In 1874, J. R. Bowman of Clinton County, Illinois, headed west to St. Louis, where he established a dairy marketing business called J. R. Bowman & Co. In 1885, Bowman entered the Chicago market by purchasing the milk business of M. A. Devine. In 1891, Bowman and his brothers decided to sell their St. Louis operation and move to Chicago, where they formed the Bowman Dairy Co. This company soon became one of the leading suppliers of dairy products and eggs in the Chicago area. During the 1920s, it opened large bottling plants on the South Side. By the middle of the 1930s, Bowman employed over 3,000 Chicago-area residents. The company continued to carry on a large business until 1966, when it was purchased by a local rival, the Dean Foods Co.