John H. Bothwell was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. It was in Pittsburg where he learned the trade of nail making.
In 1837, he worked in a nail mill in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. There he met a man named Frederick Norton. The two men would form a close bond and stay friends until a few years before Bothwell died.
In 1864, John came to Ironton. His first job here was at the Belfonte Mill.
Eventually, he would return to the nail industry. He owned the first cut nail factory in Lawrence County. He had a nail mill in Wellston, Ohio as well. However, he stopped working at the Wellston mill because of poor health.
During his life, he purchased a house at 516 Lawrence Street in Ironton, Ohio. He lived across Lawrence Street from John Campbell.
On July 26, 1887, John H. Bothwell died of consumption. He was buried in section 7 of Woodland Cemetery.