David Russell Creer's Great Grandfather
Biography of David Bowen
Written by Jane Bowen Hodgings Tuttle (his granddaughter)
David Bowen, son of Jane Evans and William Bowen was born in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, South Wales, August 11, 1823. He was one of seven children, three girls and four boys. As his parents were in fair circumstances they gave their children a good education in the best schools and colleges of Great Britain. As it was and is customary of the people of the old world, to teach their children a trade. Grandfather was assigned to the trade of chain and anchor maker, which line of work he followed for several years.
He had a flair for mechanics and when he was fifteen years of age, he and his brother John, two years younger, built a small steam engine about three feet long and proportionately wide and high. It was accurate and complete in construction and operated from the steam of a teakettle. It was used by the family to do washing and churning. It was brought to America. I remember it for my father had it for a time, but I can’t locate it now.
I don’t know a great deal about grandfather’s early manhood, but I’ve heard him tell about his love romance which follows: “I was born and confirmed a member of the Episcopal Church, but the chief think regarding religion that interested me was the pretty girls who attended services. With a crowd of boys, I was always on hand when Church let out, my object being to watch the girls come down the steps. I was not content to visit my own Church but went to neighboring towns to be on hand when services were dismissed.
While several boys and I were watching the crowd descend the steps at a Church in Dowlas, Glamorganshire, South Wales, one young lady attracted my gaze. It was a case of love at first sight and I involuntarily remarked, “Boys, that’s my wife.” From that time on I became a frequent visitor to Dowlas, and eagerly sought an opportunity to meet this young lady, which was in due time afforded me. A friendship sprang up between us which ripened into courtship and finally, one glorious autumn in 1844, I became the husband of one of the finest girls in the land.”
This newly married couple located in Llanelly where grandfather worked at his trade, studying mechanics in the meantime. He was a natural mathematician, which tendency sided naturally in this line of work. He developed upon his trade, and his naturally ability combined with industry, awarded him advancement until a position was offered him as foreman of a large mint. In this capacity he had Jurisdiction over about one hundred and fifty men and boys at a very generous salary.
He enjoyed this work very much but was not to hold this position long, because it was while he was thus employed that he heard about the Gospel message and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was baptized October 11, 1848 and confirmed October 13, 1848, a member of the Church. He was ordained an Elder on August 14, 1849 by Elder William Williams and William Hughes. After this he bent all his efforts toward preparing to come to Zion. By joining the L.D.S. church, he incurred the displeasure and ridicule of his relatives and friends but this served only to strengthen his faith. In due time all preparations were made to start to Utah.
The Bowen Family sailed from Liverpool, England in April 1855, on the ship Chimberazo. The vessel had just set sail when grandpa accidentally dropped the bag containing all his money into the water. This at first seemed to be a great calamity, but it eventually proved a blessing for another babe came to this couple a few months later while they were comfortably located in Pennsylvania. The child, otherwise, would have been born under reverse circumstance crossing the plains. This new baby was Uncle John. The trip across the water lasted six weeks. When they reached America they settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but moved from there to Minersville, Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania, where they resided for about ten months until sufficient money was saved to buy an outfit. In the summer of 1856, the family, now being well equipped for travel, left Minersville to go to Iowa City where the saints were gathering to prepare for their trip across the plains. (Iowa City was as far west as the railroad extended in those days.) Captain Dan Jones led the company to Newton, Iowa. Then with John A. Hunt as leader they left Iowa soon after Captain Martin’s handcart company.
The travelers got along fairly well until winter set in. As a protection to the handcart company two oxen teams were kept behind. When they reached the first crossing of the Platte River they were held there for some time because of the snow. Feed for their teams was snowed under, so the men were obliged to cut down cottonwood trees for the cattle to brouse on to keep them alive.
Finally, they started to move on breaking the road through the snow as they traveled, but the oxen were so weak from want of feed that most of them died. When they reached Devils Gate, grandfather had but four. John Lewis had lost five out of six. The two animals were hitched to brother Lewis’ wagon and the two families came with one outfit to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Grandfather left his wagon and most of his supplies at Devil’s Gate.
As they journeyed on they met teams from Fort Supply, which had been sent to meet the Saints. An extra team helped materially. At Fort Bridger, they were met by better-equipped outfits sent out from the valley by President Brigham Young. The worn out cattle were left there at Fort Bridger. Strange to say, some of them lived through the winter and were found by their owners the next spring.
Grandfather found his ox and gave it to a man in settlement of a debt. The Bowen family reached Salt Lake City, December 22 and came to Lehi the next day. They reached Spanish Fork on Christmas Eve and went to the home of Morgan Hughes, they remained for several weeks.
Spanish Fork became their permanent home. Grandfather’s experience and his knowledge of mathematics came in handy after he reached Utah. Adding to his trade, he took up blacksmithing and gun repairing. At first he had a struggle but later work came to him from all parts of the state. Prior to his coming here, there were no sawmills in this part of the state and he made the machinery for the first sawmill and also for the first molasses mill in this locality.
David Bowen was a Black Hawk Indian War Veteran and served his country with his comrades. In Utah Country, more especially in Spanish Fork, the name of David Bowen is recorded as a pioneer for he contributed his share toward the up building of our community.
During those early pioneer days, no occupation or trade was more important than agriculture and blacksmithing, and raising of food and the making of implements with which to till the soil and David Bowen as both a farmer and a blacksmith.
As a farmer, he accumulated land in the various fields around Spanish Fork, and was interested in developing agricultural pursuits. There were no apricots in this locality until he planted his trees. He cured the first alfalfa hay in the vicinity, although he did not plant the first alfalfa seed. Uncle John Bowen told me recently that he hauled and stacked the first alfalfa hay in Spanish Fork. While grandpa was in Wales on a mission he sent home for some clover seed. He gave it to a florist, who planted it and raised the first of its kind in Great Britain. This florist had procured something different and he increased his sales by putting clover blossoms in his bouquets. One of the first apple orchards in this part of the country was planted by Grandpa Bowen. As young people, we loved to stray down to the “old place” as it was called, and get apples and cider. We gathered apples and ground and pressed them in the old cider mill. The juice as put into barrels to ripen into vinegar, part of which was sold and the balance given away. Grandfather was also a pioneer in the honey industry. When I was quite young, I helped him extract honey from the comb. Children came from far and near to get the cappings when he was extracting honey.
David Bowen was interested in business and civic as well as Church Affairs. He was one of a company who organized the first co-op store in Spanish Fork and was a stockholder in Z.C.M.I. He was a member of the City Council and held other positions of trust in his community. He was a blacksmith, a farmer, a stock raiser, a businessman and a civic worker. He also did a great deal of Church work and was advanced in the priesthood and filled a mission to Great Britain when he was about fifty-seven years old.
While he was on his mission he sent a little eight year old girl home to Utah with some returning missionaries. This was Mary (Polly) Myler, who became the mother of our present Second Ward Bishop, H. Eugene Hughes. Polly was raised in the home of Aunt Eleanor Jane Bowen Thomas, grandpa’s only surviving daughter. Later Grandpa sent for her brother Samuel Myler, who came to Utah with Mr. And Mrs. John B. Evans, friends of Grandpa.
The Bowen family held a reunion of Grandpa’s return from his mission. He was sixty years of age at this time, He again took up his work in the blacksmith shop, but as he grew older, he spent much time and money doing Temple work. He also helped to immigrate a number of Saints to Utah, and donated liberally to Church and charity and was a splendid Tithe payer.
He was generous, but never let his “left hand know what his right hand was doing.” He helped many people with food and money, and did a great deal of work in his blacksmith shop for which he expected no pay. He enjoyed going to Conference and always visited at my home when he came to Salt Lake City.
I was happy to have him with me. It was then I became more intimately acquainted with this dear old man and discovered his real worth. He was jovial and ever ready with a good story to suit most every occasion. He had a keen sense of humor and appreciated a good clean joke. It was a delight to accompany him when he went to visit his old Welsh friends and to hear them tell tales of their younger years. Some of these stories I shall never forget.
Grandpa was dignified and pure minded. I never knew him to profane or use slang. He kept the Word of Wisdom consistently, but was not radical in any way. I remember him as an intellectual, scholarly man, exceptionally gifted in a mathematical line.
During my school days, I could always depend upon him for the solution of a difficult problem for he delighted in helping anyone. A man of keen intellect, he was always a worker, always a leader.
He died on January 15, 1910 at the age of eight six, leaving a posterity of ninety-nine.
The children of David and Jane Foster Bowen are:
William Bowen, born at Llanelly, South Wales, July 5, 1845, died at Spanish Fork, June 23,1930
Eleanor Jane Bowen, born at Llanelly, South Wales, March 19, 1848, died at Llanelly, April 25, 1848.
George Foster Bowen born at Llanelly, South Wales, March 20, 1849, died at Spanish Fork, December 23, 1919.
Emily Bowen born at Llanelly, South Wales, September 20, 1851, died at Llanelly, January 7, 1852.
Eleanor Jane Bowen born at Llanelly, South Wales, December 8, 1852, died September 9, 1917.
John Evans Bowen born at Minersville, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, July 12, 1855, died at Spanish Fork March 24, 1942.
Lucy Ann Bowen born at Spanish Fork, April 10, 1858, died at Spanish Fork, May 26, 1858.
Julia Susannah Bowen born at Spanish Fork, October 26, 1859, died August 28, 1861.
David Chalinder Bowen born at Spanish Fork, January 1, 1863, died at Spanish Fork, December 11, 1908.