Allison Orrum was a comely lass when she emigrated from Scotland to America in the 1850s. She had married to a Mormon named Steve Hunter. They had both been converted to the church while in Scotland, but both desired to join the saints in American, so they sailed as soon as possible. Hunter was the adventurous type so they moved to Gold Hill, Nevada rather than Utah. He decided that one wife wasn’t enough, so he took another. This didn’t sit well with the Scottish lass so she left for another prospector by the name of Cowan – also a Mormon. He felt Allison was enough woman for any man, but he was a devout man and when the U.S. invaded Utah to “put down the Mormon rebellion,” Cowan heeded the call and headed for Salt Lake City alone.
Husbandless for a second time, Allison set up a boardinghouse in Gold Hill and thanks to her Scottish thrift and her great cooking skills, the place was soon thriving.
One of her boarders, a prospector named Sandy Bowers, couldn’t pay his bill, so Allison took him on as her third spouse, even though she was many years his senior. As a wedding present, Sandy presented her with a small strip of worthless land he had prospected and claimed adjacent to some more valuable ground around Gold Hill. There were a lot of other worthless claims around hers, and Allison urged Sandy to buy them up for a few cents on the dollar.
Now, this wouldn’t be a good “tale” if we left it there. Obviously, they struck it rich on the claims they bought. Within the blink of an eye Sandy and Allison were multi-millionaires – swimming in cash.
Allison Orrum had one desire: to live in a mansion filled with luxurious finery. She had dreamt of it through all her years with destitute husbands. She sailed back to England and returned with enough furnishings to stock ten mansions. She built her dream home on the edge of Washoe Valley and, for its time, it was one of the finest anywhere in the west.
But Sandy didn’t share his wife’s tastes for luxury. He preferred to spend his days in the saloons with his prospecting cronies – drinking and carousing. He never entered the mansion. He wasted his days away and died at only 35 years of age.
From there on, it was all downhill for the fair Scottish lass. The fortune she and Sandy had accumulated soon was depleted by more lavish spending sprees. Allison was forced to sell the home. The new owner, a wealthy businessman, took pity on her and offered her a job as a maid in her former household. But even that didn’t last. Allison Orrum Bowers was fired. Penniless, she retired to Reno where she read fortunes to make ends meet. She passed away a few years later.
But she left her mark indelibly on the Silver State. Bowers Mansion, today a popular tourist attraction, still remains, a legacy to a pretty Scottish girl who went from rages to riches, and back again.