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Bowman Dairy Company

In 1885, J. R. Bowman entered the Chicago dairy market by purchasing the milk business of M. A. Devine.

History:

In 1885, J. R. Bowman entered the Chicago dairy market by purchasing the milk business of M. A. Devine. Six years later he sold his St. Louis operation and moved to Chicago where he formed the Bowman Dairy Company. Over the years, the Bowman Company expanded its markets outside of Chicago and built large bottling plants on the South Side of Chicago.

One such plant was built on Wolf Road adjacent to the Rock Island tracks in Mokena. The Bowman Company, once an employer of more than 3,000 Chicago employees and a leading supplier of dairy products in the Chicago area, was also one of Mokena’s more flourishing enterprises.

The Bowman Company continued to flourish as a large business until 1966, when it was purchased by local rival, the Dean Foods Company. The plant existed for a number of years and was eventually converted into a brewery and wallpaper mill. 

In February 2004, the old factory building was razed, clearing the way for a retail and residential center. The top photograph shows the dairy plant looking south across the Rock Island tracks. You can see plant workers standing on the loading dock and a refrigerated railroad car to the left. In the bottom postcard, workers are lined up between two freight cars for a picture along the dock platform. Notice the wooden Bowman Dairy crates stacked up behind the men. 

Time Frame:

These postcards are from the divided-back era: 1907-1914, and are part of collection of Robert Horras of Princeton, Ill.

We Need Your Help:

David Belden is a history teacher at Minooka Community High School and is currently publishing local postcard books with Arcadia Publishing in his Local History classes, including Grundy County, Joliet, Will County and Princeton. He and his students are currently looking for I&M photos and postcards for a new publication.

If you are interested in contributing a postcard image, please email him at: dbelden@mchs.net or localhistory@mchs.net call 815-467-2140 x260. To view more postcards and images, visit www.localhistoryproject.org or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/localhistory

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veronica May 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I found an old cookbook among my deceased mother-in-law's belongings. It's yellow and pretty old looking and titled "My Favorite Recipes" by Ruth Fisher Holbrook. It has Bowman Dairy Company name on front of it. Hate to just throw it away, so if any one out in web land wants, I'll be happy to mail it to you.
Ozzy May 14, 2012 at 01:10 PM
If you still have it, I can post on a dairy collecting message board asking if anyone is interested in it (someone should be). Thanks for the offer.
Michelle July 22, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Hello Veronica, my grandpa and my great uncle worked for Bowman for 35 years, I collect Bowman items. I would really like the cookbook, if you still have it. Please email me at tmn800@yahoo.com. Thanks!
Jerry Neil December 03, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I recently cleaned out a crawl space under the house and found an old Bowman milk pale and six cardboard tops for pint milk bottles.
Mary Camp December 30, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I have a Bowman Dairy Company one pint milk bottle-excellent condition-no chips or cracks for sale, Call Mary at 517-278-8603 for details or pics. Thanks

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