Information for John Maloney Bowman
9 March 1834 - 9 October 1936
First Article from
The Caldwell News-Tribune,
dated Monday, 30 November 1931
Also below is the obituary from
dated Saturday, 10 October 1936
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Captain John Bowman
Aged Caldwell Pioneer
Hears Radio For
of Canyon County Pioneer
Being Broadcast Over Boise
Experiences are Recounted
John Bowman, Caldwell's forefather of agriculture as
well as one of the oldest pioneers, heard a radio for the first time
Tuesday evening as the first chapter of the story of his life was
broadcast over KIDO by William Bales of the Co-operative store.
Mr. Bowman bought the first pig for this county from
immigrants from Washington. He paid one dollar a pound for a
12 pound porker. He also purchased the county's first chickens
paying three and four dollars apiece for them.
Mr. Bowman says that he thoroughly enjoyed the
broadcast and heard it quite plainly in spite of his partial
Further chapters of Mr. Bowman's life will be broadcast
over KIDO each evening at 7:30 o'clock.
Inherits Southern Estate
Apparently Captain Bowman enjoys living
over memories of his early life. He smiled and chuckled as he
related stories to a News-Tribune reporter.
He was born in East Tennessee, Green county, 1834.
His grandfather came to America from Germany and owned a 1000-acre
farm and many slaves in Tennessee. His grandmother was brought
to this country from France and sold on an auction block for 40
pounds of tobacco. Four children were born to his
grandparents, three older ones being educated in Germany, while the
younger one, Captain Bowman's father, preferred owning the
plantation to receiving an education. He inherited the estate
and was married to Miss Newman, a well educated lady of English and
Irish descent, and said to be related to the famous Byrd family of
Virginia. The mother taught her children to read and write and
spell and taught them some arithmetic, but she died when her son,
John, was only six years old and he received no training in those
fundamentals from his mother.
The family moved to Missouri in 1850. When Mr.
Bowman was 20 years of age he received two months schooling from a
school teacher in Ohio.
Fights in Civil War
Mr. Bowman and Miss Sarah Ireland were married in
1850 and made their home in Missouri until the outbreak of the Civil
war. Mr. Bowman left his wife and baby daughter and collected
half a regiment for the South. His half regiment was united
with another and Mr. Bowman was make a lieutenant and later captain
of the 110 men. After the battle of Pea Ridge only 40 of the
110 men survived. Captain Bowman handed in his resignation at
Little Rock, Ark., at the close of the war in 1864.
In the same year he gathered together what remained of
a $40,000 fortune, a few choice head of cattle, one team of oxen, a
yoke of cows for leaders and about 40 mares and mules and started
west with a company of pioneers.
The party encountered a great amount of trouble with
the Indians and all their young cattle were driven off by the red
Stakes Claim Near Notus
Most of the Captain's company journeyed on to
Oregon, but the Captain believed the mining prospects near Notus to
be good so with two or three other families he settled there.
Mining proved prosperous for some time and then Captain Bowman built
a roadhouse. He also built the first house below the Canyon
near the present location of Caldwell. Soldiers going to and
from For Boise often stopped at his roadhouse and paid $1.00 or
$1.25 for a meal and $1.00 to have their horses fed.
The Bowman family later took up a homestead and a
timber claim in the Dixie country, paying $1.25 an acre for the very
best stands of timber.
Captain Bowman was the first man to raise grain in this
vicinity and paid $100 for a 12 inch plow and 12 1/2 cents a pound
for seed. He made a harrow of a tree trunk fashioned into an
"A" shape with spokes for teeth. The government gave him 6 1/2
cents a pound for his grain.
Captain Bowman wears a Southern Cross of Honor,
inscribed, "Des Vinsice 1861-1865 from United Daughters of
Confederacy to the U. C. V., 1922."
Colorful Career of Caldwell's
Pioneer is Ended
brought to a close the colorful career of Caldwell's oldest
resident, Captain John M. Bowman, late Friday.
Captain Bowman, 102 year-old pioneer reputedly was the first person
to build a house on the present site of Caldwell and since that time
has seen the town grow from nothing up to the thriving municipality
that it now is.
The funeral will be conducted
at the Methodist church at 2:30 Sunday afternoon. Dr. H. H.
Hayman will officiate. Interment will be at Canyon Hill
cemetery. Funeral plans are in charge of the Peckham mortuary.
At the time of his death Captain Bowman was living at the home of
Mrs. Martha Cook, his eldest daughter, who was an infant of two
years of age, made the trip with her mother and father across the
plains by covered wagon in 1857.
Born in Tennesee
Captain Bowman was born into a wealthy line of mingled
French and German plantationers in Tennessee in 1834 and enjoyed an
early life of traditional southern ease. However the flood of
Huegenot ancestors boiling in his veins he was little content with
the quiet southern atmospherre and consequently he made his was to
Missouri in 1850 and remained there until the outbreak of the Civil
war in 1861.
He served as a lieutenant under
Price and assisted with the coup of Lexington. By sheer valor
and military prowess he was made a captain in the Confederate army
shortly before the battle of Pea Ridge.
subsequent defeat of the south and loss of family ties led Captain
Bowman and his wife of a year to take the westward trail. They
arrived in Idaho in 1867 after being attacked several times by
hostile bands of prairie Indians. At Caldwell they left the
main caravan and remained here.
The rest of
the captain's active life was spent in ranching and stock raising
near Caldwell. Previous to his last illness Captain Bowman
told priceless tales of the Indian wars in this territory, of
rustlers, hardships of the early settlers and the coming of
The year before the Nez Perce
outbreak, Captain Bowman planned and helped to build Fort Tom
Johnson and the next year Fort William Kincaid.
Eight sons and daughters were born to the family and most of them
are located in the Boise Valley. They in turn have assisted
with the population of the country and all in all there have been
more than 150 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and
great-great-grandchildren living in this vicinity.
The captain's daughters, will known in Caldwell, are Mrrs. Cook,
Mrs. G. W. Froman and Esther McConnell, the latter deceased.
The five sons are, Henry of Havre, Mont., John of Boise, Robert of
Nampa; Bird of the Dixie district and Luther, now deceased.
Also this article from
The History of Idaho,
The Gem of the Mountains, Vol II
by James Henry Hawley
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1920
John M. Bowman
John M. Bowman, of Caldwell, has reached the
venerable age of eighty-five years. His reminiscences concerning the
early days are most interesting and present a vivid picture of
conditions that existed in Idaho when this was a frontier district,
in which the work of development and improvement had scarcely been
begun. Mr. Bowman was born in Greene county, Tennessee, near
Greeneville, on the 9th of March, 1834, and is a son of Joseph and
Honor (Newman) Bowman. The old home of the Bowman family, on which
Joseph Bowman was born, bordered the highway between Tennessee and
Virginia, and his people were originally Virginians. Joseph Bowman
became the owner of a plantation of over one hundred acres,
inheriting the property from his father. He married Honor Newman,
whose father was of Irish birth, while her mother, who in her
maidenhood was Miss Bird, was born in England. To Mr. and Mrs.
Joseph Bowman twelve children were born: Jacob, Cornelius, Joseph,
John, Henry, Samuel, Mounce Bird, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Mary, Honor
and Martha. After the death of the mother the father married again
and of the second marriage there were born nine children: George W.,
Andrew J., Benjamin F., William, Barbara, Liddy Ann, Hannah, Nancy
John M. Bowman was reared in Tennessee. At the time of the
Civil war he became a member of Company B, of the First Division of
General Y. Slack's army. He had previously been a lieutenant at
Lexington, Missouri, and received his commission as captain just
before the battle of Pea Ridge. He now has in his possession a Cross
of Honor which was presented to him by the United Daughters of the
Confederacy and he is justly proud of this gift. He also has a fine
gold- headed ebony cane, which was presented him recently by the
business men of Caldwell in recognition of his act in knocking down
with a hickory cane a socialist who had hit a recruiting officer
while he was recruiting troops for the Mexican border. He also
retains possession of the hickory cane. As the business men had
oversubscribed the cost of the gold-headed cane to the extent of
thirty five dollars he was asked what disposition should be made of
this balance. He suggested, and it was accordingly carried out, that
the money should be spent in purchasing hickory canes such as the
one he used to be given to the old soldiers, both those who wore the
blue and those who wore the gray.
Mr. Bowman came to Idaho from Missouri in 1864, crossing the
plains with ox teams. When they reached Deer Creek station on the
North Platte river in Nebraska, twenty head of their stock were
stolen while most of the men were fishing. They immediately followed
the Indians as soon as the loss was discovered and the white men
killed four of the Indians. A mule which one Indian had been riding
returned to camp and this was the extent of the stock recovered. The
white men were so greatly outnumbered by the Indians that they were
forced to retreat. Soon afterward they met a squad of soldiers who
informed them that there were no Indians within fifty miles! They
hurried on their way and between Deer Creek station and Box Elder
they suddenly met about fifty Indians, with whom they fought a
running fight. Four of their party were killed and three were badly
wounded. Mr. Bowman escaped only by being fleeter of foot than the
Indians, who pursued him and two companions into the timber, into
which the red men were afraid to enter. Mr. Bowman and his party
then moved on without further incidents of this character save that
on several occasions they saw Indians in their war paint and
On the 6th of September, 1864, Mr. Bowman arrived in Boise and
after remaining there for a few days moved down the Boise river,
locating on the south bank opposite the present site of Notus,
although there was no town there at the time. He cut balm trees and
built a cabin with a dirt roof and dirt floor and in this he and his
family lived for the first three years. Their first table was made
from planks rudely split from a log and the second year he put a
floor in his cabin of the same kind of planks. A cellar was dug in
the bank of a stream as a refuge for his family when in fear of
Indians. Upon his farm he raised stock and also raised the first
grain grown below the present site of Caldwell, paying twelve and a
half cents per pound for the seed and selling his crop at six and a
half cents per pound. Eight years later he took up a homestead of
one hundred and sixty acres on the north side of the river and in
the conduct of his farming and stock raising interests won
prosperity. He lived upon that place until 1880, when he sold both
the homestead and his first farm and took up his abode farther down
the river on the south bank. In 1877 the Indians became very
troublesome and the settlers formed a company and built Fort Tom
Johnson, where they kept their families for more than a month. In
1878 they built Fort Kinkaid and for portholes put in large wagon
hubs, which in the distance looked like cannon. This camouflage
movement proved so effective that the Indians would not venture
near. There the settlers kept their families until they felt that it
was safe to return to their homes. In 1908 Mr. Bowman sold his farm
property and removed to Caldwell, retiring from active business
life. His former toil brought to him the competence which now
enables him to enjoy all of the necessities and many of the luxuries
In 1859 Mr. Bowman was married to Miss Sarah Elizabeth Ireland,
of Missouri, and they became the parents of the following children:
Hester Ann; Martha H.; Henry Newman; Mary Ada, who is the wife of
George Froman and has five children, Walter, Harry, Grace, Georgia
and Ethel; John Calhoun, who married a Miss Brown and has three
children, Lola, Luther and May; Maunce Bird, who wedded Mary Marrs
and has one child. Birdie; Robert E. Lee, who is living near Nampa
and who married his cousin Liddy Bowman, by whom he had two
children, Charles Richard and Helen, while after the death of his
first wife, he wedded Minnie Bader, by whom he has two children,
Palmer and Roberta; Martha Honor, the widow of Harry Cook; and
Luther; Charles Richard Bowman, son of Robert E. Lee Bowman, has
recently returned from France, where he was in the balloon service.
The second wife of John M. Bowman was Mrs. Sarah Duncan, of Duncans
Ferry, who passed away thirteen years ago.
Mr. Bowman was one of Governor Hawley's old pioneer friends and
relates many interesting incidents of the early days in which the
former governor figured. He is familiar with every condition of
frontier life, when the settlers had to travel long distances to
market, when they lived in log cabins or other rude pioneer homes,
when the land was unclaimed and uncultivated, the streams unbridged
and the forests uncut. He has lived to witness a remarkable change
as the years have passed and has borne his part in the work of
transformation that has been steadily carried forward.
photo available upon request.