Bowen was a Mississippi river boat pilot, one that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) looked up to as he was growing up. In later years he moved to Sanibel with his Trinidadian wife Mary, and was buried per his request in a well on his property. Bowen experimented with growing agave, which he transported from Trinidad, and conferred with Thomas Edison in the growing of experimental plants.
He was a former Mississippi river boat pilot and Confederate Navy pilot. The Bowen family migrated to Sanibel from Trinidad and became one of the early homesteaders. In 1958 a barn from the homestead of Oliver Bowen's family still stood on Wulfert. He brought much of the material for his buildings, including slate roof tiles, from Trinidad where he had been living the previous decade.
Wife: Mary dos Santos Bowen. She married Oliver in Trinidad in 1878. She was a native of the Azores, born in 1844, and migrated with her parents to Trinidad as a child. The Bowens homesteaded at Wulfert on Sanibel in the late 1880s, and Mary kept the place going while Oliver experimented with his plants. Their third child, Albert Marvin was born in 1890 on Sanibel.
The Calusa had been in this area many centuries before, but the first white settlers were Oliver Fellows Bowen and his wife, Mary Dos Santos. Bowen had been a Mississippi River pilot, a pilot for the Confederate River Defense Force, a fresco and sign painter, a resident of Venezuela and, finally, an unsuccessful farmer on Sanibel. Mary, who was his third wife, once remarked, “The only time Oliver ever made any money on Sanibel was when he killed a snake and sold the skin!”
The gravestone of Oliver Fellows Bowen in place at Wulfert. He moved to Sanibel with his Trinidadian wife Mary, and was buried per his request in a well on his property.