Bowman, Joseph Wylie (1887–1943)

By: Lawrence L. Graves

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

Joseph Wylie Bowman, transportation developer, one of five children of Joseph Strong and Annie (Brakebill) Bowman, was born on January 16, 1887, near Knoxville, Tennessee. The family moved to Texas in 1895, and young Joe attended country schools near Greenville in Hunt County and Rotan in Fisher County. He was assistant cashier of the Cowboy State Bank in Rotan for three years, after which he operated a grocery store and then established the Bowman Automobile Company, which sold Studebakers, in Greenville. In 1923 Bowman and his partner, Jess C. Levens, were among the first to bring busses to Texas; they bought the chassis in Detroit and had the bodies mounted on them in Bellefontaine, Ohio, before driving them to Texas. Two years later Bowman sold his automobile business and bought rights to operate busses on five schedules between Fort Worth and Dallas. In 1929 he moved to Lubbock and bought South Plains Coaches, a bus line that traveled on the unpaved roads from Lubbock to Sweetwater. From four drivers on this line eventually grew Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma Coaches, Incorporated, which operated fourteen lines over more than 10,000 miles a day, from Western Oklahoma to Carlsbad, New Mexico. Bowman was a member and director of the Texas Motor Transportation Association and a member of the National Bus Owners' Association. He was a Methodist and member of the Lions Club, the Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, and the Lubbock Board of City Development. He helped build the Milam Home for Orphans in Lubbock and was active in other charities. He was an avid sportsman and was recognized as one of the leading horse trainers in the Southwest. His saddle horses and trotters won many trophies and ribbons at shows in West Texas. Bowman married Bula Birdsong in 1909. The couple had no children. He died on December 19, 1943, and is buried at Greenville, Texas.

Seymour V. Connor, ed., Builders of the Southwest (Lubbock: Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, 1959). Reference File, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University.
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Horse Racing and Polo)
  • Religion
  • Methodist
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • West Texas
  • Lubbock

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

Lawrence L. Graves, “Bowman, Joseph Wylie,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

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