Jacob Boorem


Jacob Boorem, or "Jake" as he was called, was born in 1823 in Lower Nazareth, Northampton County Pennsylvania. In the mid-1820s he and his family moved to the wilderness of what would eventually become Paradise Township in Monroe County. By 1850 his father John had died, and older brother Joseph had married and moved to his father-in-law's farm nearby, leaving Jacob as the head of the Boorem household. Family tradition claims that Jacob, along with his brothers John, Francis and Samuel, were able to maintain their father's farm and turn it into a profitable business. This is evidenced by the 1860 census, which shows that Elizabeth and her sons had substantially increased the value of the John Boorem farm in the ten years since 1850. The 1860's however, would bring change to the Boorem family. Son John went off to fight in the Civil War, Francis married and started his own family, and Jacob simply disappears altogether. He finally shows back up in 1900 living with his brother Francis in Paradise Valley, but what happened to him during the years between 1870 and 1900?

I was able to find the answer because indexed copies of U.S. census returns have recently become available on the Internet. Using an unrestricted search, I was finally able to find Jake Boorem, not in Pennsylvania, but in far away Iowa! The 1870 census reveals that Jacob Boorem was living and working with the family of Samuel Bowman in Mallory Township, Clayton County, Iowa. To my surprise, about half of the people in the township, like Jacob, were born in Pennsylvania. History of Clayton County, Iowa, 1882, Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1882., mentions the town's early settlers, many of whom had come from Pennsylvania. The book mentions Samuel Bowman and family:

Mallory Twp. -- Samuel Bowman, farmer and hotel-keeper, son of George and Charlotte (Lawowall) Bowman, natives of Northampton County, Pa., was born in that State and educated. On April 12, 1867, he came to Iowa, and bought a farm of 345 acres on section 35, Jefferson Township, and eighty acres on section 14, Mallory Township. He has followed farming and still carries on that business, although for four years past he has been keeping hotel in Osterdock. He built the hotel-building which he still owns, and also owns four other houses and lots in the village. He lived in Mallory Township on his farm until he came to Osterdock. In 1841 he married Catherine, daughter of John and Susan (Workhizer) Learn, natives of Monroe County, Pa., where they died. (p. 914-915)

This short biography contains a couple of interesting statements. First, it notes that Samuel Bowman was from Northampton County Pennsylvania, but perhaps more importantly, it mentions that his in-laws, the Learns, were from Monroe County. We know that Bertha Boorem, daughter of Francis, married into the Learn family. Is it possible that Bertha's husband Clinton Learn was related to the parents of Samuel Bowman? Is it possible that Jacob Boorem arrived in Iowa with Samuel Bowman in 1867?

In the census Jacob Boorem is listed as 49 years old, living in the household of Samuel Bowman, occupation, "Works in Cooper Shop." We know that Jake's younger brother John was also a cooper, so it's conceivable that John may have learned his trade from his older brother. The most intriguing thing about the return is the listing of 34 year old "Aaron Boorem" immediately under Jacob. Aaron's occupation is also, "Works in Cooper Shop." There are no family records of an Aaron Boorem. He's too old to have been Jacob's son (who never married anyway), and he certainly wasn't his brother. Ten years later in 1880 we again find "Jake Borem" living in Mallory township, this time with the family of farmer Mart(in) Smith. Jake's occupation in 1880 is listed cryptically as "sharing hoofs," which is perhaps "shearing hoofs," something related to farm animals.

By 1900 Jake Boorem had moved back to Paradise Valley and was living with his brother Frank and family, and family tradition indicates that Jake had already been living with his brother for several years prior to the 1900 census. A death registered recently discovered at the Monroe County Historical Association in Stroudsburg, indicates that Jacob Boorem died on January 29, 1901 in Paradise Valley, at an age of 77 years, and was likely buried with his mother and father in the Keokee Chapel Cemetery in Paradise Valley. A stone mentioning Jake and his mother and father was erected on the plot in 1923, and reads as follows:

"In memory of John Boorem
His wife Elizabeth
And son Jacob"

The most interesting question concerning Jacob Boorem remains his reasons for moving to Iowa. The only thing we know is that he was among a large contingent of Pennsylvanians who migrated to Iowa to seek their fortune in the mid-1800s. Still, the census returns demonstrate that Jacob never owned land in Iowa; he simply worked and lived with other families. We know that he spent at least ten years in Iowa, perhaps as many as twenty. What caused him to leave Paradise Valley and strike out for this western state remains a mystery. Perhaps old Jake did have some of that Boorem pioneering spirit in him after all. In any case, with the story of Jacob Boorem, another chapter in the history of the Boorem family has been rediscovered.

Below: the Boorem plot in Keokee Chapel Cemetery, Paradise Valley., Pa.

View other Boorem family burials at Keokee Chapel Cemetery
Return to the John Boorem II page
Return to the main page at the Boorem Family Web Site

Text and photographs copyright 2003 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved
e-mail: jltbalt1@comcast.net