The City of Bowman in northwestern Elbert County, named after Thomas Jefferson Bowman, arose with the construction of the Elberton Air Line Railroad, whose narrow gauge track connected Elberton and Toccoa. The railroad was begun in 1873 and completed in 1878 by Bowman, who laid out the rail route, and Major John H. Jones, a prominent citizen of Elberton. A man named B. Burden, owner of vast property in the area, donated land in and around the future city for the railroad right-of-way, town square, cemetery lots, and sites for churches. The City of Bowman was incorporated by the Georgia General Assembly in 1907. In 1910, John Judson “J.J.” Brown was elected mayor of Bowman. Brown went on to be elected to five terms as Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia and founded the Georgia Farm Market Bulletin.
Mercantile growth of Bowman began with construction of two stores in 1879 and the subsequent digging of a well. Sources attribute construction of the historic well house surrounding this well to Goshen John Bowers at some point, before 1906. Watering troughs and a hitching post for horses were part of the parking facilities provided to shoppers arriving by horse and buggy in that early era. By the beginning of the 20th century, four trains stopped daily in Bowman, which had become a thriving mercantile center, with two blacksmith shops, two barber shops, a shoe and harness shop, a livery stable, a large ginnery, a roller paten flour mill, a mill on Beaverdam Creek, and a hotel. Within a decade, the mercantile sector of Bowman was expanded to include more stores and facilities. A brickyard begun at some point in the 1890s by L. L. Stephenson, contractor for the Elbert County Courthouse, provided bricks for construction of nearly all the brick buildings in Bowman and some in Elberton, including the courthouse. With continued town growth, Baptist and Methodist church congregations were established in Bowman.
One prominent educational facility was the John Gibson Institute, built in 1892 by the Hebron Association and incorporated into the Mercer College secondary school system as Gibson-Mercer Academy in 1904. A one room school house that dates back to at least 1879 still stands on Church Street. The organization of Bowman Baptist Church took place there on July 15, 1879.
Bowman received many community awards and a lot of special attention in later years. In 1976, Georgia native Terry Kay featured the Bowman Drug Store in his book The Year the Lights Came On; and, in September 2009, the one-story brick commercial building numbered 6 and 7 on the Bowman Public Square, completed in 1908, was named to the National Register of Historic Places. - History provided by Dr. Joyce Davis
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