#52 Ancestors: Cousins

Once you start researching family history, cousins seem to show up in all sorts of places. One that has been interesting me lately is my 1st cousin (3 times removed) who has shown up in America and thanks to one of the Dowse descendants I am able to provide some of his history.

In 1826 my 3 x great aunt Mary Biggs (older sister to my 2 x great grandfather James Biggs) married George Dowse. Both the Biggs and Dowse family came from Potterne in Wiltshire. Their second child was a boy, Jabez Biggs Dowse, born on 20 February 1829. He was baptised in St Mary’s Wesleyan Methodist Church at Devises, Wiltshire on 16 May 1830. As devout non-conformists, they chose a biblical name for their son. The name Jabez means “he causes pain”. Possibly his birth was exceptionally painful or there may have health problems early in infancy. Whatever the reason it seems they must have had some concerns about this new addition to the family.

His mother died when he was eight years old and at the age of 12 years, he was living with his father, who was a dealer in grain (a mealman) and his younger siblings in Potterne in Wiltshire. By the 1851 census, he is no longer recorded with his family and he disappears from records. His older brother, Stephen had immigrated to America and it is likely that he had followed in his footsteps.

The next record for Jabez is in the 1860 United States Census. He is 30  years old, single and his occupation is described as a miller. In 1861 he applied for and became an American citizen. In 1864 he is shown in the US City Directory for Lockport Illinois as a grocer.

The reason for my interest in Jabez is for something entirely different. Jabez was an inventor and in 1867 he took out a patent for the “Dowse Fuze” for use in submarine mines

dowse fuze

His invention was taken up by the US Corp of Engineers and detailed in “Professional Papers of the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army”.  So maybe our family can take a little bit of credit for some of the engineering skills and the pathway my nephew is following!

Jabez never married and died in 1878 at the age of 49. He is buried in Lockport,  Illinois.

 

 

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