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Justin DeWitt Bowersock business papers

Call Number: RH MS 50


This collection includes records of Justin Bowersock's personal business and professional business not related to the Lawrence Paper Company or the Bowersock Mill. It includes a bank book dating from 1912 and business papers, primarily correspondence, dating from 1860-1922.


  • Creation: 1860 - 1918


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 Justin DeWitt Bowersock (1842-1922)

Justin DeWitt Bowersock was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, on September 19, 1842. At the age of 22 he made his first business venture as a grain merchant in Iowa City, Iowa. In 1877 he moved to Lawrence, Kansas, establishing himself in the banking and manufacturing businesses.

Bowersock purchased the dam over the Kansas River, harnessing the river's energy and providing electrical power for a number of businesses in Lawrence. His financial enterprises continued to expand in 1878 with his organization of the Douglas County Bank (now Lawrence National Bank), the establishment of the Kansas Water Power Company, the Griffin Ice Company, the Lawrence Iron Works, and his purchase of an interest in the Kansas and Colorado Railroad, as well as his purchase of the Lawrence Paper Manufacturing Company.

Three years after his arrival in Lawrence, Bowersock purchased the Liberty Hall and converted it into the Bowersock Opera House. In 1911 this building was destroyed by fire, but it was replaced with a new Bowersock Theatre on the original site, which now operates again as Liberty Hall.

In 1881, Bowersock was elected mayor of Lawrence, serving several terms until 1885, and in the following year he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. Bowersock's political career continued with his reelection in 1888. In 1895 he was elected to the Kansas Senate and from 1899 to 1907 he was U. S. Congressman from the Second District. Bowersock maintained his business enterprises in the interim and continued as a prominent businessman and civic leader until his death in 1922.

Justin DeWitt Bowersock married Mary Gower in September 1866 in Iowa City; she was the daughter of James H. Gower, an early Euro-American settler in Iowa who joined Bowersock in various financial and business interests in Lawrence. Justin and Mary Bowersock had 6 children: Fred H., Justin, Jr., Hortense, Jean, Mary G., and Margery. Justin Bowersock's descendents continue to oversee the Lawrence Paper Company in Lawrence, KS.


2.5 Linear Feet (5 document cases + 1 volume, 1 folder)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 50

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS P806

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Justin Hill, 1966.

Related Materials

Lawrence Paper Company records, RH MS E76, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Bowersock Mill & Power Company, 1990-06-22-KC, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Separated Materials

Eleven pieces of confederate money have been removed to RH MS VLT 50: 1.1a.

Guide to the Justin DeWitt Bowersock Collection
Justin DeWitte Bowersock business papers
Finding aid prepared by lgg, 1974, 1976. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2006. Finding aid revised by mrk, 2010; mwh, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Justin DeWitt Bowersock business papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 50, 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