Chesley Lee Bowden was born on 9 Apr 1894, in Tennessee. His father was John Andrew “Clay” Bowden, and his mother was Emma Josephine Miller Bowden. Chesley had eight brothers and sisters. They were L Alice (b. 1879), Willie Alvin (b. 1881), Liza Glennie (1884-1973). J Grover (b. 1887), Minnie Oma (b. 1889), Sidney Harmon (1891-1911), Johnie Gracy (b. 1896) and a baby boy (b. 6 Sep 1899 d. Oct 1899).
On 1 May 1897, at three years old, Chesley lived in Tennessee around the time the state celebrated its 100th birthday.
President William McKinley, on 1 May 1897, pressed a button illuminating the Machinery Building at the Tennessee Centennial. There were almost 2 million fairgoers over the next 6 months – not even a yellow fever epidemic deterred these visitors. The fair was modeled after the 1893 Chicago Columbian World Exposition. A replica of the Greek Parthenon is the only original structure standing today. The Parthenon is now the center of a city park and treasured by most Nashvillians.
Chesley’s mother died on 6 Sep 1899. Since her youngest son was born the same day she died it seems she died in childbirth. Chesley was only 5 years old when he lost his mother.
The Chesley continued living in Tipton County for the next 18 years. In 1911, Chesley’s brother, Sidney Harmon, died. In 1917, when Chesley was 22, the United States declared war on Germany. The Selective Service Act was signed in May of 1917 and Chesley registered for the draft. He departed from New York on 29 Apr 1918 on the ship Mauretania with the military unit 327 company I 327th infantry. He was a private service number 1926444.
When the war was over Chesley began college at Southwestern Seminary in Seminary Hill, Texas. The 1920 US Census has him living in Civil District 12, Tipton County on Bowden School House Road with his father, John A, both were boarders of Mr. William E Fryer. The census further states that Chesley was a college student.
Some time between 7 Jan 1920 and Nov 1923, Chesley married Miss. Lena Mae Sloan the daughter of Leonidas W “Leon” and Sarah Sloan. Miss Lena was born on 11 Jul 1900 in Tennessee and died on 21 Jun 1982 in Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia. I am still looking for a marriage record for the exact date of this marriage.
During Chesley and Lena’s long marriage, they had two children. They were Sunshine Bowden Campbell (1924-1964) and Chesley Lee Bowden Jr (1928-2007). Sunshine was born in Fort Worth, TX and Chesley, Jr. was born in Humboldt, Tenn.
Chesley and his family lived in many cities as he transferred from church to church on the Baptist circuit. The cities included Fort Worth, TX, Humboldt, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Jacksonville, FL, and Ripley, TN. There were many US events during his life time, besides that of WWI, he saw the first solo flight across the Atlantic, the end of prohibition, the first “New Deal”, the 1936 North American Heat Wave, and World War II.
On 9 Dec 1941, Chesley’s father, John Andrew passed away in Covington, Tenn. at the ate of 83. He is buried at Munford Cemetery in Covington, TN.
In 1951, Chesley was celebrating the marriage of his son, Chesley, Jr., who was engaged to Barbara Lee Pickle. There were several newspaper announcements for the engagement and upcoming marriage. This was most definitely a happy time for Chesley!
On 4 Apr 1964, Chesley’s daughter, Sunshine, passed away in Midland, TX. Chesley lived in Fort Worth, TX at the time and continued living there until his death on 19 Dec 1971. He was 77 years old. Chesley is buried in Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas in the Woodlawn Section beside his wife.