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Samuel S. Bowman Biography
Cape Girardeau County, Missouri

Cape Girardeau Co Mo
Samuel S. Bowman

    Samuel S. Bowman, proprietor of Oak Ridge Mills, was born in Kanawha County, W. Va., on October 27, 1843. He is the son of Benjamin and Sophia H. (Ferguson) Bowman, both natives of Franklin County, Va. The father was born in 1804, and lived in his native State until the fall of 1857, when he and family came to Missouri and located at Jackson. He was a miller by trade, and upon his arrival at Jackson took charge of a mill, which he managed for three years. He afterward ran several other mills in the county, among which were those at Pocahontas and Wilkinson. Samuel S. learned the mill business with his father, and afterward had charge of the mill at Millersville for ten years, and a mill at Burfordville for two and one-half years. In 1883 he engaged in a mercantile business at Pocahontas, where he remained for about two years. He then, after farming a short time, purchased his present mill which is doing a good business. Mr. Bowman was married on November 2, 1868, to Serilda, daughter of Aaron Abernathy, and a native of Cape Girardeau County. They have four children living, viz.: Lulu, Russell, James and Lyman, and four dead, the oldest of whom, Robert D., died March 4, 1884, at the age of fifteen years. The others died in early childhood and infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Bowman are consistent members of the Baptist Church. He is also a member of the A.O.U.W.



    Samuel Sterling Bowman, the seventh son in succession of Benjamin and Sophia Bowman, was born October 7, 1843 at Kanawha Salt Works, opposite Charleston, Kanawha County, Virginia, now West Virginia, and it was suggested he ought to become a doctor; but just at the time of life such things are decided, there were squally times surrounding young Samuel, caused by the Civil War, and he shouldered a gun and joined the Confederate Army.

    When he was about 14 years old, the family migrated to Missouri, just as the war cloud was rising, and in 1864 he was pressed into the Federal militia, much against his inclination, but being at home on furlough when General Price made his whirlwind raid through Missouri, he followed up and enlisted in the Eighth Missouri Calvary, Bill Jeffries, Colonel, in command, and was assigned to Captain Stephan Campbell's company. He first smelled powder at Ironton, Missouri, after which that was a daily experience, for he was in thirty skirmishes in his first thirty days of service, though he was never scarred.

    After a long time he was sent to Richmond, Virginia, paroled and put in a parole camp at Columbus, Georgia, to be exchanged, but General Sherman came along that way and the parole squad was hastened off to Macon, Georgia, given furloughs and turned loose, but the war closed before he reached his old command.

    After peace was made he returned to his home and, as many of his ancestors had done, began to learn how to make flour. He became the peer of any man on that job and after he retired from active milling he retained his interest in the mill at Pocahontas, Missouri, where he had a home. He had another home in Oak Ridge, Mo., but finding the Missouri winters too severe for his advancing years, he moved to Taft, Florida, and spent his last years there.

    On November 5, 1868, he was married to Miss Surilda C. Abernathy, who proved to be a helpmate indeed. They had ten children born to them, four who died in infancy. Robert DeWitt died just as he was reaching manhood and James after he reached his majority. The others were: Mrs. Lou Starrett, whose husband was a farmer living near Neely's Landing, Mo.; Mrs. Grace Haldorf, wife of a farmer at Taft, Florida; Rev. Samuel Russell , who was a pastor of the Baptist Church at Farson, Iowa; and Lyman, who was an engineer and lived at home with his parents. Russell was an expert miller when he entered the ministry.

    Sam Bowman had perhaps as many friends and as few enemies as any man ever had. He was an honored and loved Deacon in his church and said that he might have been a preacher if he had "gumption" enough, but as it was he chose the next best trait of his family and became a flour miller. He was always an industrious hard worker and deserved the quiet retirement of his Florida home, with a competency for his remaining days. His wife proved to be a true and worthy companion, a woman of great energy and with an eye to business, for she always made money on the side with her fowls, pigs, and calves, and was the first of the name, I think, to own an automobile. Her youngest son, Lyman, though already an engineer, went to St. Louis and took a course in a school for chauffeurs and soon learned to drive the car well.

    The Historian (Byron Whitener Bowman) tried to contact relatives in Taft, Florida, but had no results.

Contributed by Carol Bowman

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