buried. Mrs. Bowser receiver her education in the public schools and at Bucknell University. Her musical talent and training make her assistance very valuable to her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Bowser have had four children: Frank Excell graduated from Crafton high school in 1912 preparatory to taking a college course; Isabel is in the same school, member of the class of June, 1914; Arda Crawford entered that high school in 1913.

Mr. Bowser and his family spend the summers upon his farm in Washington Township, Armstrong County, where he oversees the work of cultivation, which is being carried on along practical and scientific lines. His property consists of seventy-three acres in the central part of the township, part of the Samuel Woods and Raderbush farms. There are about eight acres of woodland. Coal has been sold from this place, though there are no banks in operation, and no gas or oil wells. Mr. Bowser is independent in political matters.

Source: Pages 369-370, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed March 2002 by Helen B. Miller for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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