Bowen & McNamee, Silk Importers
The businesses that sustained the Bowen family were located in Manhattan, and Henry took the ferry to Manhattan on a regular basis. His primary business for many years was a dry goods and silk importation business established in 1839, specializing “in silks, ribbons, and the best class of fancy dry goods, and Yankee notions,” which he owned with another former Tappan clerk, Theodore McNamee. Bowen & McNamee was an immediate success, which came as no surprise to many. One commentator remarked, “No matter what a venture seems to promise in other hands, it is almost always a mine of wealth when Henry Bowen works it.” Bowen and McNamee built one of the first “marble palace” stores in Manhattan. Before that, they opened shop at the corner of Beaver and Williams.