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Elizabeth Buckwalter papers

Identifier: IWA0916

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Scope and Contents

The Elizabeth Buckwalter papers date from 1817-2013 (with the majority of the material dating 1817-1888) and measure 5 linear inches. The papers consist of a ledger containing accounts and diary entries, a transcription of the diaries, and several small diaries and loose sheets. The ledger opens with accounts kept by W. O. B. Skelton from 1817 to 1843 in Pennsylvania. Mary Jane Buckwalter wrote sporadic diary entries in the ledger beginning in 1867 when she was fifteen years old, and ending a year after her marriage to Will Frey in October 1871. Mary Jane Buckwalter's entries explored her religious faith, as well as recorded personal events and family life. A December 19, 1869 entry describes the murder of neighbor John Killion. Another entry, written March 13, 1870, responds to a school lecture about women's rights, stating, "I hope before another year has passed us women can vote. Then Whiskey will be put down and all other crimes [...] there is not a Mother in this wide world but what would vote against whiskey."

In 1872, Elizabeth Buckwalter began using the ledger, writing on March 16, "This book is Mary's, but I am writing some." Elizabeth Buckwalter wrote brief, daily entries until 1878, recording her daily chores as well as her grief at being separated from several of her children. These entries also describe the deaths of two of Elizabeth Buckwalter's grandchildren and her daughter-in-law. Inserted into the diary's pages are newspaper articles (including one about William Lloyd Garrison and the Underground Railroad) and a document titled "The Papal Oath," written by Buckwalter's son, Cyrus, in 1888. Three folders contain smaller diaries and loose sheets, all written by Elizabeth Buckwalter (including a journal labeled "Jame's Buckwalter's Book"). Completing the collection are transcriptions of the diary entries by Lanore Thumma, Elizabeth Buckwalter's great-great-granddaughter, along with brief biographical information about family members mentioned in the diary. The transcriptions were written in 1991 and revised in 2013.


  • Creation: 1817-2013


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Elizabeth Flemming Buckwalter was born in 1815. She married David Buckwalter in 1835 and they moved to Iowa from Pennsylvania in 1840, settling on a 160-acre farm in Scott County, six miles west of Davenport. Their two-family house was finished room by room, as time and money allowed, with the help of Buckwalter's son-in-law James Kennedy. Elizabeth and David Buckwalter had nine children: Cyrus (born 1835), Naomi (born 1836, died at age nine), James (born 1842), Phoebe Ann (born 1844), David "Plank"; (born 1846), Francis "Frank" (born 1848), and Mary Jane (born 1852).

Elizabeth and David Buckwalter's youngest child, Mary Jane Buckwalter, lived at home with her mother, with whom she had a close relationship. She married Will Frey in 1871, and gave birth to a daughter named Lizzie.

Following her husband's death in 1860, Elizabeth Buckwalter sold 80 acres of her farm. She died in 1886.


5.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



Diaries of farm and family life written by Elizabeth Buckwalter and her daughter Mary Jane Buckwalter in Scott County, Iowa from 1867-1878.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1336) were donated by Lanore Thumma in 2014.

Jessica Lawson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)