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Mon, 12.03.1855

John W. Bowen, Clergyman born

John W. Bowen

*John Wesley Bowen was born on this date in 1855.  He was a Black teacher and Methodist clergyman. 

John Wesley Edward Bowen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edward Bowen and Rose Simon Bowen.  Edward Bowen, a carpenter, was originally from Maryland and later lived in Washington, D.C., but moved to New Orleans, where he was enslaved until he purchased his freedom. In 1858, he purchased freedom for his wife and son, who were then three years old.  Bowen’s father later served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.  

His mother, Rose Simon Bowen, was the granddaughter of an African princess of the Jolloffer tribe on the west coast of Africa. After the War, J. W. E. Bowen studied at the Union Normal School in New Orleans and New Orleans University.  Bowen received a Bachelor of Arts degree with the university's first graduating class in 1878. From 1878 to 1882, he taught mathematics, Latin, and Greek at Central Tennessee College (later known as Walden University (Tennessee)) in Nashville. In 1882, Bowen began theological studies at Boston University. While a theological student, he was the pastor of Revere Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1884, he completed his work and was awarded a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree from New Orleans University. When he completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree from Boston University in 1885, he gave the commencement exercises.  After graduation, Bowen became St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church pastor in Newark, New Jersey. He received a Master of Arts degree from New Orleans University in 1886.

He married Ariel Serena Hedges of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1886. They became the parents of four children.  That same year, Bowen entered the Ph.D. program at Boston University in historical theology. He also did particular advanced work in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, German, metaphysics, and psychology. Boston University conferred the Ph.D. degree upon him in 1887.  Later, Gammon Theological Seminary made him its first recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.  John Bowen died on July 20, 1933. 

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