MARTIN L. BOWSER, shoe merchant at Kittanning, Pa., and interested to a considerable extent in the oil business in West Virginia, was born June, 26, 1859, at Woodsfield, Monroe Co., Ohio, a son of Martin L. and Nancy (McGinnis) Bowser, and a grandson of Mathias Bowser.

Mathias Bowser was born in Bedford County, Pa., and in 1798 came to Kittanning, where he was one of the earliest settlers, and he was probably the first brick manufacturer in this place. The brick residence standing on Market Street, Kittanning, just across the street from the �Alexander Hotel,� is a city landmark, built by Mathias Bowser in 1826, and is one of the oldest brick houses in the place. He died in 1832.

Martin L. Bowser, son of Mathias and father of Martin L., was born in 1814, and died in 1888. He was given a medical education but never practiced his inclinations leading him to learn the cabinetmaking trade, which he followed for several years in Ohio. Later he moved to West Virginia and there he bought large tracts of land, and the remainder of his life was devoted to agricultural pursuits and lumbering. He married Nancy McGinnis, who died in 1892. They were parents of twelve children: Flora T., wife of Aaron Klipstein; Christianna, wife of Samuel Fluhart; William W., deceased; Ceora C., wife of L. Fluharty; Virgil M.; Homer L.; Belle I., wife of J.W. Morgan; Adda L., wife of John M. Watkins; H.O., of Lost Angeles, Cal.; G.H. of Little Rock, Ark.; Minnie M., wife of J.M. Feist; and Martin L.

Martin L. Bowser attended the schools of Tyler County, W.Va., and afterward, for seven years, taught school in Tyler and Wetzel Counties. In 1886 he went to Pittsburgh, Pa., and shortly afterward accepted a position as clerk in a store at Fairview, Butler Co., Pa., where he remained two years, and for two more years more was clerk at Duke Center, Pa. In 1890 he located at Butler, Pa., where he was engaged in the grocery and bakery business for tow and a half years, in 1893 returning to Pittsburgh, where he became one of the salesmen in the large shoe house of W.M. Laird and remained for two years. By this time he had learned many business details necessary for successful merchandising , particularly in the shoe business, and in 1895 he came to Kittanning and opened a shoe store of his own at his present stand on Market street, where he has continued ever since. He has commodious quarters, occupying two floors of a building 32 by 70 feet in dimensions, carrying high-grade, reliable goods, catering to the best trade. His business has continued to expand so that he has now the largest shoe trade in the county, and in the near future he expects to carry out plans for a larger new storeroom. He has additional business interests, including oil developments in West Virginia and property ownership at other points. His beautiful residence at Applewold, just across the river from Kittanning, was formerly owned by Hon. Calvin Rayburn and is considered a very valuable property.

Mr. Bowser was married May 21, 1890 to Edith Krotzer, who died June 24, 1897, daughter of David Krotzer. They had two children: Winnifred L. and Cecil E. Mr. Bowser was married (second) August 1, 1899, to Mary M. Krotzer, and they have three children: Elizabeth C. Jeane R. and Martin K. Mr. Bowser is a member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he is an elder. He is a man of civic pride and public spirit, and for twelve years as consented to serve on the school board. He has never been particularly active in politics, but is always ready to perform the recognized duties of citizenship.

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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