Oswego County's: Guide To Government

Benjamin Bowen

The ancestors of Dr. Benjamin E. BOWEN were Richard and Ann BOWEN, who emigrated from Wales in the year 1640, and settled in Rehoboth, Mass. Among their descendants were Pardon BOWEN and William BOWEN, both distinguished physicians at Providence, R. I., in the early part of the present century, and Jabez BOWEN, L.L.D., late lieutenant-governor of Rhode Island, and chancellor of Brown University.

Dr. Bowen was born on the 15th day of January, 1801, in the town of Coventry, R. I., and was the eldest son of Stephen BOWEN and Rebecca HILL. She was a direct descendant from Robert WILLIAMS, the Puritan founder of the colony of Rhode Island. In early life Dr. Bowen worked at farming in the summers, taught school in winters, and at the same time pursued his studies in preparation for his chosen profession. After receiving his degree, in June, 1828, he first located at Holland Patent, Oneida county, N.Y., where he practiced his profession of physician and surgeon, with great success during seven years. In 1835 he removed to Mexico, Oswego county, N.Y., where his former success was continued, and where he attained not only a high professional position, but a prominent rank as a public-spirited citizen. He held the office of president of the Oswego County Medical Society in 1837, and again in 1851, and in 1846 became a conspicuous member of the New York State Medical Society. He held the office of postmaster at Holland Patent under President Jackson, and the same office at Mexico under President Polk. A Democrat of the old school, he was a man of decided and pronounced convictions, but when the time of the nation's peril came, he was among the first and most enthusiastic to join the ranks of those who upheld the government during the great struggle of the Rebellion. He was a leader on most of the local committees for supplying the army with men and means, and often became personally responsible for money to provide for the payment of bounties to enlisted soldiers. In 1862 he was elected to represent Oswego county in the Assembly by a flattering vote over both a Democratic and a Republican opponent, and during the succeeding legislative term he occupied an honorable and prominent position. In all local affairs he evinced an ardent pubic spirit and was ever ready to render valuable service to the town and county in which he lived. Many of the streets in the pleasant village of Mexico were laid out at his instigation and under his supervision. For more than forty years he was an active trustee of the Mexico Academy, and was many times president of the board. He was active and conspicuous in the erection of the present Academy edifice, upon which his name stands engraved as one of the building committee. Through his energy and persistence, with that of others, in making liberal contributions, and in the solicitation of funds, the Academy building was completed free from debt.

Dr. Bowen was a true gentleman of the old school. Fearless and outspoken, free from hypocrisy, his judgment upon important subjects was rapidly formed and followed by instant action. He took part in many local contests, and fought his battles with great vigor to a clear victory or an honorable defeat. He was never a compromiser in either politics or morals. Tall and commanding in personal appearance, dignified and courtly in demeanor, he was a conspicuous figure in the community and an exemplar of business integrity and social purity.

Dr. Bowen was married on May 14, 1829, to Julia HASKIN, of Pittstown, Rensselaer county, and had but one child, Frances, who is the wife of George G. FRENCH of Mexico. Dr. Bowen died at Mexico, on the 12th day of March, 1878.

Landmarks of Oswego County 1895