Eilley Orrum Bowers, once the nation’s wealthiest women with an ultimately sad life story that is indicative of this ‘boom and bust’ era.
Come and see our hologram of Eilley talking about her life in our galleries.
Born in Scotland, Eilley was one of a few women living in the Comstock Mining District at the time of the 1859 strike. Eilley was taking in washing; living humbly in Gold Hill. According to local lore, she obtained ten feet of the Comstock Lode as payment for room and board she was owed. Her future husband, Sandy Bowers owned the claim adjacent to Eilley, and when they married they came into enormous wealth.
With the money, they built a substantial property – Bowers Mansion, in Washoe County. The Bowers travelled abroad and had a child called Persia, and eventually returned to Nevada to find that the ore had depleted. Sandy’s health failed and he died in 1868 of lung disease. Eilley struggled financially and emotionally, and then Persia suddenly died just six years later.
Eilley generated income by renting out rooms in the mansion and hosting parties, however, this was not enough to overcome her debts and she finally lost her home to foreclosure in 1876.
Eilley long claimed she was psychic and she worked as a fortune teller. She became known as the Washoe Seeress. Eilley eventually went blind and deaf; almost penniless, she died in 1903 in California. With the help of Henry Riter, the new owner of Bowers Mansion, Eilley’s ashes were returned to Nevada and were buried behind the mansion with Sandy and Persia.
Members enjoy free admission to NSMLV, the Springs Preserve, and 6 other state museums (like the Boulder City Railroad Museum), receive exclusive invitations to museum events, and get a 15% discount in our store.