Israel David Bowman was born to Henry/Heinrich Baer (1805-1874) and Judith Baumann (1808-1866) in 1830. Israel was the oldest of nine children: Veronica (1832-1904), Magdalena/Lena (1834-), Samuel (1836-1840), Gideon (1838-1840), John (1840-1841), William Henry (1842-1896), Joseph W. (1846-), and Alexander (1849-). Israel attended school alongside his siblings in the Waterloo County. By the age of 20, he was working as a horse keeper while his father was working as a merchant. Israel began working in local politics in the late 1850s. He was appointed as a Councillor of Waterloo County and as the Reeve of Berlin in 1858. In 1861, Israel was working as the County Clerk for Berlin. At the same time, his great-uncle, Wendell Bauman (1806-1876),  was working as the Warden of Waterloo County. Below is the by-law that appointed Israel as the County Clerk, earning him $200.00 annually for the position. 


1861 Journal of Proceedings and By-Laws of the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Around the 1860s, the Bowman’s had moved to Berlin and were living in a three story brick house. Henry was working as a produce merchant while Israel was working alongside his father in addition to his new title as County Clerk. They had a number of servants living with them in their house. Israel also took on responsibilities as the County Treasurer and Director of Mercantile Fire. 

Israel married Angeline Tyson (1839-1912) on August 30, 1863. Israel was sometimes written as Brad or Fred in records. This may have been a nickname he went by as his middle name was David and he didn’t seem to use that as his given name. Israel and Angeline had five children together: Herbert (1865-1916), William Albert (1867-1867), Mary Angela (1869-), Mary (1872-), and David Tyson (1874-).


As the County Clerk, Israel’s main duties were to attend all meetings of the Council and take notes on all the proceedings, record the votes for any decisions or resolutions made, and keep the books and accounts for the Council. Below is the first by-law passed outlining the duties of the Clerk of the Municipality.


1853 Journal of Proceedings and By-Laws of the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


When the initial plans were being made to construct and erect the House of Industry and Refuge, Israel sat on the Special Committee. He was one of three men who visited and examined Poorhouses that were already established in Erie County near Buffalo, New York, Niagara, Chiming County, and one in Berks County in Pennsylvania (Berks County is where his parents were born). They came back with the initial estimate to care for the paupers of the County.


1868 Journal of Proceedings and By-Laws of the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Israel was appointed as Inspector of the House of Industry and Refuge in 1868, receiving a quarterly salary of $25.00.


1868 Journal of Proceedings and By-Laws of the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Years before the erection of the House of Industry and Refuge, Israel wrote letters to other municipalities to inquire on their treatment and care of the poor from their county. Below is a letter addressed to T.J Marsh from Tewksbury, Massachusetts on Israel’s eagerness to have this House of Refuge, one of the first in Canada, be a success:


County Clerk’s Office

Berlin, Ontario 7th April 68

Dear Sir,

About three years ago I wrote you asking for information as to the working of Alms Houses in answer thereto you were kind enough to send me a copy of your Annual Report. We have been [agitating] the matter of providing for our poor ever since and have got [in so far] now as to have [bought] a good farm of 150 acres and have contracted for buildings of the erected this summer to cost some $15.00 to start with. Ours will be a County House and will of course not be on the same [deale] as yours – We are now working to get a right idea of the management of the paupers – we have found your report very useful and I now write to beg that you will again be as good as to send me a copy of your last report or any others previous to that (it is the [eleventh] that we have) and also if convenient a copy of any Rules and Regulations that you have for the guidance of the officers and inmates of your establishment.

My only excuse for troubling you again, is that ours is the first House of the kind in Canada, and that we are anxious to make it a success – and therefore will require to get well posted.

I am D sir

Yours respectfully

Israel D. Bowman

County Clerk


J. Marsh Esq.






As Inspector of the Poorhouse, Israel reported annually regarding the status of the Poorhouse to the Waterloo Municipal County. This report included the number of inmates admitted to the House that year, the reason they were admitted, what locality they were sent from, and a summary of the expenditures of the House. An example of these reports can be seen below.



Inspectors Report of the House of Industry and Refuge 1888; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Inspectors Report of the House of Industry and Refuge 1888; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Inspectors Report of the House of Industry and Refuge 1888; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


As the Inspector of the House, Israel was a very diplomatic person, for the most part. When he wrote letters about the financial status of the House, he would do so in a direct manner:


7th June 71

Mr. John Kimmel



Dear Sir,

Your tender of today offering to supply Beef and Mutton to the House of Industry + Refuge from date until the first of December next at the undermentioned prices has been accepted –

Prices –

Forequarter Beef – Five and one quarter cts per lb.

Hindquarter Beef – Five and one half cents per lb.

Mutton at four cents per lb.

All the supplies under this contract to be delivered from of charge at the House from time to time as may be required by the Keeper and to be weighed at the House as delivered –

Yours truly

Israel D. Bowman

County Clerk


When he was writing about the paupers, he would sometimes advocate for them when addressing reeves, mayors and family members who he needed assistance from in order to take in a new inmate at the House. Below is an example of Israel advocating for Annie Bond, inmate #178 and #233, who was dropped off at the House and abandoned by a man who was financially taking care of her previously (potentially the father of her child). Israel asked for a commitment paper to be signed so she would be allowed to stay at the House. Unfortunately, Annie’s five-month old son, John, died on May 3, just less than a month after this letter was written. She was discharged from the House ten days later.


County Clerks Office

Berlin 8th April 1871

My Dear Sir,

[Annie] Bond and her child (a county baby) were taken away from the Poor House on the 28th of January last by Mr. John [Milner] and have been there ever since until the first of this month when he brought them back and “dumped” them down at the gate and drove away. They had been regularly discharged and of course it was not expected that they would ever come back again – Annie says she got no wages nor anything else – the Matron says her apparel is all in rags. I have thought it might be worthwhile to [sic] her [sic] for wages especially after the sneaking way in which he shuffled her into the House again. I enclose you a blank Commitment which if you have no particular objection please sign –

Mrs. Harris (alias [Vicklier]) in the House from Wellesley some time ago, asked for her discharge to go to Morningdale to rejoin her husband – she says she will not come back to the County again – so [note] it be.

I am my Dear Sir


Israel D. Bowman


Hy [Martinson] Esq

Dy Reeve




Israel Bowman died on September 4, 1896 from fatty degeneration of the heart. His obituary was posted in a number of local newspapers. Below is his obituary from the Berliner Journal:


Israel D. Baumann died quite suddenly early Friday morning. He was afflicted with a heart ailment and since the sudden death of his brother William and of his cousin Daniel had been somewhat concerned with his health. However, he was still in the position to fulfill the duties of his office and was seen every day on the street. On Thursday evening, he had been at the Post Office, spoke with some friends in front of it for a while about various things, listened for a while to the musical band playing at the market building, went home around 10pm and apparently went to bed still in good health. At l am told he awakened his wife and complained of cold feet. While she attempted to warm his feet with a warm brick, he died.


It was written in the Meeting Minutes of the Standing Committee upon Israel’s death that:


 The House of Industry and Refuge of the County of Waterloo desire to express their appreciation of the services of the late Mr. I. D. Bowman as Inspector of the Institution for a number of years, during which time his vast information and valuable assistance to the Committee in matters pertaining to the institution greatly assisted the said Committee in their duties relating to the said institution. We therefore take this our first opportunity of conveying to Mrs Bowman and family our sincere sympathy in their sad bereavement


Upon Israel’s death, his son, Herbert Joseph, was appointed to his positions of County Clerk and Poorhouse inspector. Read Herbert Bowman’s’ story here.

Israel’s wife, Angeline, died on April 24th, 1912.