HARRY BOWMAN has made a success in life as a laundryman. His career is one that might serve as a stimulus to other young men who start life with few advantages and with only their own efforts and courage as capital.
Mr. Bowman, who is a representative of the Bowman family that settled in Kansas in 1887, was at the time of the location in Kansas a boy of thirteen. He finished his education in the Wichita High School the Wichita University and the Wichita Business College. While still in the public schools he began earning his own living and getting a vocational training by working for the Wichita Eagle. He was with that paper eight years, and in many capacities. He learned the printer's trade and at the same time continued his studies in night school.
But printing was not his permanent line. An opportunity presented itself and he became bookkeeper for the Kansas Steam Laundry of Wichita. With that company he remained three years, and besides looking after the hooks he interested himself in the technical operations of the plant, and when he resigned his position he was in charge of the engine and wash room. Seeking a wider field for experience, he spent about four years in the different laundry establishments of Kansas City, Missouri, and still later did journeyman work in many of the larger cities of Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana. His journeyman experience came to a close when he located in Larned.
Here he accepted the position of foreman in a very small laundry plant owned by J. J. Fields. He worked for Fields' successors and eventually, in February, 1908, assumed ownership and control of the business. He owned the establishment only nominally, since he gave his note to the real owners for about $7,000 and "his nerve for the rest of it." The old laundry was situated on the site of the present laundry establishment owned by Mr. Bowman. The old plant was conducted in an iron clad building and had four employes. Mr. Bowman not only had a thorough knowledge of all the practical details of laundry work, but had the capacity to make his business a real and important service in the community. His trade increased and it was necessary to enlarge the old building from time to time and finally, in order to take care of the fast increasing business that was coming to Larned, he had to erect a completely new plant. This plant was built in 1915. It is housed in a brick building 75 by 105 feet, with cement floors, and with equipment that spells efficiency and in the eyes of practical laundrymen represents the last word in mechanical facilities. In fact the plant in its equipment is valued at approximately $50,000. Besides the machinery for doing all classes of high grade laundry work there is a department for cleaning and pressing. While perhaps the bulk of the trade comes from Larned the Ideal Steam Laundry also draws patronage from all the country in a radius of twenty-five miles around Larned and there are agencies as far away as 100 miles. For his local work Mr. Bowman has three Ford delivery cars. His plant is almost unique in its surroundings. He has about three acres of ground, and this is thoroughly self-irrigated and has been converted into a landscape which lends magnificent possibilities to the immediate locality and presents an ideal environment in which the Ideal Steam Laundry has its home.
Mr. Harry Bowman was born at Milford Center, Ohio, January 14, 1874. His grandfather, Isaac Bowman, was of German blood, was a farmer, and he died near Boyce in the famous Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Isaac Bowman married Elizabeth Downey, daughter of Isaac Downey, of Virginia.
Benjamin F. Bowman, father of Harry, was born in the Shenandoah Valley at Boyce, and grew up there until the outbreak of the Civil war. He was too young to become a soldier, but some of his older brothers were fighting men of the South. Benjamin F. Bowman when the war came on went to Newark, Ohio. He had some knowledge of carriage making, which he had acquired during an apprenticeship at Richmond, Virginia, and he did journeyman work until after the war. He then established a business for himself at Newark, married in that city, and several years later went to Bladensburg, Ohio, where he continued in business and had a small factory. In 1887 he moved from Bladenshurg, Ohio, to Wichita, Kansas, and continued a carriage making factory in that city during the rest of his active career. Late in life he moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, and died there in October, 1915, at the age of sixty-seven. His life was so wrapped up in his home and business that he took no active interest in politics save as a democratic voter. A few years before his death he joined the Christian Church. He never had membership in a lodge. His life was a model as a family and business man. He married Cynthia Lowery. Her father was Daniel Lowery, who had the following children: David, of Prospect, Ohio; Lou, wife of John Everts, of Newark, Ohio; Cynthia, who is still living and a resident of Hutchinson, Kansas; and Fannie, wife of Ed Kenyon, of Columbus, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin F. Bowman had only two children: Harry and Mrs. Clara Taylor, the latter of Hutchinson.
Mr. Harry Bowman was married in 1893 to Miss Anna Williams, adopted daughter of J. L. Williams. Two children were born to their union, Paul and Cecil. Paul is with the American Expeditionary Forces in France in the Four Hundred and Twenty-First Telegraph Battallion of the Signal Corps. On January 21, 1904, Mr. Bowman married for his present wife Mamie Clinesmith, a daughter of W. H. Clinesmith, of Wichita. Her father came to Wichita from Ohio, was a farmer for a time and later a bridge contractor and is now a mill owner. Mr. Clinesmith served as a Union soldier during the Civil war. He married Sarah Woods and had five children. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Bowman are named Harry, Mildred, Marie and Benjamin. Mr. Bowman has membership in several fraternal orders, including the Blue Lodge of Masons, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Loyal Order of Moose. Politically he is independent in his views and actions. As one of the leading men in his business he is a well known member of the Kansas laundry Owners' Association and the National Laundry Owners' Association.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project