HISTORY OF THE AHAB BOWEN HOME
1880s - The McKinney Avenue area and Maple Avenue district surrounded by Cedar Springs and Allen Street were to become a Victorian village of over 300 people, bounded by Little Jerusalem, later Little Mexico and the State and Thomas area of African Americans Freedman. These slaves would provide the domestic duties of keeping the area clean and maintained with food and laundry services. This was considered a great income during this period of time.
Ahab Bowen Family Tree
1807 - Ahab Bowen, born in Grainger County, Tennessee on October 16th. Family background is of English descent Wales and Quakers.
1835 - Married Mary Lyon Easley, March 21st
1860s - Ahab Bowen and his family left Bolivar, Missouri due to the fact that Federals or Yankees had attacked the Stage Coach thus the violence of the Civil War. The Bowen Family came to Dallas to open a grocery store in the Downtown district and was noted as a Huckster in the 1870’s census. The term huckster refers to a peddler who may sell things in a cart or have a store front to sell brooms, buckets, dry foods and tobacco. Ahab Bowen came to Dallas because of the rich land district. He arrived in Dallas with his wife, sons and three daughters who would later marry into families of other grocers and hucksters that occupied mansions along Maple Avenue, McKinney Avenue and Cedar Springs. This was known as the Grocers District and by 1895 was one of the very colorful districts of the city.
1865 - The Bowen Family came to Dallas not far from the Trinity River to open up a grocery store. They left Jaybird, Texas outside of present day Plano, Texas later to settle on McKinney Avenue. The Bowen Family brought with them several ox cart wagons and horses, a number of African American slaves who were more like family to them and after 1866 gave the slaves wagons to go back to Missouri or stay if they wanted to.
1870s - On May 2, 1873 land is purchased and the 16 acres would be bounded by Howell Street, McKinney Avenue, Maple Avenue and Allen Street known as Block 955 Lot #3 is the Bowen homestead lot where the landmark still stands today. The homestead (surrounded by creeks, prairie and woods off McKinney Avenue, Bowen House, a cedar clap board vernacular prairie style home, was created) is registered by the County of Dallas in 1888, this area is known as North Dallas and located outside of the city limits by 4 miles thus would become the McKinney Avenue District by mid 1880s due to the fact the Bowen daughters married into the many families of grocery and food service industry providers. At this time, Freedman were hired in the community to run the horse stables, domestics were hired and paid to take care of cooking, cleaning and washing clothes for the fine homes in the area especially what is now Boll Street. The 1870s in Dallas was half harmed by the loss of the war, held some grudges and yet allowed wounded soldiers to heal. They also helped bring about Yankee Railroads into the area which was led by the Boll family who buried their gold in their backyard.
1880s-1890s - McKinney Avenue became a cow trail to sell off cattle on the way to McKinney, Texas market. This was the route Frank and Jessie James took to hide out with the Younger family in Scyene or present day Mesquite.
1900s - Ahab Bowen passes away at the age of 93 on February 11th and buried at Trinity Greenwood Cemetery off McKinney Avenue. His funeral was well attended and provided a platform for wealthy people to create Homes and businesses leaving the landmark behind.
After Mr. Bowen’s death, high residential establishments including a Victorian Village, Fairmont, Cedar Springs, Maple and other areas defined the opulence and wealthy community. Large homes and servant quarters appeared and roads were now paved with brick. Tools from this era were discovered in the 1980s when the Woodall Rodgers freeway was built.
THE BOWEN CHILDREN
John Bowen and Henry Bowen, sons of Ahab Bowen, became ranchers who left Dallas while their brother William Bowen became involved in the oil business. He too left Dallas leaving their sisters to become the real center of the story and the grandchildren who would carry on the name and Dallas background. All three brothers served in the Civil War for the Southern Side of the Confederacy and were popular amongst the Generals and Camp military men. During the war, Dallas was part Federal and part Southern, Yankees vs. Rebels. The Bowen Family were living in the Yankee side of Dallas which became home for Peddlers and salesman who traveled by rail and in support of African Americans in the area. General Sterling Price became fond of the Bowen boys which was helpful and powerful card of aces to hold in a very divided political place. Ahab Bowen’s son, S.P. Bowen was a mailman who traveled over 300,000 miles while working for the U.S. postal service.
The Bowen daughters, Arabella Ambrose Bowen married J.B. Franklin, who came from the grocery business. Sarah Bowen married into the Akard family. Rachel Adaline married A.M. Thompson, another grocer who settled and lived in the Bowen district. Mary Isaac Bowen would marry as would Caroline Elizabeth Bowen who married into the Worthington family and would later marry again to B.F. Lacy family, another grocer.
The Ahab Bowen house is one of the few remaining examples of what the community once was. The few remaining examples of the simple, wood frame, vernacular farmhouse prevalent in Dallas County during the latter part of the 19th century is something we cannot recreate. In 1976, Michal Longcrier understood this period and paid homage to Ahab Bowen, almost 100 years to the date of his death, with his historical overlay of the house by opening the Ahab Bowen vintage store. In 2011, Mr. Longcrier closed the store, but the home remained which then Bowen House was created. Not to capitalize on the Uptown nightlife seen, Bowen House opened its doors for a sense of the community and so we could remember the history and the founding fathers of Uptown Dallas.