Tillman L. Bowen, who is among the oldest of the pioneer farmers of Chalmers Township, McDonough County, Ill., and certainly one of the most highly respected, was born in the township named, on the farm where he still lives, on January 28, 1832, and here utilized the meager opportunities of the primitive schools of that period. His father, Truman Bowen, was a native of Indiana, and his mother, Nancy (Lewis) Bowen, was born in Columbus, Ohio. Truman Bowen came to McDonough County in 1831 and entered 280 acres of land, which he was engaged in clearing at the time of his death, in that same year. He was buried in the old cemetery west of Macomb, only one burial having previously been made there.
Tillman L. Bowen, who was the youngest of eleven children, lived with his mother until her death in 1858. He and his brother, Jesse, bought 200 acres of the farm from the other heirs, retaining 100 acres for himself. To this he added fifty-seven acres, and continued to live on the home place. He notes the fact that in his early youth one gallon of hominy supplied the children of nine families with food for one day. After a while he made a trip with ox-teams to the Salmon River gold mines in Idaho, being six months on the way. Eighteen months later he returned and remained at home until 1884, when, in an effort to improve the health of his wife who was sick with consumption, he took her and his family to California. He reached that state December 17, 1884, and went by stage to Jacksonville, Ore., a journey of 210 miles, which consumed three days and two nights. The death of Mrs. Bowen occurred October 12, 1885. Mr. Bowen continued to live there until the latter part of 1887, when he brought his family back to the old home, where he remained until 1897 engaged in farming. At that period he bought a hack, and with a team of mules drove to Maryville, MO. There he sold the outfit, and with two of his sons and a neighbor's boy, took a train to Boise City, Idaho. While prospecting here and there in Idaho and Southeastern Oregon, Mr. Bowen found one of his sons at a place named Peril. They sojourned in that region two years, Mr. Bowen spending most of the time in Jackson County, Ore., engaged in handling fruit with the rest of the company. At the end of two years, with his two sons, he returned to the home farm, where he has since remained.
On October 18, 1855, occurred the marriage of Mr. Bowen with Lydia Ann Rich, who was a native of Ohio, where, in her youth, she was educated in the public schools. The offspring of their union was as follows: William Truman; Nancy D. (Mrs. Robert Wilson), of Oregon; Frances Belzora (Mrs. McGraw), of Arizona; Emma, who died in infancy; John W. of Colorado; Henry E., of Oregon; and G. Howard and Lewis, who are with their father. In politics, Mr. Bowen is a Democrat. He has held the office of Justice of the Peace for twenty years, for a number of years served as School Director, and was Highway Commissioner three years. The religious connection of Mr. Bowen is with the methodist Episcopal Church. The subject of this sketch can look back over his long and busy life with little of regret. As a man and as a citizen he has done his duty and the consciousness of enjoying the implicit confidence and sincere respect of the entire community attends his declining years.
Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907. Submitted by Joanne Scobee Morgan <[email protected]>