William F Bowers Biography

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Source: Memoirs of Georgia Containing Historical Accounts of the State's Civil, Military, Industrial and Professional Interests, and Personal Sketches of Many of Its People. Vol. 2. Atlanta, Ga.: Southern Historical Association, 1895. pp. 686-687. Contributed by Lori Thornton.

WILLIAM F. BOWERS. There are many Franklin county, Ga., who may justly claim to be sprung from the "oldest settlers," and many persons have been born there who have become distinguished. But few, if any, families can prove earlier settlement or a clearer, more reputable record—though not as conspicuos or distinguished as some—than that of the family of which Hon. William F. (familiarly known as "Uncle Billy") Bowers is now the living head. Simple as a child in friendly intercourse, altogether devoid of ostentation and conscious of entire rectitude, he is always self-poised. For stern and steady, and inflexible adherence to what he deems the correct principles, and conscientious conviction, he is almost without a peer. Mr. Bowers was the son of Job and Elizabeth (Ballinger) Bowers, and was born in what is now Hart county, in 1825. His paternal great-grandfather, Job Bowers, was of Welsh extraction, was a soldier in the patriot army during the revolutionary war; and who, while at home "on furlough," was killed by the tories. He was actually one of the earliest settlers on or near the Savannah river in that part of Georgia. His grandparents were William and Mary Bowers, and his grandfather was born in what is now Elbert county, and lived there a farmer until he died. Mr. Bowers' father was born in Elbert (now Hart) county, taught school and farmed, and later became a merchant. For many years he was surveyor of the county, and also served his fellow-citizens as justice of the peace for more than a score of years. "Uncle Billy's" mother was a daughter of William Ballinger, a farmer, and another of the oldest settlers of the territory now known as Elbert county, and was a prosperous farmer. "Uncle Billy" was brought up on the farm, and as he expresses it, "in the store room," his only education being obtained at the dirt floor, puncheon-seated log school house, with not a nail in it, and stick-and-mud chimney. He began life as a farmer, and afterward engaged very much to his pecuniary advantage, in merchandising. None of his family would ever own a slave; and from earliest life he was an uncompromising Union man. He claims to be, and probably is, the only man then a resident of Georgia now living, who voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He did not swerve from his Union principles during the war; was a member of the constitutional convention of 1868, and served on the committee on the bill of rights and other committees. Subsequently he represented his senatorial district in the general assembly. In 1884 he established the "American Union" newspaper, still published, which reflects his political opinions, and sometimes his religious convictions. In 1890 he was a district supervisor for taking the United States census. He is remarkably intelligent, his intellect bright and clear, very robust physically, and possessing the progressive spirit and vigor of a man of half his age. He enjoys the unquestioning confidence of the people of the large extent of territory in which he is known. Mr. Bowers was married in 1851 to Miss Christiana—born in Franklin county in 1825—daughter of Ellis and Dorcas (Attaway) Cheek. Mr. Cheek was a native of South Carolina, a farmer, and came to Georgia and settled in Franklin county about 1820. Of the children born to Mr. and Mrs. Bowers six survive: Bunyan, Naomi, Pink, Ezra, Nehemiah,and Lois. He is particularly proud of his family, all of whom are strictly pious and none ever having taken a drink of intoxicating liquor. Himself and wife are devoted and working members of the Church of Christ. He is an ordained minister and goes about doing good and carrying the glad tidings of great joy, having worked in the ministry more than fifty years, and is one of the most entertaining talkers of that part of Georgia.


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