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Nancy Holt Bowen
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Birth: May 30, 1830
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA
Death: Aug. 3, 1907
Santa Cruz County
California, USA

The Bowens
By Edith F. Nichols

The following are statistics, events, and little episodes in the lives of my great grandparents, Nancy Holt Bowen, and James Frederick Bowen, as told to me by their granddaughter, Pearl L. Belloli.
Nancy Holt was born in 1831. Her mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Self, and Elizabeth's mother's name was Williamson. Nancy was of English descent on her mother's side and English and German on her father's side. The mother, Elizabeth, was a large woman with black hair and eyes, and for whom Nancy had a very great love and admiration.
As a girl living with her parents, they lived in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma when Oklahoma was Indian Territory. There were about thirteen brothers and sisters. Among them were Nancy, Carol, William Carol, Allen, Sultana, Martha, and Artlissa. William Carol Holt in later life moved to Santa Ana Texas. Allen Holt served in the Civil war at age sixteen on the side of the North. He later moved to Synder, Curry County Texas.
While the Holts were all living in Oklahoma, the mother was lying in bed with a new born baby and caked breast. She opened her eyes to find the house full of Indians. They searched through everything in the house while the old chief tried to talk and sympathize with her. After they left, nothing was missing but half a loaf of bread.
When the baby Allen was a little more than one year of age, Elizabeth was told she had cancer of the breast. She placed Allen in young Nancy's care, climbed on a horse, and rode away. They didn't hear from her for a whole year. Then one day, she came riding in completely cured. She said she had been doctored by the Indians.
Their ranch in Arkansas was at the base of the Ozarks. The nearest town was Fayetteville some miles away. Although they were living there during the days of slavery, they would never own a slave. One day a negress with red hair came to their door and begged them to buy her for seven hundred dollars. She said she would work and pay for herself, but Mr. Holt to her he had all the help he needed.
Nancy said on the ranch when new clothing was needed, they have to first shear the sheep, wash and card the wool, spin it into thread, then weave it into material. After that, they would go into the woods to obtain the bark of a certain type of tree with which they dyed their material a purple. They were then ready to cut out and stitch their garments.
Nancy was a good-sized girl when her father finally decided to send her to school. The teacher stood her up in the chart class with the little tots. It embarrassed her so much, she would never go back. She learned to figure in her head and read a little, but she always signed legal papers with an X. As the wife of a rancher though, she was a very capable, hard-working helpmate.
James Frederick Bowen was born in 1831. He always went by the name of Fred. The name Bowen was originally spelled Boen, but Fred changed the spelling after arriving in California.
Nancy Holt and Fred Boen were married in 1852 in Arkansas.
In March of 1857 , Fred Bowen, his brother Carol, and sister Mahala Callahan and families decided to join a caravan of eighty three wagons drawn by oxen to California. The leader of the train was a man by the name of Fancher. Nancy didn't want to go so far away because for one thing she was pregnant. Secondly she felt that by going she would never see her mother or any of her people again. But under threats from her husband that he would go anyway and take the two children, she was forced to go against her will.
The caravan crossed river by floating the wagon across on logs. The oxen and large herd of cattle they had with them would swim. They traveled by day and would circle their wagon at night. Half the men would sleep one night while the other half guarded with rifles against surprise attack from the Indians.
One night, Nancy woke to the realization that someone had her by the feet and was yanking her out of the wagon. She started screaming, "Indians, Indians," the men all came running with rifles drawn and much to the surprise and chagrin of all concerned found it to be none other than her husband, Fred Bowen. He had dreamed the wagon was on fire, and he was attempting to rescue her. In telling about it, Nancy said, "Lord, Lord, I never was so mortified in my life."
The Bowens bought a Dutch oven with them in which to bake their bread. While they did their baking, Indian squaws would squat around to watch while the Indian kids search their mother's hair for lice. When the bread was baked, it was shared with the Indians.
The Bowens brought with them a five gallon can of honey they had purchases for their trek across the continent, thinking it would last all the way. Every night at dinner time first one child from another wagon and then another would come brining a little dish and ask, "Mother wants to know if we can have a little honey?" Needless to say their can of honey didn't last long.
One day a bunch of Indians astride their ponies came riding fast and yelling in an effort to stampede the herd of cattle, Nancy was alone in their wagon, and the frightened oxen started to run away. She grabbed the reins and frantically pulled back to no avail. Finally when coming perilously near the brink of a cliff, she gained presence of mind enough to holler "Whoa!" They immediately slacked their pace and stopped at the very edge.
Several Indians came by one day and asked for one of their cattle. Not wanting to part with any of the heard, a member of caravan offered them a big fat dog which they accepted. They killed it immediately cut it open and date it raw, digging in with their hands.
Nancy's baby was born, lived a week, and died. It was buried on the first ledges of the Rockies. They build a fire over the grave and drove all the wagons across it so that the Indians would know there was a grave there since they would proceed to dig it up out of curiosity.
Nancy mourning over the loss of her baby and depressed at the thought of never seeing her mother again would walk and lag far behind the wagons in hopes the Indians would kill her.
When they reached Utah, they heard about the horrible fate of the Donner party. Fearing they would meet the same fate, most of the caravan decided to go the southern route. By fair means or foul Fred Bowen had gotten a hold of the way bill of the northern route which he copied. Even though it was late in September and winter was coming on, he decided to take the chance. So, five wagons left the caravan. They were The Fred Bowens, Carol Bowens, the Callahans, Tom and Bill Hart (Harp) and families. They arrived without noteworthy mishap at Stockton at what they called the black lands. The other four wagons went on to Modesto.
The rest of the caravan that took the southern route got into trouble with the Mormons. There are different versions as to just what the trouble was between them, but the fact remains that the Mormons instigated the Indians to help them and with the exception of several babies they murdered every member of the unsuspecting caravan and confiscated their belongings. This is known as the "Mountain Meadow Massacre" and is recorded in history. An account of this can be found in most any library. A man by the name of Lee was executed as the leader of this massacre. He claimed he was just being made the goat and that there were plenty of others equally guilty, which no doubt was true.
The Fred Bowens remained for two years in Stockton and thin moved to Manteca thirteen miles to the south where they bought a ranch.
Upon selling their ranch in Manteca in 1868 they received ten thousand dollars in gold. They loaded their household furnishings onto a wagon and were on their way to Jolon where Fred had purchased an adobe hotel and grocery store. On the road while crossing a range of mountains they passed a hobo or footpad as Nancy called him. Fred asked him if he would like to ride. A bag containing the gold had been placed in the cook stove. Gladly accepting, the man climbed in and immediately perched himself on top of the stove and there he sat all the way while Nancy anxiously watched.
In 1870, Fred Bowen's health started to fail. He turned the management of the hotel and store over to his son-in-law, John Lee, and moved to Santa Cruz Co. where he bought a ranch at Corralitos (132 acres of Corralitos Rancho). Fred made many plans for the improvement of his ranch and intended to purchase more acreage. But fate intervened and he died in 1872 of Tuberculosis at forty-one years of age. Nancy said if had lived to carry out his plans he would have become a very wealthy man.
The family remained on the ranch. Nancy Holt Bowen died in 1907. The Bowens had eight children all now deceased.

Edith F. Anderson 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  James Simpson Holt (1793 - 1879)
  Elizabeth Fortner Holt (1801 - 1860)
 
 Children:
  George Washington Bowen (1855 - 1907)*
  Mary Ellen Bowen Denning (1859 - 1898)*
  Christopher Columbus Bowen (1861 - 1936)*
  John Franklin Bowen (1863 - 1895)*
  Bethsady Matilda Bowen Krupp (1865 - 1943)*
  Francis Marion Bowen (1867 - 1883)*
 
 Siblings:
  Asa Nathan Holt (1821 - 1860)*
  Charles Kendrell Holt (1826 - 1897)*
  Nancy Holt Bowen (1830 - 1907)
  George Washington Holt (1864 - 1952)**
 
*Calculated relationship
**Half-sibling
 
Burial:
Pioneer Cemetery
Watsonville
Santa Cruz County
California, USA
 
Created by: Shelly
Record added: Feb 19, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48365052
Nancy <i>Holt</i> Bowen
Added by: Shelly
 
Nancy <i>Holt</i> Bowen
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Richard Stauff
 
 
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- Kevin McCulloch
 Added: Mar. 11, 2015

- Lesa Pfrommer
 Added: Dec. 11, 2010
 
 
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