JOHN GUSLER BOWER
One of Yolo County’s oldest and most highly respected citizens is John G. Bower, owner of the Idylwild ranch and a very successful farmer and stock raiser. He is the last survivor of one of the earliest pioneer families in this section of the state and has performed his full part in the development and upbuilding of Yolo County. Mr. Bower was born in Pike County, Illinois, on the third of June, 1849, and is the son of John G. and Susan (Crowder) Bower, the former a native of Pennsylvania and of German descent. In 1849 the father made his first trip across the plains, driving a mule team, and joined the gold rush to California. He worked in the mines of Trinity County until the fall of 1851, when he returned east by way of the ithmus of Panama. On April l7, 1852, he started for California by ox team with his family, consisting of his wife and three sons, and on August 23rd of that year they arrived at Hangtown, now known as Placerville, California. They were members of a big wagon train and crossed the plains safely. After spending a week in Hangtown, they went to Willow Slough, Yolo County, where they stayed a short time, then bought the present farm of twenty acres of virgin land, a part of the Knight grant, near what is now the town of Yolo. The land was covered with trees, brush and wild oats, entailing a vast amount of hard work to get the soil in shape for cultivation, but in the course of time the place was developed into a well improved and productive ranch, to the operation of which the father devoted the remainder of his life. He died July 11, 1894, and the wife on December 23, 1902. Both parents were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Their two oldest sons, Philip M. and James W., are also deceased.
John G. Bower received his early education in the district schools, and in 1867, entered the Pacific Methodist College at Vacaville, Solano County, this state, attending until 1870. On the death of his father he took charge of the home ranch, and has since engaged in grain farming, and the raising of cattle, horses and hogs. He also raises a large amount of sugar beets, which do well in this climate. He is progressive and up-to-date in his methods and has maintained the ranch in the best condition.
On April 7, 1875, Mr. Bower was united in marriage to Miss Alice Friel, who was born in Yolo County and is now deceased. She was a daughter of Jeremiah Friel, a native of Virginia who crossed the plains to California in 1849. Mrs. Bower was educated at the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia, California, and was a woman of splendid character and gracious qualities, greatly esteemed by all who knew her.
Mr. Bower has been a member of the local school board and has always taken an active and effective interest in those things that contribute to the public welfare. He is the oldest member and oldest past master of the Yolo Lodge, No. 81, F. & A. M. Mr. Bower talks interestingly of the early days of this locality, recalling that when his family came here the country was full of wild life, including grizzly bears, quail, ducks, geese, deer and antelope, while rattlesnakes were common. Because of the dense timber and brush on their place, he and his brothers could not make rapid progress in clearing their land and but a small patch of grain was planted at first. Living conditions were simple in the extreme and the country was a long while in being settled, but eventually as the population increased and roads and other improvements were made the county gradually became what it is today,--one of the choice sections of this state. Mr. Bower belongs to the Woodland Christian Church and gives his earnest support to it and to all other worthy causes.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.