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Early History of Bowen Township

Mon, Jun 15, 2009


Information supplied by Delores Beaver

Bowen Township borders Forman to the north and west.  The township was named after the parents of E.W. Bowen, who moved here from St. Cloud, MN.  Other early settlers were Albert Stevens, Andrew Wahlund, Frank A. Anderson and Albert Orth.  The first school in the township was built in 1883, with three more schools constructed later.

The Albert Stevens farm is over 125 years old and is still being farmed by Albert’s grandsons, Robert and Bruce, and great-grandsons, Blaine and Todd.

Olaf Melroe came to Bowen Township as a young man in 1882.  He married Kari Alelson and they had six children: Tillie, Gina, Ed (who started Melroe Manufacturing), Oscar, Sig and Ted.  Stan Melroe and his wife, Betty, still live on the homestead and farm with sons, Scott and Steven.

Frank Anderson’s homestead was farmed by his son, Arthur, and then passed down to the grandson, Charles, and then to great-grandson, Joel.  The Anderson Seed Elevator is now located on this farm.

The Joe Westra farm was two miles west and one mile north of Forman and is presently farmed by Joe’s great-nephews, David and Danny Jacobson.

If you liked to dance, the Smith’s Barn was the place to go!  The barn was owned by Red Smith.  There were four Smith children: Virginia (Even), Harry, Kirk and Dennis.  Dennis and Gloria moved onto this farm site and farmed with Harry and Betty who lived down the road.  Harry and Betty lived all their lives in Bowen Township until Betty later moved to Forman.

Leonard A. and Ethel (Randall) Bopp moved to the farm that Ethel’s father, J.D. Randall, built in 1914.  Leonard served on many boards and committees and was a State Senator for many years.   His son, Leonard R. and wife, Cleo, moved to the Sweetman Farm in 1952.  Leonard lived his entire life in Bowen Township.  He and Cleo had six children: Mark, Laurie (Mallberg), Jeff, Lyle, Mike and Karen (Nelson).  Lyle and his family now live on the farm.

Claus and Alice (Torkelson) Westra came in 1930 to the farm one mile west of Forman.  They had four daughters: Mabel, LaVonne, Clarice and Phyllis.  The land is now farmed by grandsons, David and Danny Jacobson.

Ray and Agnes Westra also came to Bowen Township in 1930, where they raised eight children.  After Ray’s death, Agnes moved into Forman and their land is now farmed by great-nephews, David and Danny Jacobson.

Walt and Myrtle (Olson) Orth were the third generation to have lived on the Alvin Orth Farm, which was established in 1892.  They raised five children: James, Mary, Susan (Fust), Thomas and Paul.  Tom now lives on this farm.

Louie and Gurina Lee were married in 1903 and lived on what is now the Richy Bell Farm.  They had 10 children, two of whom lived their lives in Bowen Township:  Bertha (Axel) Anderson and Nora (Erling) Samuelson.  Both women moved into Forman after the deaths of their spouses.  Bertha and Axel were parents of our current mayor, Neil Anderson, who was born at the Ray Westra farm.

Clifford and Delores (Turner) Beaver were married in 1954 and moved to a farm three miles west and one mile north of Forman, known as the Nels Dyste Farm, which was started in the early 1900s.  They have retired and their son,
Bill, has taken over the farming.   He and his wife, Janelle (Miller), have three children.

Other families currently living in the township are:  Eugene Hajek, Dick Olson, Miles Johnson, Fred Lacina, Dan Johnson, Mark Murphy, Shirley Waloch, Jeff Tyler, Evelyn Kraig, Joe Malheim, Colin Sundquist, Robert and Agnes Olafson, Travis Hosford, Bill Mahrer, Samuel Fandrich, John Thompson, Glen Hill, Rudy Rathert and Ken Forster.

Learn more about Forman's history...


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