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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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W. J. Bowen, farmer, Osceola, Ark. By reason of his being a native-born citizen of the county, no less than because of his excellent reputation as a progressive and enterprising agriculturist, Mr. Bowen enjoys an extensive acquaintance in the community. His birth occurred near where the town of Osceola now stands, May 13, 1848, and there he remained until thirteen years of age, when he moved with his parents to the farm where his father, Capt. Charles Bowen, is now living, three miles west of the village. Here W. J. Bowen remained until of age, and received such education as could be obtained in the slab schoolhouse erected by his father near the place. The slabs were obtained from the saw mill that stood where Capt. Ayres’ place now is, two miles west of Osceola. This was the first saw-mill in the county. The first grist-mill was a horse mill kept by Felix R. Lanier. The first teacher in the county was John W. DeWitt, who taught school in the old lay courthouse, about 1854, spelling and reading being about the only branches taught. The teacher lived in a little shanty built from old steamboat lumber, and he was also the postmaster, and kept the post office in an old cracker box, into which the letters would be thrown promiscuously. Those wishing their mail might go and help themselves from the box, taking out all the mail, looking it over and returning what they did not want. DeWitt, the teacher and postmaster, was quite a man for his bottle, and at times would go on a regular spree. Sometimes he would take a child on his shoulder and run through the town, yelling like an Indian. In those good old days a negro with a good gourd fiddle would be propped up in one corner of a 15x15 log cabin, and for the pleasure of dancing to his music, the young man would get a horse or mule, go sometimes as far as twenty-five miles, get some pretty country lass behind him and—
Dance all night ‘till broad daylight
And go home with the girl in the morning.
Others would take a yoke of oxen, hitch to a cart and take the whole family, making a two days’ trip of it. An incident Mr. Bowen relates of his father, when a young man, is as follows: He started from where Osceola stands with a young lady, in a dug-out, to go to Barfield, twenty-five miles up the river, to a dance. By some mismanagement the canoe was capsized and they were spilled out; but Mr. Bowen was equal to the emergency, and after swimming to shore with the lady, returned to the dug-out, saved his saddle bags, and again returned to the canoe, which he brought to shore in a passably good condition. This they again entered, and went on their way to the dance. This was no unusual occurrence, as they frequently went to dances and camp meetings in dug-outs, and as frequently were upset. One time at a camp meeting “Old Stormy,” a preacher from Big Lake, rode a mule into camp, and while he was expounding the gospel, the boys got his mule, tied a bee-hive to its tail, and sent it flying through the camp grounds. It is hardly necessary to add that “Old Stormy” was filled with righteous wrath, and that the camp meeting was broken up. W. J. Bowen is the owner of 160 acres in one tract, 100 acres being under cultivation, and he is also the owner of forty acres near Osceola. He is now living on the Dan. Matthews’ place, one mile from the town, where he has about 300 acres under cotton and corn, and has on his place about forty people. He was married to Miss Mollie J. Wilks, a daughter of John Wilks, of Pemiscot County, Mo., and five children were born to this marriage, two of whom died in childhood: Ollie P., who died at the age of seven years, and Charles E., who died at the age six years. Those now living are named as follows: Sallie E., at home; Ella L., and an infant unnamed. Mr. Bowen’s father, Capt. Charles Bowen, is one of the oldest known citizens of the county.

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This family biography is one of 162 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Mississippi County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Mississippi County, Arkansas family biographies here: Mississippi County, Arkansas Biographies

View a map of 1889 Mississippi County, Arkansas here: Mississippi County, Arkansas Map

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