John W. Bowles

Page 564-565-566 - John W. Bowles, who passed beyond on July 16, 1925, at his home at 1015 Sheldon avenue, southeast, had maintained his residence in the city of Grand Rapids more than half a century, and he was in active service as a locomotive engineer on the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad during a consecutive period of thirty-eight years, the railroad that thus represented his field of loyal and efficient service being now a part of the great Pennsylvania railroad system. Mr. Bowles represented his native state of Michigan as a valiant soldier of the Union in the Civil war, his enlistment having taken place August 8, 1862, when he became a member of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry. He participated in many engagements marking the course of the great conflict, and at the battle of Gettysburg he was struck by a bullet but was not severely wounded. He had never abated his interest in his old comrades, and was one of the last surviving charter members of Watson Post, Grand Army of the Republic, in his home city of Grand Rapids. As a young man his hobby was hunting, and he had become known as a crack shot with both rifle and shot gun prior to entering military service, his ability in this respect having led to his being selected as a sharpshooter in his regiment in the Civil war. Mr. Bowles was born on a farm near Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 1, 1842, and was a son of George L. and Mary L. (Wheaton) Bowles, the former of whom was born in Franklin county, Vermont, in 1801, of colonial New England ancestry, and the latter of whom was born in the fine old Mohawk valley of the state of New York, in 1814. George L. Bowles was a pioneer exponent of farm industry in both Kalamazoo and Cass counties, and upon retiring from his farm he established his residence in the city of Kalamazoo, where he died in the year 1882, and where his widow passed away in 1884. John W. Bowles was reared to the sturdy discipline of the pioneer farm, and his youthful education was obtained in the rural schools of his native county. He was twenty years of age when he enlisted as a private in Company M, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, on the 8th of August, 1862, and thereafter he continued in active service as a loyal and gallant soldier of the Union until the close of the great war that perpetuated the integrity of the nation, he having received his honorable discharge in the summer of 1865. After the close of the war Mr. Bowles continued his residence in Kalamazoo county until 1871, when he came to Grand Rapids and obtained employment as locomotive engineer on the newly completed Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad, he having brought his family to this city in 1873. He made a perfect record of service as an engineer on this railroad, and after more than thirty years he was retired, as one of the veteran and honored employees of this corporation. He served as engineer on both freight and passenger trains, and in the latter department his activities were continued from 1895 until his final retirement, December 9, 1909. He became well known to the traveling public and to the citizens of Grand Rapids, and in his venerable age he was able to claim a host of loyal and valued friends. He had been a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers since 1881. He received a pension for his service in the Civil war, and also from the railroad company. December 24, 1865, was marked by the marriage of Mr. Bowles to Miss Electa Skelcher, of Kalamazoo, and she died in 1875, leaving no children. January 14, 1880, Mr. Bowles wedded Miss Rose Higgins, who likewise was born in Kalamazoo county, a daughter of Martin Higgins, who was a pioneer farmer of that county. Mr. and Mrs. Bowles had five children: Jennie, the wife of Andrew Simenton; Leona, the wife of Charles S. McDonald; Margaret, the wife of John Greton; Beulah, the wife of John Arnold, and Harry W., who is the only son and who resides in Grand Rapids at the family home, he being in the automobile business.


Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 7 January 2004