Biography of Fred A. Sowers
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A career marked by specially varied activities had been that of this venerable and honored citizen of Wichita. Mr. Sowers is consistently to be designated as one of the veteran members of the Kansas bar, as a pioneer newspaper man of this commonwealth and as one of the oldest citizens of Wichita in point of continuous residence. As a man of affairs his productive sctivities have been always benignant and though he is near the age of four score years he is still found vigorously concerned with business affairs, as one of the representative citizens of Wichita. He served as a soldier of the Union in the Civil war and in all of the relations of life his loyalty and integrity of purpose have been dominating characterlstics. Such are the sterling pioneers to whom special recognition should be given in this publication.
Fred A. Sowers was born at Canton, the judicial center of Stark County, Ohio, on the 18th of August, 1839, and his parents were numbered among the honored pioneers of the historic old Buckeye State. He continued his studies in the public schools of his native city until he had completed a high school course. At Canton he thereafter studied law under the preceptorship of the representive firm of Dunbar & McSweeney, and he was well fortified in the science of jurisprudence at the time when he was admitted to the bar of his native state, at Mount Vernon, in 1862. In 1863 Mr. Sowers enlisted for service in the Civil war, under the command of Col. Kirby Smith. He became a member of Company B, Forty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but he did not proceed with his regiment to the front, owing to the fact that friends of the family obtained his discharge, in order that he might remain with and care for his mother, whose health was greatly impaired at the time. Later, however, he entered service as a member of a company of the historic “Squirrel Hunters,” and, under the command of Captain Miller, he saw active service with this company in Kentucky.
In 1864 Mr. Sowers took the action that was to gain to him lasting distinction as being a pioneer of Kansas. He established his residence at Leavenworth, where he became associated with Samuel Ludlum in the practice of law. Immediately after the sacking of Lawrence, this state, by Confederate forces, Mr. Sowers enlisted in Company A of the volunteer regiment commanded by Colonel Fitzpatrick, and with this company he took part in the Battle of Westport. He continued in active service until the close of the war and then received his honorable discbarge. As one of the vigorous and ambitious young lawyers of the Sunflower State he resumed the practice of his profession at Leavenworth, and there he served two years as depnty city clerk. After his retirement from this office Mr. Sowers assumed the position of assistant business manager of the Leavenworth Times, of which he was shortly afterward made manager–a position of which he continned the incumbent six years.
After having thus made an excellent record in connection with newspaper enterprise Mr. Sowers had the distinction of establishing at Wichita the first newspaper in the Arkansas Valley. On the 12th of August, 1870, he here initiated the publication of the Wiehita Vidette, but at the end of the first year he sold the plant and business. In 1872 he founded the Wichita Beacon, a daily and weekly paper, and this was the first daily paper to be issued in Wichita. He successfully continued the enterprise for a period of four years and then sold out. For several years thereafter Mr. Sowers gave most effective service as land inspector for the Lombard Mortgage Company, and since 1878 he had conducted an individual and successful real-estate and loan business, being the city’s veteran representative of these important lines of enterprise.
Mr. Sowers had been long recognized as one of the loyal and public-spirited citizens of Wichita, where he had wielded much influcnce in civic affairs and where he served four years as a member of the city council, besides having been for three terms a member, and a portion of the time secretary, of the board of education. He now had the honer of being secretary of the Old Settlers’ Association of Wichita.
In the year 1867 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Sowers to Miss Mary L. Schattner, of Leavenworth, this state, and she was summoned to the life eternal in 1880, both of the two children of this union having died young. For his second wife Mr. Sowers wedded Miss Clara L. Hurst, and of their three children two are living: Clarence R. is a graduate of the University of Kansas, and as a skilled and successful lawyer he is now a representative member of the Wichita bar and representative from Wichita in the State Legislature; Olaude E., who likewise was graduated in the University of Kansas, is now engaged in the lumber-finishing business at Kansas City, Missouri.