Biography of Henry Bowman

HENRY BOWMAN. – Mr. Bowman, universally known as a public-spirited and prominent citizen of Pendleton, was one of the earliest settlers of Umatilla county. He was born in 1833, in Tyler county, Virginia. He spent his early years in the old dominion, and his youth in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and in 1860 came by the well-worn Oregon trail to our state. In the train of thirty-six wagons there were some two hundred persons, eighty-eight of whom were men; and their numbers secured them from attacks by Indians. The train was under command of Mr. E. de Lashmutt, uncle of the present mayor of Portland. Arriving at the Umatilla country, Mr. Bowman met men from the Willamette valley seeking stock ranges, and wisely concluded that there was no use in going farther west; and he at once selected a place on Birch creek, ten miles south of the present sight of Pendleton, and began stock-raising.

Mr. Bowman’s ranch is one of the finest in Oregon, containing thirteen hundred and thirty acres of nearly level and altogether tillable land. There is at least fifteen miles of fencing on the farm. A large orchard of thrifty apple, pear and plum trees is just beyond the house. This is the wintering place for his stock, which consists of fine horses and sheep. The summer range is forty miles distant in the mountains, which is all fenced and comprises about seven hundred acres. Although situated high in the mountains, this grazing tract is excellent grass land, and produces abundantly of every variety of tame grasses sown. In the care of his stock, a considerable force of hired help is required and employed throughout the year.

His place is distinctively a stock ranch; and the horses, all of trotting stock, such as Black Hawk Morgans, Pathfinders and Coburgs, compose one of the handsomest bands of animals in our state. Mr. Bowman breeds from thoroughbreds in horses, cattle and sheep. He has half a dozen shorthorn cows, and is exporting full blood Merino sheep. His stock of Merinos came originally from Hammond’s in Vermont, and from Wood’s Michigan flocks, and is therefore of the best American blood. The average clip for his entire band this year was eleven and one-half pounds per head. It was some years after his arrival before he discovered that the uplands were of any value than as a stock range; but a little experimenting soon showed that he was in the heart of one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. It is to the progressive spirit and experiments of the few settlers such as he that the present value of the Inland Empire is referable.

After a few years of residence on his ranch, he removed to Pendleton, and located permanently at this growing metropolis of Eastern Oregon. Here he conducts a livery stable, of which it has been said that no establishment of the kind can turnout better horses or finer carriages. It occupies nearly half a block, and is well built of wood and brick.

Mr. Bowman was married in 1852 to Miss Elizabeth Owens. The fruit of their union was four children, the eldest Mary Ellen, being the wife of Henry Stover, one of Umatilla county’s most worthy and progressive citizens. His sons William a., Walter, and daughter Ida May, have also reached adult life.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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