Stanley Bowmar (1881-1965)

Having researched his parents and his inventor brother, I came across many links to records and the newspapers which mentioned my cousin Stanley Bowmar (first cousin to my great grandfather Francis Thomas Challoner). It was very interesting to discover all about his travels and his working life, when he moved from his homeland of New Zealand to New York, USA to pursue his dream.

Stanley was born on 23 Jun 1881 in Mornington, Dunedin and the youngest child of Elizabeth and Charles. He would not spend long in Dunedin, before the family moved across to the Charlton near Gore, Southland in 1883. His father had bought a farm there in 1881 which was run by Stanley’s eldest brothers.

So would have worked on the farm from an early stage before deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up. Like his siblings, was involved in the Gore Gospel Temperance Society, as specified in the 4 June 1896 edition of Mataura Ensign Article.

Mataura Ensign 4 Jun 1896

His dream it seems was to become a journalist. He managed to write for several New Zealand newspapers, from Otago Daily Times and New Zealand Times in Wellington, before he decided to head off overseas to London and New York to follow the footsteps of his brother Gershon. The first record I found was when he was aged 24 in a manifest passenger list of ship Virginian that arrived into Quebec City, Quebec from Londonderry, Ireland where he put his brother’s address in Buffalo.

Passenger list for Virginian
Immigration card

Life would have been quite tough but he kept regular contact with his homeland, and had various articles published in some of New Zealand newspapers between 1905 and 1910. He clearly liked to travel as he tramped (his words) around the UK and wrote about his adventures, especially with a bicycle. These articles are absolutely fascinating to read, see below for the links, as some are long to quote here but very entertaining. I would strongly recommend reading them as he makes comparisons between cities and countries with his homeland.

Most of the New Zealand newspapers printed snippets about various locals abroad in the Personal Notes section. Stanley was mentioned several times. It seems whilst in London, he met his future wife Mary Lillias Agnes Hartley, a fellow New Zealander, who was studying as an artist. She clearly was doing well according to the New Zealand Times and was repeated in a few other papers.

25 Oct 1910
25 Oct 1910

By 1910, he properly immigrated to USA again via Canada where he crossed the border at Vermont. Again I found immigration record of this when he was aged 29. Mary followed him to the states, but via New York. They married in Hamilton, Cincinnati, Ohio on the 10th Feb 1911. This was recorded in various articles back home. Stanley and Mary settled in Cincinnati where Stanley started to work for Daniel Kiefer, chairman to Fels Fund Commission.

Otago Witness 29 Mar 1911
Cincinnati Post 18 April 1911

While he was in London he met and became the personal secretary to Joseph Fels who was an American Millionaire who had made his money manufacturing toilet and laundry soap. He is more famous though for campaigning for single land tax. I found a number of items in the newspapers about this topic. See The New Zealand newspapers continued to report about Stanley. Aug 1911, published an article from “The Nautilus” an American Magazine had been offered a job with the Chicago publication of “The Public”. This political newspaper had been started in 1898 by couple Louis F and Alice Thatcher Post. (See He had worked closely with them, becoming contents editor and then business manager in 1916, according to a letter heading I found on the internet –

Otago Daily Times 10 Feb 1911
Evening Post 5 Jan 1912
Otago Daily Times 6 Sep 1911
Auckland Star 16 Sep 1916

While Stanley was with the “The Public” newspaper in Chicago, he and his wife had 2 children Mary Lillias Challoner Bowmar in April 1913 and Hartley Bowmar in April 1916. The newspaper moved offices to New York, which ties up with him and the family moving to Yonkers, Westchester, New York according to the birth of their third child Stanley Bryce Bowmar (known as Bryce) in Oct 1918. Unexpectedly I found his WWI draft registration papers in June 1918, but perhaps didn’t see any action, as the war ended in Nov 1918.

WWI Draft Registration

He may have left the “The Public” when he was drafted or when the paper ceased in 1919, but he had ventured in a different direction when I searched entries in the US Censuses. The 1920 US Federal census indicated that he was a Vice President of an US Bulletin Service. His address was Saratoga Ave, Yonkers. By the 1925 New York state census, he had become a salesman and had moved to the Bronx, closer to Manhattan. Between these two censuses, Stanley and Mary had become US citizens in 1923 and 1925 respectively.

1920 US Federal Census
1925 US State Census

According to the 1930 US federal census the family had moved back into Westchester to Hastings on Hudson, New York and the 1940 US census to 120 Burnside Drive, Greenburgh still within the county.

1930 US Federal Census
1940 US Federal Census

WW2 saw his sons get drafted and luckily both survived. Hartley seems to have not got married, but Bryce marries Edith in LA, California in 1945. His daughter Mary marries a George Chase, but haven’t discovered when yet.

While surfing the internet, found that he had started his own business, in selling books and visual aids for education like desk maps. Mainly selling teaching aids to schools and universities, below are the label addresses. If one puts “Stanley Bowmar Company” in the search engine, several items come up listing what publications he had available. I think there is more to research here.

When the 1950 US census becomes available, hopefully I will still be able to locate Mary and Stanley along with their children. How long Stanley remained as a Salesman would be interesting to find out. He sadly passed away on 19th Oct 1965 aged 84 in Dutchess Country, New York, which is the next county North of Westchester. I have yet to establish when his wife Mary passed.

As I discover more of my family history, I am finding more and more links to the North American continent. American research is harder than UK, but with the combination of FamilySearch, FindMyPast, Ancestry and MyHeritage, was able to locate the wonderful records. It seems my travel bug is in the blood and hope to discover more about Stanley and his family. His own words gave a real insight to the man.

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