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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  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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Thomas Elliott Bowman, whose death the people of Topeka and vicinity were called upon to mourn on the 26th day of May, 1896, was one of the most prominent and useful members of the community. He had been a leading spirit in the business circles of the city for some 16 years prior to his demise, and the life lead by him, characterized at all times by honesty and fair dealing and an impulse to assist his unfortunate fellow-beings, endeared him to the people.

Mr. Bowman was born in the “Green Mountain” State, and was one of four children born to his parents, who came of substantial New England stock. His father was Thomas Bowman. Upon reaching maturity, our subject went to Boston, where for many years prior to coming to Kansas he was interested in the manufacture of silk as a member of the firm of Seavey, Foster & Bowman. He was an energetic and forceful character in business and soon became independent so far as this world’s goods are concerned. Success crowned his efforts, but it was unfortunately at the cost of his health, and he found it necessary in middle life to sever family and business ties and take up life anew in a more equable climate. A character like that of our subject, however, is never daunted by trials of such a nature, and it was with confidence in his ability to succeed in a new line of business and in a new country that he took up his residence in Topeka, beginning a loan business. Here he became a great force in business circles and during the entire period of his residence was a potent factor in the splendid development which came to the capital city.

In his private life Mr. Bowman was a most exemplary character. He was generous and free with his means and no meritorious case of charity ever left his door unanswered. His philanthropy was dealt out, however, in the true Scriptural manner, so that but few knew its wide extent and generous variety. He was ever ready to lend his influence and means to advance plans for the educational uplift of the communities in which he resided, but while he was friendly to all agencies in this line, he became particularly interested in the kindergarten idea, firmly believing with the great exponent of that system, Herr Froebel, that our educational system must be reconstructed, and that from the foundation. He lived to see the idea become immensely popular and no doubt would have succeeded in making it a part of the regular school system in Topeka had he been spared. Concerning our subject, one of the leading papers of the city on the day following his death contained this well-merited paragraph:

“In the death of Mr. Bowman, Topeka loses a citizen of high character, a business man of exemplary habits and a generous giver to all philanthropic work. Although hampered at all times to a considerable extent with a delicate constitution, he was a leading spirit in several philanthropic enterprises. He was a member of the First Congregational Church and was deeply interested in the work of that organization. He found ways of making the most of life and his temperament has been a most happy and cheerful one.”

Mr. Bowman was united in marriage with Mary E. Burleson, a daughter of Caleb N. Burleson, of Vermont. She died in December, 1863, leaving a son, H. C. Bowman, who is now one of the leading business men of the city, and a daughter, Marion, wife of Fred O. Popenoe, of Topeka. Our subject formed a second union in 1865 with Eliza Wilson, a daughter of John G. Wilson, of Massachusetts. Mrs. Bowman resides in the fine family home at No. 221 West 10th avenue. In the year 1897 she built an annex to the Central Congregational Church of solid stone at a cost of $4,500. This was given in memory of her husband and bears the inscription: “T. E. Bowman Memorial.”

It is much to have lived—it is vastly of greater moment to have lived well; so well that in death we yet have life in the fragrant memories that cluster about the hearts of family and friends. In such manner does the life of our deceased subject continue to wield an unctuous and blessed influence in the community where he passed his riper days, loved by all who had known him intimately and respected by the entire countryside.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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