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Bauman was born in Nora Springs, Iowa to William and Amelia (Leckington) Bauman. In 1878 his family moved to the Morrill, Kansas area. His father was a German Baptist Brethren (as all Schwarzenau Brethren were known as before 1881/82) elder, and Bauman joined the Pony Creek Brethren congregation through a revival held by his father in February 1889. Bauman came from humble beginnings, with both parents at times employed to meet the needs of their four children (Bauman had three sisters). He received his high school education in Lawrence, Kansas and obtained no education higher except for an honorary degree from Ashland College.
He married Mary M. Wageman on April 28, 1898. They had three children: Glenn W., Iva Muriel, and Paul R. Glenn died at age six (ca. 1907), which spurred Bauman's reading of Biblical prophecies and his thought development toward dispensationalism. His wife Mary died on September 12, 1909, and he remarried to Reta Virginia Stover on April 8, 1912. Bauman and Stover first met at an evangelistic campaign in Sunnyside, Washington in 1911, where Brethren leader and Grace Seminary founder Alva J. McClain was converted to Christianity.
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