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Bowles’ Farm Postcard

While exploring eBay for Longmeadow memorabilia I discovered this 1907 Bowles’ Farm postcard and purchased it for the Longmeadow Historical Society. I was unaware of Bowles’ Farm, as it does not exist today, but believed there must be an interesting history behind it and sought to uncover it.

The postcard was sent from 71-year-old Julia Bowles to 7-year-old Ruth Coolidge in Vermont. The nature of their relationship is unclear, but Julia was originally from Vermont, born in 1846. She had been widowed since 1871 and her three children (Henry Bowles, Caleb Bowles, and Angie Hammatt) lived in the Longmeadow area. The farm’s main house, as seen on the postcard, is located at 878 Longmeadow Street and is known as the Dr. Benjamin Stebbins House. It was built in 1795 for Lucy Colton Stebbins as a wedding gift from her late father's estate. Her father, Marchant Samuel Colton, was one of the wealthiest men in the Connecticut Valley.

Over the years, the house passed through several owners (see more here) and was eventually purchased in 1888 by John Stanton Carr of Springfield, owner of the J.S. Carr & Company, manufacturers of crackers and biscuits, as a country home and farm known as the Carr Place. At that time the property encompassed 75 acres and extended from Main Street (Longmeadow Street) to the Connecticut River.

The house was expanded after this and a 2nd floor was added. After J.S. Carr’s death in 1894, the property was sold to Reverend Rufus S. Underwood in 1896.

The farm became known as Sunset Farm and became recognized for its strawberries. In 1904 the home and approximately 60 acres of land were purchased by Henry Leland Bowles for his widowed mother Julia Bowles. Henry Bowles was a very successful restauranteur with a chain of restaurants located across the country and into Canada. He would go on to serve two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1925-1929) and was instrumental in developing the Agawam airport, opening in 1930, and became known as Bowles Field. There were two barns and a carriage house on the property.

The farm became well known for raising and showing chickens, but as seen on the postcard there were cows and pigs as well.