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Bowen, Charles W.


Charles W. Bowen, a prosperous and respected farmer, whose home is on the southeast quarter of section 36, Elgin township, owns a half section of land within a mile and a half of Little Rock. He was born in Bradford, New York , April 21, 1841, the oldest of three children in the family of Moses H. and Delia (Briggs) Bowen. His mother died when he was only five years old, and two years later he began making his own living. He enlisted August 13, 1862, in Company K, One Hundred and Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was under fire for the first time at the battle of Mill Springs, participating in the siege of Knoxville, the battles of Franklin, Nashville, Resaca, and in many other bloody struggles. After the war he became a blacksmith at Appleton, Wisconsin.

In April, 1871, Mr. Bowen and his brother arrived in Algona, Iowa, whence they drove through to Lyon county, where Mr. Bowen filed on the land which he now occupies. His brother, Henry, secured an adjoining homestead, and for a time the two occupied one claim shanty, 16 by 20 feet. Arrangements were made for breaking land. Mr. Bowen soon put up a house on his own place, a frame building, 16 by 24 feet, with 9 foot posts, and for those times it was considered quite a building. The only house then in sight was that owned by D.W. Whitehead.

The following winter Mr. Bowen spent in Wisconsin, and when spring had again returned he came back with his family, and installed them in the little prairie home, one end of which was fitted with a forge, and the sound of his anvil broke the silence of these prairies that had answered to the whoop of the savage Indian but a few short years before. For fifteen miles around the people patronized his shop and came to know and esteem him highly. Through those trying times known as the grasshopper years, from 1872 to 1875, Mr. Bowen made a living at his forge, and the development of his farm progressed but slowly. Out of seventeen homesteaders who came into the country with the Bowen brothers, they were the only ones to keep their land with the exception of Mr. Tollman, of Rock Rapids. In 1876 the crops were destroyed by hot winds, but after that year things improved, and the country attained a rapid development. Mr. Bowen now owns a splendidly improved farm, and is counted among the most successful farmers of the county. For three years he has served as county commissioner, in 1884, 1885, and 1886.

Mr. Bowen and Miss Frances E. Rondabush were married in 1866, and have become the parents of eight children: George, deceased; Emery, at home; Frederick W.; Lilly R., now Mrs. F.P. Gross; Cora M., now Mrs. F. Mackinson; Lottie, now Mrs. E.B. Donavon; Dolly, now Mrs. Ross, and Sylvia J. In 1876, the year of the intense heat, a prairie fire swept in from the south, and burned the barn and some other buildings of Mr. Bowen. Fortunately the house escaped. Mr. Bowen is working his way into stock, and is making a specialty of the Aberdeen-Angus blood.

Compendium of History Reminiscence and Biography of Lyon County, Iowa 1904-1905.

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