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Washington Bowie, Jr.
November 20th 1872 - November 14th 1949
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Washington Bowie, Jr.

Washington Bowie, Jr., IV was born November 20th 1872 on the family’s Roseneath estate in Montgomery County, Maryland like his father. He was the third child of Col. Washington Bowie and Nettie Schley. A prominent and well-connected family, this Bowie line claims a direct ancestral line to Jim Bowie – famous for the Bowie knife. The earliest Bowie descendant to immigrate to America was John Bowie Senior, a Scotlander, who in 1707 settled in Prince George's County, Maryland. Washington Bowie Jr. began his early education in the public school system of Montgomery County and then at Brookville Academy. Moving to Baltimore with his father his first job was a clerk for Johnson Line. After some civil engineering work he then began to study law with his grandfather Col. George Schley of Hagerstown and later matriculated to the Law School of the University of Maryland where he graduated with a law degree in 1896. (Harry Welles Rusk and Elijah J. Bond also graduated from the same law school.)

The following year Bowie began a 52 year career with the Fidelity and Deposit Company in Baltimore where he continued his promotions becoming the company's General Counsel and a Vice President where he remained until his retirement in 1947. In their service Bowie would travel extensively representing a wide range of clients. After retiring from the Fidelity and Deposit Company he would join his son Johnson Bowie practicing law in Towson, Maryland.

During his legal career Washington Bowie, Jr., represented many people. Perhaps none as well known and noteworthy as William Fuld and the Ouija board. With the Ouija board in his blood, Bowie would begin earning his reputation as “The Great Ouija Defender” in 1901 representing William Fuld when the Ouija trademark, patents, or copyrights were infringed upon. Gaining the most attention are the court cases between William and his brother Isaac Fuld spanning 1901-1920.

Bowie would also assist Fisher & Fisher in “The Baltimore Talking Board Company vs. Miles” in which the former company believed the Ouija to be something other than a game and should not be classified as sporting goods thus evading the collections of taxes. In that case the BTBC claimed no association with William Fuld but the use of the trademark, design, and the inclusion of Washington Bowie, Jr., say otherwise. In every case involving the Ouija board he would not accept payment for his counsel, instead doing the work pro-bono. Bowie Jr.'s son Wash Bowie V vividly retold stories of his father paying him and his siblings for every infraction and copycat Ouija board they could find in toy magazines.

Washington Bowie, Jr., was a highly decorated military man. He began his service as a Private in 1894 joining the Fifth Regiment of Maryland's National Guard, served as captain in the Spanish American War, served as Lieutenant Colonel in the Mexican Border Campaign, served as Colonel in World War I, and was promoted to Brigadier General by Maryland Governor Nice in 1934. Though he retired on November 20th 1936 he stayed active in the military volunteering in its many causes. A detailed account of his service is recorded in “Across the Years In Prince George's County” by Effie Gwynn Bowie.

Bowie married twice, once to Florence Eugene Keck of Baltimore in 1896 and then to Marion Andrew Johnson of Chicago in 1911. It is from his second marriage that he had three children, all boys. Listed in order from oldest to youngest they are Washington Bowie V, Johnson Bowie, and Richard Turner Bowie.

Washington Bowie, Jr., had many interests and was a member of the Baltimore City, County, Maryland, and the American Bar Association. His memberships included the Masons, the Society of Colonial Wars, the Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, the Maryland Club, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Society of the First Division, the Sojourners, and the 29th Division Association.

Washington Bowie Jr.'s Gravestone - click to launch popup
Washington Bowie, Jr.'s Gravestone

After suffering from poor health for six months Brigadier General Washington Bowie, Jr., died on November 14th 1949. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Washington Bowie, Jr., was survived by his wife Marion, his three sons, and his brother David McAlpin Bowie. When his death was announced in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County the court adjoined early after many stirring testimonials to Bowie's service as a lawyer. In his will he cited many family heirlooms including a four post bed that George Washington slept in insuring his father's request, Col. Washington Bowie, that certain items be kept within their family.

(Special thanks to Phyllis White, Luis Torres, Tim Frank, LTC Michael Edrington, John Metzler, and Doug Sterner for providing us with a picture of Brigadier General Washington Bowie, Jr.'s gravestone.)