While our physical offices are closed until at least April 13 due Austin's COVID-19 "shelter-in-place" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


L. W. Kemp

BOWER, JOHN WHITE (1808–1850). John White Bower, early settler, soldier, and judge, son of Isaac and Frances Ann (Cuthbert) Bower, was born in Talbotton, Georgia, on December 7, 1808. The family moved to Arkansas Territory in 1819. Bower traveled to Texas after May 2 and before November 28, 1835, when his certificate of election to the Consultation was presented to the General Council of the provisional government by Lewis T. Ayers, although Bower himself did not attend. He operated a ferry on the San Antonio River opposite Carlos Rancho. He was one of the two representatives from San Patricio in the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Bower was also in charge of James W. Fannin, Jr.'s spy system during the Goliad campaign. Fannin was leading the Goliad garrison to reinforce William B. Travis and his command inside the Alamo when Bower brought news that Gen. José de Urrea was quickly advancing on Goliad at the head of a large Mexican force. Bower's information influenced Fannin to abandon his plans to relieve the Alamo and return to Goliad (see goliad campaign of 1836).

In 1838 Bower married Bridget O'Brien. Their daughter Frances Elizabeth married James Power, Jr., son of the empresario James Power. Bower represented Refugio County in the House of the Sixth and Seventh congresses of the Republic of Texas, 1841–43, and was elected chief justice (i.e., county judge) of Refugio County on October 4, 1843, and again in 1847. He died on January 13, 1850, and was buried near the San Antonio River ferry he had operated years before. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission placed a monument at Bower's grave.

Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, L. W. Kemp, "BOWER, JOHN WHITE," accessed April 08, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbo42.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...