Settlement began here in the mid-1830s, and in 1850 a post office known as Gun Lake was established. The village, never over 100 population, contained a sawmill, general store, blacksmith shop and several other businesses. E. H. Bowen constructed the present gristmill in 1864 and in 1870 the name of the town was changed to honor its leading citizen. Bowen and his son William operated the mill, famous for its buckwheat flour, until 1912. Production continued until mid-twentieth century.