Transcribed from 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


William P. Bowen

WILLIAM P. BOWEN. For thirty years or more the name Bowen has been extensively associated with milling industries in Southern Kansas. William P. Bowen owns the only flour and feed milling enterprise at Independence, and this was established by himself and his father a great many years ago in connection with several other mills of the same kind located in other parts of the state. Mr. Bowen is not only a business man but a citizen well known throughout Montgomery County. He has filled the post of mayor of his home city, and has done much to advance community welfare.

He is descended from Welsh ancestors. Three brothers of the name came from Wales to the United States prior to the Revolutionary war. The one from whom he is descended located in Ohio after that war, and the other two located, according to the best information, in Virginia, and one in New York State.

William P. Bowen was born at Ottumwa, Iowa, August 31, 1855. His father was the late George W. Bowen, who died at Independence, Kansas, in 1912. He was born in Ohio in 1829, was reared largely in Indiana, and became an early settler at Ottumwa, Iowa, where he married the mother of William P. Bowen. While still a resident of Ottumwa he made his first business undertaking in Kansas in 1869, establishing a mill at Pleasanton in Lynn County. In 1870-71 he erected another mill at Chetopa, in Labette County, which at that time was just being settled up. In 1876 he erected still another mill at Labette City in the county of that name. In 1882 George W. Bowen brought his family to Kansas and established a home at Independence, with which city he was identified the rest of his life. He was a practical miller and made that industry his chief occupation. He operated both flour and feed mills and made his business turn to the benefit of the various communities in which he lived. Politically he was a republican and was especially active in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He filled a place on the official board of his home church many years, and in 1896 was a lay delegate to the general conference. He was also a member of the Masonic fraternity. George W. Bowen married Ellen Hackworth, who was born in Ohio in 1835 and died at Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1861. William P. Bowen was the oldest of her three children. The two daughters are: Clara E., wife of Christopher Haw, a wholesale hardware merchant at Ottumwa; and Emma A., wife of Rogers W. Berry, an attorney at Great Falls, Montana. For his second wife George W. Bowen married Angeline S. Miller, who is still living at Independence. Their one child is George M., engaged in the milling and oil business and living in his mother's home.

Until he was grown William P. Bowen lived at Ottumwa, Iowa, where he acquired a high school education and was also a student in Northwestern University. Leaving college in 1875, he became associated with his father in the milling business, and during 1876 and a part of 1877 had charge of the mill at Labette City, Kansas. While living at Labette City he cast his first vote. In 1877 he returned to Ottumwa and was with his father in the milling business until the latter moved out to Independence in 1882. Thereafter father and son were together in milling until the former retired in 1903. Since then William P. Bowen has been owner and manager of the mill at Independence. His plant, which is a large and well equipped one and furnishes feed supplies to a large surrounding territory, is located on the Santa Fe Railroad track at the corner of Ninth and Railroad streets.

Mr. Bowen has had the honor of serving Independence as its mayor for three terms, and each of those terms was a progressive administration of municipal affairs. He has also been a member of the city council two terms and was on the board of education three terms. He is a republican. He has acquired many interests which identify him with this section of Kansas. He owns farm lands in Montgomery and Chautauqua counties and has an attractive residence at 712 North Ninth Street in Independence.

He belongs to the Commercial Club, is past master of Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons; a member of Keystone Chapter No. 22, Royal Arch Masons; is past eminent commander of St. Bernard Commandery No. 10, Knights Templar, all of Independence, and is affiliated with Abdallah Temple of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth. He also belongs to Lodge No. 17, Ancient Order of United Workmen, at Independence, and to the Woodmen of the World at Independence.

At Ottumwa, Iowa, January 17, 1878, Mr. Bowen married Miss Hester A. Purnell, daughter of William and Rebecca Purnell, both now deceased. Her father was a farmer and business man. To Mr. and Mrs. Bowen have been born four children: Louis H., who is in the flour and feed business at Little Rock, Arkansas; Mary A., whose home is at 4550 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Missouri, and she is the wife of R. M. Snyder, Jr., who is connected with the Kansas Natural Gas Company; Charles E., assisting his father; and Bertha H., a teacher in the public schools of Independence.


Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1711-1712 of 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; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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