This is the portrait and story of Leticia (Lettie) Bowyer, who was born in 1841. She was the daughter of Henry W. and Matilda Bowyer. Leticia died single in 1925 from pneumonia and is buried in the Fincastle Presbyterian Church cemetery.
Her mother was General James Breckinridge’s daughter. Lettie and her sister were named after her mother’s sisters. Leticia’s older sister, Elizabeth (Lizzie), was involved in a scandalous affair with James McDowell. Their father, Henry, shot and killed Mr. McDowell but was acquitted of the murder. It was considered a justifiable honor killing, according to newspaper reports. Afterward, Elizabeth was admitted to the Insane Asylum in Staunton.
Their father commissioned this portrait of young Leticia about 1850. The portrait was painted by Harvey M. Mitchell, a local artist who specialized in very finely detailed portraits. A biographical pamphlet about the artist accompanies this portrait.
Mrs. R.W. Thompson donated the portrait to the Botetourt County History Museum. Through a generous donation from Kathryn Coffman Buhrman, the Botetourt County Historical Society had it restored by John Black of Salem.