Chambers Farm

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The Chambers Farm is located on the north side of Bowles Avenue and just west of Lowell Boulevard. The house there was built by Charles Wesley Bowles, oldest son of Joseph Wesley and Cynthia Bowles, the pioneer family with large land holdings in the Platte valley west of Littleton.

It is thought that Charles Bowles built his house in 1906. It was in 1906 that his father, Joseph, died and all his property went to the three living sons. According to a research paper on Joseph W. Bowles prepared for the Littleton Historical Museum by Carolyn Keller in 1989, these living sons were Charles Wesley, the oldest, Edward Vincent, the middle son, and Walter A., the youngest. Keller said, "Edward [had his own] home, location unknown, but possibly in Littleton...." "Walter ended up living on the old homestead in the main house on Joseph W. Bowles' original acreage." This property was identified in 1989 as 3600 West Bowles Avenue, and known as "Willowcroft."

"Charles's home [was] further west on Bowles Avenue," said Keller. Charles apparently had received at least the tract that later became Chambers Farm. A photograph of the residence of Charles W. Bowles appeared in the December 24, 1915, Littleton Independent.

Stone's History of Colorado in 1918 described it: "One of the most beautiful homes of Littleton is that owned and occupied by Charles Wesley Bowles, who spends the summer months in Colorado and the winter seasons in California. For many years he was actively, prominently and successfully identified with ranching interests in Arapahoe County, and the success he achieved now enables him to rest from further labor."

More background on Charles Bowles is provided by Chapman's Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver and Vicinity, published in 1898. It says that Charles had returned to Littleton from four years of running a cattle ranch in Wray, Colorado, (the Wray ranch belonged to his father, Joseph Bowles) and had leased from his father the large ranch that the latter owned at Littleton.

Charles Wesley Bowles was born November 10, 1868 and married Nancy Adeline "Addie" Lee March 20, 1892. She was the daughter of Thomas J. and Susan E. (Randolph) Lee. Her father was a prominent farmer at Fort Logan. Charles Bowles, himself, after owning large ranches not only in Arapahoe, but also in Elbert county, had sold them and retired by 1918. He still owned three hundred acres at Littleton, where, as explained above, he spent the summers. The farm was described by Stone as, "one of the most ideal places of the county, splendidly improved, and all kinds of fine shade trees surround the buildings".

Charles and Addie had four children. Two sons, Ed and Albert, died when only a few days old. Nellie Cynthia was born October 13, 1893, and Charla Adeline was born January 27, 1907. Nellie married George Lloyd McKee of Denver in November 1917. Charla married a Mr. McGintis (or McGintie?).

Charles Bowles served, as did his father, as Arapahoe County Commissioner. He was instrumental in bringing the county seat and the 1908 courthouse to Littleton. Also in 1908 he was director of the Arapahoe County Fair Association. He was a member of the Littleton Board of Education for several years and was board president in 1901. During World War I he was food administrator of Arapahoe County.

Not long after inheriting the land from their father, the Bowles sons began to sell off portions of the acreage. Keller, in her research paper on Joseph W. Bowles, said, "From 1906-1911, there are 43 entries in the old court records, [Clerk and Recorder of Arapahoe County, Colorado], showing primarily mortgages, warranties and quit claims." In 1920 a large ad in the newspaper announced the closing-out sale of livestock and machinery at the Bowles Ranch. It advised that the ranch had been sold, and this was absolutely a "clean-out."

In May 1921 Matilda E. Danks gave a deed of trust (mortgage) to Charles W. Bowles for a large portion of land in the south half of Section eighteen (18), Township five (5), Range sixty-eight (68) in Arapahoe County. This land would have included the Charles W. Bowles house. Charles W. Bowles had previously deeded a tract in the southeast corner of that section, and it was excluded in the Danks-Bowles transaction. Two years later, in August 1923, the mortgage had been paid by the Maxwell-Miller Cattle Company, who was then the owner, and the deed of trust was released.

In July 1931 the Littleton Independent reported that the former Maxwell-Miller Ranches were being traded again, stating that these were the former Bowles and the Patterson ranches. The same month it also ran an article that said Colonel W. D. Danks, who had formerly lived on the Maxwell-Miller Ranch, and was then a resident of Steamboat Springs, was expected to be appointed the state's adjutant general by Governor Alva Adams.

By 1997 twenty-eight acres of the farm, including the 1906 house built by Charles Bowles, belonged to the Chambers family who wanted to sell it to developers. A grassroots campaign over two years succeeded, with the help of the Trust for Public Lands, in preserving the farm as open space by bringing together funds raised from surrounding neighbors, public and private donations, dollars from the South Suburban Park and Recreation District and money from the City of Littleton's open space budget to buy the what was then the twenty-eight acre farm. South Suburban Park and Recreation District announced plans to manage it as a park that would include several athletic fields but would keep most of it in passive open space with trails and benches.

By 1999 the two-story farmhouse had been bought by a private party with plans to renovate it and use it as a residence.

After all of his achievements and reaching an idyllic retirement, Charles W. Bowles mysteriously disappeared one day. According to Littleton Independent editor Houstoun Waring, writing in 1974 about an event over forty years earlier, Bowles "left his hat and coat at the top of a mine shaft near Eldora [Colorado], apparently to give the impression that he had fallen in. That was over forty years ago. Some time later, however, Bill Hugins [a Littleton man] ran into him in Old Mexico." Research for this article did not further investigate the disappearance of Charles Wesley Bowles.

Charles W. Bowles' wife, Addie (Lee) Bowles, died at age seventy-six on May 17, 1952, in Stockton, California where she had made her home for several years with her sister, Mrs. Olive Ward. She was born September 20, 1875. She was a charter member of the Littleton Woman's Club. Her two daughters survived her. According to the Littleton Independent they were Mrs. Thomas Gallagher, Long Beach, and Mrs. E. E. McGintie, Stockton, California. Addie Bowles is buried in the Littleton Cemetery with other members of the Lee family.

Bibliography

Arapahoe County, Colorado, Clerk and Recorder. Arapahoe County Building, Littleton, CO. Land Records, 1921, 1923.

Keller, Carolyn. "Joseph W. Bowles, 1935-1906." Research paper prepared for the Littleton Historical Museum, 1989.

Littleton (Colo.) Independent. Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-

Littleton Museum. Card file: Bowles, Charles Wesley and Joseph Wesley.

Mount Rosa Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Littleton Cemetery, Littleton, Colorado. Littleton, Colorado: Mount Rosa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1983.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver and Vicinity, Colorado. Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1898.

Rocky Mountain News. Denver: Rocky Mountain News Publishing, 1859-

Stone, Wilbur Fisk. History of Colorado. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1918.

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.

 

Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse

Updated May 2017