If you live in Lowell, or even just drive through, chances are good that you are familiar with Bowes Road. It is a common short cut to avoid Main Street, and in addition to houses and businesses, it is home to Stoney Lakeside Park, the Lowell Dog Park, and Lowell Township’s North Grand Riverfront Park. Of all the people who travel on the road daily, not many know about the man behind the name.
Patrick Bowes was born in Canada, lived from 1856 to 1939, and is now buried in Oakwood Cemetery. In the years he spent in Lowell, he left his mark, and now the street he lived on bears his name
Pat Bowes was a tough lawman, serving as both Kent County Sheriff Deputy and as Village Marshal. He was described as a picturesque character and a man of much physical vigor. It was known that, “when Pat says, ‘I’ll have the la-aw on yez,’ he means business!” He wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. When one citizen expressed concern over a marshal who used profanity on the street Pat told him he was a ‘sore head.’
Bowes was known for his tough crackdown on violators of the liquor laws and public intoxication. He ran an efficient local police service. It was believed that his crack down angered enough criminals that an attempt was made on his life. While at his home, on a December evening in 1923, someone shot through the front window, narrowly missing him as he bent to put a record on the phonograph. He showed his quick wit and sense of humor as he told of his music selection, “Nearer, My God to Thee.” Being the capable lawman, he was able to grab his revolver, rush onto the porch, and empty the gun in the direction of the assailant darting towards a running car.
In 1924, Bowes was expected to be reappointed as Village Marshal, but at the Council meeting the city attorney declared that the marshal needed to be a village resident. Bowes made a characteristic speech which he declared that “he did not have to have the dirty job on which he had spent 14 days a week, taken unlimited abuse and narrowly escaped being murdered; but that he was deputy sheriff yet and would go on doing his duty and defied anyone to show that he hadn’t done his duty as Marshal.” He also thanked the citizens and council men who had supported him.
The Sheriff, in a show of support said Pat would be Deputy Sheriff as long as he was sheriff. He explained that Kent County had moved from 17th place with regards to law enforcement to 2nd with the help of Deputy Bowes. At the next meeting Pat Bowes (Village Marshall) and Gene Carr (Night Watchman) presented their resignations. Two others were appointed in their place. Pat Bowes continued to serve the Lowell area as Deputy Sheriff. Whether because of the boundary change, or law change, in years to come Bowes would again serve as Village Marshal.
Bowes was known for catching escaped prisoners from the Ionia reformatory. One capture occurred about 12 miles north of Lowell. The man had evidently stolen clothing somewhere which he was wearing in place of prison garb. The observant eye of Bowes noticed that the man was wearing prison shoes, and arrested him. Bowes was compassionate as well as tough on the job. In 1932, at the age of 78, he captured 2 escaped prisoners. He took them home where his wife gave them a good breakfast before returning them to the Ionia reformatory.
An incident that demonstrates the perseverance of Bowes and his commitment to tracking down criminals started out very embarrassing for Bowes. On September 26, 1926, Bowes arrested 2 men, one that turned out to be a killer, escaped from Leavenworth, and on the run from Ohio authorities. Bowes attempted to return them to Ohio, but they escaped and left Bowes and another officer in their underclothing. Bowes was publicly reprimanded. He received a tip that the men would be in Chicago. He passed on the tip to the Chicago Police Chief and they were arrested. On October 13 he went to Chicago to pick them up. They confessed to Bowes that they had been to Lowell since the escape in Ohio and were planning further crimes in Lowell. The newspaper headline on the capture fittingly read, “Pat Bowes laughs last and best.”
Bowes understood law enforcement and citizens. He had first come to Lowell in 1912 as foreman for the main street paving project. In 1928, M-21 was being completed from one side of the state to the other. The work was being done by prisoners who stayed in camps along the way. Locally, camp was set up near today’s Vergennes and Lincoln Lake intersection. Deputy Bowes was concerned about Lowell citizen’s fears of the camp of prisoners. He took the newspaper reporter around so he could write an article to assuage those fears. He himself worked the night shift as guard, on duty 12 hours a day.
In 1932, the unthinkable happened here in Lowell. Pat Bowes was the first to pursue a car full of bank robbers who shot local Officer Charlie Knapp as he attempted to stop their pursuit on East Main Street. Bowes went on to testify at the trial of Henry (Baldy) Marshall.
Well known as “long time terror to evil doers in Lowell and vicinity,” Bowes was a respected and well-loved member of the Lowell community. In 1939 at his death it was said that Bowes loved his home, and was only truly content when he was there. How fitting that today the remembrance to Bowes is the road where he lived.