Jasper C. Bowen – Kidderville Cemetery, Hodgeman County, Kansas
Jasper Bowen brought his wife and five daughters to Hodgeman County in 1885. Two years after his arrival a prairie fire swept through his homestead. They lost their crop, livestock, and everything else except for their house.
Jasper Clay Bowen was born in 1839 in Ruddles Mills, Bourbon County, Kentucky. In 1871, he married Kate Thompson Gilmore in Effingham, Illinois where Jasper owned a flour mill.
The family stayed in Illinois where four of their daughters were born. In 1884, the family had moved to Nebraska where their youngest daughter was born. The following year, the Bowen family was residing in the northwest portion of Hodgeman County, Roscoe Township.
The April 13, 1887, issue of the Jetmore Reveille reports the fire “We are sorry to be obliged to chronicle the fact that a very destructive prairie fire originating somewhere in Lane county, passed just west of Kidderville a week ago Sunday, terminating somewhere in Ford county, at the Arkansas river. It is said to have burned a strip averaging twelve miles wide, consuming vast quantities of hay and other feed, houses, shed, barns, and in some cases sheep and cattle. The head fire traveled at the rate of 30 miles an hour. Many of the citizens fought valiantly to save themselves, their stock and property. We understand that Mr. Houden, of sheep fame, was a heavy looser. Every one should be extremely careful about letting fire get out.”
Jasper helped in fighting the fire but passed away from a heart attack on April 29th. He is buried in Kidderville Cemetery.
The rest of the story: Kate was the sole supporter of the family, so she took up nursing. She eventually moved back o Illinois to live with her father. She passed away in 1928 and burial records indicate she was buried in St. Clair County, Illinois. I was unable to locate all four of Jasper and Kate’s, however, all three of his daughters married and had children of their own. The oldest is buried in New Hampshire and the other two are buried in California.
Personal Note: A collection of my stories from Ford County is available for purchase on Amazon. You can type in either Mary S. Schartz or If Headstones Could Talk. It has been my pleasure to share these stories with you.