Joe And Lizzie Bowers Put Down Roots In Gray County

Joe Benjamin Bowers, Sr. (1872-1931) came from Waco to the Panhandle about 1897 to break and drive horses for his cousins, Burl and Frank Jackson of Miami . While he was working on ranches around Miami , his left sleeve got caught in the cog of a windmill, causing the loss of his left arm.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

While Joe was staying in the home of Frank Jackson, he met Lizzie Martin (1873-1930), and they were married on Christmas Eve, 1898.

Joe was the first tax collector in Roberts, Wheeler, Gray and Hutchinson counties before they were organized. Stopping at different ranches to eat and spend the night, he rode horseback and carried the tax papers in his saddle bag. Also he owned and operated a wagon yard in Miami.

Aurbra Lee Bowers and his twin were born in Miami in 1902. The twin died at birth and was buried at Miami . Aurbra married Louise Pearce (now Mrs. George Slentz), and they were the parents of Guy Monroe Bowers who has one daughter, Lisa Lynn.

Aurbra died in 1967. In 1983 Louise Slentz had an elevator installed in the White Deer Land Museum to enable those who have difficulty with steps to visit the entire museum. She dedicated the elevator to the memory of Aurbra, his parents and her parents.

When Aurbra was about two years old, Joe filed on four sections of land north of Laketon on the line of Gray and Roberts counties. There John Thomas Bowers, Sr. was born on February 17, 1904. He was the father of John Thomas Bowers, Jr. (“Tommy” Bowers), who now lives on the Bowers Ranch south of Pampa. Tommy Bowers has two sons, Tommy Joe and Jon Len.

In 1906 Joe and Lizzie with Aurbra and John moved to a section of land they had bought at the head of the North Fork of the Red River, the east pasture of the present Bowers Ranch. Joe Benjamin Bowers, Jr. was born that year.

Joe, Jr. had two sons, Joe Benjamin (Joe Ben) and James Elzia. Joe Ben and his wife Gwen of Boulder, Colorado, are the parents of Adam Benjamin and Elizabeth Ann (“Lizzie”) who delighted many Pampans with a vocal recital on May 15, 1994.

In 1907 Joe and Lizzie bought Plot 55 (300 block of East Brown) from O.A. Barrett. The family lived there during the winter months while the boys attended the first school in Pampa. At that time there were only three houses on the south side of town.

In 1908 the Bowers started buying land (later Bowers City) eight miles south of Pampa. While living in a dugout, they bought from the White Deer Land Company, a section at a time, as they could pay for it, at $3.75 to $5.00 an acre at 10% interest on the loan. It was easier to find land then but much harder to pay for. Elzia was born on this land in 1909.

In 1914 the Bowers built a dwelling, half-dugout and half-house on the Bowers City land. In 1921 Elzia died there of diphtheria. On the day of Elzia’s funeral, John and Joe, Jr. were also stricken, but Dr. V.E. von Brunow was able to recognize the disease and save their lives.

The Bowers family attended the First Christian Church in Pampa. In the early days all of the ranchers had greyhounds, and one of their greatest sports was to get together and hunt coyotes. The families rode horses or went in buggies or wagons to dances and parties which lasted all night. Mrs. Inez Worley Carter (who helped to found the Pampa Youth and Community Center) taught John to dance.

The Bowers boys often searched, with success, for Indian graves near their ranch on the North Fork. They noticed that the teeth of the Indians were perfect.

The first lease on Bowers land was to the Texas Company in 1921. The first oil well was drilled in 1926 by Harry McGee and Blackwell. It was a 1,000 well, but later some of the wells were about 10,000 barrel wells. One quarter section leased by the Texas Company paid $80,000 royalty in one month.

John and Joe, Jr. were combining wheat when the first well blew in. John, who did not like to farm but liked ranching, wished that the well had been on the wheat land instead of the ranch land. Aubra was working at the JA Ranch south of Clarendon, but Joe and Lizzie were at the well.

In 1927 the Cabot Carbon Company was created and immediately built two large plants in Gray County. The Bowers Plant, named for the Bowers Ranch lease site, was completed in 1928 with a capacity of 100,000 pounds per day, the world’s largest at that time.

John Thomas Bowers, Sr. and his wife, Gladys, bought the Bowers Ranch when they married in 1935. Now their son, Tommy, and his wife, Sandra, live in a sprawling ranch home beneath towering cottonwood trees. When Tommy recalls his boyhood, he remembers that branding was his favorite time.

With the help of a number of people, Tommy completed, in 1993, a rodeo arena at the site of a former garden, and began a four-week barrel racing series for young people. The winner receives a Billy Cook saddle and division winners are awarded silver belt buckles. At the suggestion of Sandra, the racing series was named The John and Gladys Memorial Barrel Race in honor of Tommy’s parents.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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