JOHN W. BOWEN, Superintendent of the Jacksonville Manufacturing Company, occupies a leading position among the business men of the city. This concern was established in 1886, and occupies a factory and office at No. 728, Railroad Street. Its specialty is the Self-acting Swing, and other inventions patented by Mr. Bowen. This factory finds ready sale for its products in all parts of the United States and Territories. The factory gives employment during the busy seasons to a large force of men, and occupies a building 75x88 feet in area, and two stories in height. Mr. Bowen at an early age evinced a mechanical genius, which he has been enabled to turn to profit, and when a boy spent his leisure hours experimenting with tools and machinery.
A native of the Prairie State our subject was born in Pike County, April 28, 1850, and is the son of Billingsley and Sarah (Brackett) Bowen, the father a native of Ohio, and the mother of Illinois. The elder Bowen left the Buckeye State about 1835, and settled upon an uncultivated tract of land in Pike County, where he followed the pursuits of farm life until his death, which occurred Aug. 28, 1858, when his son, John W., was a little lad of eight years of age. The mother continues to make her home in Pike County.
Of the six children comprising the parental family but three are now living, namely: John W., the subject of this sketch; Jesse W., and Mary E., Mrs. May, of Springfield, Ill. John spent his boyhood and youth under the home roof, and soon after attaining his majority commenced working as a carpenter. Later he developed into a contractor and builder, finally establishing his headquarters in Jacksonville, Ill., and in time carried on the largest business of any single contractor in the city.
The lady who has presided in the most creditable manner over the home and domestic affairs of our subject, was in her girlhood Miss Janette F. McKean, and became his wife in 1871. Mrs. Bowen was born June 2, 1849 in Kentucky, and is the daughter of Squire and Mrs. James McKean, of Naples, Ill., who were natives of Ohio. To Mr. and Mrs. Bowen there have been born nine children, one of whom, Nettie A., died when an infant of five months and five days. The survivors are: Lillian B., Mary A., John E., James W., Gilbert E., William F., Ralph E., and Reigh Prentice. The family residence is pleasantly located at No. 503 East North Street. Mr. Bowen, politically, is independent, aiming to support the men whom he considers best qualified to hold office. Socially, he belongs to the I.O.O.F.