J.M. Bowler was born in Lee, Main, on July 10, 1838. Educated in common schools, Lee Academy and Westbrook Seminary. Worked on his father’s farm, in his store and lumber camps. Taught country school in Lee in 1855 and Falmouth in 1856. Came west in March 1857. Taught school in Hales Corners and Lynn, Wisconsin, and McGregor, Iowa. Came to St. Anthony Falls, Minnesota, in April 1859, taught school several times in Nininger and Grey Cloud. Carried a Torch in the Wide Awakes, and voted for Abraham Lincoln for President in 1860. Enlisted in Company E, First Minn. Vol. Inf. in April 1861, and was discharged up the re-organization of the regiment for the three years service. Enlisted as private in Company F., Third Regiment Minnesota, Inf. Vols., Sept. 23, 1861; was promoted to corporal and sergeant, and in October 1862, was commissioned Second Lieutenant and December 1, 1862, captain of the company and served as such until April 1, 1865; was commission Major of 113th U.S.C.T. and was mustered out with the regiment April 9, 1866. Was on detached service at different times as a member of the General Court Martial, Military Commission, and Post Adjutant on the staff of General C.C. Andrews at Little Rock, Ark., and was also appointed assistant general superintendent of Freedman’s Bureau for the same district. Major General Reynolds offered to recommend him for second lieutenant’s commission in the regular army. He declined the office, preferring to return to his home in Minnesota. November 30, 1862, married Lizzie S. Caleff at Nininger, Minnesota. She and their daughter, Victoria, were with him during his stay at Jacksonport, Ark. After leaving the army, he taught school several terms at Nininger and Hampton and followed farming until he moved to Minneapolis, October 1901. Besides he was in the farm machinery business at Bird Island for a short time and for a few years traveling collection agent for the Northwestern Manufacturing and Car Company of Stillwater and Minneapolis. Harvestor Company, Minneapolis.
He worked two summers as a right-of-way agent for Chicago, Great Western Railroad Company. At different times held various town and school district offices; was representative in the legislature of 1878, speaker’s clerk during the session of 1891, and State Dairy and Food commission two years under Governor Lind. Was a nominee for Lieutenant-Governor on the ticket with Governor Lind in 1896 and 1898; also for Railroad Commissioner on Democratic State ticket in 1902. As an earnest friend of good government—government of, for, and by the people–has always taken a lively interest in politics and never missed an opportunity to vote at elections. Since coming to Minneapolis in 1901 has done some business in real estate and insurance. In 1881 and 1882 was editor of the newspaper, the Bird Island Blizzard.