James Gowans was born in Tooele, Utah Territory, on 21 November 1860 to Hugh S. Gowans and Betsy Gowans. He married Alice DeLaMare in 1885. He was a lumber yard manager and postmaster; he served two terms on the Tooele City Council and one term as city marshal. He died on 15 February 1930 in Tooele.
 “Hugh Sidley Gowans,” in History of Tooele County (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Tooele County, 1961), 477; “James Gowans,” 1910 U.S. Census, 5A; “James Gowans Dies Suddenly,” Transcript-Bulletin (Tooele, UT), 21 Feb. 1930, 1.