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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Robert Allan Bower

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


ROBERT ALLAN BOWER - Was born in Brown county, Ohio, on the 14th day of January, 1828. His father, Robert BOWER, was a native of county Down, Ireland. He emigrated, with his father, to this country, in the year 1790, when he was __ years of age. The family settled in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, where they were engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1812, when he married and removed to the county above mentioned, in Ohio, and remained there until the death of Mr. BOWER, which event occurred in 1862.

Robert BOWER, the father of the subject of the present sketch, married Sarah SMITH, who was a native of Pennsylvania and a resident of Westmoreland county at the time of her marriage. She was of Scotch parentage, on her father's side, he having been born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She died, in Brown county, in 1856.

Mr. BOWER, as will be seen from the foregoing brief genealogical sketch, is descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry, an admixture of blood that has, perhaps, furnished more great men to America, in the line of statesmanship, scholars and business men, than any other.

There were eight children born to Robert and Sarah BOWER--four boys and four girls, all of whom have survived their parents. The subject of our sketch remained at home, helping to cultivate the paternal acres, and attending the common schools until he reached the age of fourteen years; he entered an academy, preparatory to taking a classical course in Ripley College, Ripley, Ohio. He entered the college, but remained there only two years. His health failing him, he was forced to abandon school, before finishing the course. After this he taught school for a short time.

In 1846, he entered the law office of W. W. Gilliland, of Georgetown, and studied law, and at the end of two years, at the spring term of the Supreme Court, was admitted to practice in all the courts of the State of Ohio.

In 1850, he formed a law partnership with Hon. Owen T. Fishback, and commenced practice. This partnership continued for ten years.

In 1859, during the time he was practicing, he was nominated, by the Republican party, for the office of probate judge, and such was his popularity and evident fitness for the office, that while he came within a few votes of being elected, the balance of the ticket was overwhelmingly defeated.

During the fall of 1860, he practically abandoned the profession of law and came West, landing here on the 7th of November, and entered upon all agricultural life, in which he continued until 1867, when he opened a land office, in Tolono, in which business he continued until 1869, when he formed a partnership with Thos. M. Salisbury, in the banking business, under the firm name of R. A. BOWER & Co. This partnership continued until the 1st of August, 1878, when the firm was dissolved and the business continued by Mr. BOWER.

0n the 29th of April, 1852, Mr. BOWER married Harriet N. SALSBURY, of Georgetown, Ohio, by whom he had three children, two of whom are living. His wife, after fifteen years of wedded life, in which she shared his joys and sorrows, and assisted in laying the foundation on which to build his future prosperity, departed this life on the 11th day of March, 1867.

On the 16th of February, 1871, he married Mary E. GEARY, of Shawnee Mound, Ind. This union has been blessed by four children, two boys and two girls.

Mr. BOWER and wife are active members of the Presbyterian Church. He, in very early life, attached himself to the Church to which his parents belonged, before him.

In politics, Mr. BOWER is a Republican. He is an old-time Whig, and cast his first vote, for Winfield Scott, in 1852. On the formation of the party of human rights and freedom, he joined their ranks, and from that day to the present has been an active and efficient worker in the Republican party. He has frequently been honored, in local and county politics, with offices of honor and trust, and in all has given evidence of ability, honesty and integrity.

In 1876, the Republicans of the 30th representative district, recognizing his ability, and as a slight token of their respect, nominated him, during his absence from the State, for the office of representative, and at the following election, in November, elected him, by a vote largely in excess of all others on the ticket.

We have thus briefly sketched the outline of Mr. BOWER's life. As intimated above, he comes from an ancestry that have been noted for their activity in the business pursuits of life. He has acquired, by industry and frugal temperate habits, a comfortable competency. In the management of business, both public and private, he has brought to it an intelligence and honesty of purpose that, in the end, is sure to bring its own reward.

In his manners, he is quiet, unostentatious, of gentlemanly deportment, and, among his neighbors, bears the reputation of an honorable and upright citizen. It is with pleasure we present to our numerous readers and friends this biographical sketch of Robert A. BOWER.

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