Monday, May 2, 2016

Slaves Named in the 1861 Divorce of John H. Crisp and Mary R. Bowles

This article is a continuation from last week of the slaves named in the 1861 divorce of John H. Crisp and Mary R. Bowles, widow of Green Berry Bowles. The names of these slaves were transcribed by Annette Bowen, one my colleagues in the Bay Area Genealogical Society of Houston, Texas.

Slaves belonging to Mary R. Crisp at the date of her marriage with John H. Crisp (3 Sept. 1851) and of their increase since that date
Taken from Exhibit A, in a suit in District Chancery Court at Holly Springs, Mississippi at the January Term 1855
Jim aged about 70 years
Hal aged about 70 years
Maria                    65
Jordan                  28
Albert                   19
Isabel                    45
Lem                       41
Jinney                   41
Hartwell               19
Cela                       21
Jack                        17
Leatta                   16
Pegues                 13
Sarah                     11
Granville              8
Dred                      6
Lewis                     4
George                 30
Dilly                        30
Clara                      14
Frances                   about 12
Betsy                     11
Ephraim               65
Tabby                    45
Jo                            21
Jerry                      29
Martha                 29
William                 30
Harriet                  19
Taylor                    24
Eliza                       25
Mary                     4
Albert                   22
Arun                      25
Albert                   37
Nancy                   28
Clara                      7
Patsy                     5
Laura                     28
Leonidas about 6
Jim (Jane?)         17
George                 17
Tom                       14
Watt aged about 13
Davy                      18
Frank                     28
Slaves born since the marriage
Henry aged about 1 year
Rufus                    2
Maria                    3 months
Stanfield              3 months
Nelly                      2
Archy                    2
Jerry                      1
Ellen                      2
James                   1
Ephraim               2
Ellen                      1
John                      2
Peterson             7 months
Adelaide              1 year
In all Sixty one slaves (Note: apparently one name was left off of this list, which was a certified copy.]

Mary Robert Harwell Bowles was the widow of Green Berry Bowles who was a physician, having attended medical school at Yale in 1821 and graduating from the Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1822. Children of Green Berry Bowles and his wife Mary R. Harwell are:

  1. James R. Bowles, born 1827 in Virginia; died 1876, buried in St. Peters Cemetery, Oxford, Mississippi married Martha Anne Ragsdale, 22 December 1847, in Monroe County, Mississippi
  2. Mary Ann Bowles, born 1833 in Virginia, died between 1860 and 1870 married Dr. Paul H. Otey, 19 March 1847, in Nashville, Tennessee
  3. Timoxena Bowles, born 3 April 1835, in Hardeman County, Tennessee, died 13 September 1912 in Florida married DeWitt Clinton Herndon, 6 June 1854, in Lafayette County, Mississippi
  4. Catharine Theresa Bowles, born 10 August 1837, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 13 May 1887 in Jackson, Mississippi, buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi married William Dunbar Holder, 6 June 1854, a double wedding with her sister Timoxena at the Bowles home in Lafayette County, Mississippi
  5. Andrew Jackson Bowles, born July 1839, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 7 August 1912, in Rains County, Texas married (1) Mary Jane Moore, 15 June 1864, in Monroe County, Mississippi married (2) Elizabeth Bloom, 13 March 1889, in Rains County, Texas
  6. Green Etheldred Bowles, born 3 December 1841, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 4 January 1844, buried in Bowles Cemetery, Lafayette County, Mississippi
  7. Rufus Oscar Bowles, born 13 June 1843, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 13 January 1844, buried in Bowles Cemetery, Lafayette County, Mississippi
  8. Green Berry Bowles, Jr., born February 1846, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 12 October 1924, in Austin, Travis County, Texas married Florence Yates
Annette has published more Bowles family history online here: 

The first child above, James R. Bowles received the transfer of these slaves from John H. Crisp during the divorce and then transferred them back to his mother who had returned to Lafayette County, Mississippi during the process of her divorce from John H. Crisp.  Here is how Annette told the story to me: 

She left Dr. Crisp and moved back to her plantation home in Mississippi in December 1854.  Mary sued Dr. Crisp to recover her dower in a law suit in Marshall County, Mississippi, referenced in the divorce.  Apparently Dr. Crisp transferred all the property which he had acquired by marriage to Mary's oldest son, James R. Bowles, and James immediately transferred it to his mother.  They agreed that neither would be responsible for the debts of the other.  

So it appears that these slaves were probably emancipated in Lafayette County, Mississippi. Searching for blacks named Bowles in the 1870 census of Lafayette County, Mississippi we found 62 people with that name.  There were seven more persons named Bowles identified as mulatto.  There were no former slaves named Crisp in Lafayette County in 1870.

Annette Bowen has published a list of more slaves in the division of slaves in the estate of  Dr. Green Berry Bowles here:

 Additional information was found describing the Bowles Plantations here:

The original BOWLES PLANTATION which was divided between the children at time of the father, James E. BOWLES death [WILL proven in Nov term of Court in 1840] was abt. 1280 acres, [Section 6, Township 8S , R 2W and Section 12, T. 8 S R. 3 W. on both sides of the Old Woodson Ridge Road now known as C. R. 215. His son, Green Berry Bowles Plantation was between Graham Mill creek and Cambridge Church with abt 4500 acres. Green Boles Sr.'s Plantation was northeast Quality Ridge now known as Woodson Ridge as well as some property near College Hill. 

In the Mississippi Wills and Probate Collection at there is a probate for Mary R. Bowles that was administered by her oldest son, James R. Bowles.  Here land is described lying in Lafayette County, Mississippi as 450 acres of Section 29, Township 7, Range 2 including the northern portion of the section and the SW 1/4 of Section 20, T. 7, R. 2.  Her estate was insufficient to pay her debts and was declared insolvent.
Name: Mary R Bowles
Probate Place: Lafayette, Mississippi, USA
Inferred Death Place: Mississippi, USA
Case Number: 1030
Item Description: Chancery Court Minutes, Case File 1016-1066, 1866; 19 images

Further searching of Mississippi Wills and Probate Collection at found another slave list in the probate for Green B. Bowles Sr.

Name: Green B Bowles Sr

Probate Date: 1848
Probate Place: Lafayette, Mississippi, USA
Inferred Death Year: Abt 1848
Inferred Death Place: Mississippi, USA
Item Description: Chancery Court Minutes, Case File 285-348, 1847-1848
Image 1043 of 1133

Additional slaves in the estate of Green B. Bowles from his probate on file at

 This is a great example of the gold that is buried in the new Probate collection.  This list appears to be an update to an earlier list showing additional slaves that have been born and some that have died since 1846.  This list is especially useful as it includes the names of the mothers and the dates of birth.

Hugh M. Lee, guardian of the minor heirs of Green B. Bowles dec'd. reports the following list of births and death of negroes belonging to said:
Births                                      Deaths
Minneys Child Green Born 1847-died March 1848
do       do   Mariah do Feby 1848
Mary Overtons [sp?] child Sarah Born Jun 1849
Prissilla child Marthaann Born August 1848
Charlotts child Mary Ann Born Oct 1849
Fanny Bowles child Jersy [sp?] Born 1847-died May 1848
 do    do     do John Born June 1848-died July 1849
Elizabeth child Josephine Born Feby 1849
Amanda's child James Born July 1849- died August 1849
 do       do   Milton Born July 1849
Silvie's child Jas. Polk Born 1846-died April 1849
 do       do   Clarissa Born April 1849
Bose child Georgiana Born April 1849
Louisa child Dread Born Oct 1849
Benson's child Green Born March 1848
Lucy's child George Born Decm 1848-died July 1849

The list goes on to describe mules and horses by name acquired or died in the intervening period.  It is also heartbreaking to note that of the 16 children born, 6 of them had died young.

Hopefully someone will be able to use these lists to solve their "Ancestor Puzzle."


  1. Hey Annettte Bowen, can you post the slave-inventory-listing that Mary Bowles and her husband William Miller owned in Tennessee, if foundable? Thanks :)

    I'm curious about a slave named "Nelson" whom was born around 1844ish

  2. Response from Annette:

    I haven't researched the Millers. Mary died in 1854 but in Tennessee all property belonged to the husband so I doubt that she had a probate. Her husband William died in 1863 in Haywood Co., TN. It is possible that he left probate records. I haven't looked for them. During the Civil War in the South a lot of things either didn't get recorded or got lost.