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James Gower family papers

Call Number: RH MS 1034


James H. Gower was an Iowa City, Iowa businessman and entrepreneur in Iowa's formative years of the 1840s. In 1874, he extended his business interests to Lawrence, Kansas--interests continued by his son-in-law, Justin DeWitt Bowersock. Included is an 1879 letter to Gower from his son Robert concerning his father's business affairs. The papers contain two Civil War letters from Gower's son James O. Gower of the 1st Iowa Cavalry--one in which he describes the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas and encloses a copy of Confederate General Thomas Carmichael Hindman's address to his soldiers preliminary to the battle.


  • Creation: 1860 - 1881


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of James H. Gower (1807-1879)

James H. Gower was an early pioneer of Iowa City, Iowa, who served in 1844 as a delegate to Iowa's first constitutional convention. The six children born to Gower and his wife were sons James Otis, John H., Robert H. and Charles H., and daughters Mary C. and Hebe. As a leading Iowa City businessman and entrepreneur, James H. Gower operated the Gowers' Land Agency in partnership with his sons. During the Civil War, his son James served in the 1st Iowa Cavalry, which was engaged in battles in Missouri and Arkansas, including the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, on December 7.

In 1874, James H. Gower extended his business ventures to Lawrence, Kansas, where electrical power to businesses had been made possible that year by completion of a dam across the Kansas River. He joined other investors in the construction of a flour mill, called the Douglas County Mills, contracting with the Lawrence Land and Water Company for the mill's water power. The Gower family moved from Iowa City to Lawrence in 1877, as did Gower's married daughter Mary and her husband Justin DeWitt Bowersock. Within days of their arrival, a part of the Kansas River dam washed out, forcing the Lawrence Land and Water Company into receivership. The company, sold by order of the Court, was purchased by Gower. Following Gower's death in 1879, Bowersock oversaw the company and the dam's repair.


.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 1034

Related Materials

Justin DeWitt Bowersock business papers, RH MS 50, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Guide to the James H. Gower Family Collection
James Gower family papers
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2007. Finding aid encoded by mh, 2007. Finding aid revised by skt, 2010.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
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Preferred citation
James H. Gower family papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 1034, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States