John and Sarah Jane (Cook) Bovell

We're grateful to Gayle Williams for the photographs and other information on this page, the subjects of which are her great-great-grandparents.

Sarah Jane Cook was a younger sister of my g-g-grandmother, Elizabeth (Cook) Voss. Her parents were John Cook and Sarah Mock. According to her tombstone, she was born 12 Sep 1833.1 Her birthplace was likely Springville, Lawrence county, Indiana, as stated in her obituary. She married John Vance Bovell 20 Aug 18572 and they moved to Paris, Edgar county, Illinois. John was born about 1823 or 1824 in Tennessee.

According to Gayle, John's father was the Rev. John Vance Bovell, who was born about 1800. He graduated from Washington College, "Tennessee's Oldest Educational Institution",3 in 1819 and at the death of Rev. John Whitfield Doak in 1820 Rev. John Vance Bovell served as President for several years before coming to Paris as minister of the Paris Presbyterian Church. Some of the Bovells married Doaks in Tennessee.

John and Sarah's children were:

John Vance Bovell enlisted in the Union army no less than three times:
UnitRank InRank Out
66th IL Volunteer Infantry, Co ESgt.2nd Lt.
135th IL Volunteer Infantry (100 days, 1864), Co CCapt.Capt.
150th IL Volunteer Infantry (1 year, 1865), Co CCapt.Capt.

Gayle and I aren't sure how John V. Bovell turned up in Lawrence county, Indiana, to meet and marry Sarah Jane Cook, who may have been his second wife, if this item from the Edgar County Biography section of The History of Edgar County, Illinois, published 1879 by Wm. Le Baron, Jr. & Co., Chicago, is relevant:

The Bovells came from Tennessee. John Bovell settled here in 1826, where he lived for years. His son, John Vance Bovell married a daughter of William Means. A nephew of Mr. Bovell's was a Presbyterian minister of some note, and preached here for a number of years...

Gayle informs us there were several men with the same name as Sarah Jane's husband. Although this John may have been a Presbyterian minister, his 1860 census entry lists him as a "farmer" and he's listed with no occupation in 1880, with Sarah Jane as head of household. A list of Washington county, TN, marriages includes a marriage of John Bovell and Christiana Gray 29 Sep 1819. These could be John V's parents.

The following obituary from the Paris Daily Beacon, Monday evening, 5 Mar 1900, was provided by Sarah Jane's g-g-granddaughter, Gayle Williams:

Mrs. S. J. Bovell Dead.
Passed away at St. Louis while visiting her sister.4

The remains of Sarah J. Bovell arrived this afternoon on the Knickerbocker from St. Louis. Mrs. Bovell had been visiting her daughter, Mrs. Schimmel, for some time prior to her death. About two weeks before her death she was taken ill with bilious pneumonia, and on account of her advanced age she could not withstand the attack. She passed away Sunday morning at 6 o'clock at the home of Mrs. Schimmel.

Sarah J. Cook was born in Springville, Ind. Sept. 10, 1830.1 On the 26th of August, 18502 she was married to John V. Bovell and came to Paris, where they have resided ever since. Four children were the result of this union, being as follows: J. B. Bovell of this city; Georgia, now Mrs. J. H. Brown, of this city: Mollie, now Mrs. W. K. Schimmel of St. Louis, and James, who died in infancy. Mrs. Bovell was a member of the Presbyterian Church for a number of years before her death.

The Funeral announcement will be made later.

From an undated article in the same paper:

Funeral of Mrs. Bovell.

The funeral of Mrs. Sarah Jane Bovell was conducted from the residence of her daughter, Mrs. J. H. Brown on West Wood street this afternoon at 2:30 o'clock. Revs. J. A. Blair and R. W. Bell spoke briefly on the life and character of the deceased. A choir composed of Messers Nauman and McCord and Mesdames Patton and Mosely rendered appropriate selections. The pall bearers were as follows: George F. Howard, Wm. Sheriff, Fred Gumm, Dr. Jenkins, F. J. Athon and B. McNutt. After the services interment was made in Edgar cemetery. There were many beautiful flowers on the casket, a number of which came from St. Louis.

Sarah Jane was buried by Cook Funeral Home and a record covering 1897-1902 provided by the Edgar county Genealogy Society states: "Bovell, Mrs. Jane - 67; 4 Mar 1900; J. B. Bovell; pneumonia and peritonitis; 6 Mar 1900; Edgar Cem.; from St. Louis, MO." The J. B. Bovell listed on the card was her son. The Cook Funeral Home was owned by a James Cook who was born in Orange county, IN, in 1824 and came to Paris in 1834. Gayle has speculated that he may have been related to our Cooks who arrived in Paris a generation later, but we have no evidence for this.

Gayle believes this is Sarah Jane and her two daughters,
with Molly on the left.

Rev. John Vance Bovell

Gayle sent us the following obituary for Mollie, from a newspaper clipping dated July 5, 1930:

Among the out-of-town relatives and friends who attended the funeral of Mrs. Mary C. Shimmel were Mrs. Sallie Walker5 and George Walker of Bloomington, Ind., Mrs. Maurice Breed and sons, David and Edward, of St. Louis, Mo., Mrs. William Fox of Glencoe, IL, Mrs. Sarah Cook of Clinton, Indiana, Mrs. Hannah Davies of South Bend, Ind., Mrs. Barbara Bovell6 and son, Allan,7 and Mrs. Adelia Shew of Robinson, Ill.

The pall bearers were Mrs. Schimmel's nephews and grand nephews and were Allan, Lorenz, Herbert, George, and Allan Bovell, Jr. and David Breed of St. Louis.

Georgia (Bovell) Brown

Mollie (Bovell) Schimmel

When Gayle sent me her caption for the next photo, I wondered whether she had identified it correctly. Surely those were two little girls with their parents? I thought you'd find her reply interesting...

Oh, yes, those are boys. She dressed all her boys like girls for several years each. It was explained to me that in those days they frequently did that to "fool death." Evidently more boys would die than girls or maybe it was that boys were more "important" than girls, anyway this was supposed to keep the boys safe...

"John Bunyon Bovell, his wife Marie Elizabeth (Lizzie) Gatz
and the two oldest children, my grandfather Edgar Allan Bovell and his younger brother, Lorenz."

This picture of another younger brother George Bovell "was taken same date in 1906. Isn't he adorable?"

1 Note the different birth dates given in her obituary and on her tombstone. She was listed as 18 years old in the 1850 census, 27 years old in the 1860 census and 44 years old in 1880. Her age of 67 in the funeral home's record would agree most closely with an 1833 birth date. For whatever it's worth, she's listed as Jane in both the 1850 census and the funeral home's files.
2 That makes three examples in one article of inaccurate reporting! Book C Page 579 of Lawrence county marriage records provides the 1857 date.
3 An interesting coincidence -- Washington College was founded in 1780 by the Rev. Samuel Doak (1749-1830), who is distantly related to me through another line. Samuel is the subject of at least two biographies available on line: John Whitfield Doak was Rev. Samuel Doak's oldest son. According to Goodspeed's History of Washington County:
In 1818 Samuel Doak resigned the presidency of the college, and was succeeded by John W. Doak, who continued until 1820. He then died and the position was tendered to Dr. Samuel Doak, who refused it. The next year John V. Bovell was installed as president, and after three or four years was succeeded by S. W. Doak...
According to a history of the Tennessee Synod of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. John V. Bovell was the third president of Washington college. He served eight years before resigning and was succeeded by the Rev. James McLin in February 1829.
4 She was visiting her daughter, as mentioned in the article's text.
5 My great-grandmother.
6 Gayle's grandmother.
7 Gayle's father.
This page was last updated 1 Mar 2008.