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Family Histories & Gen Charts > Summary for Emma Alice Bowman

Compiled by Evelyn W Henry, g/d of Fred Seymour

Individual Summary for Emma Alice BOWMAN

8 May 2003



Page 1


Date(s)           Place                            -                                                                     Description

13 Jun 1868 Forreston, Ogle, IL

4 Sep 1934 Tampico, Whiteside, IL
Tampico Memorial Cern. Lot 13





Sex:     F
Last Changed: 22 Mar 2003


AKA:    Married Name:
ID:        AFN:











Joseph Levi BOWMAN


Biolo~caI          Sarah_REISINGER




      Marriages                             —_______

Marriage Date/Place


Fred Harvey SEYMOUR


   9 Dec 1886       Sterling, Whiteside, IL





GRANDMA EMMA ALICE (BOWMAN) SEYMOUR           Compiled by Evelyn Whitmer Henry - January 2002


Emma Alice Bowman Seymour was my maternal grandmother. Although my family made short visits to my grandparents in Tampico, Illinois a number of times when I was a small child, Grandma Seymour died when I was only eight, and my own memories of her are very limited. But, I will draw on other family sources who spent more time with her, including my mother, Ethel Seymour Whitmer, Aunt Daisy Seymour Nokes, cousins Fred and Elsie Nokes, and my sister, Denise Whitmer Johnson. Perhaps my Aunt Vera, who remained in Tampico after she married, and who had daily contact with her parents, would have been the best source of all, but I do not have any written data from her collection. Her daughter, my cousin Eloise, was always happy to tell about life in Tampico, but unfortunately, I do not have anything on paper from her, other than a few old news­papers which she shared with me. Both Aunt Vera and Eloise died before I began compiling these notes.


In the early 1980’s, there was renewed interest in the Village of Tampico because it was the birthplace of Ronald Reagan, who had just become President of the United States. At that time, Aunt Daisy and her daughter, Elsie, wrote a great series of articles on old Tampico and things Daisy remembered about growing up there. Those articles were published in the newspaper of a neighboring city, Prophetstown, under the title “See More (Seymour) of Old Tampico.” They were wonderful, warm, eye witness accounts, and very helpful. Where it seems appropriate, some of the information from them has been incorporated into this sketch.


Another outstanding source of information, both statistical and personal, is the microfilmed collection of “The TAMPICO TORNADO”, a weekly newspaper published in Tampico all through the lifetime of the Seymours. From that source, I could do a chronological timeline of events for the family, which is invaluable.


None of my sources, even among the Bowman descendants I’ve corresponded with, has been able to provide much information about Emma’s early years. She was born 13 June 1868 while the Joseph Bowman family was residing in Forreston Township, Ogle County, Illinois. The family moved westward to Union County, Iowa in 1871. A portrait, taken when she was five, shows that Emma was a pretty little girl. In one of her “See More” articles, Aunt Daisy Nokes recalled that Emma, when about that age, fell into a well, and had to be rescued. Being one of the younger children of the widowed Sarah Bowman, who had to work long hours just to put food on the table, Emma was probably sent to live with older sisters and brothers, perhaps passed around to live with whomever could afford to take care of her for a period of time. We know she was with James P. Bowman and his family in 1880.

Individual Summary for Emma Alice BOWMAN

         8~~y 2003                                                                                                                                       Page 3


Notes (Continued)

From the outset of their marriage, Emma contributed to the couples’s income. In addition to weaving and selling rag carpets, she often sewed for townspeople, made hats (quite elaborate in those days), wove hair pieces called “switches,” and did special order baking.


In 1891, Fred was making a living by selling organs, pianos and sewing machines on his own, and probably still working part time in the general store owned by John Paice, his sister Clara’s husband. Fred was also Tax Collector for Tampico. The Seymours were well known and well respected in the town.


On 7 February 1892, second daughter, Ethel, was born at home on Washington Street. Fred purchased a building on Main Street and opened his first general store. On December 23rd, 1893 Fred’s name appeared in the TORNADO on a poetic list of merchants doing business along Main Street as: “F. H. Seymour, Dealer in organs and pianos grand. Who will also sell you sewing machines, as cheap as anyone in the land.” As the business grew and developed, the TORNADO contained items concerning the family or their store in almost every issue, usually in the “Local News’ column, or in the advertising areas.


As the years came and went, Emma and Fred moved several times within the Village of Tampico, sometimes occupying a single family home, but most often in quarters above their store. Emma must have been a very patient young woman, indeed, to have so often packed up her family and household goods in order to relocate. All throuigh those years, Emma worked along side her husband in the store, while raising her girls and using her talents to help boost the family income. She was an excellent cook, and cooked or baked in quantity because the Seymour table was always open. Anyone who happened to be visiting in the store was invited to the family quarters - local people, peddlers, sales representatives or other out-of-towners - all were welcome to share the family bounty. This openness provided learning experiences for the Seymour girls, and a flurry of excitement when the visitors happened to be itinerant entertainers who had come to town to perform at Burdens Opera House.


A third daughter, Vera May, arrived at the Seymour’s on 22 May 1897. As each girl reached a certain age, she was recruited to help out in the store. Fred prided himself on the fact that he didn’t have to hire outside help, and because of it, he used “low overhead means low prices” to his advantage in his grocery ads. But there was good reason why he called on Emma and the girls to take on more and more of the load. At times, Fred suffered greatly from rheumatism and severe pain resulting from his leg bone problems. More and more he depended on Emma and the girls to do some of the things he was physically unable to do.


By 1894 Fred’s business had outgrown his first wooden store building. It was remodeled and extended, but soon proved inadequate for the thrMng family business. In .1900, a larger two-story brick store was built on Lot 6, Block 21 (Main Street). See Notes on Fred H. Seymour and Daisy Seymour Nokes’ accounts in her “See More of Old Tampico” articles dated 1982-1983 in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO.


The upstairs apartment above the brick store afforded spacious living quarters for the family, even with three lively daughters, and frequent overnight visitors. Emma trudged up and down the long stairway many times each day, tending to her household chores, preparing meals and helping out in the store, as needed. Out in back, the apartment had an equally long outside stairway. (It was a long trip down to the rear outhouse, for the Seymours did not have the luxury of the two-story outhouse which brother-in-law John Paice’s family enjoyed.) Emma had a loom house out in back for her weaving, and, of course, there was a barn for the family horse and carriage.


My mother, Ethel, loved to tell the story of a fire that erupted in the store window during Christmas season of 1902. (See details in Ethel’s biographical notes.) Ethel, with the back of her dress on fire, jumped into her mother’s lap with such force that she collided with her mother’s nose, and broke it. Emma handled the situation in her calm and loving manner, comforting her frightened child while concealing the pain she must have been feeling from her own broken nose.


In 1925, Fred and Emma purchased four acres of land and a large two-story residence at 209 N. Main Street. This is the house I remember from my childhood. I recall the floor plan of this house very well. It sat on the two northern lots, and Grandpa had a large garden on the southern two acres. There was a smaller garden back of the house, as well as a chicken yard. A loom house or tool house stood along the adjacent back alley. In the south side yard, there was a garage with a outhouse attached at the rear. An indoor bathroom was added in 1929, but the old one-holer was still used often.


I remember Grandma as a plump, jolly lady, always wearing an apron over her home sewn cotton dress, and always bustling about. My sister, Denise, said “Grandma was always cooking, canning, cleaning or at her sewing machine. I really can’t remember her sitting down except for meals, and even then she was up and down waiting on everyone. ...Sometimes she would sit with Mrs. McGrady on the side porch to chat.” In my own frame of memory, Grandma had short gray hair, but Denise remembers when Grandma wore her hair long and twisted into a “bun.” I have a vague memory, or perhaps I ]ust recall hearing,

Individual Summary for Emma Alice BOWMAN

         8I~j~y 2003                                                                                                                                     Page 2


Notes (Continued)

My mother Ethel (Seymour) Whitmer, recalled her mother saying that, at one point in her youth, Grandma worked in a bakery in Walnut, Iowa, and learned there to bake pies and other goodies. Since her half-brother, Alex Huston, ran a bakery, perhaps she lived with his family for a time. In any case, Emma was brought up in households that took their Christian faith seriously, and that influence carried over into her adult life. Surely, it was the example set by her mother and her siblings that taught Emma the value and personal satisfaction of hard work which was to become part of her character.


The Bowman siblings enjoyed a close-knit relationship with one another all their lives, even though separated geographically. Letters and statements from the family sources I’ve used as references all attest to that. Emma’s autograph book, passed down to me by my mother, has messages on several pages from Bowman family members. The dates range from about 1875 to 1887. This little book gives a charming picture of the devotion of Emma’s brothers and sisters who wrote in it. It also gave me clues as to family events. One message, a quote from the Bible, was written by her brother, Sampson Bowman, on December 26, 1886, in Lewis, Iowa. This indicates that Emma and her new husband visited her family back in Iowa shortly after their marriage on December 9th of that year, celebrating the holidays there. Sampson had been married that December, also.


They were back in Tampico in May when Fred Seymour wrote in Emma’s little book in his beautiful handwriting:

“Tampico May 22nd 1887           Written with a stick

Well chosen Friendship the most noble

Of virtue all our joys make double

And into halves we will divide

                           Our troubles                         Your husband F. H. Seymour, Tampico, Is”


‘To Emma S.                      Tampico, Aug. 18, 1887

Think of me when I am far away

Think of the hours you have spent with me

Think not alone of the future year

But think a slight thought of the past one

                 (Your sincere husband         Mr. Fred Seymour)    Tampico, Illinois”

Perhaps these messages were expressions of Fred’s joy over Emma’s first pregnancy, since daughter, Daisy was born in November of 1887.


No one contacted by this researcher has ever been abie to explain how the Bowmans came to know the Seymours, but in 1881, Elizabeth (Bowman) Mcintyre, half sister of Emma Alice Bowman, married Harvey Hervey Seymour, father of Fred Seymour. It might be that the Seymours were acquainted with the closely related Reisingers who lived in nearby Ogle and Stephenson Counties, and that family introduced Elizabeth and Harvey. My mother and Aunt Daisy remembered visits between the Seymours and the Reisingers, but it is not clear when those visits took place. However Harvey H. Seymour and Elizabeth Bowman made their connection, it is likely that Emma visited in their Tampico, Illinois home as a teenager, possibly even living there for a while, and it was during that time that she met young Fred.


Fred had been crippled as a young boy, because of a broken leg that was not treated properly, but he was an energetic and ambitious young man. He was handsome, as well, with his blue eyes and his little mustache that accented his winning smile. He must have appealed to Emma Alice in spite of his handicap - or perhaps because of it. She surely must have appreciated how well he handled his limitations, and how he refused to let them slow him down.


Emma was just eighteen and Fred was twenty-one when they married on 9 December 1886, in nearby Sterling, Whiteside County, Illinois. You could say Fred was a “hustler” in the old fashioned sense of the word, or a young entrepreneur, in modern vernacular. (See his biographical notes.) Unfortunately, newspapers for the earliest period of their marriage are not available, but the Seymours are mentioned often in the papers from 1890 on.


On 25 November 1887, Emma gave birth to the couples’ firstdaughter, Daisy Leona. In one of her “See More” stories, Daisy mentions that the family lived in a house at 300 Washington Street in Tampico at the time she was born, but Daisy was born in Lewis, Iowa. Emma must have gone there in order to be with her mother at the time of birth. During ensuing years, the Seymours traveled from Tampico to Iowa a number of times, and enjoyed exchanging visits with Emma’s Iowa sibungs.


They were still on Washington Street on 25 October 1890 when an article in THE TAMPICO TORNADO gave an account of a lively housewarming party hosted by Emma and Fred to celebrate “extensive improvement to his residence in the north­western part of town.” Twenty couples came to enjoy a picnic and dancing to fiddle music provided by Fred and his brother, Charles. In the same issue there was an ad offering a large rag carpet for sale by “MN. Fred Seymour, Carpet Weaver.”

Individual Summary for Emma Alice BOWMAN

8 May 2003                                                                                                                                                   Page 4


Notes (Continued)

of the shock my mother had when she first saw Grandma with bobbed hair, which was the fashion of the day in the late 1920’s-early 30’s.

Throughout her life in Tampico, Emma was a great asset to her disabled husband, and a strong mentor to her daughters. The three girls were, no doubt, a source of great pride as they blossomed into young womanhood. Daisy, and sometimes Ethel, had an interest in drama and elocution during their teen years. The TORNADO often reported their involvement in various social events, as well as sucesses in dramatic presentations. Although I’m sure Emma hated to see the girls grow up and leave the family home, she rejoiced when each daughter married, and celebrated with them the birth of each grandchild. Whenever the generations came together, there was always a warm welcome, and a bounteous feast at the Seymour family table.


My parents, my sister, Denise and I visited Grandma and Grandpa perhaps twice a year. It was always fun to gather around the huge (in my eyes) table in the dining room with Mother’s sister, Aunt Vera, Uncle Olof Lewis and Cousin Eloise, who was close in age to Denise. Grandma, Mother and Aunt Vera “cooked up a storm” in the long, narrow kitchen, using a cook-stove and a more modern gas stove. The dining table was loaded with two kinds of meat, Several vegetables and melons from the garden, a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes, home baked bread or rolls, and at least two mouth-watering home-baked pies and cakes. On a few occasions, when they visited from their home in California, Aunt Daisy and family joined the group around the table, bringing the total to thirteen.


In one of the stories I wrote for our Whitmer family booklet, I described some of my memories of the fun times at Grandma’s house, and included several more detailed memories passed along by my older sister, Denise. (See stories “South of the Border - Down Tampico Way,” and “Upstairs - Downstairs,” about the family grocery store.)


Emma Alice (Bowman) Seymour didn’t have an easy life, but she really enjoyed her family and her home, was well liked in the community, and had many close friends. Her daughters never had a critical word to say of their mother, speaking affectionately of her up to the day each of them died. The grandchildren, too, had fond memories of Grandma Seymour. This grandchild, however, will always feel “deprived” because I never had a chance to really bond with her - can’t recall ever sifting down with her for a “heart-to-heart.” My family, being in Wisconsin, couldn’t visit very often, and Grandma developed her fatal illness when I was just seven and a half.


My final memory of Grandma was not very pleasant. It was of her funeral. In mid-1934, her daughters insisted she travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she was diagnosed with stomach cancer and given about three months to live. She died on 4 September 1934. During the late summer, when she became bed ridden, my mother, Denise and I spent a few weeks in Tampico. Aunt Daisy came from California, with her husband, Leo, and teen-aged children, Fred and Elsie. Of course, Aunt Vera was living in Tampico and had been looking after her mother all along. Being so young, I can’t recall much about the time leading up to Grandma’s death, except that, with the adults preoccupied, I had ample opportunity to roam and play in the large yard, swing on a tire swing by day and chase fireflies by nighi Denise, Eloise and Elsie must have been charged with overseeing me when Mother was busy with Grandma, but I don’t recall much about that.


I do recall the day of the funeral, however. It was held in the house, with Grandma “laid out” in her orchid silk-lined casket, surrounded by many floral arrangements. The almost sickening, overwhelmingly sweet scent of those flowers stays in my memory. Many people came to pay their respects. A lengthy obit, probably written by Aunt Daisy, was published in the TORNADO on 13 September 1934. It reads as follows:


“MRS. FRED SEYMOUR LAID AT REST Services were held at the late home Friday afternoon

“The funeral services held Friday afternoon at the home for MN. Fred Seymour, who passed away Tuesday afternoon after a long illness, were attended by a large number of relatives, neighbors and friends. L. E. Conner of the Church of God in Dixon officiated at the service. Three favorite hymns, “In The Garden,” “Sometime We’ll Understand,” and “God Will Take Care of You” were sung by Mrs. J. M. Conroy andMrs. Hattie Russell. They were accompanied by Mrs. R. F. Woods.

“Members of the Royal Neighbors Lodge, of which Mrs. Seymour was a member attended in a body and took part in the service.

“Burial was in the Tampico Cemetery. Those serving as pallbearers were Guy Elmendorf, Fred Klobes, Thomas Dillon, Jr., Mike Shaheen, Elmer Jones and George Oetzel.

“Out of town relatives and friends who attended the services were Mr. Sampson Bowman and Mr. Dewey Bowman of Carson,

Iowa; Mr. Ivan Bowman of Cumberland, Iowa; Mrs. Mary Kusserow, Mr. James Bowman, Mr. Silas Bowman and Mr. Will

Bowman of Eldora, Iowa; Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Bowman and son of Rockford; MN. May Hotchkiss, Mrs. Cora Underhill, Mr. and

MN. George Merrill, Mr. Fred Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. Clair Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph McGrady, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Peterson,

Mr. and Mrs. August Berge, Mr. and Mrs. George Hilger, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Van De Mark and MN. P. W. Maxfield, all of

Prophetstown; Mrs. Ruth Pearson, Mrs. Ella Crabb, Mrs. Owen Trister, Miss Clara Swanson, Mr. S. T. Shirley and Mr. R. A.

Individual Summary for Emma Alice BOWMAN

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Notes (Continued)

Hoover of Rock Falls; Mr. Curtis Miner, Mrs LaVina Townsley, Mrs. Elmer Abbot of Sterling; Mr. and Mrs. Will Paddock of

Monmouth; Mr. and Mrs. DuVall, Mr. and Mrs. Conner, Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt Dauntler and Mrs. Rhinerson of Dixon.”

OBITUARY (continuation in same column)

“One of Tampico’s most beloved women passed away at her home in Tampico, Illinois September 4, 1934 at 4:15. “The beloved wife and mother, Emma Alice Bowman, was born near Forreston, III. June 13, 1868. Left Illinois in 1870 for Iowa, living in Union County, Wheeler’s Grove, and Lewis. Her early childhood was spent in that vicinity.

“United in marriage, in Sterling, Ill, to Fred H. Seymour of Tampico, III. Dec. 9, 1886. All her married life being spent in Tampico with the exception of one year in Sterling.

‘To this union was born three children, Daisy Nokes of Culver City, Calif., Ethel Whitmer of Madison, Wis., and Vera Lewis of Tampico, Ill.

“She was baptized into His All Saving Name and clung closely to the Faith to the end, a firm belief in the future hope where all her loved ones and many dear friends and neighbors will meet again, to part no more, and where there will be no more suffering and sorrow but joy and peace. Even in her last moments she rallied and said, “I have so many, many dear friends, don’t forget to put a little piece in the paper thanking them all for the kind things they have done.” Every call and service was appreciated.

“She leaves to mourn her loss her husband, Fred H. Seymour; an only sister and brother, Mrs. Anna Smith of Wahpeton, North Dakota, and Mr. Sampson Bowman of Carson, Iowa; three children, Daisy Nokes, Ethel Whitmer and Very Lewis and their husbands, Leo Nokes, Carroll Whitmer and Olof Lewis, who were near as sons to her; five grandchildren, Fred Nokes and Elseleone Noke, Eloise Lewis, Denice Whitmer and Evelyn Whitmer, besides relatives and friends.

“She ended this life very peacefully, asleep in Jesus.

“He giveth His Beloved sleep.”



>Family records and correspondence with Daisy and Elsie Nokes, Helen & Ted Bowman, Janice Simonson, and a few of Sarah Bowman’s descendants, as outlined below.

BIRTH: Family pages from the Seymour family Bible, recorded by Fred H. Seymour in his handwriting; census records Bowman and Seymour and family records; obituary. All confirm her date of birth.

>Personal knowledge of this compiler and her mother, Ethel Seymour Whitmer.

>Letters from Sampson Bowman to Ted and Helen Bowman,(Ted was a descendant of Emma’s half brother, Uriah Bowman), copies shared with this compiler through direct correspondence with Helen Bowman during the 1980’s.

>Letters from Fred and Emma Seymour to Ted and Helen Bowman dated 16 May 1930 and 22 December 1932

>Personal remembrances of daughters, Daisy Nokes and Ethel Whitmer; grandchildren: Fred Nokes, Elsie Nokes, Eloise (Lewis) Stabler, Denise (Whitmer) Johnson, and Evelyn ~Vhitmer) Henry

>Family Records of Barbara (Stewart) Cunniff and correspondence with her.

>Several articles written in the 1980’s by Daisy Nokes and published in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO, newspaper of Prophetstown, Illinois, under the title “See More of Old Tampico.”

>Quotations and transcripts of numerous items published in THE TAMPICO TORNADO, Tampico, Illinois, covering a period of many years. The old editions of THE TORNADO are on microfilm at the Illinois State Historical Society in Springfield, Illinois, and also at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

>Autograph book belonging to young Emma Alice Bowman, signed by several Bowman relatives,

>Will of Emma Alice Seymour obtained from Whiteside County, Illinois.

>Funeral Home Record, Tampico, Illinois dated 5 September 1934


>Cemetery Records of the Tampico Cemetery, Tampico, Illinois, and personal knowledge from viewing of the graves. Photo of graves on file.

>Numerous family photos passed down from Emma’s daughters, Daisy and Ethel.

CENSUS - 1870- Forreston Township, Ogle County, Illinois, the first census where Emma Alice appears. She was a 2-year old in the household of her parents, Joseph L. and Sarah R. Bowman.

CENSUS - 1880 - White Breast Township, Lucas County, Iowa. Emma appears as “Emily,” sister, age II, in the household of her half brother, James P. Bowman.

1900- 1910- 1920- 1930- Listed in Tampico, Whiteside County, Illinois with husband, Fred H. Seymour, and family. See his notes for the listings.

DEATH- BURIAL: County Records, Whiteside Co., IL. Copy of will in poss. of Evelyn Whitmer, granddaughter. This compiler was present in Tampico at the time of her grandmother’s death and funeral. An obit appeared in “THE TAMPICO TORNADO”. Emma Seymour was buried in Lot 13-G, Tampico Memorial Cemetery, Tampico, Whiteside County, Illinois. Photos of the graves are in possession of this compiler, Evelyn Whitmer Henry.

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