A Guide to the

William H. Bowman Collection, 1856-1897

SC# 2020

Compiled by: Sandra A. Joyner, February 1987
Updated January 2010, Chelsea Gutshall

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: William H. Bowman Collection, 1856-1897

Collection No.: SC#  2020

Creator: William H. Bowman

Extent: 1/2 Hollinger boxes; .209 linear feet; 334 items

Language: English



The William H. Bowman Collection, 1856-1897, consists of the papers of William H. Bowman, including bills, receipts, and legal documents along with personal letters.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions:


Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions:


The copyright interests have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation: 


[Identification of Item], the William H. Bowman Collection, 1856-1897, SC# 2020, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Acquisition Information:


On deposit by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.



Packaged in a large envelope on which was written: "From Dorice Graham from her great Uncle Ott Minnich. Donated [as a] collection of old papers from collection. Presented [to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society on] April 20, 1980."

Biographical/Historical Note

William Harpine Bowman was born on August 26, 1833, in Shenandoah County, Virginia. George Bowman, his first ancestor in Virginia, built the old Bowman homestead, called Fort Bowman or Harmony Hall, at Cedar Creek near Strasburg in 1751. After marrying Emily Frances Huffman, born January 25, 1837, in Harrisonburg, William Bowman settled in Peach Grove, Virginia, in Rockingham County, just southeast of Harrisonburg. There, he was involved in community affairs and served as the treasurer and possibly as the president of the Undine Lodge, where he also worked to support a community effort to purchase a stove for the New Union School in 1857. He further served his community by acting as a Justice of the Peace in the Ashby Township, Rockingham County, from 1870-1872.

Scope and Content

The William H. Bowman Collection, 1856-1897, consists of 334 items arranged in three series: Financial Papers, 1850s-1890s, Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872, and Personal Papers, undated.

Series I, Financial Papers, 1850-1890, n.d., is arranged in five folders. The first four folders detail the years from 1850-1890 and are primarily made up of receipts, purchase and debt payment notices, and tax forms. Earlier documents from the 1850s and 1860s include information on slaves owned by Bowman and his land holdings. Also included are subscriptions to the Old Commonwealth, Rockingham Register, and Harrisonburg Free Press newspapers, along with orders to the Atlantic and Virginia Fertilizing Company for “EUREKA” Ammoniated Super-Phosphate Fertilizer. A March 8, 1890 receipt details a payment of three dollars for tuition paid to the Shenandoah Normal College and fire insurance purchased for one thousand one hundred twenty-five dollars from the Rockingham Home Mutual Fire Insurance Company on May 1, 1890. Of particular note is a July 17, 1897 purchase for a headstone for William Bowman by Annie Bowman. The final folder in this series consists of medical bills for such items as pain management and a prescription for Bowman’s wife.

Series II, Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872, is divided into two folders of documents from Bowman’s tenure as Justice of the Peace. The first folder contains items from 1870, the large majority of which are addressed to Rockingham County constables with orders to summon various individuals for hearings. The second folder spans the years of 1871-1872. Summons to court once more are the greater part of the folder but judgments commanding individuals to pay debts within an allotted time period are also included.

Series III, Personal Papers, n.d., is comprised of four items. Of interest is a letter from the Shenandoah Normal School principal, G.W. Hoenshel, dated February 15, 1891, with information concerning tuition and room and board expenses along with a brief description of the school and the date of the beginning of the spring term. A July 12, 1861, letter from Port Republic, Virginia, exempting William Bowman from military duty after a Regimental Court of Inquiry for the 58th Regiment is present.


The collection is arranged in three series:


I. Financial Papers, 1850-1890, n.d.

II. Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872

III. Personal Papers, n.d.


Wayland, John B. Men of Mark: and representative citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Virginia. Staunton: The McClure Company, Inc., 1943.



Series I: Financial Paper, 1850s-1860's, n.d.  


Folder 1


Folder 2


Folder 3

          1890s and undated

Folder 4

          Medical Bills

Folder 5
Series II: Judgments and Warrants, 1870-1872  


Folder 6


Folder 7
Series III: Personal Papers, n.d. Folder 8