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Friday, October 18, 2013


John Porter Bowman was born in 1816.  When he was just 15 years old, he began working in a leather tannery in Rutland, Vermont.  After working in Rutland for about 5 years, he sought similar employment in New York State, apparently to master the trade.  He returned to Vermont in Shrewsbury to set up his  own tannery business and later, was involved with local politics as a Shrewsbury Townsman, and then being elected to the State Legislature in 1851.  

In 1849 that he married the dignified Jennie E. Gates from Warren, New York.  The couple lived in Stony Creek, New York.  Mrs. Bowman is remembered for her good manners and generosity, as well as being a good wife and mother. 


 She gave birth to their first daughter, Addie L. in 1854.  Sadly, Addie lived only 4 months. A second daughter, Ella, was born in 1860, and after succumbing to illness, she died at the young age of 22 years.  

Mausoleum Statue of little Addie Bowman
Ella Bowman

It is often said that misfortune "comes in threes", with this being true for John Bowman.  In less than a year after losing young Ella, his beloved wife passed way.  Grief-stricken, he had a mausoleum erected as a final resting place for his family in the "native hills" of  Cuttingsville, Vermont.  The monument was christend "Laurel Glen Mausoleum". 

The Shrewsbury Historical Society writes:

"A plot of land in Cuttingsville adjoining the old burying ground was chosen for the shrine. For over a year, 125 skilled sculptors, granite and marble cutters, masons and laborers were employed in erecting this classic example of Grecian architecture, designed and planned by New York architect and special designer, G. B. Croff hired by Bowman."

"A life size statue of Mr. Bowman is posed outside. Bent with grief, and burdened with mourning cloak, silk hat, gloves, a huge funeral wreath, and a key, he is represented in the act of ascending the steps of the tomb." 

"In his book describing the mausoleum, G. B. Croff expressed his thoughts in the following words: "A most pathetic family history wrought in stone, Laurel Glen Mausoleum will stand for centuries . . . and prove a laurel wreath, a crown of glory to perpetuate the well-rounded, honorable, successful life and name of its most noble founder."

"In 1881, the three caskets were placed in the mausoleum. Bowman had the grounds graded, added retaining walls, arranged grass plots, had walks and drives filled with crushed purple slate and set out trees.

 A greenhouse and conservatory was erected on the grounds where the many plants were propagated and used to decorate the cemetery grounds. Laurel Glen Cemetery was beautifully kept and park-like, it attracted people from the city who enjoyed the trip by horse and buggy to picnic on the grounds."

"Across the road, Bowman had G. B. Croff design and build a magnificent Victorian summer residence, and called it Laurel Hall.

 In the May 20, 1882 edition of the Rutland Daily Herald, it stated that "the grounds of Laurel Hall were treated as an extensive parterre or miniature landscape, with winding walks and drives, swelling terraces and shrubbery of various sorts, and graced with one large allegorical Grecian fountain, in composition, a water nymph mid sweet accessories, with laughing sprays of water singing amid the trees and flowers their songs of parting salutation to their homes high in the mountain side, and lulling one to sleep and pleasant dreams, in hammock swung beneath the shadows of the spacious covered gallery nearby."

"When completed in 1881, the mausoleum became a local tourist attraction. Thousands converged on the cemetery to gawk at this unusual crypt. With all of the attention it received  Bowman had a guest book placed inside the chamber, and hired a guide to conduct short tours.
"Bowman himself died in 1891, and fittingly joined the rest of the family in this unique sanctuary."

"Perhaps the most perplexing part of this story would be the unusual will that Mr. Bowman had left behind. Allegedly, his will stated that his fortunes would go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the house, but more strangely, he wanted his caretakers and servants to act like he would be coming home each evening. So in addition to mowing the lawn and tending to the gardens, servants would change the bedding each night as if he would want to come home to a fresh bed to sleep in. Fires would be lit, and the cooks would prepare an elaborate meal which would be presented in the dining room – just in case he showed up unannounced one night and wanted a warm supper...."

"Strange and eerie occurrences have been reported around the mausoleum at night. The mansion across the street from the cemetery seems to be the focal point for hauntings. Locals believe that the ghosts of Bowman and his family still walk within the mansion they had once enjoyed during life. The mansion, vacant for years, was eventually purchased by new owners. The lucky (or unlucky) new homeowners have reported seeing ghosts of the Bowman family gliding through the rooms of the old mansion. In fact it is said to be so haunted that the owners will no longer stay at the house after dark."

"Other tales of weird noises and strange lights have been reported to manifest themselves within his grand house across the street, the most common told tale is the sounds of a phantom baby crying. The odd footnote to this is no children had ever lived inside the house, making this phenomenon a mystery."  -the vermonter.com


1) An apparition of an unknown woman, perhaps Mrs. Bowman, has been seen throughout the mansion, going about her business. Perhaps she died before she could complete a long list of chores to do, and she can't let go of this world because she died before she was ready.

2) Visitors who stand at the top of the staircase on a darkened stain, experience uneasy feelings of "forbodence and dread." Perhaps this stain is connected to the family deaths.

While visiting the mansion, one must mind his or her manners, as misbehavior will sometimes be dealt with. A young visitor who was taking a tour of the mansion with her family, stuck her tongue out at a picture, which then came off the wall and hit her, in full view of several people. Children need to be corrected and if parents won't do it, an unseen presence in this house, perhaps Mrs. Bowman will gladly step in and provide this parental service! -Need cite

When visiting the Laurel Hall (Bowman's Estate) an apparition of an unknown woman has been seen throughout the mansion, going about her business. Visitors of the mansion state if they stand at the top of the stairs on a dark stained spot , an uncomfortable and uneasy feeling comes upon them.It has been mentioned that the dark stain maybe connected to the deaths of the members of the Bowman family.

Other guests visiting the mansion have experienced a spirit that appreciates manners. The story goes as follows a young female child was visiting the mansion taking a tour with her family, The little girl stuck out her tongue at a picture on display. Witnesses state that the picture then came off the wall and hit her. The current owners turned the estate into a museum. They have said that no one should stay over night at this home so that the spirits can go on with there business. - Flicker