Joseph W. Bowles Sr.

Written by Laurine Mercier. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”

The Bowles family moved to Trinidad in June of 1930. Originally consisting of Joseph Wesley Bowles, his wife Justine Elida Bowles and their eleven year old son Joe, Jr.

Joe Sr., a native of Littleton, Colorado and grandson of Colorado pioneer and rancher Joseph W. Bowles, was born in August of 1895 in the family home on Bowles Avenue in Littleton. He grew up on a farm west of Littleton and started ranching independently at the age of eighteen, in Littleton and then in Castle Rock.

Joe Sr. married a Denver native and school teacher Justine Wiberg, daughter of Swedish immigrants, in 1917. They had a son in 1919, Joseph W. Bowles, Jr.

Joe Sr. worked for Ingersoll Rand and ranched until the Great Depression of 1929 left him without work. The family then moved to Trinidad when Joe Sr. obtained a job with the Colorado Division of Highways, first working on Highway 350 between Trinidad and Model, and then maintaining Raton Pass.

Just prior to his retirement in 1956, he purchased a cattle ranch running between Starkville and the rimrock of Fisher’s Peak. Joe Sr. then subsequently sold the ranch to Leo Montoya in 1968.

Justine Bowles passed away in January of 1973, and Joe Sr. died in February of 1988 at the age of 92, enjoying excellent health until his last few months. One of his favorite pastimes was visiting with his friends and neighbors, reminiscing and story telling.

Joseph Bowles, Jr. attended Trinidad schools, graduated from Trinidad High School in 1936, attended Trinidad State Junior College for one year, then attended Colorado School of Mines for 2 1/2 years, majoring in geophysics.

In January of 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps and was instrumental in aircraft armament at Lowrey and Buckley Fields. He then went overseas to England, France and Germany to serve during World War II. In September of 1945, he was discharged from the Air Corps after returning to New York Harbor aboard the Queen Mary.

Joe, Jr. then came back to Trinidad and went to work as a substitute clerk at the Trinidad post office, eventually working his way up to Postmaster – the first not politically appointed in Trinidad history. He retired from the Postal Service in 1975.

He married Rubye Mae Robinson in 1949. Ruby Mae was born in Trinidad and raised in Raton. Her father, Bertram T. Robinson, was an engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad and her mother, Laura Kane Robinson grew up in several of the coal camps west of Trinidad and ran a dress shop in Raton.

Rubye’s grandfather was publisher R.W. Robinson who put out the Picketwire Newspaper, one of Trinidad’s oldest papers published in the early 1900’s. She is also a distant relative of the Schneiders, who ran the Schneider Brewery.

In the Spring of 1950, Joe Jr. and Rubye started building their home completely by themselves. Some of the materials for the home came from the old Rice School.

Working evenings and weekends, the home was completed in August of 1952. July of 1955 brought Joe and Rubye a son, Brent Robinson Bowles who passed away in 1975 as a result of an auto accident. Brent was employed by the City of Trinidad.

In 1961, Laurine Bowles was born. Both Bowles children attended Trinidad schools and Trinidad State Junior College. Laurine graduated from the University of Southern Colorado in 1984. In September of 1987, Laurine married Michael R. Mercier, a Denver native. They had a son, Matthew Joseph Mercier, born in December of 1988 and continued to live in Denver.

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