IN SEARCH OF THE REAL PATTY BOWKER by Rick Franzen
Not to long ago on a social media page, there was a very long thread about the origin of the name for the local road known as “Patty Bowker Road.” This brief article provides a bit of insight of just what that origin may be.
Patty Bowker Road travels across our Township from a north west to a south east direction, in the northern part of the Township. In the 1876 Scott Atlas of Burlington County, a similarly routed road also exists. So the route itself seems to have existed for quite a long time.
But who was Patty Bowker herself or himself? An offer back in the early 1980’s for a free Tabernacle Athletic Association baseball registration elicited no answer. None of the hundreds of registered families had any thoughts.
For most serious genealogists the U.S. Federal and State censuses are the backbone of family research. Often the family makeup, person’s ages, year of immigration, year of marriage, number of children born and so many other demographics are listed. Any researcher will use this information as a jumping off point for more probing investigation. So how does this tie in with Patty Bowker? We’ll soon see.
Back in 1992 I became a serious family researcher. My genealogy quest has literally taken me all over the world (and yes, I am an addict). Once my own tree became quite overgrown, my zest for genealogy has taken many other paths, including teaching beginners genealogy at local high school adult education programs.
A few years ago the Historical Society assumed administrative responsibility for the Old Tabernacle Cemetery. Interment records received covered a limited time frame, roughly 1900 to 1960. Since the cemetery was first deeded in 1803, burials records earlier than those dates were unavailable or non existent.
Using census data as a start, and 15 or 20 other online and onsite sources as deeper research sites, I have drawn some pretty conclusive and intuitive facts about the “missing” burials. The review of all these sources, with “Patty Bowker” in the back of my mind, has allowed us to now identify the majority of burials from 1850 onward. That story has been told in a slide show presentation given before the Historical Society.
As this research was conducted in all federal and New Jersey state censuses (for our area and in the 1850-1900 time frame) no one with the name of Patty Bowker has ever been revealed. There also is no Patrick Bowker, Patricia Bowker or Paddy Bowker. In fact, no one named Patty or Patricia appears in the censuses.
So that leads to some interesting speculation.
At the corner of Zimmerman and Patty Bowker Roads is an historical sign that relates to a still existent rather old house on the property. It had been owned by Eli Bowker ( 1827-1905), an early settler of the area. Eli and his wife Meribeth Prickett (1833-1919) had thirteen children.
Their tenth child was Adelaide (1869-1943). In 1904 Adelaide married Frank Crain, also a local resident. Frank was involved in township and county government. One of his county jobs (County Clerk) had to do with the county road system. (we’re getting warm!). Guess what Adelaide’s nickname was? If you thought “Addie” you would be correct. So Addie Bowker Crain was married to a guy whose county job dealt with roads. Hmmm. And there is no “Patty” anywhere in local census records. Hmmm.
So, given the lack of any contradictory information, and our ability to make rational deductions, it is quite possible that “Patty Bowker” is none other than the tenth child of Eli and Meribeth! Husband Frank certainly could have had some influence on road naming.
Want to visit Addie’s last resting place? She and Frank, as well as her parents are interred in the Old Tabernacle Cemetery ( row eight, lot 2 ).
Disagree with this conclusion? Prove me wrong and reveal the true answer!!!!!