Bio: Bowen, Family (1919 – 1980)
Surnames: Bowen, Laabs, Berger, Harris, Sebold, Krause, Brost, Gelhaus, Grambort, Christensen, Feddick, Viegut, Felker, Galvin, Kriplean, Ferrick, Bootzin, Myre, Moore, Leek
----Source: Family Scrapbook
In 1919, the Harlow Bowen family moved from Crawford County of southern Wisconsin to Clark County, three and one-half miles northwest of Curtiss, on an 80 acre farm with 2 acres of cleared land. The family came in a Model T Touring car and the furniture was moved by horse-drawn wagon which was driven by James Smith, a brother-in-law of Harlow and Irv Bowen, a brother of Harlow. The house was a two room tarpapered shack. The log barn was large enough for two horses and two cows. Harlow cut wood and sold it to make a living for his family.
In 1923, he started a milk route with horses. The milk was taken to the Midway Cheese Factory. The route increased, so in 1925 he purchased a Model T Ford truck to transport milk to the Laabs Cheese Co. This vehicle was purchased from the Curtiss Garage which is presently owned by Les Bowen. The year of 1925 was also the year of tragedy. Their home burnt down, leaving them homeless.
In 1928, Harlow purchased a 1928 Chevrolet truck from Daley and Kelsey in Abbotsford, Pat Neitzel being the salesman. This truck was used to haul milk, wood and cattle.
In 1929, Harlow purchased a Model-A Ford gas truck from the Altenburg Garage in Withee. He delivered gas to the area farmers and at this time his son, Donald hauled milk. A nephew of Harlow, Mark Bowen, also hauled milk.
In 1930, Harlow's two sons, Les and Floyd, started to haul milk for their father.
In 1931, Harlow purchased an International truck from the Kriplean Bros, in Colby.
In 1933, Harlow purchased a 1931 used Ford truck from Altenburg Garage in Withee, which Les used to haul milk.
In 1935, Les purchased the milk route from his father and also purchased the 1931 Ford truck. The purchase price of the route and truck was $75.00. Les borrowed the funds from Fred Laabs, owner of the Laabs Cheese Factory in Curtiss. Repayment of the loan was $5.00 per month to be deducted from the hauling check and no interest was charged. Les also farmed an 80-acre farm at this time.
In 1936, Les bought his first new truck, a Chevrolet IV2 ton from Berger Chevrolet in Withee. The purchase price for this truck was $778.00. Harlow also purchased a 1936 Chevrolet truck. In 1938, Les hired his first hired man, Arlun Harris. His salary was $15.00 per month plus room and board.
In 1939, Les bought another truck, this one from the Sebold Chevrolet in Dorchester. A journey was made to Janesville, Wisconsin to get the truck.
In 1939, Les purchased an 80 acre farm with 21 cows which were milked by hand. His second hired man was Ervin Krause of Curtiss. Wages paid were $25.00 per month.
In 1940, Les purchased another milk route. In 1941, Les purchased a 1941 Chevrolet truck from Gelhaus and Brost, of Medford. Me also purchased two more milk routes. This was the year he and his family moved to Curtiss and he rented his farm.
In 1942, he sold his farm and did general trucking. He also began hauling and buying cattle for the Grambort-Christensen Corp. of Abbotsford. He was on their payroll for 25 years.
In the years of 1942 through 1951, the business consisted of general trucking, local and long distant haul-ing. The main trucking business consisted of milk hauling, logging, gravel and cattle. A majority of the trucks were purchased from Gelhaus and Brost, Inc. of Medford; vehicles are still being purchased from them as of today, as were vehicles purchased from Feddick Ford of Abbotsford and Viegut Sales and Service, of Athens and Midway Chevrolet at Owen. The International trucks were purchased from Felker Bros, of Marshfield, John J. Galvin being salesman.
In addition to the general trucking, in 1951 Les began to haul paper products for the Lewis Container Co. of Colby, now the Packaging Corporation of America. He purchased two Diesel FMC tractors from the Kriplean Bros, of Colby.
In 1954, he sold the seven trailers to Robert Ferrick.
In 1955, he purchased the feed mill in Curtiss which was owned by Peter Bootzin of Medford. He operated the mill for 17 years.
In 1961, he took the dealership for Dari-Kool Bulk tanks and in 1964 he purchased the Hardware Store in Curtiss from the Owen-Curtiss State Bank, where the business is located at the present time. In the same year, he took the dealership for Bou-Matic milkers and the Light-footed snowmobile, "SKI-DOO".
In the past 16 years, we have grown to be the largest dealer for dairy equipment in the state and the second largest in the Midwest. We are also the largest dealer for the sales of Thermo-Stors in the nation. We have also been in the leasing business for the past three years.
We have 18 employees, eight trucks for service and installation, all equipped with 2-way radios to give the best service in three counties. At the present time, we have over 200 pipelines, 22 parlors installed, 700 bulk tanks, and bucket users. We know the farmers are looking for quality, good milking and good service. If anyone is in¬terested in changing their milking systems or bulk tanks, please contact us.
Les was also on the board for the Village of Curtiss for 25 years, St. Paul's American Lutheran Church board for a number of years, Director of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs for five years and helped organize the Tri-County feed Dealers Association and is also a charter member of the Colby Lions Club.
The Les Bowens have a family of three children, Dale of Milwaukee; Idell Myre of Alaska and Dennis of Wausau.
The Harlow Bowens had seven children, Donald, deceased; Floyd of Curtiss; Lester of Curtiss; Millard, deceased; Velma Moore of Batesville, Arkansas; Loretta Leek of Vanderbilt, Pennsylvania and Robert of Stevens Point.
Submitted by: Les Bowen
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