Letters, Journals, and the Census
Surviving family letters, Clarence Bowen’s records, and the United States Census provide additional information about the men and women employed in the Bowen household over the years. The 1850 census for Brooklyn, New York sheds light on a young household with four children and four women listed as servants. Three of the women are from Ireland, one from Scotland. Jane Stewart appears in the list, aged twenty-two, along with Elizabeth Stewart, aged thirteen. Their relationship is not stated. Jane is found in subsequent records, sometimes in New York, sometimes in Woodstock. In the 1900 census, Ellen Bowen is head of the household in Woodstock and Jane Stewart’s occupation is seamstress.
Lucy Bowen’s letters provide additional insight into the household. In a letter to a friend she writes that “I now have a professed Cook . . .She cooks beautifully, makes ice creams . . ” In 1854, Lucy writes to staff member Jane Miller that “Lizzie we shall keep too, we need two up stairs now, as Clare requires some constancy with him.”
Further information is found in Clarence Bowen’s journals and scrapbooks. A newspaper clipping from 1889 states that “Mr. H. C. Bowen’s employees have stored two hundred tons of ice in anticipation of a warm summer.”
Image courtesy of the National Archives