Friday, February 6, 2015

Ancestor Mystery for Valentine's Day

I have boxes of family photos and hundred's of shared scanned family photos. The other night I was sharing a few photos with my grand daughter and came across one I had forgotten. It is one of the most curious ancestor photographs I have. It belonged to my paternal grandfather, Charles Washington Bowling. Since Valentine's Day is coming up I thought this would be a good photo to share. It has always been a mystery. Seems to be of of a lost and fore lorn love.

Charles Washington Bowling
My grandfather, Charles Washington Bowling was born April 5, 1870, on the south side of Morris Knob in Tazewell County VA. He is NOT my GREAT grandfather nor my great, great, grandfather... he is my paternal GRANDFATHER and was born five years after the end of the Civil War in 1870. That side of my dad's family throws me off all the time on a generational timeline because of this. On my mother's side of the family my great, great, grandfathers were born around 1870.

He was the son of John W. and Martha Bowling.  He married my grandmother Minnie Belle Stevenson April 17th 1908. He was 38 and she was 18. He was 20 years older than his wife and outlived her by 5 years! He had actually been at the wedding of his wife's parents. He had children very late in life. When I asked his daughter Edith, whom he lived with when he passed in 1955, "What can you tell me about your father?" She said, " I can't tell you a damn thing about him. He was an old man when I met him!" 

Charles or (C.W. as he was called) worked for the Norfolk and Western railroad the Pocahontas Division. He was on what they called a bridge gang. He built bridges.  It is very unusual to have someone marry so late in life, with out being married before, but I've never found another marriage record for him. He eloped with my grand mother Minnie Belle and they married in Bristol, Tennessee. My great Aunt Alta told me that Minnie worked on her wedding dress as part of a home economics class at school, without letting her parents know. The day they eloped, Minnie locked the family dog in a kitchen cabinet to make her getaway to marry C.W.  On the Bristol TN marriage record it states he was single.
C.W.Bowling second from right working on a bridge gang for Norfolk and Western Railway

His marriage to my grandmother Minnie was his first and only marriage, as far as I know...but was it his first love? This picture....I don't think so.  

The picture front says it's Arlington, West Virginia with C.W. Bowling. I don't know what he was doing in Arlington nor where this Arlington, WV is!!  There are two Arlington, West Virginias. One in Upshur County, WV, along the Little Kanawha River, the other in Harrison County, WV, along the West Fork River. 
Arlington, West Virginia

It was obviously a special place for my grandfather C.W. because he kept this picture for so many years and of the sentiment written on the back of the picture.

"When the golden sun is setting, Turn your heart from care and woe. Among the thousands of things you're thinking won't you sometime think of me."

Makes you wonder if there was once someone who stole his heart and it took a long time for him to find someone else to fill it. Just one of those curious ancestor's keepsakes that makes one wonder what it's all about.

Happy Valentine's Day all.