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Bowersox and Osborn Family papers

Identifier: IWA0500

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Scope and Contents

The Bowersox/Osborn Family papers date from 1861 to 2002 and measure 20 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Family, Genealogy, Photographs, and Correspondence.

The Family series consists of papers of individual members of the Bowersox/Osborn family. Included are essays written by Elizabeth C. Bowersox and Lizzie E. Bowersox. There is correspondence written by and addressed to Ruia Bowersox Hurless, Alta Bowersox Yessler, Eugene C. Bowersox and others, including photocopies of Fred Bowersox' World War I letters. The Alta Bowersox Yessler letters were written in 1919 and 1920 when Yessler was homesteading in Minnesota. There is also a journal written between 1861 and 1870, that according to donor Wayne Osborn was written by an unidentified member from the Osborn side of the family.

The Family series also includes photocopies of obituaries for Mary Margaret Shuey Bowersox, Mary A. Osborn and Thomas F. Osborn. There are also two Bowersox family account books, the first dating from 1867 to 1873 and the second from 1911 to 1918. The first page of the 1867 account book consists of minutes of a 'society' meeting, including a roster of members, held on November 23, 1867. The last page of the book is a handwritten draft, in pencil, for a speech titled, 'Life.' The bulk of the older account book consists of the Bowersox family's financial dealings, including monthly and annual expenditures for their farm. Transactions between Jacob Shuey and his son J.S., and hired hands are carefully recorded. There is one section titled, "Money paid for improving land,"and another titled, "Mother's weaving." The second account book is a record of income and daily expenditures for the J.S. Bowersox family from 1913 through 1918.

The Bowersox/Osborn family valued education and many of its members became teachers and school superintendents. Included in the Family series are school exams, essays, teaching certificates and several teacher's books from Malaka Township No. 8 in Iowa, spanning the years 1900-1930. The teacher's books include pupil rosters, courses, grades, remarks by the teachers, honor rolls, and teacher summaries that include the numbers of pupils, salary, tuition, condition of the building, and visitors. Several of the pupils listed in the earlier books went on to become the teachers that kept the records in later years.

The Genealogy series consists of three compilations: The Bauersachs Family in America, 1665-2002 by Jeannette Erkert Bowersox, Dorothy Le Vier Bowersox and Thomas L. Bowersox; The Genealogy and History of the Smith Family compiled by various descendants; and The Shueys and Bowersoxes in Iowa, 1854-1995 compiled by Elizabeth and Edna Bowersox.

The Photographs series consists of both original and photocopied photographs of various Bowersox and Osborn ancestors.

The Correspondence series consists of correspondence mainly between Inez Smyth Osborn to various members of her family, including her mother Elizabeth Bowersox Osborn and her fiancé/husband Wayland Osborn. Also in this series are a few newspaper articles, cards, and postcards.


  • Creation: 1861-2002


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Mary Margaret Shuey was born in Augusta County, Virginia to Elizabeth Shuey and Jacob Shuey on January 26, 1825. On October 19, 1843 Shuey married Reverend James E. Bowersox. Between 1854 and 1855, the Shuey and Bowersox families moved to Iowa, settling in Jefferson Township, Johnson County, Iowa. In 1856, Jacob Shuey laid out the town of Shueyville. Mary Margaret and Reverend Bowersox settled on a farm one half mile north of the town. There they had ten children, six boys and four girls, eight of whom survived their parents. Revered Bowersox died in 1888. Mary Margaret Shuey Bowersox died November 19, 1896.

Thomas F. Osborn was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire on May 28, 1828. In 1854, Osborn married Eliza J. Merrill. Osborn, his wife, and his parents came to Dubuque, Iowa by rail and then took a steamboat to Minnesota where they lived for a year. In 1858 the family moved to Iowa and settled at Spencer's Grove, near Walker. Osborn and his wife had six children. Osborn's wife, Eliza, died in 1875. In 1878 Osborn married Mary A. Fitz. Mary Fitz was a founder of the Children's Home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later she was matron of the Young Women's Christian Association of Chicago, Illinois. Mary Osborn died in 1911. Thomas Osborn died in 1913.

The Bowersox and Osborn families were united in 1927 when Clara Inez Smyth, great-granddaughter to Mary Margaret and James E. Bowersox, married Wayland W. Osborn.


20.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



The Bowersox family settled in Johnson County, Iowa in approximately 1855. The papers include a family account book, school exams and teaching certificates.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 868) were donated by Wayne Osborn in 2003 and subsequent years.

Lisa Mott, 2003 and 2004; Billie Cotterman, 2010.
Language of description
Script of description
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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)