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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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BETTS, EPHRAIM (17??-18??)

BETTS, EPHRAIM, tanner and currier, militia officer, and JP.

BOWSER, HENRY W., hotel keeper; b. New Brunswick, c1807; m. 1841, Katherine McDonald, a native of Prince Edward Island; d. Chatham, 20 Sep 1864.

Henry W. Bowser was living in Bathurst when he was married in 1841, and he was conducting a hotel there in 1844. This may have been the Jenny Lind Hotel, of which he was the proprietor immediately before he moved to Chatham in 1853. In May of that year he announced that he had taken over the former Joseph Cunard mansion and fitted it out as a hotel. He claimed ten years of experience in the hotel business.

Bowser's Hotel, or the Bowser House, as it was usually called, was the terminus for stagecoaches travelling to and from Chatham, and for many years the names of those arriving at the hotel were published in a column in The Gleaner. Among distinguished guests in the earlier period was Lieut. Gov. Arthur Hamilton Gordon, who stayed at the hotel during a visit to the Miramichi in 1862.

After Bowser's death in 1864, at age fifty-seven, his widow, "Kate," a "pushing and energetic woman," took charge of the establishment and made sure that its reputation as the best hotel in the north of the province was upheld. Although she was a shrewd business- woman, her generosity was exemplary, and it was said that neither beggar nor dog was ever turned away from her door without dinner. When she died in 1887 the business passed to her daughters, Margaret, Eliza, and Susan, "the Misses Bowser," who carried it on until 1903. The hotel was thus in the family for a total of fifty years.

As well as being a stopping place for travellers and a popular drinking, dining, and meeting place for local residents, the Bowser House was home to a number of single men and women of means in Chatham. Those who stayed there at different times included the accountant John Sadler, the newspaperman James L. Stewart, and the educator Philip Cox. However, the hotel's most celebrated guest was the physician James McG. Baxter, who called the Bowser House home during the majority of his years in Chatham. When Margaret Bowser was married to Dr John S. Benson in 1892, in a ceremony conducted at the hotel, she was given away by Dr Baxter, who had been living there since 1871.

In announcing the sale of the hotel to Thomas Flanagan in 1903, James L. Stewart, former resident, and editor of the Chatham World, observed that it once had been the home of Joseph Cunard, and that "for years, under the Bowsers, it was the site of Highland balls and big public dinners and receptions."

Sources

Advocate 11 Jul 1888; Facey-Crowther; MacKinnon; Royal Gazette 20 Nov 1809; Spray (ENC)

Notes

When certain of the heirs of John Betts and Hannah Burwell of Norwalk, Fairfield Co., Conn., who were said to have been married in 1708, revived an old inheritance claim in 1888, it was stated in the Union Advocate that Jared Betts, a son of Ephraim Betts, was a descendant of the couple, but no specific lineage was given in the newspaper, and it is not known if the statement was factual.


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