Bower, John White (1808–1850)

By: L. W. Kemp

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

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).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

L. W. Kemp, “Bower, John White,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994