Thomas Jefferson Bowen was a Southern Baptist missionary in Nigeria. He was born in Jackson County, Georgia, and arrived in Nigeria in 1850, the pioneer Southern Baptist missionary in the area. In 1853 he settled at Ijaye, in Yorubaland, and with the assistance of American colleagues established other stations in Ogbomosho and Abeokuta. He became a Yoruba scholar of considerable standing, publishing a dictionary and grammar of the language after his early retirement due to poor health. On his return to the United States in 1856 he promoted a colonization scheme, whereby African Americans would settle in Nigeria. The scheme gained some support, but eventually died in the U.S. House of Representatives.
T. J. Bowen, Central Africa: Adventures and Missionary Labours (1857) and Grammar and Dictionary of the Yoruba Language (1858). F. J. A. Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841-1891: The Making of a New Elite (1965).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.