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According to pay voucher # 42 / 424 (?),William F. Bowen served under Captain H.R. Von Biberstein in the Texas Frontier Services as a private in company G of the Frontier Forces.
Mustered in at San Antonio, Texas on October 10, 1870 William Bowen served until May 30, 1871. The Voucher states that William F. Bowen was born in Laport (?) Indiana,was 24 at enlistment,stood five feet and four inches tall,had a light compexion,light hair and brown eyes and that he was a tinner by occupation.
William F. Bowen was paid fifty dollars per month for his service,less $ 30.00 for his winchester carbine and a balance due to Capt. H.R.Von Biberstein of $65.80 for cartridges.


Texas state police

During radical Republican rule, Texas was lawless and chaotic. A number of studies, including one by the Committee on Lawlessness and Violence of the Constitutional Convention of 1868-69,indicated the need for a statewide organization with the ability to work in any jurisdiction. The committee stated in its first report that 939 murders had been committed between 1865 and 1868. Of these, 460 were by whites against whites, 373 were whites murdering blacks, 10 were blacks killing whites, and 57 were blacks killing blacks. A later report increased the total number of murders in the period to 1,035. These figures did not include all of Texas, however, since some counties did not file reports. Sheriffs' reports for 1865 to 1871 show 4,425 crimes with only 588 arrests and few convictions. This paucity of justice was caused by poor law enforcement, including the fact that only eighty-two counties had jails, many of which were easily escaped from. Although the resulting Police Act of July 1870 authorized a force of 257 men, the force never had as many as 200 members. The State Police were authorized to arrest offenders where local law officers failed to do so. Adjutant General James Davidsonq was appointed chief of the State Police but was paid no more than his men. The police came from all walks of life. They were black, Hispanic, and white, and had fought as both Union and Confederate soldiers. Some were excellent lawmen, some were criminals. Most were Republicans. In December 1869 the force numbered 196 men; by January 1872 the total had dropped to 166; it rebounded to 184 in January 1873. In the first month the force made 978 arrests, 109 for murder and 130 for attempted murder. By 1872, arrests totaled 6,820-587 for murder, 760 for attempted murder, and 1,748 for other felonies. The value of recovered stolen property was $200,000. The largest number of arrests in any one year was 3,602 in 1871.

Despite the general success of the State Police, the fact that the force employed blacks and was controlled by Governor Edmund J. Davis made it unpopular. Some members of the force certainly deserved criticism. Capt. Jack Helm,for instance, was accused of murdering prisoners; he was discharged, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Others committed crimes for which the charges were dropped as soon as headquarters was advised. Davidson embezzled $37,000 and disappeared, though his crime cannot be blamed on the police. On April 22, 1873, the law authorizing the State Police was repealed. Former policeman Leander H. McNelly and at least thirty-six other State Police members became Texas Rangers.Although in older studies the State Police have been described as politically oriented and corrupt, available evidence does not substantiate the charge. More recent studies claim that earlier Texas historians of Reconstruction allowed bias against Republican organizations to influence their work.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ann Patton Baenziger, "The Texas State Police during Reconstruction: A Reexamination," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 72 (April 1969). William T. Field, Jr., "The Texas State Police, 1870-1873," Texas Military History 5 (Fall 1965).

John G. Johnson

The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 ended any effort to organize militia in Texas for the next three years. Confederate veterans instituted organizations that appeared to serve other purposes, but in essence they acted like the militia. The election of a Republican governor in 1870, the ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution, and the seating of the Texas congressional delegation in Washington without opposition ended military rule in Texas and made way for the reestablishment of the Texas militia. Budget cutbacks and consequent manpower reductions limited the United States Army's ability to protect the frontier, man coastal artillery forts, and police the old Confederate states. Consequently, the United States Congress allowed the Southern states to reorganize militia units in July 1870 to assume some of these responsibilities.

The new Republican governor, Edmund J. Davis, asked the Texas legislature for a militia that consisted of the State Guard of Texas and the Reserve Militia. All males between eighteen and forty-five who voluntarily enrolled and uniformed themselves made up the State Guard, while all males liable for military service but not enrolled in the State Guard became part of the Reserve Militia. Both the State Guard and the Reserve Militia organized into companies and regiments like those in the United States Army. As in the antebellum period, the state required the militia to hold an annual muster and enrollment at county courthouses, essentially a yearly census of all men between the ages of eighteen and fifty. Governor Davis instituted three racially integrated branches under the adjutant general: the State Police, the militia or State Guard, and the Reserve Militia. The State Police sought to protect citizens and property, establish law and order, and maintain peace throughout the state. The State Guard and the Reserve Militia defended against foreign invasion and augmented the state, county, or local police in the event of civil disorder. The combined state appropriations for the three branches in 1871 and 1872 was $385,444.66; the state received $30,000 in weapon transfers from the federal government. By 1872 the State Guard and Reserve Militia numbered 74,599, with 720 companies in 102 regiments; yet the state provided only fifteen companies with weapons. Commissioned officers in the State Guard and Reserve Militia totaled 2,203, for a ratio of about thirty-three enlisted men per officer. The state possessed about one rifle for every thirty men, and a total of four ten-pound Parrot artillery pieces. The Reserve Militia regiments normally formed within county boundaries. Harris County organized the Eleventh and Fifteenth regiments, composed of three and one companies respectively, while Galveston had the Eighth Regiment (seven companies) and San Antonio the Fifth Regiment (one company). Davis called on the State Guard during its first year to quell political controversies between the largely white Democrats and the integrated Republicans in four counties that objected to Republican rule. Alienated Democrats saw the state forces as outside oppressors from a Republican government that did not represent the white Democratic majority. The governor's integrated forces became a symbol and the focus of increased bitterness against the Republican regime.

In November 1872, two political events occurred that swung the pendulum of power from the Republican toward the Democratic camp. The Republican adjutant general, James Davidson, absconded with state funds, and the Democrats won the congressional and legislative elections. During its first session in January 1873, the new legislature promptly amended the Texas Militia Law of 1870, dissolving the State Police and merging the State Guard and the militia. Davis's integrated militia was separated into black and white organizations, both still under the adjutant general's department. Militia units remained separate companies until another reorganization in 1879 that instituted battalion and brigade structures. Throughout 1873 the adjutant general, a Republican appointee, decried the elimination of the State Guard and with it the State Police. An immediate increase in crime and lawlessness seemed the result of the legislation. Democrats regained control of the state when Democrat Richard Coke defeated Davis in the 1873 gubernatorial election. Davis led an abortive attempt to mobilize the Texas militia in an effort to remain in office. He barricaded himself, along with loyal black militiamen, in the lower floors of the Capitol, while governor-elect Coke, aided by the Travis Rifles , seized the upper floors and took the oath of office. Davis appealed to President Ulysses S. Grant for federal troops and capitulated to the voters' will only after the president ignored his second plea for help. To Texas Democrats, the episode symbolized Republican corruption and tyranny. The extralegal use of force to support Reconstruction had a permanent effect on white "redeemers" and influenced their restructuring of the state militia, in particular causing a concentration on local forces and support of unit autonomy.

Although a change in the administration occurred, the same lawlessness continued to plague the new Democratic government. Instead of radically changing state militia policy to confront this problem, the new adjutant general, William Steele, displayed remarkable continuity with the man he replaced, Frank L. Britton, a relative of former Republican governor Edmund Davis. In addition to lawlessness, Steele believed that the declining presence of United States Army soldiers in Texas after Reconstruction required the state to defend itself, primarily along the frontier. These factors led to formation of the Frontier Battalion on April 10, 1874, a branch of the Texas Rangers. The battalion operated as a full-time, statewide police force, organized along military lines into squads, platoons, and companies. Its mission included a full-time patrol of the frontier and the Mexican border. Its main concerns focused on the Indian problem (at least through 1878), and conflict with the Mexicans. The lion's share of the adjutant general's budget went toward establishing frontier security. The Frontier Battalion directed its efforts after 1874 at ending Indian and Mexican border conflicts and apprehending criminals. The militia was thus freed to perform traditional militia roles.

Citizen soldiers, called the "Uniformed Militia" until 1879, the "Texas Volunteer Guard" to 1903, and the "Texas National Guard" in the twentieth century, had the traditional militia responsibility to repel invasions, suppress insurrections, and execute the laws of the Union. The increase in volunteer companies from eighteen in 1875 to forty in 1878 meant that many of the companies went unarmed. The United States Militia Law of 1808 based the quantity of arms for the militia on the number of representatives each state had in Congress. At the time, Texas had only six members of Congress, far fewer than the more settled eastern states, yet it had a greater need for weapons to protect its extensive frontier. After the Texas Militia Act of 1879, the governor continued to act as the commander-in-chief, leaving the daily administration to his adjutant general. State troops now formed one brigade with three regiments and one separate battalion. Texas militia companies retained their independence until reorganized into battalions and brigades in 1879; however, until well into the twentieth century, decentralization of unit administration seemed the norm. At the same time, state authorities began to consolidate their control over the militia. In 1879 the legislature approved the adjutant general's policy of forming only uniformed volunteer militia companies. This focused the state's militia effort toward a centralized Texas Volunteer Guard and began a process of professionalization that continued with the Dick Militia Act of 1903 and the National Defense Act of 1916. By 1880 the Texas militia consisted of forty-seven company-size units, thirty-eight white and nine "colored." Membership declined after 1891 to an aggregate strength of 1,960 men in 1898.

A concern for emerging class consciousness and class alienation first appeared in the Report of the Adjutant General for 1886, following that year's spring-time railroad strikes as well as significant budget reductions. More significantly, however, it justified militia budgets. Adjutant General Wilburn H. King viewed racism, communism, political cronyism, and misrepresentation by demagogues as the major cause of civil disorders and disobedience in the South. He saw the citizen soldiery--armed, organized, drilled and disciplined--as the only safe agency to preserve life, government, and civil authority during times of violence. Newly appointed adjutant general Woodford H. Mabry continued King's policies and initiated an aggressive training program to elevate the Texas Volunteer Guard's awareness of crowd-control procedures. Dovetailing with its role in civil disorders, militia service provided a means for the state to indoctrinate young men and align them with elite values and the accepted order of the status quo. Most state activations of the Texas National Guard and militia from 1873 through the outbreak of World War I occurred because of labor, race, or political conflict, or border tensions with Mexico. Reports of the adjutant general during the last quarter of the nineteenth century show that units of the Texas militia mobilized at least seventy-five times to answer calls for assistance from local and regional authorities. In addition, unit charters and the 1879 and 1897 militia acts allowed county sheriffs and city mayors to activate local militia without state approval. These actions are representative of the more important roles contemporary Texas leaders perceived for their militia--the control of blacks, Mexicans, and labor unrest to encourage social order.


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