|19th-century photo of Bowman's original store,|
as reprinted in the South Branch Reformed Church 150th anniversary book
James Bowman along with his wife and son, James Jr., emigrated from Scotland to Hillsborough in the late 1830s. Bowman was a tailor and soon set up shop in Branchville north of the Amerman property directly across from the bridge approach. It wasn't long before the Bowmans branched out into general merchandise, and by 1860 tiny Branchville had two general stores on River Road, the only avenue.
|Detail from the 1860 map of Philadelphia and Trenton vicinity, |
showing the location of the two general stores.
James Jr. began as a clerk and soon took over the store from his father who continued to provide services as a tailor. Meanwhile, the Amerman's gave up their store, Branchville changed its name to South Branch, and the village acquired a post office located in Bowman's store.
|Amerman's store after it was relocated to the site of Bowman's store,|
from a postcard circa 1907.
|Borsmann's store and post office circa 1931|
After Dewitt Bowman left the retail business in 1918 the store had a succession of owners. Marvin Sheets, who had previously run a store at Three Bridges, had the place from 1918 to around 1930. It then passed to Herman Borsmann who turned the place into more of a grocery store before retiring around 1940. It was about this time that the fourth class Post Office was discontinued for a diminished volume of mail. At the time the Post Office was reinstated in 1947 the establishment was known as the Abercrombie General Store.
|2 December 1964 Courier News|
The next owner of note was Robert Thomson who operated a small lending library out of the building until the US Postal Service prohibited it. He sold the store to James Amey in 1965 but stayed on as postmaster until 1967. In 1970 South Branch residents began to be concerned that the long-planned Raritan Confluence Reservoir - which would put most of the village under water - was imminent. Seeking protection for their many significant historic buildings - including the general store - the villagers requested a historic designation for their hamlet. The village was placed on the state and national historic registers in 1972.
|James Amey and Mrs. MacArthur|
29 July 1973 Home News