John Rowe (known as "John O.") was born in Solano County on a farm that was part of the Armstrong Estate (half of which is now part of UC Davis). He started milking cows at the age of 9 or 10 - hand milking. In the Fall of 1909 he entered the Farm School, directly out of grade school. The first classes toward a 3-year degree had been held on the campus 1 semester before he enrolled. He graduated from UCD in 1913. The total enrollment was 75 when he started and 188 when he graduated.
When John O. was 21, he and his brother and father bought the 'the old Wilson Ranch', 160 acres at $100 an acre. It is now known as Innisfail Farm. Two years later he entered the Army and was scheduled to go to France but ended up in Camp Lee, VA after the Armistice.
On returning to the farm he leased (1919), then bought (1924) the Innisfail herd of Milking Shorthorns previously owned by Alexander & Kellogg. While showing Milking Shorthorns at the International Livestock Show in Chicago in 1922, he met fellow showman, Lillian Barrett Wood. They were married in Indiana on December 4, 1927.
John O. was president of the Woodland Production Credit Association for 2 years and director for 24 years. He was active in Farm Bureau, helping bring the headquarters from Berkeley to Sacramento, becoming a charter member of the Yolo County Chapter in 1914, and of the Solano County chapter in 1915. In 1932 he became president of the American Milking Shorthorn Society. He worked with Charlie Hawkins to try to start the Cow Palace. In 1941 the first building was finished; the WPA and city of San Francisco got together to build it. The Army took it over after Pearl Harbor. The first Livestock Show in the Cow Palace was held in 1946.
John O. Rowe judged cattle at the Pacific International (Portland), American Royal (KC), Chicago International, Idaho State Fair, Oregon State Fair, Arizona State Fair, many county fairs in California, and the Eastern States Exhibition (Springfield, Mass).
Four hundred people attended John O. and Lillian's 50th wedding anniversary party in December, 1977. Today Innisfail Farm is still a premier Milking Shorthorn facility, run by a son and grandchildren of John O.