Treasure Chest Thursday – Memoir


When I was young I would sit and listen to my father ramble on about his genealogy research…it literally bored me to tears.  It was not until I was older that I could really appreciate all of the treasures that he unearthed.  One of the treasures is the memoirs of  our relative – Marie Antionette Bowlen Gardiner.  It gives invaluable information  about our family as well as glimpse into the past.

My Memoir – Marie Antoinette Gardiner

I,  Marie Antoinette Bowlen Gardiner, was born September 4, 1869 in the Village of Barnesville, MD, Montgomery County, Maryland in the foothill of the so called Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Dr. George Fairhurst Bowlen, my father, was a horse and buggy doctor, a graduate of the University of Maryland in Baltimore.  He was valedictorian of his class of 1856.  The essay he delivered was on the subject of chloroform, for which he received a valuable prize.  His associates lamented the fact that of his decision to become a family practitioner in a small town.  They believed he was wasting his talents, however, Papa, I’m sure never regretted his decision.  While studying at the University of Maryland his classmates nicknamed him G.W.  Thereafter he always signed his name G.W. Bowlen.  He was born on a plantation.  His father’s name was William Ezra Bowlen and his mother’s was Ellen Fairhurst.  An only son, he had five sisters and I regret to be able to give you any further information  regarding them.  Papa’s father wished him to carry on the family tradition and since he disapproved of him leaving home he gave Papa very little financial assistance.  Consequently, like many others he worked his way by teaching school for three years before entering the University.

Mother’s name was Felicia Edmonia Candler.  Born in Darnestown, Maryland in July 1837.  She had one brother, Montgomery.  Uncle Montgomery married a cousin, Betty Offutt.  Mama’s only sister Roseanna Sidonia Virginia was quite a few years younger than Mamma.  She was a petite brunette, loved horseback riding and enjoyed painting in oils.  My niece Bernadine has personal possessions.  She lives in Comus, Maryland and sweet little Auntie spent her last years there.  Auntie married twice but had no children.  Through the years when I would visit I usually took Mildred along as she would sit quietly while we would chat for hours after dinner.  Since she had no children they apparently make her nervous.  She had a small home in Berwyn, Maryland and spent her days there in growing beautiful flowers and reading her Bible.

Grandfather Candler’s name was Leonard William.  Grandfather kept store and was a postmaster in Darnestown for thirty-five years.  Mamma attended a private school in Rockville and each Monday  she would ride on horseback, and a small colored boy rode behind her in side saddle.  He would return for her on Fridays.  I still have her saddle also Papa’s saddle bags (pockets), which he would throw across the horse he was riding as he jogged along the country roads over a radius of about eight miles through the snowy wintry roads.  Mamma had a very lively disposition and everyone in the village loved her dearly.  Papa was of a much quieter nature but capable and untiring in his chosen profession.  She would often tease him by remarking, “Should I die I’m sure you will marry the prettiest young girl in the village but if you married Laura Hayes you would be very wise.”  Mamma died suddenly of pneumonia, January 1891.  Papa did marry cousin Laura Hayes after mourning for five years.  He passes away in 1906.

Every Sunday morning Papa spent in his pharmacy making the pills to dispense to his patients, as I grew older I he would permit me to assist him in the preliminary making of them.  He still obtsin the root of the sassafras and remove the bark in thin shavings for tea each spring and he a firm believer in taking calomel tablets in one-quarter grains every half hour until two grains at least were taken in the spring and fall to avoid a bilious attack and followed with Epsom salts in the A.M.

William Ezra Linwood Candler Bowlen my only brother was born in 1859 and died July 3, 1865 of pneumonia.  My parents were grief stricken.  In those days doctors did not hesitate to in telling their patients they were near the great divide and he made no exception telling brother, although he very solemnly said he did not wish to go down into the cold grave alone.  After explaining that only his body was placed in the earth and that his soul would go to heaven, brother asked if he would meet him there and Papa replied, “By the grace of God I will.”  Papa was reared a Quaker and he did not smoke or drink, except for the traditional Christmas eggnog.

Shortly after brothers passing, Papa began to studying the different Christian religions and after a year or two he became convinced if there was any truth in Christianity it was to be found in the the Catholic Church.  He was a humble man and of course his daily contacts with suffering humanity left  him with few allusions regarding the true values of life.  He found it no too difficult to accept the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and the Holy Eucharist.   Each child he brought into the world was to him a proof of God’s power.  How can you explain a soul?  God was indeed good and since he did not demand proof Papa received the gift of Faith and naturally Mamma became interested and they studied together.  Rev. Chappell of Rockville gave them instructions.  He had small parishes called missions all over the county and later was appointed Bishop of New Orleans.

Inez Anna Vistula, my only sister was born January 252, 1868.  While very small we occupied a trundle bed which could be pushed under our parents big four poster.  We attended the public school.  Were baptised by the Rev. Joseph Burch and also to whom we make our first confession and holy communion.  My parents were confirmed by Arch Bishop Spalding.  Their family album contain all of the photographs.  I have lovingly preserved it through the years.  After completing grammar school we were  sent to the Visitation Convent in Frederick.  Mamma’s parents were then living there.  They had a much finer house than ours since he did not consent to their furnishing the two parlors and the sterling, linens, china also supplying the pantry with the customary barrels of flour, sugar, and etc.  We still have the hand carved mahogany furniture in the living and reception hall here in Rockville.

Indeed those were carefree, happy days.  Each spring and fall we visited mamma’s parents in Frederick.  A dressmaker would come in and make our closthes which would suffice us for the two seasons.  Papa whenever possible would come and bring us homes.  Christmas was always very joyful.  After early mass and breakfast, Papa would will the old diamond cut glass punch bowl with eggnog and throughout the day friends called.  A half dozen cakes were baked into ginger and sugar cookies, mince pies and best of all were the Maryland beaten biscuits.  During the Christmas Holiday of 1888, I was invited to Washington by Mamma’s Uncle Milton Fischer.  They had two children, Henry Clay and Mary Ethel.  It was my fist visit there.  Henry was an army cadet and later became a Colonel in the Medical Corp.  He showed me a delightful time.  We attended Grover Cleveland’s Inauguration Ball and we visited all of the public buildings.  Walked to the dome from the Capitol and to the top of the Washington Monument also through the Botanical Gardens.  Truly we spent a carefree life and when I married the only thing I could make was a pot of tea.

My parents adopted an orphan girl and some years after she married returned to Barnesville and gave Father Joseph Burch a check for ten thousand dollars for a parish house and she requested a plaque near the entrance in memory of my Mother (on the front door).

Shortly after finishing school Inez married Henry Bernard Gardiner.  They had six children.  Anna Edmonia married Raymond King.  They have two children a boy and a girl.  Lucille married Mr. Harry Allison of Warrenton, VA.  They have two girls.  Bernadine married Mr. Oscar Leaman and have no children.  She lives in Comus and Anna in Clarksburg.  Lucille in Baltimore suburbs.  They all have a very comfortable homes and are very dear to me.  In recent years I have seen more of Bernadine since she is alone we seem to have more time to visit.  Bowlen married Cecilia Sullivan and  have one buy and three girls.  Bowlen died a few years ago and LeRoy was killed by a B. & O. train when he was about thirteen years of age.  Evelyn, the youngest, married John Brickley and they have three children.  She died about two years ago.  Bernard and Inez died in the fall of 1932 and are buried in Barnesville near our parents also our babies are there.

Quite soon after my sister’s marriage, Bernard’s brother Louis  began calling, although Papa declared there would be nor fire built in the parlor that winter.  We became engaged on Valentine’s Day 1889.  He proposed by saying, “Miss Nettie must say yes or no tonight.” Since he was somewhat older than I it became a habit I suppose and through all the years I addressed him as Mr. Louis.  Of course in those days there was more formality in every respect.  Older people were always loved and respected by the younger members of the family.  I was “my bride” or “my sweetheart.”  We were married November 6, 1889.  I often think November the happiest and saddest months of my life.

Our wedding took place in Saint Mary’s Church in Barnesville.  Nuptial mass by Father Riordan.  I wore the traditional white with long veil, long sleeves and white kid slippers with pointed toes.  Miss Sally Brown made all of my wedding clothes and she is still living and still doing sewing.  A bountiful reception was held at home.  Roast young suckling pig, hams, chickens etc. and we spent our bridal trip in Baltimore.  Visited a cousin of Mr. Louis’ of Whitehall, Harford County (Uncle Tom of Whitehall and Uncle John Green of Stewartstown) and Aunt Sue and her family, Baltimore. We settled on a home on the National Old Trail’s road, near Germantown, MD.  The village of Middlebrook touched the east corner of our home.  We named it Locust Grove.  Papa gave me and the home farm and Cousin Jim Clarke sold Mr. Louis the farm opposite, separated by the country road.  Together they totaled 365 acres.  Mr. William Clarke and Mr. William Gardiner came from Ireland together.  They married sisters from Frederick County.  Grandfather G. married Henrietta Simpson and Cousin William married Betsy Simpson.

Cousin Jim’s Mother, Betsy Simpson Clarke, was very spoiled and high spirited.  They were aristocratic and quite wealthy, owned many slaves.  Mr. William Clarke was very amiable and endeavored to please her but she frequently would fly into fits of rage and through revenge would set free some of the slaves.  Finally Mr. Clarke left and never returned.  She in time became poor and at twelve her only son, James C. Clarke, had to sop school and seek work.  He went to the Chesapeake Canal but they refused to employ him because of his age but he told them he must have work as he had a mother to support.  They admired his courage and he started as a water boy.  He in time became President of the above Canal.  While a boy he would ride the muled and would have to duck his head while passing under the bridge.  He also became the president of the Illinois Ohio Offices in Alabama.  He was fond of my husband and and always a generous , kind friend and cousin.  He had three sons names where Horace, Charlie and Winnie.  Two daughters Jennie and Laddie.  James C. Clarke is buries in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick in the lot next to Francis Scott Key.  His family are interred there and the companion and good friend of  his wife’s is buried in the same lot.  We attended General Clarke’s funeral.  George, Jamie and Edmonia also.  A special “hack” took us in the family procession.  The second monument designed as copy of Washington’s is the Clarkes.

Mr. Louis was the eldest boy in the family.  Believe another correction is in order.  William Thomas, Louis Green, Henry Bernard, Henrietta and Mary was first born.  Their parents: William Henry Gardiner and Ann Frances Green.  William had a slave woman who attended to him by the name of Hagar, consequently he was not well suited for the business world.  Sweet little Ann Frances continued to spoil him through the years.  Mr. Louis bought them a home in Gaithersburg soon after our marriage and Hetty lived with them since she did not marry.  She died about eight years ago in Redland.  Perhaps you would like to know who you r Uncle William (Thomas) married, Miss Lydia Ensley from Poplar Springs, Howard, County, Md. One son, Lee Gardiner blessed their union and Lydia died in childbirth. Then in the course of time he married Aunt Joe in Des Moines, Iowa.

They had six children and I pray my memory serves me now correctly.  I should confer with Sally, maybe.  Their names: Bernard, Louis, Mildred and Walker died of burns in a forest fire while Mildred was visiting us in 1918 during the influenza epidemic.  Poor dear, she contracted it and in the course of time the children who were home came down with it.  Mr. Louis stayed home and assisted me in nursing them as it was impossible to get nurses.  At that time we were living in Rockville and I realize that I am indeed ahead of my story.  There were two more children Donald and Jeanette, nicknamed Sally.  Now you children will have to consult with Sally for further information.

Mary married Ignatius Penn.  Their children, Carlton, Nannie and Melvin.  Carlton died a short time ago.  They also lived in Redland, MD.  I am sure George attended his funeral as well as Hettie’s.  Like Mr. Louis he is a true Christopher, always thinking of others and neglecting himself.  I’m sure a day never passed without them doing some kind deed and I am the selfish, self-centered on you may well think, so take heed , you youngsters, work hard and pray each day that the good Lord will understand and forgive your mistakes which have been made by all us oldsters, especially during this past half century. Truly we were so ignorant of so many problems.  Mamma, who was always thinking of others, spoiled us dreadfully.  Yet my husband was born of well-to-do parents  escaped being proud and haughty.  Such kindness and humility and faith, yet he was high spirited and full of energy.  I often thought if he had only had the opportunity  what a wonderful lawyer he would have made and he was a perfect diplomat in every sense of the word.  My son, George, who was named for my father and Mr. Louis is indeed a “chip off the old block.”  Mr. W. Gwen Gardiner who was our attorney, during the twenties, when we were sorely afflicted with a tenant on the farms in Middlebrook., was truly a fine man but we had signed a contract, before consulting him, and he was helpless to save us from a great loss.  So beware of the “False Prophets.”  Mr. Louis had always felt a man’s word of honor was sufficient but in this particular case we apparently misjudged. He always gave to all who seeked his aid and never accepted a note.  Many time he was disappointed in people am sure but he always believed they meant well and needed the money more than we, which was true no doubt at the moment.

Won’t you excuse me for reminiscing, the prerogative I trust, permissible, to one who is nearing her eight-fifth birthday.  We seem to enjoy thinking of the past rather than the present yet I must confess I do enjoy reading the daily papers, current new books, some magazines and also like baseball, I understand it.  My grandson Louis G. Buttell, is partly responsible for the latter no doubt.  The bible of course is a daily companion.