Warren O. Bowers, who is known everywhere in Sacramento and pretty well throughout the state as Jo Bowers, is one of the two living pioneer hotel men of this city, where he has been a resident since 1873. He is now proprietor of the Capital Hotel, one of the first-class houses of the city and popular with the traveling public for its fine cuisine and comfortable accommodations. Mr. Bowers, though for so long a citizen of the west and of Sacramento, has had a career of many phases of activity and experience and in various localities of the western world, beginning at railroading at his peaceful little New England state, thence being transferred to some of the most hazardous service during the times of the Civil war, and after that coming to the stirring and bustling west and partaking of its vigorous life and spirit through the subsequent years of his long and active life. He is well on toward the threescore and ten mark, but his interest in the world and his own business affairs is unabated, and he will no doubt yet play many a part in the great drama of life.
Mr. Bowers was born at Nashua, New Hampshire, April 26, 1838, a son of Thomas and Betsey (Conery) Bowers, both natives of New Hampshire, and of old English families established in this country many generations ago, some of whose members were gallant soldiers in the war of the Revolution. Thomas Bowers was a farmer, and died in 1857, and his wife died in 1892. They were the parents of nine children, and those living besides Warren are: William, who lives retired in Worcester, Massachusetts; James, in Montpelier, Vermont; Elmire, the wife of Charles Crafts, of Waltham, Massachusetts; and Nancy, the wife of David Barber, of Nashua, New Hampshire.
Warren O. Bowers was educated in the common schools of Nashua, and concluded his studies in the high school at the age of fourteen. He began work in the West India Goods store, but at the age of sixteen took up the career of railroading, which he continued until 1861, the last year being spent at Wilmington, North Carolina. He was there when the war broke out, and he then became engineer on board the steamer Alice, which plied between Wilmington and the West Indies, and was one of the swiftest of the vessels which comprised the blockade running fleet of the southern states. It was a profitable business, but was exceedingly dangerous, and became more so as the Union ships became masters of all the southern harbor lines. The Alice was one of the successful few that operated from 1861 to 1865, and though often fired upon it always escaped. As an example of what happened more than once, one morning at daybreak a steamer was sighted four miles astern, and it kept up the chase till four o’clock that day. The alice was heavily loaded with cotton, and after being lightened of about seven hundred bales she began to gain and gradually got out of the range of the big gun of the enemy, which had kept up a continuous firing, and most of the light work on the deck of the Alice was shot away before she reached Nassau.
After peace had put an end to this eventful and dangerous occupation, Mr. Bowers engaged in various lines of work for two years, and in 1867 came to California by way of the Nicaragua route. He was then interested in the theatrical business, and brought Mr. and Mrs. Bates to the coast and toured them all over the state. In 1868 he once more took up railroading, being in the service of the Central pacific for five years. He was then in the saloon business in Sacramento for four years, and at the same time bought the Union Hotel and conducted it for five years. In 1877 he bought the Golden Eagle Hotel, and managed it for nine years with great success. From that time until April, 1900, he was retired from active pursuits, but at a latter date he had the Capital Hotel rebuilt and refitted as a high-grade hostelry, and on May 30 opened it to the public, which has shown its appreciation of his efforts by its liberal patronage every since. Mr. Bowers owns a small ranch at the edge of town, and on this he raises all the poultry, eggs, fruit and milk and cream for the use of his hotel, and also raises some fine horses. He has been a successful and judicious manager of his property, and has gained a gratifying degree of prosperity by his efforts.
Mr. Bowers has been active in the interests of the Democratic party, having attended county convention, although never willing to accept office, and in his quiet way has been a considerable factor in matters political. He married, in Montpelier, Vermont, in May, 1859, Miss Eliza Kimball, a native of Vermont and of Revolutionary stock descended from Scotch-English ancestors. Mr. Bowers has affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks for the past twenty-seven years, and is valiant commander of the Royal Arch.
Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.