Scottish Rite California
Thomas Bowen
Please take a moment to let us know what you think about our site. Thanks!
Ill. Brother Thomas Bartholomew Bowen, 33º Newspaper Publisher and Printer By: Ill. Bro. McDonald “Don” Burbidge, 33º E-mail address:      The South Carolina Gazette was the first newspaper to report local happenings in Charles-Town after the pioneers settled the Atlantic Coast hamlet beside the Ashley River in 1680.      The Gazette first issue date was January 8, 1732, a short while after publisher Thomas Whitmarsh arrived in the new settlement and long before our Masonic personage.      Any history of publisher Whitmarsh’s newspaper, or its longevity is sketchy. But it is known a full half-century passed before publishing ventures in Charles-Town played any significant role.      Between 1783, the year Charles Town was incorporated, and 1795, there were only two publications in Charles-Town. One was The Columbian Herald or Patriotic Courier of North America, a long-winded banner for a newspaper launched by a Master Mason.      Brother Thomas Bartholomew Bowen arrived in Charles Town some time in 1784. Charles-Town directory for this year was printed by “Harrison and Bowen,” showing him as a printer and living at 4 Queen Street (now King Street).     He left Charleston for a short stay in Philadelphia and on February 10, 1785, Brother Bowen received the degrees in the Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection. On May 19, 1785 he became a Master Mason.      Brother Thomas Bowen actually published several newspapers in Charles Town. Columbian Herald was variously a semi-weekly, tri- weekly, and daily, with a variety of title changes.      Established November 23, 1784, by Thomas B. Bowen and John Markland as a semi-weekly The Columbian Herald, or Patriotic Courier of North America. Issued tri-weekly from June 6, 1785, to November 24, 1785. Then it became the semi-weekly Columbian Herald or the Independent Courier of North America. In the fall of 1790 the paper became tri-weekly and early in 1792 changed its banner again to The Columbian Herald and the General Advertiser.      But by July 23, 1793, it was once more the tri-weekly Columbian Herald and General Advertiser. Four days later it became the Columbian Herald or Southern Star. The name game continued to October 7, 1795, to become the daily Columbian Herald or New Daily Advertiser  ceased with issue number 1888 on December 17, 1796.      Here is some intriguing information concerning newspapers and books in which Brother Thomas B. Bowen played a prominent role. When The Columbian Herald or The Southern Star was issued on July 30, 1793, Thomas Bowen changed the master head emblem from a “Star” to a sketch of George Washington. On July 30, 1793 in The Columbian Herald or The Southern Star Bowen announces his Partnership with William P. Harrison. To The PUBLIC Thomas B. Bowen and William P. Harrison, Has this day commenced their co-partnership, Under the firm of Harrison & Bowen, And with great deference present to The patronage of the Public, The COLUMBIAN HERALD Or the SOUTHERN STAR. On August 29, 1793, Brother Bowen's printing office is listed: “CHARLESTON: Printed by HARRISON & BOWEN, No. 38, BAY, and Corner of Elliot Street: -- Where EBay, Articles of Intelligence, Advertisements, &c. will be gratefully received, and every Kind of Printing Performed. —Subscriptions for this Paper at Five Dollars per Annum—one half on subscribing, the Remainder at the end of the year.”      From this description we can locate where he had his printing shop. Addresses changed due to new buildings being constructed. However, Bowen pinpoints the location at 38 East Bay and corner of Elliot Street.      Whenever a meeting was held involving our self-anointed patron saint of publishing, you could be assured that you would read all about it on the front page of his newspaper. For instance: C I N C I N N A T I A GENERAL meeting of the South Carolina State Society of The Cincinnati, will be held at Harris’s Hotel, on MONDAY, the 14th of October next, at six o’clock in the Evening, at which hour and place the members are requested to assemble. John Sanford Dart, Secretary September 24, 1793 Ancient York Masons A GENERAL communication of the incorporated, “Grand Lodge of the state of South Carolina, Ancient York Masons,” (according to the Old Constitutions revived by Prince Edwin, at York, in the year of our Lord, 926, And of masonry, 4926) with the thirty Lodges under the jurisdiction thereof, will Be held in the Grand Lodge Room, on FRI- DAY, the 27th of December next (being the festival of St. John the Evangelist) precisely at 10 o’clock in the morning. December 24, 1793      Brother Bowen managed to remind readers of his lofty role in Masonry even in news accounts in his publications.      An oration delivered in the Sublime Grand Lodge of South Carolina, in Charleston, on the 21st of March, A.L. 5803 A.D. 1803, before the members of that lodge, the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and a considerable number of visiting brethren; and published at their request. To which is added an Appendix containing a historical inquiry into the origin of the difference of ancient and modern Masons, usually so called; &c. &c. By Brother Frederick Dalcho, Inspector General, and Grand Master of the Sublime Grand Lodge of South Carolina. Charleston Printed by T. B. Bowen, No. 3, Bedon’s-Ally [1803]      Brother Thomas Bowen died on a Thursday July 12, 1805 at Hillsborough, the seat of Major Charles Lining, in the 63d year of his age. He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati of this state, and a much-respected officer of the Pennsylvania line, during the revolutionary war and was one of the original members of the Supreme Council established in Charles Town on May 31, 1801 along with Brother Mitchell and Dalcho.      Brother Thomas Bowen was the first of the “Eleven Founders” to pass away.      The tribute in the Charleston Courier dated Tuesday July 16, 1805 provides us with a persona; glimpse of his life. There are no known letters written by him or about him that have been found.      His trade was that of a publisher and printer who practiced his skills in several locations, and devoted abundant energies to the furtherance of freemasons wherever he based his publishing operations. He had a lot of financial problems throughout his life. No records has been found that shows if he was ever married or had children.      McDonald L. Burbidge was raised a Mason on November 19, 1975, and is currently a member of Summerville Lodge No. 234, Summerville, S.C., the Scottish Rite Bodies of Charleston, and the Scottish Rite Research Society. On February 14, 1976, he received the 32°, on October 19, 1981 he was invested a K.C.C.H., and on October 4,1999 was invested with the 33º. For 18 years, Bro. Burbidge has been the photographer for the Valley of Charleston, and he is currently involved with the year 2001 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite in Charleston.

Copyrighted © 2019, Orient of California, all rights reserved