Lt. Rees Bowen
(Cir 1737-1780)


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Lt. Rees Bowen

  • Born: Cir 1737, Augusta Co., Virginia
  • Died: 7 Oct 1780, Kings Mountain, South Carolina at age 43

bullet  General Notes:

See general notes on on his great great great great grand daughter, Evelyn Hull Steele, for DAR membership application.
About Rees Tate Bowen
William, b. 1742; was a Capt. in the VA militia and was to have lead the Campbell riflmen on that faitful trip to King's Mountain in N.C., in Aug of 1780. But due to illness, he was delayed and his older brother, famed Indian fighter, Lt. Rees Bowen took over for him. Historically, the Battle of King's Mountain, Oct. 7th, 1780 was the decisive battle that finally turned the tide for the fledgling nation. The discription can be found in "King's Mountain, and it's Hereos" by Draper.
These wonderful mountain men of VA., fresh from their battles with Indians, dressed in buckskin, hair long, feather's on the ends of their rifles, came whooping and hollering with a combination of Indian War whoops and Highland battle cries that scared the daylights out of the British troops, waiting on King's mountain. They were routed so badly that they never did recoup.
Unfortunatley Lt. Rees Bowen was killed, William when hearing his brother was downed, went crazy, running to find his brother hoping that it was not to late. As he ran to where his brother had fallen, a sentry demanded the password of the day. William so distraught, couldn't make sense of what the man was yelling and forgot the password. When they were about to shoot it out, an officer, recognizing William grabbed him, bringing him back to his senses. They hugged, grateful for not having to shoot each other, but distraught about his brother. When Rees was found, it was too late, he had died, the only son of 13 children to be lost in a battle fought in the Rev. War. Years before, while on patrol, his brother Moses Bowen, died of a simple flesh wound recieved in the field. It seems while washing wound, it was done with river water that had not been boiled and he developed a fever from which he died in 1776.
Of a family of 13 children, 8 boys and 5 girls, all had made it to adulthood, only 2 were lost in wars fought settling the colonies. All eight sons served in the Militia, all were considered Revolutionary War heroes and are on the list's as Patriot's for membership to the DAR and SAR. McIllhaney Bowen. During the War years, Lillian gave money, supplies and openned her home to the wounded. Lillian died just 2 months before her beloved son Rees, in 1780, in Washington CO., VA. Her son had been one of the first settlers in S.W.VA., and a founding father of Tazewell CO., VA. Rees's homestead, "Fort Maiden Spring's", which became "Maiden Spring's Farm" is still in existance and has had a "Rees Bowen" in residence for over 250 years. The homestead is located in the Upper Clinch Valley, Tazewell CO., VA. He left 8 small children upon his death. It's said that one of the reasons that William moved on, was the crushing lose of his brother Rees. They were a remarkable close family, and remain so to this day.
From "History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia" by Pendleton, p. 407: "Rees BOWEN was the second white man who brought his family to make permanent residence in the Clinch Valley. Therefore, it is meet that he and his family should be the second considered in the sketches I am writing of the pioneer families. The Tazewell BOWENs are of Celtic blood. Their immediate ancestor was Moses BOWEN, a Welshman, who married Rebecca Rees. They came from Wales to America [see additional notes at the end of this piece*] a good many years before the Revolution, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Their son John was a Quaker, and he married LillyMcIlhaney. He and his wife moved from Pennsylvania to Augusta County, Virginia, soon after the first settlements were made in the Shenandoah Valley, perhaps as early as the year 1732, and located in that part of Augusta now embraced in the county of Rockbridge. They had twelve children and Rees was one of their five sons. He married Louisa [?] Smith, whose parents then liven in that section of Augusta now known as Rockingham County. It is said that, after his marriage, he took up his abode on the Roanoke River close to where thecity of Roanoke is now situated. In some way Rees BOWEN learned of the fertile lands and abundance of game that could be found in the Upper Clinch Valley; and he concluded to abandon his home on the Roanoke River and settle in this region, where he could locate and occupy, without cost, a large family in the vicinity of the great spring, to which he gave a peculiar name, he had not then selected the boundary of land upon which he would settle. After they went into camp, on the evening of the day he reached the place that has since been the home of the BOWENs, he went out to find and kill a deer to get asupply of fresh meat. While thus engaged he discovered the spring. Bickleythus tells of the discovery of the immense fountain and what followed: WhenMr. BOWEN first saw the spring, he discovered a fine young female deer, feeding on the moss within the orifice from which gushes the spring. He shot it,and when he went to get his deer, saw a pair of elk horns standing on their points, and leaning against the rocks. Mr. BOWEN was a very large and tall man, yet he had no difficulty in walking upright under the horns. He chose this place for his, and the spring and river have since been known as Maiden Spring and Fork. The first four years after he and his family located at Maiden Spring were free from any hostile demonstrations by the Indians against the Clinch settlements. He was possessed of great physical strength and was very industrious, and in the four years he erected a large and strong log house,extended his clearings into the forests, and added considerably to the number of horses and cattle he brought with him from his home on the Roanoke. Then came trouble with the Ohio Indians, in 1773, when the whole frontier of Virginia was threatened by the red man; and Rees BOWEN built a heavy stockade around his dwelling, converting it into an excellent neighborhood fort. In themeantime, his four brothers, John, Arthur, William, and Moses moved out from Augusta to find homes in the country west of New River. John settled at some point in the Holston Valley; Arthur located in the present Smyth County, four miles west of Marion; and William and Moses took up their abode in the Clinch Valley, but in what immediate locality is now unknown. When Dunmore's War came on the three brothers, Rees, William, and Moses went with Captain William Russell's company on the Lewis expedition to the mouth of the Kanawha River; and wer prominent figures in the eventful battle of Point Pleasant. Moses BOWEN was then only twenty years old; and on the return march from the Kanawha, he was stricken with smallpox, from which frightful malady he died in the wilderness.
Rees (all documents of the time spelled it that way), was the son of John BOWEN and Lily Mcilhaney who spent most of their lives in Augusta Co, VA. Rees' grandparents were Moses BOWEN and Rebecca REES (originally spelled Rhys) who came from Wales to Gwynedd township, Chester Co, PA (near Philadelphia) in 1698 and purchased 10,000 acres. Rees BOWEN (I've never seen the name Hugh) was born in 1737 in Augusta Co, VA and died at the Battle of Kings Mountain in North Carolina, in 1780. About eight years prior to his death, Rees and Levisa, as she was commonly called, purchased a large tract of land in what is today Tazewell Co, VA and many of their descendants have remained there. That same land and the original house they built, with many additons through the years, is today owned by Rees BOWEN VII. Levisa Smith BOWEN lived to a very old age, reared her children as a widow, and was known for her courage, leadership, and strong business abilities. Margaret's family came to this country during the 1600's and that her linage qualifies for membership in the Colonial Dames. -------------------- Lt. Rees Bowen, born 1737 in Rockingham County, Virginia, died October 7, 1780, in the Battle of King's Mountain. He was married in 1756 to Margaret Louisa Smith (1740-1834), daughter of Capt. John Smith

[*] [The Bowens of Tazewell Co., VA] descend from Moses Bowen / Rebecca Rees, who came from Wales in 1668 with a large group of Quakers, who settled in Pennsylvania around Chester and Lancaster Counties. It's thought that Rebecca was a Quaker, but Moses wasn't. Their only "known and proven" child was John Bowen, who married a beautiful young heiress, fresh of the boat from Ireland. She came with her mother, one full brother, many half siblings and a stepfather. She and her brother were their father's only heirs, so she was very well off. Her name was Lillian McIllhaney, a 17 year old miss.
A very interesting note about this remarkable family. Lillian and her mother and sisters were "Master Flex Weavers" and were the first to bring the industry into Pennsylvania. It's quoted in many accounts of the time, that a very wealthy planter, John Bowen fell in love almost "at first sight". They soon married, and moved several places before finally settling in Augusta Co., Virginia. Their beautiful home was located just outside of what is now Clifton Forge (Unfortunately the home fell into disrepair and for many years remained so. Finally it was torn down to make way for "progress". A gas station was built on the site, but the family cemetery can still be found on the hill behind what was the home.) John and Lillian had a total of 13 children, five of the Bowen sons were in and around Southwest Virginia with the advent of their brother, Rees Bowen discovered and naming of "Maiden Springs" and where his home and huge estate is still in our family's possession. Most of Rees's brother's moved on to Tennessee, as many people did after the Revolutionary War. Whenever new and free lands became available, that's where you'll find people moving to. Anyway, Rees was one of the first to explore and settle the area and of all the Bowen's that went to "the Battle of King's Mountain.", in North Carolina, he was the only one of his clan that died there. Anyway, the brothers that were in the area around Tazewell which was made up of Montgomery, Smyth and Russell counties, and were also at the battle, were William, Robert, Arthur, John, Charles and Rees's oldest son John.

bullet  Research Notes:
The Battle of King's Mountain 1780
King's Mountain
War: American Revolutionary War
Date: 7th October 1780
Place: South Carolina, United States of America.
Combatants: Tory or loyalist Americans against Whig or patriot American Revolutionaries.
Generals: Major Patrick Ferguson commanded the loyalists. The American force had a number of officers of similar rank: Colonels Shelby, Campbell, McDowell, Sevier, Williams, Lacey, Cleveland, Hambright and Winston.
Size of the armies: Numbers are uncertain but there seem to have been around 1,000 on each side.
Uniforms, arms and equipment: The soldiers in these opposing forces were "irregulars" and as such dressed as they felt inclined. The many Revolutionaries from the frontier areas would have dressed as for a hunting expedition. The Tory militia were issued with muskets and bayonets and may well have worn red uniform coats, but probably wore civilian garb. The Revolutionaries brought with them their hunting weapons, in many cases small bore rifled muskets made by the German gunsmiths of Pennsylvania, which they used with devastating effect on the Tories.
Winner: Resoundingly the American Revolutionaries. The loyalist force was annihilated. Account: In September 1780, Major General Lord Cornwallis, after beating Major General Gates and the American Revolutionary army at Camden, advanced north with the intention of invading North Carolina and Virginia. Major Ferguson occupied an outpost well to the West of the main British army with a small force of his own riflemen and a larger band of Tory militia. The militia on each side remained consistently unreliable in battle during the war. The one area in which the Tory militia excelled was in plundering their enemies. Ferguson had built for himself an unenviable reputation for ferocity against the rebels.
A substantial Revolutionary force gathered against Ferguson from Watauga, west of the mountains, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. One group, armed with rifled weapons with which they had considerable skill, were the "Over the mountain men". Ferguson retreated before this concentration, sending on to Cornwallis for support. The Revolutionary force caught up with Ferguson encamped on the steep and wooded King's Mountain, on 7th October 1780. The Revolutionaries surrounded the Tories on the top of the mountain and a classic battle between the bayonet and the rifle ensued. The Revolutionaries attacked with the battle cry of "Tarleton quarter" (ie "No prisoners). The Tory militiamen, attempting to drive back the assaulting Revolutionaries at the point of the bayonet, were shot down until they were huddled in a confined group on the summit.
Ferguson suppressed all attempts to surrender until he was shot from his horse and killed. The Tories threw down their weapons but the Revolutionaries continued to shoot, in spite of the efforts of their officers to bring about an end to the carnage. The battle exactly reflected the savagery of the war in the Southern Colonies. Finally all the Tories were killed, wounded or captured. Only a party that had been out foraging escaped to warn Cornwallis of the disaster.
Casualties: The Tories suffered 300 dead and wounded and some 700 captured. The Revolutionaries took 90 casualties.
Follow-up: The defeat forced Cornwallis to abandon his plans to invade North Carolina and retreat South.
Anecdotes and traditions: This was a battle between Americans, the only Britain present being Major Ferguson. It would be hard to envisage a more savage encounter. King's Mountain would be a much more apt candidate for the title of "massacre" than Paoli. Following the battle the Revolutionaries tried and hanged 10 Tory prisoners for offences of pillaging.


Rees married Living

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