by David Shannon
Essie Bowen was a blessing to Wilson County for 94 years. She was the youngest born of three daughters and a son to Lee and Susie Griffin. She attended Cooks School, located on Cooks Road. When she was young, her older sister would take her riding in a buggy pulled by a pony. Later in life, while grading strawberries on a nearby farm, she met Pirt Bowen. He began to come to her house on Sunday and once during the week. Finally he gathered the courage to ask her parents if they would give their daughter in marriage. The young couple first lived with his parents until Mrs. Essie began being the care provider for an elderly lady. During this time they lived in her home. They continued to save and after a few years bought a farm. They were so thankful for their house and land. But such as life, not all things go as planned. Pirt began having heart problems. He simply could not continue farming. They began to search for a different way to provide for their family. By this time their children, Peggy and Joe, were about eight and nine years old. They purchased the country store in Beckwith. This store was originally built in 1900 on the railroad bed, which guided steam engines through Mt. Juliet. As a matter of fact, the old concrete pillar is still in place that held the water reservoir for steam engines to replenish their tanks. This proved to be a wise move for the Bowens. Sadly, Pirt passed away shortly after. From 1960 until 1972 Mrs. Essie ran the country store bringing an inviting atmosphere to her business. Neighbors enjoyed the convenience. Many also enjoyed Rook on Friday and Saturday nights. Finally due to failing health she retired from the store. After several more years of living at home in Beckwith, she moved in with her daughter Peggy. Later she needed to move to a health care facility in Lebanon. Many of her neighbors commented on how much they missed the “mayor of Beckwith.” She was the community’s source of information.
If you met Mrs. Essie she would offer you something to eat. She would soon ask if you played cards. And often she would state, “Do you go to church anywhere? I go to Mt. Juliet church of Christ.” There were some things that Mrs. Essie Bowen loved. She loved playing Rook. She, Ellen Arb, Dora Foriest, and Sue Warren were close friends and have played hours of Rook. Sue told me the last time the four of them played together that Mrs. Essie won every hand. She loved talking on the phone. Some would say she talked from sun up to sun down. She did like to keep up with what was going on around her. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons she loved her room in the health care center was because it faced the Wilson County Fair Grounds. She could sit in her room and monitor the activities each day. She loved to crochet. The ribbons from the fair proved her skill level. She was most proud of a Grand Champion Ribbon from the Tennessee State Fair from a few years ago. She loved Ellen Arb. She and Ellen were close friends. As children they grew up as neighbors. Together they kept the paths worn down doing good. They went to demonstration club meetings, nursing homes, funeral homes, hospitals, taking food or flowers to homes, doing whatever was needed to be done, speaking kind words and doing good deeds for their neighbors. Mrs. Essie loved the Lord. We have mixed emotions on her passing; for us, grief because we will miss our friend and sister, but for her we feel rejoicing because things have never been better.
We extend our deepest sympathy to her daughter Peggy and her husband Don and to George Griffin and the rest of her family. Our prayers are with them. Mrs. Essie’s husband Pirt and son Joe proceeded her in death.