General Jacob Bower
of Pennsylvania

Captain Jacob Bower was a son of Conrad and Catharine (Huber) Bower, and was born in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1757. On June 25, 1775, at the age of eighteen years, Jacob Bower was appointed sergeant of the Reading Rifle Company, Captain George Nagel, Colonel William Thompson's rifle battalion, raised under resolution of Continental Congress. This company was the first of Pennsylvania troops to report for duty at General Washington's camp at Cambridge, arriving there July 18, 1775. It was composed of expert riflemen and did valiant service in the campaign around Boston.

Jacob Bower was made quartermaster of Thompson's battalion, on the arrival of the whole battalion at Cambridge. With the expiration of his term of service and the transferring of the scene of action to New York, Quartermaster Bower was commissioned first lieutenant of a company in the Flying Camp, Colonel Robert Magaw, January 18, 1776, and participated in the disastrous battles of Long Island and Fort Washington, in which Colonel Magaw's battalion was practically destroyed. With the reorganization of Magaw's regiment, as the Sixth Regiment Continental Line, Lieutenant Bower was promoted to captain, February 15, 1777, and served with that regiment in all the important battles of the war. He was transferred to the Second Pennsylvania Regiment, Continental Line, January 1, 1783, when the war was practically ended.

Captain Jacob Bower married Rebecca, daughter of Colonel Joseph Wood, one of the most intrepid officers of the Continental army in the Revolution.

He was one of the officers of the Continental Line, who in the cantonment on the Hudson River, May 13, 1783, formed the Society of the Cincinnati. He was also an original member of the Pennsylvania State Society of the Cincinnati, which convened at the City Tavern, Philadelphia, October 4, 1783.

With the organization of the Pennsylvania militia immediately after the close of the Revolutionary war, Captain Bower was commissioned major of the First Regiment. On the breaking-out of the second war for independence, Major Bower was commissioned by Governor Simon Snyder, brigadier-general, and he commanded the First Brigade, Sixth Division, Pennsylvania Militia, during the War of 1812-14.

It was not only in the military establishment that Jacob Bower was prominent, but also in all the public affairs of his county. On June 3, 1793, he was appointed by Governor Thomas Mifflin commissioner to establish the branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania at Reading. He filled the offices of register of wills, recorder of deeds and clerk of Orphans' Court, of Berks county, from 1792 to 1799, and was county auditor, 1799-1800.

He died at Womelsdorf, Berks County, August 3, 1818. The following obituary notice of him appeared in the Berks County Journal, August 8, 1818:

"Died at Womelsdorf, in this county, on Monday last, aged 61 years, GENERAL JACOB BOWER. The deceased was a faithful and active officer during the whole of the Revolutionary War. He sacrificed at the shrine of Liberty, a large patrimony, but like many of the veterans of the Revolution was doomed to feel the stings of adversity in his old age".


He was buried at Zion's Lutheran Church at Womelsdorf, Berks County.

General Jacob and Rebecca (Wood) Bower had six children, two of whom died in infancy. Their son, George Bower, married Catherine Cameron, removed to Philadelphia and died there in 1846. One of their daughters, Adaline Coleman (Bower) Potter, was born at Womelsdorf, Berks County, Pennsylvania August 21, 1818, died in Philadelphia, February 20, 1896. She married Thomas Potter married, October 2, 1845.

Children of Thomas and Adaline Coleman (Bower) Potter:

  1. George Bower, b. Aug. 7, 1846, d. Oct. 4, 1876
  2. Margaret, b. July 16, 1848, d. Nov. 23, 1854
  3. Lt. Col. Thomas Jr., b. July 12, 1850, a member of the firm of Thomas Potter Sons & Co., Inc., and assistant quartermaster-general, National Guard of Pennsylvania
  4. William
  5. Margaret Potter, b. Dec. 12, 1854, wife of William H. Cox Jr.;
  6. Henry Albert Potter, b. Dec. 19, 1856, of firm of Thomas Potter Sons & Co.
  7. James, b. 1857, d. 1867;
  8. Charles Adams, b. Oct. 4, 1860, also of the family firm.


Source: Pennsylvania Founding Families, 1681-1911 Vol. I-III. Provo, UT: originally published in 1911.

Submitted by Colleen Pustola - 5Aug00