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(Bowman) Biography
Cape Girardeau County, Missouri

Cape Girardeau Co Mo

    W. C. and Emma Bowman had fond memories of the old water-driven mill at Burfordville, Missouri.

    Young W. C. had learned the milling trade working from his Uncle Sam at the mill. It was hard work, but it had its humorous side. There were goats, lured by the warm scent of crushed grain, that would slip inside the mill every time the front door was left open. Left alone, the goats would nimbly go up the several flights of stairs and frolic on the floors above. They were usually caught by workmen and tossed out a window to light in the mill pond.

    Emma and her young friends, in their long swaying dresses and parasols to protect their fair skin from the sun, would cross the bridge to walk and picnic. Emma's family, the Esteses, along with the Ballingers, owned most of the land around the mill.

    Lee Reed (son of W. C. and Emma Bowman) states that on the day Emma met W. C. , she was out with several girls. They were east of the old bridge, and on the way back they saw someone push a goat out of the top window.

    (It can only be speculated that W. C. knew what he was doing and was determined to get an introduction. Upon sighting the girls, he took the quickest way he knew to get their attention.)

    Emma and the girls thought it the most cruel thing that they had ever seen. They marched into the mill and complained to Sam Bowman who laughed and called young Billy (W. C.). Billy came into the room grinning like a cat (after all, he had gotten the girls inside so he could meet them).

    Emma, after telling him what she thought of him and his throwing the goat out of the window, hit him on the head with her parasol.



    William C. Bowman, an enterprising citizen of Cape Girardeau County, and a member of the firm of J. C. Clippard & Co., proprietors of Burfordville Roller Mills, was born in Cape Girardeau County on September 27, 1859, and is a son of Rev. B. L. Bowman, a native of Virginia, who came to Missouri when a young man of eighteen years. He settled in Cape Girardeau County, and afterward married Eliza J. Ford, daughter of Daniel Ford. She was born in Virginia, but was reared in Cape Girardeau County. Rev. B. L. Bowman and wife now reside at Marble Hill, Bollinger Co., Mo. William C. Bowman grew to manhood in his native county, and while young commenced learning the milling business at Burfordville. He afterward worked for a few months at Tiedemann's Mills, Jackson, Mo. In 1882, he took charge of the Burfordville Mill, buying an interest in the same in March 1887. This is a water mill, with the improved roller process, and is among the best mills of the county. Its daily capacity is eighty barrels. On January 25, 1883, Mr. Bowman was united in marriage with Emma Estes, a native of Bollinger County. Their union has been blessed by two children: Lyman R. and Eula. Mr. Bowman is a member of the Burfordville Lodge of A.O.U.W., which he is serving the second term as financier. He and wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church.


    "GENEALOGY OF A BOWMAN FAMILY," Byron Whitener Bowman, 1956

    William Chesley Bowman was born on September 27, 1859, at Oak Ridge, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. He was the second child of Benjamin Lee and Eliza Jane Bowman.

    He was the founder of the Scott County Milling Company in Sikeston, Missouri, in the year 1904. He was the fourth in a line of flour millers in the United States and had been active in the operation of the Scott County Milling Company until just a few days before his death. In fact, he was in his office at his desk on Thursday preceding his passing.

    He, with his grandfather Benjamin Bowman and his uncle Samuel Sterling Bowman, all millers at one time, entered the milling industry at Burfordville, Missouri, where his uncle Samuel Bowman was manager of a water-driven mill.

    While working at the Burfordville mill, he met and married Miss Emma Estes, who preceded him in death on January 5, 1938, at Sikeston, Missouri.

    Before moving to Sikeston in 1893 with his family, he worked for a period in the Pacific Northwest and was also a miller in Jackson, Missouri, for two years. When the family moved to Sikeston, he became associated with the Greer-Holley Milling Company, then owned by Green B. Greer and Ulysses G. Holley.

    Later he became a partner in the company, and the name was changed to the Greer-Eberdt Milling Company. Later he sold his interest in this company and became associated with his brother Charles and other associates in purchasing the Albert Jorndt Roller Mill at Dexter, Missouri, and operating as the Dexter Milling Company, this being in the early 1900s.

    Some few years later, he was induced by his friend Charles D. Matthews of Sikeston, Missouri, to organize a new flour mill at Sikeston. Known as the Bowman-Matthews Milling Company, the name was changed to the Scott County Milling Company, with the consolidation of the Oran mill, together with the Greer-Eberdt Milling Company of Sikeston. A little later, the Dexter Milling Company was merged with the Scott County Milling Company, thus resulting in the formation of a large and going industry for Southeast Missouri--a company known throughout the South for its fine products and its high standard of business integrity, mostly due to the high standard of business policies of Uncle Billie Bowman and his posterity.

    He was active not only in the milling industry but in civic affairs and at the time of his death was the "First Citizen" of Sikeston (Note by Carol J. Bowman: "Death Takes Sikeston's First Citizen, The Sikeston Herald, Thursday, April 27, 1950). From 1912 to 1916, he was a member of the Scott County Court, hence the title of "Judge" was given him. For fifteen years, he was a member of the city's Board of Education, serving as President of that organization part of the time. He was a member of the Scottish Rite Masons.

    In his later years, he was fond of walking through the city and was a familiar figure to most Sikestonians. Besides his milling interests, he was also active in livestock and wheat production on his farms in the county.

    He was a longtime member and Deacon of the First Baptist Church in Sikeston. He had contributed more than half the original cost of the erection of the church building.

    At the time of his death, he was the tenth in a family of thirteen children to pass away. At this writing, only one brother of the very large family survives him, and that is James Reed Bowman of Jackson, Missouri.

    He passed away at the Missouri Delta Community Hospital in Sikeston, Missouri, on Saturday, April 22, 1950, and interment was in the Sikeston Mausoleum where his good wife also lies at rest.

    It is so easy to say he was truly a great character in the community in which he resided most of his life, a lover of his Lord and Master, and he loved and supported his church admirably.

    Never have I heard a finer and more fitting eulogy of a person than that spoken of him by his pastor in conducting his last funeral rites on the day he was laid to rest.

    Written by Byron W. Bowman

Contributed by Carol Bowman

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