Funny that I should find the golden wedding anniversary of a couple from Mercer County in the Mount Sterling newspaper! But then, good things are sometimes found when searching for something else! Bellevue, home of the Bowman family, is located on Hwy 152 just outside the city of Burgin.
Tuesday, October 11, 1892
Mr. Dudley Mitchem Bowman and Mrs. Virginia Smith Bowman, of Mercer County, celebrated their ‘golden wedding’, on Thursday, September 29th, at their home, Bellevue, near Burgin. From the Danville correspondent of the Louisville Times, we extract the following:
September 29, 1842, a large and fashionable assemblage met at Avondale, in Mercer County, the home of Abram Smith, Esq., to witness the marriage of his daughter, Virginia, then in her seventeenth year, to Dudley Mitchem Bowman, the son of a neighbor, the Hon. John Bowman. Avondale was then, as it is now, a lovely country home, where a bounteous, graceful hospitality was dispensed, and it is interesting to know that it yet remains in the family and is none the less celebrated for perpetuating its old-time reputation.
The ceremony of fifty years ago was spoken by the Rev. Thomas Smith, one of the pioneers in Campbell and Stone’s reformation, then just beginning. The bridesmaids were Miss Peachy Smith, now Mrs. Simeon Drake, of Chicago, and Miss Johanna Smith, a sister of the bride who married Mr. McCann. The groomsmen were Abram Hite Bowman, brother to the groom, and Ben Campbell, yet living in Mercer County.
This marriage united two of the most widely known and respected families of the Commonwealth, names associated with the early conquest of the land from the savages and identified with its erection into an independent state.
In the colonial annals of Virginia are found their names in places of civil and military distinction. They came from the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia, and Zachariah Smith and Abram Bowman were among the first to make a new home in the wilderness of Kentucky; the former at ‘Ingleside’, near Danville, and Bowman in Fayette County, only a few miles further away.
A few years thereafter the estate known as ‘Bellevue’, the present town, came into the possession of John Bowman, father of the present owner, by bequest from an uncle. John Bowman was a man or more than ordinary culture for his time, a lawyer by education and a pupil of Henry Clay. His wife was Sarah Mitchem, of Woodford County, daughter of Dudley Mitchem, from whom have come the Woolfolk’s, Hayden’s, Bannon’s and other families well-known in Louisville, Lexington and the southwest. Their children were the late John Bryan Bowman, for many years Regent of Kentucky University; the late Abram Hite Bowman, many of whose descendants now live in Louisville and various parts of the state, and Dudley Mitchem Bowman, the present owner of ‘Bellevue’. It is a rarely beautiful old country home, nearly a century old and substantially built. The arched windows and picturesque fans over the doors, beautiful hand-carved wood mantels and window frames, take one back to the architecture and house decorations of old Colonial days. The walls are covered with portraits of the former owners and occupants of the home. Mr. Bowman tells with justifiable pride that only Indians and Bowman’s ever owned the place. It has been for a century the seat of a princely hospitality, and it was an interesting occasion, the celebration of a golden wedding, that brought under its roof the descendants of the pioneers of a century ago.
A notable feature of this delightful reunion was the singularly appropriate remarks of the Rev. Owsley Goodloe. Two conspicuous figures were Uncle Louis and Aunt Caroline, former slaves, whose marriage antedated that of Mr. and Mrs. Bowman by six years. At the wedding fifty years ago Uncle Louis had the distinction of driving the carriage and Aunt Caroline was the maid in waiting to the bride.
Owing to the death of a lovely daughter, Mrs. Caroline Bowman Ringo, the guests were limited to the family and a few intimate friends. Among those present were: Mrs. Mary Watters Bowman, widow of the eldest son; John Bryan and son and daughter; Mrs. Jennie Bowman Cassell ad two daughters, Dudley M. Jr., and wife, nee Mary Dunlap; Mrs. Nannie Bowman Moore and five children, and Mr. Abram Smith Bowman of Fairlawn, Lexington; Miss Nannie Smith, sister of Mrs. Bowman; Mrs. Mary D. Bowman, Mrs. John Augustus Williams, Mr. Phil B. Thompson, Rev. Strother Cook, Mr. Ben C. Allin and wife, who have been married nearly sixty-five years; Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Riker, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Mrs. Rebecca Jones, Mr. and Mrs. James Kunniano, Mr. and Mrs. William Roland and Miss Vivion.
Mr. and Mrs. Bowman, though rapidly approaching that age which marks the evening of life, are yet hale and hearty, and give promise of being able to celebrate many more anniversaries of their marriage.