Frank P. Bowen

FRANK P. BOWEN is a veteran business man at Centralia, Kansas, where he located over forty years ago when it was a hamlet just beginning to show signs of business prosperity. While Mr. Bowen relieved himself of the more important business activities some years ago, he is still president of the First National Bank of Centralia.

He is of old New England stock. The Bowens came out of England and settled in New Hampshire in Colonial times. His grandfather, Grove Bowen, was born in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and died at Piermont in that state in 1859, having spent his life as a New Hampshire farmer. He also served as an American soldier during the War of 1812. His wife, Hannah Perkins, also was a lifelong resident of New Hampshire and died at Piermont. Of their children the only one now living is Hiram M., a retired lumberman at Wentworth, New Hampshire.

Ezra B. Bowen, father of the Centralia banker, was born at Piermont, New Hampshire, in 1823. He grew up and married in his native state and as a youth did farming and also taught school. Out of his own earnings he took the law course at Albany, New York, and in the early days moved West and began practice at Mayville in Dodge County, Wisconsin. He was a successful attorney, and served one term as a member of the State Senate of Wisconsin. He was a republican and belonged to the Masonic fraternity. He died at Mayville, Wisconsin, in 1857, when his son and only child, Frank P., was five years of age.

Frank P. Bowen was born at Mayville, Wisconsin, August 27, 1852. His mother's maiden name was Hannah Page, who was born in Haverhill, New Hampshire, in 1827, and died at Mayville, Wisconsin in 1856. Thus orphaned at the age of five, Frank P. Bowen was reared in the home of his grandparents, Samuel and Eliza Page, at Haverhill, New Hampshire. He attended the district schools in the old New England town, and in 1870 finished the preparatory course for college in the Meriden Academy in New Hampshire. Mr. Bowen on leaving the academy began clerking in a store at Haverhill, and subsequently was similarly employed in Boston, Massachusetts, until 1873.

With this commercial experience he came West in 1873 to Centralia, and identified himself with the town when it had about a hundred population. For the first three years he was connected with a cheese factory and after that for thirty years was successfully engaged in handling and shipping live stock. He dealt with the farmers and stock raisers over a wide territory, and contributed to the prestige of Centralia as a market town. In the meantime, before retiring from business, Mr. Bowen had become a director in the First National Bank, subsequently was elected vice president, and has been president of this old and stable institution since 1909. He is also a stockholder in the State Bank of Lillis, Kansas. In 1878 Mr. Bowen erected one of the best homes in Centralia, located on Commercial Street, and he and his family still live in that residential landmark. He also owns a store building on Fourth Street. Mr. Bowen is a member of the Kansas and American Bankers' associations.

After he had become well established in business in Kansas he went back to New England for his bride. He was married January 12, 1876, at Chelsea, Massachusetts, to Miss Mary Merrill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Merrill. Her father was a farmer and both parents are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Bowen have four children, the second of whom, Walter E., died at the age of two years and the third, a son, died in infancy Bertha, the oldest child and only daughter, is a graduate with the degree A. B. from the University of Kansas, and is now the wife of H. G. Kyle, an attorney practicing law at Kansas City, Missouri. Leslie N., the only son, is a graduate of the Centralia High School and of the Gem City Business College of Quincy, Illinois. He is now in the lumber business at Malta, Montana. By his marriage to Mildred McIntyre he has two children, Mary Martha and Frank Leslie, the only grandchildren of Mr. Bowen.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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