Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina's Eldest Member Walks On

The oldest Native American member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has walked on.

On June 28 the oldest member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina walked on. Pearl Bell Bowen was born August 19, 1908 and lived to the age of 103. She was a long-time resident of Baltimore City, Maryland’s Lemko Community on S. Ann St. in Fells Point.

Pearl was an original member of the Native American Senior Citizens Program of the Baltimore American Indian Center and was an active participant for many years.

Growing up she helped her mother take care of her younger brothers and sisters. In school she studied home economics.

“When she came home, she could sew and crochet with great skill,” says a statement submitted by family. “She would make beautiful dresses for the six girls of her family and taught them how to sew also.”

Pearl was a devoted Christian and would walk the 2.5 miles each way to attend church, even on week nights.

“One of the most important things that Pearl did in her lifetime was to organize the Church of God among the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina,” the statement says. “Around 1948, they started holding service in a lady’s house until Pearl’s father bought an old army tent to use as a place of worship.”

Services were held in that tent for 18 months until enough money was raised to build Saddletree Church of God on Rennert Road in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Pearl was the daughter of Reverend Charlie and Hattie Estelle Bell, and the wife of the late Rufus Bowen. She was the mother of James Bowen, Sarah Arnold and Christine Logue all of Baltimore, Maryland. She was preceded in passing by her son, Margolis Bowen. Her siblings are the late Marvin Bell, Ada Bell Hunt, Clayton Bell, Carl Walter Bell, Dewey Bell, the late Lillian Huggins, the late Chalmers Bell, Pattie Bell Hernandez of Glen Burnie, Maryland; Christine McCormick of Belair, Maryland; Henry Horace “Buck” Bell and Hattie Bell Barnes both of Lumberton, North Carolina. Pearl is also survived by nine grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, one great grandchild, and a number of relatives and friends.