Biography of William Drewey Bowen

Gallant hero of the 1860’s

William Drewey Bowen, a gallant hero of the sixties, was born December 6, 1834. Died February 3, 1918. Mr. Bowen was the eldest of several children born to William and (Sallie or Sarah Bowen of Russellville, the former club-footed and a tailor. William or “Billy” Brown was a brother of Wid Bowen, who lived for many years in the Dillard’s Mill community, and also of the first wife of W. E. Claunch, Mrs. John Hester, Mrs. Charley Porter and Mrs. Taylor. Many people of present day Franklin and Colbert counties are descended from these people.

William Drewey Bowen, subject of this sketch, spent the greater portion of his life in Franklin County and is buried in the Roberson cemetery west of Good Springs, not far from where he had lived more than a quarter of a century and less than four miles from Russellville, the place of his childhood. He was ever a public spirited man, a very strong Democrat and a member of the Methodist Church. He was at one time Sheriff of Franklin County, by appointment, and held other positions of honor. He was district trustee of Ebenezer school for several years, and gave the present Fairview school its name. He was a fluent speaker and could entertain young or old. He possessed charming manners, was graceful in movement and was very handsome. Of the Civil War he enjoyed talking very much. As for his record as a soldier we shall quote from the late U. S. Senator, John H. Bankhead:

“Washington, D. C., February 20, 1918.
“Editor Times, Russellville, Ala.

“My Dear Sir:—I was deeply grieved to learn through your paper of the recent death of my old friend and comrade in arms, Drewey Bowen. He was the color bearer of the 16th Alabama C. S. A., in which regiment I served as Captain for four years. In the course of that service I came in contact with many gallant and fearless soldiers, but among them all in our army nor in any other army there never lived and served a better soldier nor a finer spirit than Drewey Bowen.

“Our regiment was in all the great battles fought by the Western Army. We were at Shiloh, Chickamauga, Franklin, Perryville and Peach tree Creek. Where the fight was the hottest and heroism greatest, Drewey Bowen was always there, defiant and unafraid, with the glorious light of battle in his eyes, and his flag to the breeze, an exemplar and inspiration to his comrades.

“The body of such a man withers and goes back to dust; but it is inconceivable that such a soul could die, and the spirit of old Drewey Bowen goes marching on.

“Sincerely yours,
“J H. BANKHEAD.

The above tribute was published in The Franklin Times while Dr. John M. Clark was editor of that paper. It is of interest to note that Mr. Bowen was wounded in the arm at the battle of Shiloh.

He was twice married. His first wife was Miss Mollie Skinner, a daughter of Cordy Skinner, one time Probate Judge of Franklin County, and a great-grand-daughter of Major William Russell. His second wife, who survives him, was Miss Evelyn Hurst, a daughter of John Hurst and a grand-daughter of Major Hurst.

Several children were born to each marriage. Among them is Daniel V. Bowen, of the first marriage, who was one of the Spanish American war soldiers from Franklin County. He has been a citizen of Oklahoma for a number of years. Another son of the first marriage has the distinguished family name — Russell.

William Drewey Bowen also had several brothers who “were Confederate veterans and very prominent in the affairs of Russellville and Franklin County.


Source: Source: James, R. L. Distinguished Men, Women and Families of Franklin County, Alabama. Russellville, Ala., Private Publication, 1928. 111 p.

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