Jefferson County Historical Society

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Hon. Sherman W. Bowen, attorney-at-law, and resident of Rock Township,
three miles north of Kimmswick, was born in Oneida County, N. Y., in
1823, and is the youngest of nine children born to Simon and Nancy
(Waterman) Bowen, natives of Berkshire County, Mass., where they were
reared and married.  They afterward removed to Oneida County, N. Y.,
where the mother died when Sherman was but three years old.  The father
removed to Joliet, Ill., in May, 1835, where he made his home, but in
February, 1836, while making a tour through Western Illinois, he was
overtaken by a blizzard, and found forty miles from any habitation,
frozen to death.  He was an enterprising and influential farmer.  Both
parents were of Welsh descent.  He was a descendant of the old Quaker
stock of New England, and his father, Nathan Bowen, served in the War
for Independence.  Sherman received a good common school education,
mostly before his coming West, and after the death of his father spent
about two years clerking in his brother's store at Savannah, Ill., 
after which he was in a store at Joliet for five years, when the firm
disbanded and he was thrown out of work.  He then began the study of 
law with Judges Henderson and Wilson, then of Joliet, and was admitted 
to the bar at the age of twenty-one.  He was quite successful as a 
lawyer, his practice extending over the counties of Will, Du Page,
Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee and adjoining counties.  After holding 
numerous school and city offices, he served seven years as State's 
attorney of the Eleventh Circuit in Illinois, from 1849 to 1856, the
first time to fill a vacancy.  He was also active and rendered valuable 
assistance in establishing the penitentiary at Joliet, and the iron
works and other improvements in that town.  In 1860 he married Miss
Julia A. Howard, daughter of Alexander and Martha (Sabin) Howard,
natives of Attica, N. Y., but who removed to Illinois in 1833, and
settled thirty miles west of Chicago, where the father died in 1850.
The mother is still living, and is residing with our subject.  Mr.
Howard was a prominent merchant, was postmaster at Naperville for 
twelve years, and was one time deputy sheriff of what was then Cook
County, Ill.  His father was a native of England.  To Mr. and Mrs.
Bowen were born three children, only one now living, named Sherman W.,
Jr.  In 1861 he was elected mayor of Joliet, re-elected in 1862 and
again in 1865.  He was also largely engaged in the real estate and
insurance business, rendered important service to that town in building
the Cut-off Railroad, an important branch of the Michigan Central
Railroad.  Mr. Bowen remained in Joliet until 1873, when he came to
Jefferson County, Mo., and located on his present residence, which 
consists of sixty acres of land or thereabout.  For some years he has 
been afflicted with paralysis, which prevents further law practice. He
has always been an earnest worker for the cause of education, and 
assisted largely in establishing a good school in the neighborhood where
he resides, and in Joliet.  Politically, he is a Democrat; his first
vote was cast for J. K. Polk in 1844.  He was a personal friend of
S. A. Douglas, and used every effort to secure his election, in 1860.
He has often been a delegate to State conventions, and was a delegate
to the convention that nominated or endorsed Horace Greeley for the
presidency, in 1872.  He was a member of the I. O. O. F., also a member
of the Universalist Association at Joliet, and is a liberal supporter,
of all churches.  His first marriage, in 1846, was to Miss Sarah M.
Kinney, who died in 1851, leaving one son, Albert, a civil engineer in
St. Louis.  During the war he was offered the position of lieutenant
colonel of the One Hundredth Illinois, but declined it. He was actively
engaged in the recruiting service, and did good work for the Union
cause in his State.  Col. Bowen, as he is familiarly known, is a man of
fine talent and culture.  He has one of the largest and most carefully
selected libraries in the State, comprising a choice selection of 700
or 800 volumes.