His Family

by Fred Bowman 1948

This history is dedicated to future generations of Reuben Bowman and Louisa Geiger, whose names, for obvious reasons, cannot yet be included here. May their numbers increase and their fortunes prosper.

Chapter 1 - His Ancestors
Chapter 2 - His Wife's Ancestors
Chapter 3 - His Life
Chapter 4 - His Wife
Chapter 5 - His Children



This history has been compiled to make available such items of information concerning the family of Reuben Bowman and Louisa Geiger, as have come to the knowledge of the writer, and, in his opinion, would be of interest to the various members of the family.

For purposes of clarity, the generations have been numbered forwards and backwards from Reuben Bowman and Louisa Geiger, who have been given the number VII.

The numbers in brackets have reference to those used in “The History of Waterloo Township” by Ezra E. Eby.

Much of the data relative to the ancestors of Reuben Bowman has been obtained from “The History of Waterloo Township” by Ezra E. Eby, published in Berlin, Ontario, in 1895 and from the “Bauman Family History” by Angus S. Bauman, published in 1940.

The writer here wishes to acknowledge the valuable assistance so cheerfully given by his sister, Beatrice Bowman, through whose untiring efforts much of the information relating to the ancestors of Louisa Geiger has been made available.


Reuben Bowman was descended, both on his father’s and his mother’s side, from Pennsylvania Dutch, Mennonite stock. Both the Bowmans and the Shoemakers were members of that great band of non-conformists who followed the teachings of Menno Simons, a religious leader of the early half of the sixteenth century. They maintained a form of Christianity which, discarding the sacerdotal idea, acknowledged no authority outside the Bible and a man’s own conscience, limited baptism to the believer and stressed those precepts which vindicated the sanctity of human life and the given word. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they moved about western Europe, ever seeking for a permanent home where they could be free to practice their simple but sincere religious beliefs in peace. During the opening years of the eighteenth century, many of them, despairing of finding their freedom in Europe, emigrated to America, settling, for the most part, in Pennsylvania where William Penn had assured religious freedom to all. The first parties to cross the ocean came from Holland but soon parties from Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Poland and even Russia were on their way to the New World. They settled largely in Lancaster, Berks, Franklin, Bucks and Montgomery counties, Pennsylvania, where large numbers of their descendants still reside. During the early years of the nineteenth century, many of them moved to Upper Canada where they settled on a track of land, called the “German Company’s Tract”, situated on both sides of the Grand River in what is now Waterloo County. The “German Company” was a non-profit co-operative venture, the funds being largely subscribed by co-religionists in Pennsylvania; the sole object being to assist those of their members, who had moved to the bush of Upper Canada, to acquire sufficient farm land of suitable quality and at reasonable cost for their sons when they grew up. After the loans were repaid, the Company was dissolved. The fair treatment they had received from the British Government previous to the revolution was a large factor in their choice of another British colony for the future homes.

The route they followed in their trek to Upper Canada was roughly in a northerly direction to the head of the Finger Lakes in New York State, thence westward to Buffalo. Parties from Lancaster County usually took the route through Williamsport, Painted Post, Bath, Dansville, Geneseo, and Batavia to Buffalo, while those from Montgomery County usually followed a more easterly route from Reading through Wilkes-Barre, Elmira, Watkins Glen, Canandaiagua and Batavia to Buffalo. They crossed the Niagara River at Queenstown on flat boats, a type of wooden scow in use at the time, and proceeded on through Cadareenstown (St. Catharines), Dundass and through the Beverly Swamp to Waterloo Township. The distance was about 450 miles and usually took about eight weeks to make the journey with their heavily loaded Conestoga wagons.

(I) JACOB SHOEMAKER (6996), the first of the name in America, was born in Canton Berne, Switzerland, probably about the year 1676. At the age of twelve, he moved to the German Palatinate with his parents, where they had been promised religious freedom. With the passing of years and change of rulers, these promises were forgotten to a large extent, consequently, in 1737, his parents having died in the meantime, Jacob Shoemaker turned his face westward, landing at Philadelphia and settling in Germantown where he resided for seven years. He then moved to Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County, where he died about the year 1751. According to tradition he was married to Mary Kunder. He had a large family but the names of only four are recorded, the rest having presumably died in infancy or remained in Europe. The four whose names are known were Peter, Jacob, George and John.

(II) JACOB SHOEMAKER, (6997) the second of the surviving sons of (I) Jacob, was born in the German Palatinate on March 31 st 1708 and came to America with his parents in 1737. In 1740 he was married to Susannah Scheuler, a native of Basle, Switzerland, who was born on February 19 th 1719. His farm was located near Schiebach, now Skippack in Montgomery County. The date of his death is not recorded but his wife died on November 20 th 1789. Their family consisted of three sons and five daughters, namely: Michael, George, Gertrude, Catherine, Anna, Elizabeth, Jacob and Mary.

(III) JACOB SHOEMAKER, (7004) the seventh child of (II) Jacob, was born on his father’s farm near Shippack on July 27 th 1754. He married Mary Tyson (7540) and in 1775 they moved to Swamp Creek, Frederick Township, Montgomery County, where he build a grist mill. They had a family of three sons and two daughters whose names were John, George, Jacob, Elizabeth and Mary. After the decease of his first wife, he married Magdalena Longenecker, widow of Henry Urmy, (7602) but had no children by this marriage. After the death of his second wife, he made his home with his son John, (7005), on the old homestead near the mill on Swamp Creek. In 1828, his son John having died, he moved to Canada, bringing along John’s widow, formerly Mary Shantz, and their three youngest children, as well as his own daughter Mary and her husband George Bechtel. They went to Waterloo and resided with his grandson Jacob S. Shoemaker (7006), the eldest son of John, who had made the trip to Canada some years previously. In 1830 he moved to Bridgeport where his grandson Jacob S. had built a dam and sawmill. He died at Bridgeport on November 19 th 1847 at the age of 93 years and is buried in the Mennonite Cemetery in Kitchener.


The Tysons came to America from Germany. Reynier Tyson crossed the ocean and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania, about the year 1692. Cornelius Tyson came from Crefeld, Germany, and settled in Germantown in 1703. Thus we find that the Tysons were among the earliest of the Mennonite families to cross the ocean. All the Tysons who settled in Pennsylvania and whose descendants emigrated to Upper Canada were descended from either of the above named gentlemen but to trace the true line of descent is impossible at this date. The names of five, all of one family, are recorded, namely: Mary, Esther, Catherine, Isaac and John. They are probably grandchildren of one of the above pioneers.

(III) MARY TYSON (7540), was born on April 7 th 1752. She was married to (III) Jacob Shoemaker by whom she had five children. She died on July 12 th 1803.


(IV) GEORGE SHOEMAKER (7041), the second son of (III) Jacob, by his first wife Mary Tyson, was born in Montgomery County on February 6 th 1778. In 1799 he married Mary Detweiler (2198), taking up house on the opposite side of Swamp Creek to that of his father in the district known as Shoemaker’s Mills. He was a woolen manufacturer by trade and was employed in the woolen mills near by. From 1804 to 1825 they did considerable moving about, residing in a number of localities in that section of Pennsylvania. In 1825 he brought his wife, three sons and a daughter to Canada. They resided for a time on a farm south of Breslau, after which they purchased the farm, lot No. 119 Germany Company’s Tract, where he died on November 24 th 1864 at the age of 86 years, his wife having predeceased him by fourteen years. They had seven sons and three daughters, namely: Jacob D., John, Mary, George, Elisabeth, Joseph, Abraham, Daniel, Joshua and Catherine.


(I) GREGORIUS DETWEILER was a native of Switzerland and was one of the first settlers of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He had five children, the names of only three being recorded, namely: Joseph, Hannes, and Heinrich.

(II) JOSEPH DETWEILER (2198), WAS BORN PROBABLY ABOUT 1730. HE WAS MARRIED TO Mary Kolb and had a large family, the names of five being recorded as follows: John, Jacob, Sarah, Susannah and Elizabeth.

(III) JACOB DETWEILER, the second son of (II) Joseph was married to Mary Funk by whom he had a family of eleven children, namely: Mary, Joseph, Jacob, Barbara, Susannah, Joshua, Sarah, Catherine, Elizabeth, Anna and John.

(IV) MARY DETWEILER, the eldest child of (III) Jacob, was born on May 10th 1775. In 1799 she was married (IV) George Shoemaker, by whom she had ten children. She died on September 22 nd 1850.


(V) JACOB D. SHOEMAKER (7042), the eldest son of (!V) George, was born on his grandfather’s farm near the old mill on Swamp Creek, Montgomery County, on November 24 th 1799. From 1815 to 1818 he worked in the woolen and grist mills, after which he hired out to various farmers of the district. His wages for this farm work were usually from $75. To $80 per year, fifty dollars of which he paid to his parents until he became of age. On November 18 th 1823 he married Jane Dunbar. In 1829, they, with their family of two children, moved to Canada where he commenced working for his cousin Jacob S. Shoemaker in the sawmill at Bridgeport. During the fall of the same year he purchased a farm of 224 acres, being the south half of lot No. 19 of the German Company’s Tract, about two miles south west of Berlin (Kitchener). He immediately commenced sawing and hauling logs for a log shanty on the new farm, into which they moved in April 1830. During his first year on the farm, in addition to clearing a considerable amount of land for cultivation, he built a proper dwelling house measuring 24 by 28 feet. The log barn was erected the following year. In 1851 he erected the stone dwelling, which is still occupied by the present owners of the farm. He died on March 5 th 1902 at the ripe old age of 102 years, having lived in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and is buried in the Mennonite Cemetery in Kitchener. His family consisted of four sons and six daughters who were named Mary Ann, David, Elizabeth, Martha, George, Alexander, Naomi, Jane, Magdalena and Jacob. During the declining years of his life, he lived with his son Alexander (7056) who inherited the old far, and was very active almost to the time of his death. A large family reunion was held on his hundredth anniversary, which hundreds of his descendants attended and paid their respects. The writer well remembers the jar of peppermint candies which was always kept filled and which the old gentleman delighted in passing out to his great grandchildren whenever they visited the farm.

(IV) ALEXANDER DUNBAR was born in Ireland and emigrated to America, probably during the early years of the nineteenth century. All efforts of his descendants to trace the family connections in Ireland being without results, it was thought possible that he had changed his name, for reasons of his own, on crossing the ocean. He resided on a farm near Pughtown in Coventry Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He was married to Martha Mathias, by whom he had seven children, namely: Jane, Hannah, Matthew, David, George, Ann and Ellenor. It is presumed that his wife died while the family was quite young as at least one of the children was brought up by a farmer in the district. Letters still in existence show that in 1839 he was living alone on the old farm, all his children having married and moved to other parts. At this time he was in poor health but the date of his death is not known.

(V) JANE DUNBAR, the oldest child of Alexander Dunbar, was raised by Jacob Merkley, a farmer who lived on the Perkiomen Creek, Skippack Township, Montgomery County. She was married to Jacob D. Shoemaker by whom she had ten children.

(VI) MARY ANN SHOEMAKER (7043), the eldest of (V) Jacob D’s children, was born in Montgomery County, Pa., on November 7 th 1824 and came to Canada with her parents in 1829. She had one child by her husband (VI) Joseph C. Bowman (269), named Reuben Bowman, the subject of this writing. She died on July 28 th 1876 at the age of 52 years and is buried in the Mennonite Cemetery in Kitchener.


(II) WENDEL BAUMANN (2), the first of the name to settle in America, was born in Switzerland about the year 1681. When about seventeen years of age, he, with his parents, moved to Holland, where they were promised protection by William of Orange. About the year 1706 he emigrated to America, landing at Philadelphia, where he resided for several years, after which he moved to a site north of Pequa Creek in what is now West Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, where he commenced farming. He first took up a tract of land consisting of 530 acres. This tract now forms part of the Village of Lampeter. In 1717 he took up another piece of land of 300 acres along Beaver Creek about three miles southeast of his original farm. He had a family of seven sons and one daughter, namely: Christian, Peter, John, Jacob, Michael, Benjamin, Joseph and Anna. He died in April 1735 and was buried in the Hans Tschantz graveyard south of Lapeter and about eight miles southwest of the City of Lancaster.

(III) CHRISTIAN BAUMANN, (3), the eldest child of (II) Wendel, was born on his father’s farm north of Pequa Creek on August 13 th 1724. He moved to the Allegheny Valley, Berks County, in the 1740’s after his marriage to Elizabeth Baumann, and had a family of four sons and one daughter, namely: Barbara, Jacob, Christian, Wendel and Joseph. He died on July 25 th 1790 at the age of sixty-seven years, his wife surviving him by six months.

(IV) JOSEPH BAUMANN (34), the youngest child of (III) Christian, was born in Berks County on July 19 th 1766. He was married to Mary Baer who was born on January 23 rd 1772 and died on October 29 1842. They had a family of thirteen children, eight sons and five daughters, namely: Elizabeth, Salome, Jonathan, Mary, Christian, Joseph, John, Samuel, Judith, Leah, Wendel, Elias and Benjamin. In 1802 he was ordained a minister of the Mennonite Church. In 1816, he, with his family, moved to Canada and settled near Blair in what is now Waterloo County, Ontario. The writer recalls a story, often told by his father, of the Reverend Joseph being so certain of going to heaven, that, when questioned on the subject while seated at the dinner table and at the moment having a piece of meat on his fork, replied: “As sure as I am of eating this piece of meat, so sure am I of going to heaven.” At this moment his hand slipped, the meat fell to the floor and was promptly eaten by the cat. The Reverend Joseph, nevertheless, was very highly respected in the community as a deeply religious and sincere member of the church. He died on January 19 th 1849 at the age of seventy-six years, his wife having predeceased him by six years.

(V) ELIAS B. BAUMANN (46 & 268), the twelfth child of (IV) Reverend Joseph, born in Berks County, Pa. on May 4 th 1809. In 1816 he came to Canada with his parents and spent his boyhood days on his father’s farm near Blair. In 1829 he married Maria (Polly) Clemens (1783), a daughter of Jacob and Susannah (Dierstien) Clemens. Soon after the marriage they moved to a farm near Breslau where they lived until 1863, when they sold the farm and moved to Kent County, Michigan, where he died on August 21sr 1875 at the age of sixty-six years, his wife surviving him by ten years. They had fourteen children, eight sons and six daughters whose names were Joseph, Jacob, Susannah, Wendel, Aaron, Maria, Leah, Isaac, Owen, Elias, Salome, Catherine, Nancy and Simon. It was during this generation that the spelling of the name was changed to Bowman.


(I) GERHARDT CLEMENS was born in Germany in 1680, the son of Jacob Clemens. He was one of a family of three sons namely: Gerhardt, John and Jacob. He arrived at Philadelphia in 1709 and settled at Skippack, Montgomery County where in 1718 he purchased 300 acres of land situated on the northeast branch of Perkiomen Creek. In 1726 he built the first grist mill in Lower Salford Township. This mill was torn down in 1823. To Gerhardt and his wife Ann were born six children, three sons and three daughters, the names of only four of the children being recorded, namely: Abraham, Jacob, John and Ann. He died about the year 1745.

(II) ABRAHAM CLEMENS (1617), the eldest son of (I) Gerhardt, was born in Montgomery County in 1710. In 1741 he purchased from his father a farm of 260 acres with buildings and improvements for 270 pounds. Here he and his wife Catherine resided until his death in May 1776. They had a family of ten children.

(III) ABRAHAM CLEMENS (1777), the second son of (II) Abraham, was born in Montgomery County on December 31 st 1752. He received the old homestead with 180 acres of land on which he lived until his death. In 1778 he was married to Mary Steiner who was born in July 1754 and died on September 11 th 1823. They had a family of six children, namely: John, Catherine, Magdalena, George, Jacob and Abraham. He died on September 15 th 1808. On February 3 rd 1810 the children assembled at the old homestead and conveyed a part of the family farm consisting of 105 acres to their brother George subject to the payment of 33.10 23/4 pounds annually to their mother for her support during the rest of her life.

(IV) JACOB CLEMENS (1782), the fifth child of (III) Abraham Clemens was born in Montgomery County on February 9 th 1788. He was married to Susannah Dierstein who was born on November 11, 1789 and died on September 24 th 1861. At the family reunion in 1810 his brother and sisters conveyed to him 76 acres of the old family homestead, where he resided until 1825 when he sold the farm and moved to Upper Canada, settling on a piece of land on the Grand River opposite the village of Breslau. Here he resided until his death on April 8 th 1876. They had a family of three children all born in Montgomery County.

(V) MARIA (POLLY) CLEMENS (1783), the eldest child of (IV) Jacob Clemens was born in Montgomery County on July 12 th 1811 and came to Canada with her parents. She was married to (V) Elias B. Bowman, by whom she had fourteen children. She died in Kent County, Michigan, on May 28 th 1886.


(VI) JOSEPH C. BOWMAN (269), the eldest child of (V) Elias B., was born near Breslau on January 12 th 1830. His first wife, Nancy Baumann (339) died six months after they were married. By his second wife, Mary Ann Shoemaker (7043) he had one son, Reuben Bowman, the subject of this history. His third wife was Lydia Wismar (8225) by whom he had four children, namely: Nancy, Hannah, Maria and Solon. They moved to Caledonia, Kent County, Michigan, where he died of pneumonia on June 16 th 1905 and is buried in the cemetery near the United Brethen Church in Caledonia.


Here ends the story of Reuben Bowman’s ancestors. These simple-living Mennonite farmers had the faculty of being able to select first class land for their farms and the patient industry to develop it for the benefit of future generations. They formed the backbone of the industrious County of Waterloo and the thriving City of Kitchener. With them their word was their bond and honesty amounted almost to a passion. Their contentment was derived from large families and the knowledge of their life’s work well done.

Wo sin jetzt die Alte Doddys
Von die gute Alte Zeit?
Wo sin die gute Alte Mommys
Die Schoene gute Alte Leit?

M’a sehnt sie nimme bei uns do,
Die Schoene gute Alte Leit;
Im Himmel sin sie jetzt so fro,
Un frehen sich in Ewigkeit

  ... .........................................................Ezra E. Eby 



(V) JOHANN ADAM GEIGER was born on a farm at Sinsheim, a village in Baden, Germany, about fifteen miles south-east of Heidelburg. The name of his father, who died when Johann Adam was still quite young, is not recorded. His mother’s Christian name was Elizabeth and young Johann was raised by his widowed mother. He was first married to Elizabeth Koerber whose mother was a daughter of Johannah Doll. They had three children, namely: Joseph Jacob, Louisa and Elizabeth, all of whom emigrated to Canada in the 1850’s. Joseph Jacob married Elizabeth Hollinger; Louisa married Philip Gmelin and Elizabeth married Frederick Rittinger. After the death of his first wife, Johann Adam married Magdalena Huxsel by whom he had two children; Charles, who came to Canada and shortly afterwards moved to Calumet, Michigan, where he was employed as mason foreman at the Calumet & Hecla Mines; and Marie who married a man named Englefinger and remained in Germany. The brothers and sisters who left Germany surrendered all rights to their share of the family estate at Sinsheim which passed to the youngest daughter Marie. She had one daughter who was married to a man named Fisher. Contact with this family was lost during the first World War.

Joseph (VI) JOSEPH JACOB GEIGER, the eldest child of Johann Adam, was born at Sinsheim in Baden, Germany on April 19 th 1824. The date of his coming to Canada and settling in Berlin (Kitchener) is not recorded, but his sister Elizabeth sailed for the new world in 1853 and Joseph Jacob had preceded her by some years. On May 11 th 1852 he married Elizabeth Hollinger and they had a family of five children, namely: Louisa, Carl, Caroline, George and Jacob. Joseph Jacob was a mason by trade, having been employed in the building of the Court House in Berlin. About the year 1860 he went to Calumet, Michigan, where he worked at his trade with the mining company, leaving his wife and family in Berlin. He afterwards lived in Washington Territory for some time, where he met his son Carl, whom he had not seen since Carl was an infant. Neither father nor son was aware of the other’s presence in that part of the country, when they happened at the same time to be seated in a waiting room quite unaware of their relationship. They kept glancing at each other for some time when finally the father spoke, asking the younger man’s name, and recognition followed. Carl was murdered by an Indian in 1885 at Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, having been waylaid on his way from work after receiving his wages. The Indian was afterwards captured and hanged. Joseph Jacob Geiger died at Trinidad, Colorado, on September 19 th 1890.


(V) GEORGE HOLLINGER was born and lived at Misau, a village or district in Bavaria, Germany. He was first married to Charlotte Trautman by whom he had three children, namely: Elizabeth, George and Charlotte, all of whom came to Canada; Elizabeth in 1848 and George and Charlotte in 1850. Elizabeth was married to Joseph Jacob Geiger, George to Katherina Besserer and Charlotte to John Schaus. After the death of his first wife, George Hollinger married Margaret Schneider, by whom he had five children, all of whom came to Canada about the year 1854. Philip married Catherine Hoffman, Caroline married Jacob Schaus and lived in Hespeler, Jacob died in infancy or remained in Germany, Michael married Anna Bramm and lived in Bridgeport and Eva married Christian Ohliger and lived in Elmira. George Hollinger was a cooper by trade and all of his sons followed the same occupation. He died in 1862.

Elizabeth Hollinger(VI) ELIZABETH HOLLINGER, the eldest child of George, was born in Misau, Bavaria, on May 11 th 1824 and came to Canada in 1848, she being then twenty-four years of age. She often stated that they were three months on the sailing vessel crossing the ocean and did their own cooking on the journey. She first married to Frederick Yaeck, by whom she had one son named Frederick, who married Catherine Diegel and lived at Bridgeport. Her second husband was Joseph Jacob Geiger, by whom she had a family of five children, namely; Louisa, who married Reuben Bowman; Carl did not marry; Caroline not married; George, not married; and Jacob, a twin brother to George, died in infancy. She died in Berlin on December 9 th 1896 and is buried in the East End Cemetery in that city.



REUBEN BOWMAN was born near Berlin (now Kitchener) Ontario, on August 3 rd 1852, the son of Joseph C. Bowman and Mary Ann Shoemaker. He spent his boyhood days on the farm of Jacob D. Shoemaker, his maternal grandfather, about two miles southwest of Berlin. Here, under the guidance of this deeply religious, industrious and simple-living Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite family, were instilled in him those qualities of honesty, diligence and fair dealing which continued a part of his character throughout his life. As a boy, he attended school at Natchez near Doon. For a time he lived with his Uncle George Shoemaker in Woolwich Township where he also attended school. Mr. Solomon Kaufman, a school trustee in Woolwich Township at the time, stated that Reuben was a very attentive and industrious student. Among his teachers were Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Samuel Moyer who afterwards moved to Berlin. When about eighteen years of age he moved to Berlin and worked for a time at the Kaufman Planing Mill, where he acquired that skill as a craftsman in woodworking, which he so successfully applied in the construction of many buildings in the town. About 1872 he went to Red River in Manitoba where he was employed in building settlers’ cabins. During the 1870’s, after returning to Berlin, he went into partnership with Mr. Peter Itter in the operation of a sawmill in Hespeler but as the venture proved a financial failure, the partnership was dissolved after having been in operation for only a few years. In 1880 he went into partnership with Mr. Benjamin Hallman as building contractors, their first and chief contract being the Grand Central Hotel, now the Kitchener Hotel at 101 King St. East. The partnership was dissolved in 1889, after which he carried on a contracting business of his own. He confined his work largely to the carpenter trade and during the following thirty years he handled the carpenter work of such outstanding structures as The First Church of Christ, Scientist at the corner of Water and Francis Streets, the home of the Misses Glick at the corner of Queen and Church Streets, Edward Smyth’s home at the corner of Duke and Young Streets, Robert Smyth’s home at 233 Queen St. North, The Agnes St. School and many others.

On December 30 th 1879 he was married to Louisa Geiger, a daughter of Joseph Jacob and Elizabeth (Hollinger) Geiger, at the United Brethern Church in Berlin, the Reverend David B. Sherk officiating; the witnesses being Caroline Geiger and Albert H. Zeigler. They lived for a time with the family of Rev. Moses Erb who had just moved into their new house at the corner of Cameron and King Streets in Berlin. After living with the Erb family for about a year, they moved to a little red house on the south side of King St. East, which was situated immediately south of the present residence of Dr. Hett. This house was afterwards used as a church by the Free Methodist Congregation. In the meantime he was building a dwelling on the northwest corner of Weber and Wellington Streets, into which they moved in November 1881.

30 Francis Street North, Kitchener, OntarioIn 1889, having as yet only four children but doubtless expecting many more, he decided that a larger and more modern home was called for. He proceeded to build the eleven roomed house at No. 19 Francis Street (now No. 30 Francis St. North) in Berlin, into which home he moved his family in October of that year. The house was very modern for the period and excellently suited for the upbringing of a large family for which it was built. It was well constructed, he having personally planned and supervised the entire construction. The walls were of solid brick, the cedar shingles laid in plaster for additional insulation against the cold winters and hot summers. The children slept upstairs while the parents slept in the “comma” or master bedroom downstairs. The kitchen was large and roomy, while the cellar-way could always be depended on to supply freshly baked pies and cookies.

The carpenter shop at the rear of the property was well stocked with lumber, nails and carpenter tools of all types and the boys of the family, as well as the children of the neighbourhood derived a great deal of pleasure, as well as valuable experience, while enjoying the use of this equipment. The spacious backyard contained apple and plum trees, chokecherries and elderberries, as well as a fair sized garden which was planted largely in flowers, of which the mother was always extremely fond.

The families of the neighbourhood were very sociably inclined, the writer failing to recall a single dispute which lasted for any length of time. The Beans, Zapfes, Hibners, Ebys, Ritzes, Brandts, Oswalds, Ernsts, Heckadorns, Petersons and numerous others formed a harmonious social community, the highlight of which was the annual neighbourhood picnic held at Victoria Park. Taken all in all, the Bowman home and the North Francis Street neighbourhood were extremely well suited to the raising of a large family.

He was a Free Mason, having been initiated in Grand River Lodge in Kitchener on November 5 th 1898.

He enjoyed travelling, having visited most of the large centres in the northern United States, including those on the Pacific coast.

He lived a useful and eventful life, raised a large family, was a good father and after his death was mourned by a host of friends.



Louisa Geiger(VI) LOUISA GEIGER, the eldest child of Joseph Jacob and Elizabeth (Hollinger) Geiger, was born on October 17 th 1852. The parents were living at the time in what is now the East End Hotel, 312 King St. East in Kitchener. When she was four years old she was taken into the home of the Rev. Moses Erb who lived on a farm near Lexington about two miles north of Bridgeport. In 1860 they moved to a farm near what is now Fairview Avenue in Kitchener. At this time her parents had separated, the father moving to Calumet, Michigan, where his half-brother Charles was employed in the copper smelting works. She went to school at Lexington and later attended Central School at Berlin, where she had for a teacher Miss Elizabeth Shoemaker, one of the most widely known and respected instructresses of the past century in Berlin. Louisa, being her father’s favorite child, often received letters from him as well as gifts, some of which she was obliged to discard as they were too fancy for the tastes of a strictly Mennonite family like the Erbs.

In 1870 when she was eighteen years old, her father wrote asking her to come to Calumet for a visit and to stay permanently if she liked the place, but that she might return at any time if she so desired. He sent her money for the trip, and her aunt, Mrs. Rittinger, escorted her as far as Detroit, where the father met her and they made the balance of the journey by boat. He had a furnished house waiting for her and things were pleasant for a time but gradually the heavy drinking and uncouth manners of the miners became unbearable and she returned to Berlin.

Previous to going to Calumet and after her return, she worked at private homes among which were the farm of Abraham Kinzie, two miles west of Roseville, Oxford County, the farm of Enoch Detweiler, Monno Erb’s farm, Aaron Erb’s hom in Berlin, the Deeton’s farm at Haysville, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Messener in Berlin, the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Bechtel on Charles St. in Berlin and the home of Mr. and Mrs. Menno Schantz.

On December 30 th 1879 she was married to Reuben Bowman, by whom she had a family of nine children.

She was extremely kind-hearted, gentle and generous to a fault. Her passion was her flower garden and she would go to no end of trouble to obtain additional varieties. She was loved by all who knew her, and her death, which occurred on February 8 th 1937, of pneumonia, left a void which was felt far beyond the limits of her immediate family.


Family of Reuben Bowman and Louisa GeigerReuben and Louisa (Geiger) Bowman had a family of nine children, five sons and four daughters. First, by coincidence, and afterwards by intent, the names of the children follow down through the alphabet from Allen to Ivan. The youngest Ivan, has continued the custom in naming his children with names beginning with J. K. and L.

It is interesting to note that all of the children of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, who have daughters, have named one of them Louise, after the grand-mother. The grandchildren are now also largely following this practice.

A unique family institution is the so-called Bowman chain letter. This letter was started on its rounds I 1917 at the time when two of the brothers were serving in the army in France. It consists of letters from each member of the family, addressed to all, and may include newspaper clippings or photographs, old or new, or any other matter which may be of interest to the family as a whole. It travels to each member of the family in a fixed sequence, each one removing his or her previous contribution and replacing with new material before sending it on its way. The letter is now in its thirtieth year of travel and shows no sign of losing its interest or popularity.


ALLEN BOWMAN, the first child, was born on September 27 th 1880, during the time his parents lived at the home of Rev. Moses Erb. The child lived but a few hours and was buried in the Mennonite Cemetery, the funeral having been conducted by Mr. Erb, who also built the casket. Some time after the funeral, the parents, not having as yet chosen a name for the child, selected a group of names which were written on separate pieces of paper and put into a hat. The mother drew the name of Allen, which name was then duly entered in the family bible.


BEATRICE BOWMAN, the second child, was born on August 22 nd 1881 in the little red house on King St. East. Some time previous to her birth, the town was honoured by a short visit from the Princess Beatrice, a daughter of Queen Victoria, who appeared on the platform of the train as it stopped for a short time at the station. The lovely Princess, who was then twenty-four years of age, made such an impression on the mother that she then and there decided to name her next child, should it be a girl, after the beautiful princess. The baby girl arrived shortly after this event and consequently was given the name of Beatrice. She attended Agnes St. School and Central School (now Suddaby School) and had as teachers such well known instructors as Mr. J. Suddaby and Mr. Richard Reid.

She is not married and lives in the old family residence at No. 30 Francis St. North in Kitchener.


Five Bowman ChildrenCLAYTON BOWMAN, the third child, was born in the old house at the corner of Weber and Wellington Sts. in Berlin on June 6 th 1883. He attended Agnes St. and Central Schools, having had as teachers such well remembered instructors as Mr. J.B. Shotwell, Mr. J.S. Jackson and others.

After leaving School, he worked at various trades, finally completing his apprenticeship as a carpenter and in March of 1908 he went to San Francisco, where he worked at the rebuilding of that city after the terrible earthquake and fire which had destroyed it in 1906. When this work was nearing completion, he moved to Western Canada and filed on a homestead about five miles from Kindersley, Saskatchewan, where he developed the farm on which he still resides.

In 1912 he married Miss Emma Mary Jones, who was born in London, England, on March 13 th 1884 and came to Canada in 1911. They had a family of seven children, five sons and two daughters. [....]


DORA BOWMAN, the fourth child of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, was born on June 25 th 1885 in the house at the corner of Weber and Wellington Sts. in Berlin. She attended Agnes St. School, after leaving which she entered the employ of the Bell Telephone Company as a switchboard operator, afterwards following the same occupation in Detroit, London and Stratford.

She is married to Frederick William Holman, formerly a train dispatcher with the Canadian National Railways in Stratford and on pension since 1939. They reside at their home, No. 272 Brunswick St. in Stratford, and have a family of three girls. [...]


EDITH BOWMAN, the fifth child of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, was born in the old house at the corner of Weber and Wellington Sts., in Berlin, on June 22 nd 1887. She attended Agnes St. School and after passing her entrance examination, she went to the Berlin and Waterloo High School, taking a commercial course. After leaving school, she accepted employment with the D. Hibner Company Limited and later on with the C.P.R. telegraph Company. She is married to George Bremner, a native of Berlin, who was overseas with the 135 th Battalion and Fifth Divisional Engineers during the First World War. He is an electrician by trade and after living for some years in Berlin and Waterloo, they moved to Windsor, Ont., where he is employed with the General Motor Company in the capacity of chief maintenance electrician. They have a family of five children, two daughters and three sons. [...]


FREDERICK BOWMAN, the sixth child of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, was born at No. 19 Francis St. (now No. 30 Francis St. North) in Berlin, on October 24 th 1889, just a week after the family had moved into the new house. When nine years of age, he had the misfortune of losing the sight of his right eye. He attend Agnes St. School, where he was instructed by such well remembered teachers as Miss Jessie Kaempf, Mr. H. Leslie Staebler and Mr. Richard Reid. After matriculating at the Collegiate Institute, he attended the University of Toronto, from which institution he graduated in civil engineering in 1911. He then joined the staff of the Dominion Bridge Co., of Montreal, with which company he is still connected in the capacity of a bridge erection engineer. In May 1917 he enlisted in the Canadian Railway Troops. He served with this Unit in Northern France, being promoted to commissioned rank shortly before the Armistice. In 1936 he was sent by his employers on loan to a construction company in Australia where he supervised the erection of the Storey Bridge at Brisbane. In 1938, while in Australia, he was married to Alice Carmen Mitchell, a native of Montreal. Returning to Canada in 1940, he was loaned to United Shipyards, supervising the wartime emergency construction of cargo and invasion vessels. They have no children and reside at 5550 Queen Mary Road in Montreal.


Brothers Gordon and Fred BowmanGORDON BOWMAN, the seventh child of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, was born at No. 30 Francis St. N. in Berlin on September 8 th 1891. He attended Agnes St. School and upon passing his entrance examination, he attended the Collegiate Institute. He joined the staff of The Canadian Bank of Commerce in Berlin and was later transferred to Saskatoon, Sask., where he lived for a time in the bank building. Leaving the bank in 1909, he proceeded further west and worked on the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway on their main line through the Yellowhead Pass in the Rockies. In 1910 he returned east and entered the employment of the Dominion Rubber System, learning the trade of pattern maker and rubber shoe designer. He was transferred to their factory at Granby, Que., where he became Plant Superintendant. When the plant at Granby was closed, he was moved to their factory in Kitchener and later was transferred to their plant in Montreal. While living at Granby, he was married to Mildred Wilkin, a native of that town. He died at St. Jerome, Que., on February 3 rd 1943 of diabetes, of which ailment he had been suffering for more than twenty years, and is buried in the East End Cemetery in Kitchener.

ROGER WILKIN BOWMAN, the only child of Gordon and Mildred, was born on January 8 th 1925 and died on the same day.


HILDA BOWMAN, the eighth child of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, was born at No. 30 Francis St., Berlin, on October 28 th 1894. On selecting a name for this child, which must necessarily begin with the letter H, various names were suggested among which was the name of Hazel. When, however, the hired girl, in pronouncing the name, dropped the H sound and pronounced it “esel”, this being the German word for donkey, the name Hazel immediately became very unpopular and Hilda was selected.

She attended Agnes St. School, the Collegiate Institute and the Ontario Normal School at Stratford, where she passed the requirements for teaching in the Public Schools of Ontario. She followed the teaching profession, first in country schools and later in the schools of Kitchener. She was married to Percival Weber Shelley, a son of Jacob C. Shelley, after his return from overseas where he served with the 134 th Highlanders and the 15 th Battalion, 1 st Div. He died on January 4 th 1924 of acute endocarditis, a direct outcome of his military service. They had two children, both girls, the mother returning to teaching in order to provide a home and a proper upbringing for her small family. She is now living at No. 21B Krug St. in Kitchener. [....]


Louisa Geiger and her two youngest childrenIVAN BOWMAN, the youngest of the children of Reuben and Louisa Bowman, was born at No. 30 Francis St. in Berlin on August 9 th 1896. After attending Agnes St. School, he went to the Collegiate Institute, after which he apprenticed to a druggist in Lachine, Que., intending to study for the profession of pharmacy. Shortly after the war started, however, while on a visit home he enlisted in the 118 th Battalion and proceeded overseas. On going to France, he was transferred to the 1 st (Western Ontario) Battalion, 1 st Div. with which unit he saw action at a number of major engagements on the western front including Paschendaele, Amiens, the breaking of the Hindenburg Line, Bullecourt, Drocourt-Queant Line, Canal du Nord and the march into Germany. On returning home with his battalion in the spring of 1919, he proceeded to Western Canada where he worked on farms for a time, after which he came back to Kitchener, taking a position with a Credit Exchange and Collecting Bureau. In 1928 he decided to go into business for himself and started the Credit Bureau of Waterloo County, which he is still operating.

He is married to Vera Catherine Scheifele, a native of Waterloo, and they have three children all boys. They reside at 173 Lydia Street in Kitchener.


[...] This symbol appearing within the text above denotes text that has been omitted because it pertains to a living generation.