History

The Trinity County Historical Society has been very supportive of the Bowerman Barn and Ranch restoration effort by providing information, insight and copies of original historical documents and photographs.

The following summary was written by JoAnn M. Baxter for the 1976 Official yearbook of the Trinity County Historical Society, Weaverville, California entitled “The Bowermans.”

Barn, built in 1878, and carriage house (right).
Barn, built in 1878, and carriage house (right).

The California gold rush lured many young men from their homes in the east and Jacob and John Bowerman were among them. Although John was older by nearly eight years, it was Jacob who was the more adventuresome. In his early 20s, he left Ohio and boarded a ship bound for San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. He was just twenty-three in that year of 1856, and he was out to strike it rich!

After arriving in San Francisco he set out for Montana and over the next five years he worked his way back to California, never striking it big but managing to put a bit by. Tiring of the fickle “Lady Luck,” he wrote home and convinced his brother John to come out and help him find a good ranch. Ranching was a business they both knew and together they might make a go of it.

John made the long, arduous trip across the plains and together they raised the $1800.00 to buy a 160 acre ranch up the East Fork of Stuart’s Fork. The date was August 26, 1861 and the ranch had potential. The parcel of land had first been claimed in 1853 by Alfred and Daniel Stroupe who stayed on the property three years, then sold to Albert Reinerson for $250.00. Reinerson undoubtedly found it a remote and not a totally desirable location since he only kept it for one year. Christian H. Miller bought it for $640.00 and kept the property for nearly four years, improving the buildings and fields. It was the Bowermans, though, who really made it a working ranch. They purchased beef cattle, milk stock, and planted the land with hay and corn. Slowly, they built up a meat and dairy business supplying the nearby mining communities. In 1870, Jacob purchased ½ interest in the old Kennedy and Cox water race for $120.00 in gold coin. The ditch ran along the hill above the meadow taking water from the East Fork of Stuart’s Fork. Rights to the old mining ditch and its water assured irrigation for the fields.

While the brothers thus occupied themselves, Jacob’s future wife was making her way towards their common destiny. Her name was Anna Frances Tourtellotte, and she had been born in East Thompson, Connecticut, on August 2, 1851. Her father had come to California in 1855, and her mother and younger sister, Inez, had arrived the same year as Jacob. Anna had stayed with her aunt in Connecticut at her aunt’s request. Finally, in 1863 or 1864, her mother and Inez returned to the East Coast to bring Anna west with them. They left by ship, crossed the Isthmus of Panama on mule back, boarded ship again to San Francisco and came up the river to Red Bluff by boat.  Horses and mules brought them the last miles to Minersville to her father’s store and hotel. There she became acquainted with and at seventeen married Davis Hall, then forty-five. He, like her father, was a hotel keeper owning the largest inn in Trinity Center. They married December 31, 1868 at the Tower House in Shasta County, a place her folks had run for a few years, between the late 1850’s and 1862. The marriage was not a success and they separated after about a year. Anna returned to her parents in Minersville and helped them with their business. Jacob and Anna met in Minersville and when his brother John realized that Jacob was serious about Anna, he bought a mining claim about a mile and a half from the ranch. Anna Jacob married December 11, 1872 in Minersville. He was thirty-nine and she twenty-one.

Anna, Frank Leslie, and Jacob Bowerman in front of house.
Anna, Frank Leslie, and Jacob Bowerman in front of house.

Of this union were born two sons; Frank Leslie and Jacob Ray Bowerman. The younger, Jacob Ray died when he was only four during the terrible diphtheria epidemic the winter of 1879. Frank Leslie lived through the epidemic and married Nellie Bolton of Minersville in 1895 when he was twenty-one and she sixteen. That same year, John Bowerman died at the ranch and was buried on the hill. He had never married. Jacob followed his brother in 1917 at age eighty-three and Anna in 1931 at the age of eighty.

Frank Leslie and Nellie had two little girls, Elsie and Amy before their marriage ended. Nellie moved to Oakland and remarried, but Anna kept the girls and raised them like her own. Frank Leslie never remarried and died in 1920 at only forty-five years of age. Amy was only sixteen when she married Bill Greenwell and tragedy struck after a six year marriage. Bill was killed by a horse’s kick and Amy moved away from Trinity County. Elsie married at twenty to Guy Goodrich and had three children with him.

The old ranch house, built about the same time as the barn, 1877-1878, burned in the late 1920’s and all that remains of the ranch is the beautiful hand-made barn.

The Bowermans gave their names to several local places including; Bowerman Ridge, Bowerman Gulch, Bowerman Meadows, and Lake Anna, so named because Anna Bowerman was the first white woman to ever go there. She hiked in as a young wife accompanying Jacob when he drove the cattle into Bowerman Meadows for summer grazing.

Though Jacob Bowerman came as a miner and he and his brother and later his son continued to mine part time, they didn’t leave as many others had. The Bowermans stayed and helped to turn Trinity County into the stable and productive area it is today.

Jacob Bowerman taken about 1910
Jacob Bowerman taken about 1910

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