ARTICLE - "BURFORDVILLE, THEN AND NOW" AND NOTES IN HANDWRITING OF LEE
REED BOWMAN - COURTING AT BOLLINGER MILL
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.
"HISTORY OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI," GOODSPEED PUBLISHING CO., AUGUST
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
"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
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
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