Wife: Mary Browse (8)
02 (F): Catherine Bowslaugh (13)
Born: about 1787
03 (F): Christina Bowslaugh (14)
Born: about 1789
Buried: Fifty Burying Ground, Winona, Saltfleet Twsp., Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada
1756 – 1848
6 November 2004
Tonight I will tell you about a colorful person in our tree who was a saddlebags preacher, Peter Bowslaugh. Peter came to Canada in 1798 with a large group of relatives. Most people who moved from the USA to Canada soon after the Revolutionary War were Loyalists, so we can assume that Peter probably was one also.
Our cousin, Wayne Olsen, shared several interesting stories about where Peter's family may have come from, and they are such good stories, I'm going to tell them even though we're not sure which, if any, is true. First of all, the name has been found with about 40 different spellings. Here are some of them: Bowslaugh, Bouslaugh, Boschlagt, Bouslog, Bouslogue, Bauschlag, Bouslough, Buchlog. Why do you think it was spelled so many different ways? I don't know, but I think it may be because before the 1800's most people could not read. If a person can't read or spell his own name and someone else needs to write it down, they're going to write it however it sounds to them. And so one person who cannot read or write may end up with his name spelled 10 different ways.
The Bouslaugh family history says that 11 brothers came from France. The History of Monona County, Iowa says a Sebastian Bouslaugh Sr. came from the Swiss Alps. The Bowslaugh family history says a Jacob Boschlagt came from the Swiss-German border area to Maryland before the Revolutionary War. Later he moved his family to Pennsylvania near Reading. His children included Sebastian, John, Jacob, Hettie, Sally, Magdaline, and Peter.
In another variation of the story, the Bouslogs emigrated from the Provence of Lorraine, France. Lorraine was sometimes German and sometimes French so this family spoke German for their language. Their name was originally Bois-du-Lac, then shortened to Boislac. German influence changed it to Bouslog or Bouslogue, Bauschlag, Bouslough, Boschlag,or Buchlog. This was a long and well established Huguenot family that had served in the crusades. The name originally meant that the family lived on a lake near or in some woods. Bois - woods; du - of, on; Lac - lake.
Here's the best story. There were three Bouslog brothers born in the Alsace-Lorraine part of Germany, John, Boston, and a third brother. When John came of age he had to serve in the army of the German princes. It was such a horrible experience that when he came home on furlough he told his father he was never going back. Instead, he would take his two younger brothers and escape to America so they would not have to suffer as he had. Does this sound familiar so far? It sounds like our Wintermantel story, to me. It is very likely a situation, young men being conscripted to fight in foreign wars, that brought many families to America. Anyway, the three brothers escaped to the coast and stowed away on a ship bound for America. When they reached New York they didn't know what to do next. They discussed the situation and decided that one should go north, one south, and one west. After a year they would return to New York and decide which part of the country would be best for them. So after a year John, who had gone south, and Boston, who had gone west met back in New York. They waited 6 months for the missing brother, but he never showed up. Perhaps the missing brother was Peter Bowslaugh.
Most of the information we have about Peter that we can be sure of comes from Ontario Canada and it is believed he came there from Pennsylvannia. One source says he came from Holidaysburg, PA. (Robert Doyle) Our branch of the family tree tells us that his eldest child was born in Virginia. In 1798 he settled with his wife and children in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. Grimsby is south of the western point of Lake Ontario. It is west of Buffalo, New York, right near Niagara Falls. In the winter this area get a tremendous amount of snow.
From the Wesleyan source we learn that Peter was a frequent member of the Grimsby Township Council between 1808 and 1824, and also that he served with the 4th Lincoln Regiment during the War of 1812. This was a Canadian regiment and Canada still belonged to England, so Peter would have been fighting against our countrymen.
But what Peter was really famous for is he was a well known "Saddlebags Preacher." Here is a description by Dorothy Turcotte.
"The saddlebags preacher was a familiar and usually welcome sight in early Upper Canada. These devoted men made the rounds on horseback in all types of weather, traveling from settlement to settlement, even log cabin to log cabin to take the Word of the Lord to isolated families. Wherever they went, the saddlebags preachers held services of prayer and praise; performed marriages, baptisms and burial rites; and shared the joys and sorrows of the people. "
As a Saddlebags Preacher, Peter rode what was called the Ancaster Circuit along with his brother-in-law John Cline. He had been a Lutheran, but once in Canada, he became a Methodist.
Here is a another description of Peter from "Case and his Contemporaries."
"Bowslaugh, especially, was a man of mark in his way. He had the body of a giant with the simplicity and tenderness of a child. His piety, originality, humour, and German accent, made him very interesting to hear. His words often produced a smile, but sometimes tears. When he was under conviction for sin, he was once praying in the horse-stable. His wife, going to seek him and hearing his cries, said, "Peter, has the horse kicked you, and proke your leg?" "No, put Got almighty has prok my heart!" was his touching reply. He was the life of the love feasts he attended, as his friend Kline used to say, "Trowing shunks of fire among the people!" and telling them sometimes that his soul was, "In the tops of the cedars." He would never fail to respond to the request for a sermon wherever a little assembly was convened, but standing up at the back of a chair, he would commence the services, perchance, by hurriedly giving out,
"Salfashion, O, te shoyful sount,
Vat pleasure to our ears!"
and afterwards he would pray and speak with a liveliness that did his hearers good."
From The Wesleyan Repositiry:
"Peter was a large strong, lively man, jocular and humorous; John was smaller in stature, staid and solemn..... They were in later life in good worldly circumstances, and having large and industrious families had much leisure, which they devoted to the service of the Church and their own religious advancement. Wherever the work of God was prospering, they were sure to be found there, as at every Quarterly and Camp Meeting. They frequently traveled as far as Yonge street and were among the first who introduced Methodism in that part of the Province. "
From these reports it sounds likely that Peter dedicated himself more to preaching in later years. When he first arrived in Canada with many young mouths to fed perhaps he had not so much leisure. Though Peter reportedly had a large family, these are the only ones we know about:
John, our ancestor, was born about 1787 in Virginia
Catherine b. about 1787, married George Althouse
Christina b. 1789, married John Vanduzer
Peter Jr. b. 1795, married Dinah Nixon
Jacob b.1797, married Anna Beamer
Peter's wife, Mary Browse, died in 1831 in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Peter died March 14, 1848 in Stoney Creek at the age of 91.
Peter, the colorful and beloved Saddlebags Preacher, was an immigant to Canada, perhaps a Loyalist. We don't know his origin for sure. He left many descendants including Us!
Now I will tell you how we are related to Peter. Peter was the father of John Boslow, John was the father of Harriet Boslow, Harriet was the mother of Mary Derrick (remember her?), Mary had Flora Balis, Flora had Harold Stevens, Harold was the father of Paul Stevens who married Dianne Zimmerman and had Dawne Stevens who married Jason Pamplin and had... Sarah, Hannah, Timmy, and Becky Pamplin! And that is how you're related to the saddlebags preacher of Ontario, Canada.
So Hooray for Peter Bowslaugh!
Buried: Fifty Burying Ground, Winona, Saltfleet Twp., Wentworth Co., Ontario, CANADA
from Wayne Olsen:
Listed in LDS Ancestral File,AFN: 1DQW-DN2
Cemetery headstone reads Mary, wife of Rev. P. Bowslaugh, died Apr 9,1831, ae. 71 yrs 6 mo. 13 days.
[gave birth state]
Revised: February 19, 2018