LETTERS FROM THE RANCH | SteamboatToday.com


— Dear Bertha,

My Grandfather William Bowie, who was born in 1824 and died in 1886, and Grandmother Margaret (Stuart) Bowie, who was born in 1829 and died in 1895, were the parents of 13 children six of which died at ages ranging from 1 to 9 years, leaving who reached adulthood as follows: Jean, married a Caldwell, had three children: two sons, raised by their father, daughter Jean born prematurely at less than 2 pounds. Mother Jean died with baby Jean’s birth. Little Jean was a member of the Bowie household and died at age 33; Will Bowie (my father) began work in the coal mines at 8 or 10 years of age, became a skilled miner, earned good wages and helped other members of the family “come over.”

“Home” for the Bowie family was a unit in “Peace and Plenty Cottages,” a housing complex for the families of workers employed by Cunningham Estate. Grandfather was the blacksmith for the estate. Father (Will Bowie) and his only surviving brother (David Bowie) worked in the mines near Kilmarnock, but father migrated to America and settled in Cincinnati, Iowa, where he worked in the mines and where he met and married my mother; and of course you were acquainted with any number of people that were connected in one way or another with the Bowies.

Meanwhile (this was in 1892) Will was making arrangements for all the rest of the family to “come over.” Davie had contracted T.B. Will had to sign all sorts of papers guaranting that (because of his illness) Davie would never become a charge of the state. Davie was never able to return to work in the mines but learned to knit to keep himself busy. He knitted petticoats, and even underwear for his sisters. The family entered the U.S. by way of Ellis Island. They marveled at the 13 story Flatiron Building the tallest building in New York at that time.

Dressed in their heavy Scottish woolens, the trip from New York to Iowa by train in June was certainly uncomfortable. Davie died less than a year after coming to America.

Well, getting back to my family history: My mother (Ada Morrow May) is a distant cousin of Fred’s, and so is heir to all that Sevier history repeated, but here we run into another whole line of kinfolks (the Morrows) that gets about as complicated as the Seviers. I think I’ll not get started on that line just now, but will try to wind up the Stuart or Stewart connection.

Although Grandmother Bowie was reluctant to admit it, she was a descendent of Mary, Queen of Scots. If Grandmother had to refer to that Stuart, she would conclude her reference with: “the wicked woman.” But then adding a closing, “God rest her soul.”

And for just now I’m going to close, and sort through the notes my cousin compiled after she spent a year teaching school at Kilmarnock; I think you’ll find her notes interesting.

Sincerely yours,


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