Rowlands Family

Processed by
Scott Wagner


Table of Contents
All eleven of the Rowlands children.  

Collection Information
Volume of Collection:
One box
Collection Dates:
Provenance: None
Reproduction Rights:
Permission to reproduce or publish material in this collection must be obtained in writing from the McLean County Museum of History
Alternative Formats: None
Other Finding Aids: None
Notes: See also: Terri Clemens, Welsh Immigrants in Northern McLean County, Illinois, 1856-1890


Bertha and Ben Rowlands in the fields.


Historical Sketch

Howell Rowlands was born on April 15, 1847, in Llanbrynmair, North Wales, and immigrated to McLean County in 1867 with his brother Tom and his sister Liza. While Liza and Tom moved elsewhere, Howell made his initial home in Chenoa before eventually moving to Lexington where he obtained a job with Jackson Myers, a local farm owner. On March 12, 1873, he married Mary Jane Myers, daughter of his employer Jackson Myers. Mary Jane was born in Ohio in 1844, which made her four years Howell's senior, and was a certified school teacher in the McLean County area. As was the custom of many Welsh families, they had many children. Altogether they had eleven children: Benjamin, Bertha, Ruth, Catherine, Huber, Emerson, Hugh, Anna, Walter, Alice, and Martha Mae. Allegedly Howell inherited his farm land in Lexington Township from his father-in-law, but it is not known for sure. After some brief business ventures which included trips back to Wales and land speculation in Kansas, Howell eventually settled upon his Lexington farm located in the northwest part of McLean County.

  The Rowlands children went on to be successful in their particular interests. Three of the daughters went on to become school teachers just like their mother. Their youngest son Ben received a degree from Iowa College in 1911. Anna married Clint Elder, and they had children. Unfortunately, the flu epidemic of 1918 hit the Rowlands family hard. Ben, son-in-law Clint, and their daughter Catherine's fiance John Schreck were all victims of the disease. Howell himself died on April 30, 1912, and was buried in Lexington Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Mary Jane, eight children, and ten grandchildren. Three of his children died at very young ages. Alice passed away in 1882, Huber in 1884, and Martha Mae in 1879.


Scope and Contents Note

  The Rowlands family collection contains letters, music writing booklets, hand drawn maps, school papers, and teaching certificates. The organization and sequential order of these folders is as follows: Folder one contains personal letters and the certificate of naturalization of Howell Rowlands; folder two contains letters Howell received from Catherine; folder three has Mary Jane Rowlands letters from Bertha; folder four has letter correspondence between Ruth Rowlands and Mary Jane Rowlands in England and Seattle, Washington; folder five contains letters between Catherine, Bertha, and Mary Jane; folder six has letters of Mary Jane from her sister Arminda Clawson; folder seven has letters and the will of Jackson Meyers as noted by his son John Q. Meyers; folder eight contains opened envelopes from letters written by Mary Jane; folder nine has wedding envelopes and a class reunion invitation; folder ten has music writings from Ruth at ISNU; folder eleven contains Ruth Rowlands teaching certificate and various other school papers; folder twelve has hand drawn maps by Mary Jane.


Box and Folder Inventory

Box 1

Folder 1:
H. Rowlands Letters
Letter to Mary Jane from Howell-dated February 24, 1873-Chenoa, Il
Letter from Howell to wife and children during overseas business venture while crossing Atlantic Ocean-dated August 3, 1883
Letter from Howell while overseas to his wife discussing his purchasing five horses and looking for more-dated September 25, 1889
Letter to Mary Jane from Howell discussing his land speculation results. He cannot seem to find anything that fits his desires in Baxter Springs, Kansas, but he continues to look and notes that he will be home soon-dated November 6, 1889
Howell's certificate of naturalization which made him a citizen of the United States as issued by McLean County-dated December 19,1878


Folder 2:
C. Rowlands Letters from Wales
Letter from Catherine Rowlands (Howell's mother) to her grandchildren and husband as a response to their initial letter. She discusses things such as the weather, her activities, and the conditions of family and friends at home to her grandchildren who are away with Howell in Wales-dated March 3, 1890
Letter from Catherine to Howell-date unavailable
Letter from Catherine Rowlands to Ruth Rowlands apologizing for not responding sooner. She discusses the eye infection that had been affecting her lately and the bitter cold winter that had beset them-dated March 1890
Letter from Catherine to her grandchildren expressing how much she misses them and how she enjoys their letters. She was pleased to hear about family and friends partaking in new adventures and maturing so well-dated June 30, 1890


Folder 3:
Beth, Mary Jane, and Ben Letters
Letter from Beth discussing how Ruth's school is closed as well as surrounding district schools due to the outbreak of influenza in the area. Also discusses sickness of Clint Elder, husband of Anna, and how his recovery is going-dated October 14, 1918
Letter to Mary Jane in Indianapolis discussing flu problems within the family and Howell's return from overseas-dated December 1918 Chenoa, IL


Folder 4:
Letters of Ruth/ Mary Jane
Illegible pieces of a letter possibly discussing the nature of a school district after 1865
Letter from most likely Ruth discussing the rainy weather conditions in Seattle to her mother in England-dated April 18
Letter from Mary Peate to Ruth and extended family from Northern Wales discussing new activities. Asserts that all is well and hopes the same for the family-dated October 23, 1908
Letter from Aunt Mary Peate to sister, nieces, and nephews in Wales. Talks of the sorrow and grief being felt due to Ben's death and how she herself has not been feeling well-dated May 24, 1912
Letter written by friend of Mary's named Emlyn Jones with an attachment by Lida R. Jones offering condolences on Ben's passing-dated January 14, 1919 Seattle, Washington
Official letter from Jones & Walters lawyer office expressing regret and sorrow on Mary's behalf from Emlyn Jones-dated January 9, 1919
Two envelopes from letter correspondence: first is a receipt of money from Howell Rowlands to real estate-dated Feb 15, 1912, second is from the Northern Life Insurance Co. in Pontiac, IL to Mary Rowlands regarding J.W. Meyers Estate that was sold in August 1911


Folder 5:
Letters Catherine/Mary/Beth
Letter to Ruth from possibly Catherine stating that she will let her have the job at the school. Also, she extends her accommodations in terms of housing if Ruth wants-dated June 11, 1918
Letter to Bertha from Catherine talking of the raucous boys at the school and her daily activities. Also includes envelope-dated May 6, 1909-Lexington, IL
Letter with envelope to Mary Jane from Catherine talking about all the sickness that has plagued the area. Mary Jane is in Bluffton, Indianapolis at this time-dated October 19, 1918
Letter with envelope from Ruth to Mary Jane in Indiana talking about Clint Elder's funeral, continuing sickness in the community, and her activities since last she wrote-dated October 25, 1918
Letter from Ruth to Mary Jane and Ben talking mostly of Clint. She talks of how all the townspeople have given their condolences and how she always kept faith that he would get better right up until he died-dated November 7, 1918
Letter to Mary Jane from Ann E. Maham in Chicago. She talks of business propositions and recent activities-dated August 31, 1862
Letter of administration stating that Mary Jane Rowlands will be the rightful owner of all of Howell's property when he dies-dated April 30, 1912
Official letter from G.L. Kincaid and his notary public insurance company in Sardinia, Ohio to Frank L. Meyers concerning whether he will be able to fill in for him at a certain appointment-dated July 31, 1912
Official letter to mayor of Sardinia concerning the Ripley Company Centennial celebration wishing that he will attend from chairman of company-dated July 26, 1912


Folder 6:
Mary Letters from Sister
Letter from Arminda talking about poor weather and poor health of many surrounding friends and family-dated May 22, 1877
Smudged letter from Arminda once again talking about health conditions-dated September 29, 1877
Letter from Arminda to her father and mother talking of recent events in school. She mentions the appearance of small pox, hopes Jane is well, and talks of some body aches that she feels-dated may 14, 1879
Letter with envelope from Arminda to her parents talking about how well things are going and how prosperous the household is in Alerton, Iowa-dated January 2, 1880
Letter from Arminda to her mother and father talking of how she still has the cough that she has had all spring. She also talks of the volatile weather they have been having-dated May 14, 1880


Folder 7:
John Q. Meyers' Papers
Official letter and envelope from Northern Life Insurance Company stating that Mary Jane and her brother Franklin L. Meyers are the executors of Jackson Meyer's last will and testament-dated April 8, 1910
Check for one hundred twenty-six dollars and twenty-five cents to Howell Rowlands from Franklin L. Meyers-dated September 30, 1911
Letter to Mary Jane from Franklin's Federal Life Insurance office talking of finding a deed that needs to be sent to the notary republic and signed by her as one of the executors-dated February 19, 1912
Letter with envelope from Franklin L. Meyers' office by his sister to Howell and Mary Jane entailing a picture of them in Lexington that Meyers took the previous year-dated July 21, 1919
A few receipts and business papers of Jackson Meyers held by Mary Jane-dated March 11, 1912


Folder 8:
Envelopes of Mary and Howell
Envelope to Mary Jane Meyers before she got married to Howell
Envelope to Aunt Mary Peate in Northern Wales, before she migrated to US in 1868, from Uncle Tom in Ames, Iowa
Envelope to Mary Jane in Lexington, IL from unknown source-dated September 7 in Chicago
Envelope entailing Aunt Mary Peate's address in Wales: sent to Mary Jane-dated December 28, 1912
Envelope to Mary Jane in Lexington-dated August 3, 1883
Envelope to Howell Rowlands in Lexington from Selda Rowlands in Ames, Iowa
Envelope to Mary Jane Rowlands in Bluffton, Indiana. Letter is concerning the sickness that had befallen Clint Elder before his eventual passing in 1918-dated October 14, 1918


Folder 9:
Wedding & Reunion Invites
Invitation from Howell and Mary Jane Rowlands to Anna and Clint's wedding
Envelope to Mary Jane Rowlands
Invitation sent to Mary Jane Rowlands for graduation commencement ceremonies for Lawrence Elder on June 6, 1918, at 8PM
Invitation for high school graduation commencement ceremonies for Howell O. Elder on June 9, 1914 at 8PM
Letter to Mary Jane Rowlands in Lexington, IL concerning the graduation of Howell Elder-dated May 29, 1914


Folder 10:
Ruth's Musical Booklet
Booklet titled Elements of Music and Notation that Ruth used during her years at Illinois State Normal University


Folder 11:
Ruth Rowland's Papers
Letter of recommendation from the Office of the County of Superintendent of Schools for Ruth in regards to another job opportunity-dated April 27, 1932
Teaching certificate that is valid for one year in McLean County which authorizes Ruth to teach the second grade-dated June 29, 1907
Lone Star School Homecoming Program scheduled for September 9, 1934
Teacher's Doctrine from County Superintendent of Schools-dated August 30, 1923, Bloomington, Ill.
Recital pamphlet by Ms. Ivy J. Trimmer of which Ruth has a part scheduled for November 13
Pamphlet for an Artist Recital of the Amateur Musical Club at the Grand Opera House scheduled for February 3, 1908
Envelope addressed to Ruth Rowlands from the County Superintendent of Schools in McLean County-dated July 31, 1908
Yellow check to B.C. Moore from Ruth Rowlands entailing one dollar-dated September 1, 1916
Check to Ruth Rowlands for second summer term fee in 1915 from David Felmley at Illinois State Normal University
Check to Ruth Rowlands for first summer term fee in 1916 from David Felmley at Illinois State Normal University
Check to Ruth Rowlands for second summer term fee in 1916 from David Felmley at Illinois State Normal University
Certificate contracting Ruth for ten weeks of music teaching at Illinois Wesleyan University at which end she will receive forty dollars
Envelope to Ruth Rowlands from the Bloomington Conservatory of Music-dated December 7, 1906
Series of Monthly Teacher Reports for Ruth starting in October 1899 until January 1901 with some months missing
Certification from Illinois State Normal University that Ruth Rowlands attended the second summer term and received graded marks
Letter from the Apartment Hotel in Bloomington, IL that states that Ruth stayed there for an extended period of time
Series of tuition payment stubs by Ruth to the Bloomington Conservatory from 1906 through 1908
Renewal of teacher certification for the second grade for Ruth-dated January 25, 1901
Renewal of teacher certification for the second grade for Ruth-dated June 26, 1903
Renewal of teacher certification for the second grade for Ruth-dated July, 27, 1906
Renewal of teacher certification for the second grade for Ruth-dated July 1, 1914


Folder 12:
Map of local district in Lexington, Illinois which displays family properties
Map of old family home in northern Wales drawn on September 18, 1903
Admission slip that certifies Mary Jane Meyers acceptance in the Sabbath School that was connected with the Lexington Methodist Episcopal Church
Newspaper clipping with headline "Sudden Demise of James Farner"


McLean County Museum of History Collections and Research