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Claudious Bowman, Sr.


Claudious Bowman, called Claude, Claudio, or President Bowman, was born September 6, 1890 in Kanab, Kane County, Utah to Henry Eyring Bowman and Mary Gubler Bowman. His early childhood was spent in Kanab where his father managed a Co-op store. When he was seven years old his father was called on a mission to Switzerland and Germany. Interest in the Co-op was sold and the family was moved to Provo to live while the father was away. Claude was number three of five brothers in the family Another brother was born shortly after his father left for his mission. Claude and his brothers helped their mother and they got along very well. After returning from his mission, Claude's father moved his family to the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. They first lived in Colonia Juarez and then moving to Dublan where his father developed and operated the Union Mercantile Co-op. While preparing and remodeling a home in Dublan, Claude, his father, and his brothers ate their dinners at the Robinson home and he became acquainted with Jennie Robinson. School was easy for Claude and he was allowed to skip a grade. Even then it was hard to keep him busy. In his early teens he helped around the Union Mercantile with odd jobs under his father's supervision. About this time basketball became very popular and Claude's father was often the coach. Claude was younger than most of the boys and always small for his age but he was active and quick and so he became a very good player. Claude's parents sent him to Provo to attend the high school division of Brigham Young Academy where he specialized in bookkeeping and accounting. He had left home as a little fellow but he returned a tall young man who claimed he had grown five inches in one yearl He desired to start ajob so his father sent him to the carpenter shop to work. There he was given the job of sawing boards with an electric saw. Through carelessness he cut off the thumb of his right hand. That was the end of the carpenter shop job. He was taken into the Union Mercantile store to be cashier and bookkeeper. About this time the friendship Claude had had with Jennie Robinson began to develop into courtship and plans for a June wedding. Jennie was teaching first grade in Dublan at this time. School closed the last day of May and the first day of June they left for Salt Lake City, traveling by train. They were married June 5, 1912 in a quiet, solemn ceremony performed by Elder Anthon H. Lund in the Salt Lake Temple. Their honeymoon was so wonderful that they spent all their money traveling in Oregon and California and had to wire Claude's father to send them money to get home on! Shortly after arriving home from their honeymoon, the Mexican Revolution had become full blown. Claude had to send his bride with the rest of the women and children to El Paso by train. He was in the party of 1,000 men and boys who soon had to leave too and rode horse back to the United States border. This period of time, working and living close to the border to be ready to return to Mexico when possible, was very challenging. Claude and Jennie lived with his parents and brothers and sister most of the time. Three children, Claudius, Jr., Bardell, and Dorothy were born during this period. Claude and his brothers also had a chance to play basketball and actually make a name for themselves in the El Paso area and one year even became champions of the Southwest. Claude's father and some of his brothers finally decided to go back to Utah but Claude had a great desire to return to Mexico. His friend, Harvey Taylor had an opportunity to get a start there so he and Claude formed a partnership which included shares in a grist mill in Dublan, property across the river from Dublan on which there was a warm spring, pasture land near the hills east of Dublan, and farm land near Casas Grandes. Claude took over the management of the mill and Harvey managed the ranch and farms. This partnership lasted for 34 years without trouble or disagreement. Claude always had great respect and confidence in his partner. Both families felt a closeness for each other and called each other cousins although there was not a blood relationship. After coming back to Dublan three more sons were born, Henry Wesley, Samuel Keith, and Donn Seymore. In 1925 Claude bought a large two story house and the family moved in just a few days before Kathleen was born. This became the family home where the children were raised. In 1928 Maurice Dwight joined the family and in December of 1930 another boy was born but he only lived a month. He was given the name Tracy Reed. Not long after returning to Mexico to live, Claude was called to a Stake Presidency's meeting. Elder B.H.Roberts, a special visitor to the Stake was also there. Claude was asked to testify against some Church members whose conduct had been questioned. Claude would not testify. Refusing the request of the Priesthood brought on a feeling of disgust from the President of the Stake, President Bentley. He told Claude that his name had been presented for advancement in the Priesthood to the office of Seventy but because of the attitude he had taken, this privilege would not be given. Elder Roberts requested an interview with Claude. After the interview Claude was very humble and said that he walked the streets of Dublan for half the night conquering himself, until he made a promise to his Father in Heaven that if he could be forgiven for this misbehavior he would never again refuse the request of the Priesthood, but would devote his life to service in the church whenever the opportunity came. This promise he faithfully kept the rest of his life. After making his feelings known to Elder Roberts, Claude was ordained to the office of Seventy before Elder Roberts left on May 23, 1921. Claude always held Brother Roberts in high esteem and considered this experience with him as the turning point in his life. Claude took pride in community projects. He helped in the building of the new church house in Dublan and promoted the project of a new gymnasium. He supervised the building of the gym and worked right along with the other workmen. He was happy and proud to have such a fine gym for the young people to play in. When it burned to the ground it was built again! He was always interested in basketball and still played long after he was married. He accompanied the young boys on their trips to tournaments in Chihuahua City and Mexico City as their coach. In 1928 Claude became a naturalized Mexican citizen, as he knew this would help him in business relations with the Mexican people and perhaps would promote respect and prestige. He joined the Rotary Club and found many good friends among the prominent men of the community. He was respected for his loyalty to the Church standards and his adherence to the Word of Wisdom was not questioned, but rather taken for granted. When beer and wine were served at banquets, Claude was always supplied with a soda or root beer. One year Claude was elected president of the Club. He was also elected president of the Chihuahua Bank. Also in 1928 Claude was called to serve as a counselor to Ralph B. Keeler, President of the .Juarez Stake. He had already been on the High Council but this new responsibility brought with it many pleasurable experiences, one of which was the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with the General Authorities of the Church. After five years as a counselor, he was called to be President of the Stake. He served as Stake President until he was released in 1953 to become President of the Mexican Mission. As Stake President it became his duty to go by car over a long, rough country road to Columbus, New Mexico to meet the visitors from the headquarters of the Church and bring them to the colonies. Often in cold, snowy, or rainy weather the roads would be very bad and the trip hard on the people. He always tried to be cheerful about it and make the trip as comfortable as possible. His great hope was that someday there would be a good highway on which to travel. He did live to see a highway completed and traveled over it many times. In 1930 Claude suffered a serious hemorrhage from stomach ulcers and was taken to El Paso on the train. He was near death by the time he was finally in the care of a doctor and continued to be very ill for two days. On Sunday morning he suddenly said, "I m well. I feel fine. All of a sudden I feel well." The doctor could not understand what had happened but Claude knew it was because of special blessings he had received and the fasting and prayers of the Dublan Ward that Sunday morning. Claude took a great interest in the development of his children's talents and provided instruments for them. He always insisted that they perform for visitors in the home, He took great pride in a well landscaped home and he and his children worked hard to constantly improve it. They planted trees and a lawn and all types of flower gardens and a rose arbor. One of his ambitions was to teach his boys the value of work. All of the children served honorable missions for the Church in Mexico He was hospitable and enjoyed bringing people home for a meal or to spend the night. In the home he never allowed gossip or speaking ill of anyone. The principles of the gospel were all strictly adhered to. In July of 1953 Claude and Jennie left for Mexico City to assume the duties of President of the Mexican Mission, a call accepted from President David 0. McKay. No one ever loved an assignment more than Claude loved the mission. It would take many pages to tell of all the good he did. His great desire was to give the native people leadership responsibilities just as soon as they were able to accept them. He taught that temple marriage was the only marriage for the members of the Church and each excursion to the Mesa, Arizona temple would include several couples going to be married. Dear to his heart was the project of establishing Church schools in Mexico and he laid the foundation for this to happen. He was heard to say that he would like to spend the rest of his life in the mission and this wish came true. He was killed in an automobile accident on May 18, 1958 while returning to Mexico City from a conference. At the time of his death an article in the Deseret News hailed him as a tonic for honesty, for sincerity, for uprightness in thinking and doing. A rugged, hard-working individual, he was looked up to by the Mexican members of the Church somewhat as was Brigham Young by the pioneers. He was their spiritual advisor, their civic leader He was equally at home with the Mexican peon or the native gentry, mingling with the latter often in conducting his extensive business. He lived for his family, for his Stake and for his Mission. A stalwart defender of a religion and a way of life which need to be preached to all the world, Claudious Bowman gave all who came in contact with him nothing but wholesome stimulation and delight. Truly he went about doing good.

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