Roseland was a summer home, built in 1846, for a Woodstock native, who would become a businessman, publisher, philanthropist, and abolitionist. The home would also see visits from presidents, four in total, as well as other prominent members of American society.
Henry Chandler Bowen was born 11 September 1813 in Woodstock, CT, to George Bowen and Lydia Wolcott Eaton, he would be the eldest of 11 children. Bowen would be educated in the district school in Woodstock and then at Dudley Academy. At 16 Bowen would desire to go to college as he could older, but his father would not permit it as he needed the help in his store.
When Bowen was 20 years old he was sent to New York to see about a job for his brother, Edward. The store was Arthur Tappen and Co., where Mr. Lewis Tappen ran the family store. After speaking together Mr. Tappen had decided that he did not want to hire Edward, since he had no experience in the dry goods business, but he would take Bowen, who was already there speaking to him. Lewis Tappen would offer Bowen a five year engagement, and it would begin 13 January 1834. Tappen would give Bowen a salary of $300 the first year, and increase it $50 each year after. Bowen would accept the engagement and start working for Tappen on the agreed upon date.
Portrait of Henry Chandler Bowen. Photo Credit: newyorksocialdiary.com
By the end of his five year engagement with Tappen, Bowen was offered a partnership. Tappen had started to think about retiring, and was looking for an eventual replacement. But Bowen would decline the offer, and that from another firm; Baldwin and Kent of Richmond, VA. Instead Bowen wanted his own store, his own business, and would have rather had a business investor; which he found in John Rankin of Brooklyn, NY. Rankin would contribute $25,000 in capital to start the business, an extremely considerable amount of money for the time. Bowen would invite Theodore McNamee to join him in the venture and the two would be very successful.
The two partners would return Rankin’s investment and buy a larger plot of land, still in New York, for a new bigger location. During this time Bowen and McNamee were also working with abolitionists and against slavery. They two men had refused to sign a call for a meeting to be held at Castle Garden, in New York City; to endorse the Fugitive Slave Law, they were publicly attacked. The call had been signed by several thousand merchants and as a result of their stance they had become targets for the press around the country.
In response Bowen, McNamee and Co. issued a statement, which was printed, and has been re-quoted hundreds, if not thousands of times since.
Transcription of response, from Lineage of the Bowens of Woodstock. By Edward Augustus Bowen
Six years before the attack and publication, on 6 June 1844, while Bowen and McNamee were still building their business, Bowen would marry Lucy M. Tappen, the daughter of his former investor. The next year Bowen would hire Joseph C. Wells, to build him a house in Woodstock, CT, where he had grown up. Wells would deliver a high fashion Gothic style cottage to Bowen and his wife.
Roseland. Photo Credit: newyorksocialdiary.com
Lucy M. Tappen was the daughter of Lewis Tappen and Susanna Aspinwall, and was born 17 February 1825. Together the couple would have 10 children. Lucy would die during complications of birth on 25 March 1863, and her last child would only live for a few years. Lucy is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.
Portrait of Lucy Maria Tappen. Photo Credit: newyorksocialdiary.com
Children of Henry Chandler Bowen and Lucy Maria Tappen:
- Henry Elliot Bowen (1845 – 1919)
- Edward Augustus Bowen (1847 – 1926)
- Mary Louisa Bowen Holt (1848 – 1925)
- Grace Aspinwall Bowen Hardy (1850-1940)
- Clarence Winthrop Bowen (1852 – 1935)
- Alice Linden Bowen Richardson (1854-1948)
- Herbert Wolcott Bowen (1856 – 1927)
- John Eliot Bowen (1858 – 1890)
- Franklin Davis Bowen (1860 – 1940)
- Winthrop Earl Bowen (1863-1865)
On Christmas of 1865 Henry Chandler Bowen would marry his second wife, Ellen Holt, and they would have one child together. Ellen was born 21 May 1834 to Dr. Hiram Holt and Marian Chandler, in Pomfret, Ct. Ellen died 28 February 1903.
Children of Henry Chandler Bowen and Ellen Holt:
- Paul Holt Bowen (1868 – 1895)
During the births of his last few children, and the death of his wife, his partner McNamee had pulled out of the business, and replaced by Samuel P. Holmes, and the Civil War had broken out, business at his shop and within his firm had stopped. Bowen decided to liquidate the business, and would not return to the dry goods business again.
Bowen’s estate of Roseland would remain in the family, and become a fun retreat in the summers for Bowen’s children. Bowen had a bowling alley installed in the carriage house, what kid wouldn’t had loved that. 4th of July festivals started in 1870 would become an annual thing. They become so big that in 1876 Bowen had to purchase additional acreage next to Roseland for the visitors. The new plot of land would be named Roseland Park, and was completely landscaped. In 1889, the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison visited Roseland and can be seen pictured on its steps below.
President Harrison’s visit to Roseland. 1889. Photo Credits: newyorksocialdiary.com
Henry Chandler Bowen died 24 February 1896, in Brooklyn, NY. Funeral services were conducted at the families home in Brooklyn, with his body being transported to Woodstock for burial the next day. Bowen is buried along with his second wife, Ellen, in Woodstock Hill Cemetery, in Windham Co., Woodstock, CT.
Headstone of Henry Chandler Bowen and his wife Ellen Chandler. Photo credit Jeff Zinsli.
Roseland Inerior. Photograph Credits: newyorksocialdiary.com
Foreman, John. “Big Old Houses: Roseland.” Newyorksocialdiary.com. November 18, 2014. http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/the-way-they-live/2014/big-old-houses-roseland.
“Photo of Roseland.” Smithsonianmag.com. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/photocontest/detail/american-experience/large-format-photograph-of-roseland-cottage-the-historic-home-of-henry-and-/.
Bowen, Edward Agustus. Lineage Of The Bowens Of Woodstock Connecticut . Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1897.
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations. Vol. 1-2. London and New York: Routledge, Tylor, & Francis Group.
“Roseland.” Historicnewengland.org. 2016. https://www.historicnewengland.org/property/roseland-cottage/.
Zinsli, Jeff. “Henry Chandler Bowen.” Findagrave.com. February 8, 2010. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=47812043.
Zinsli, Jeff. “Ellen Holt Bowen.” Findagrave.com. February 08, 2010. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=47812034.