George S. Bowen papers, 1856-1928


Descriptive Inventory for the Collection at Chicago History Museum, Research Center

By Hugh S. De Santis, 1977; rev. by Wendy S. Lee; rev. by Jennifer Asimakopoulos



Please address questions to:

Chicago History Museum, Research Center

1601 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60614-6038




© Copyright 2005, Chicago Historical Society,1601 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614-6038



Title: George S. Bowen papers, 1856-1928

Main entry: Bowen, George S., 1829-1905.

Inclusive dates: 1856-1928


33 linear ft. (74 boxes)


Access: This collection is open for research use.

Provenance statement: Most of this collection was purchased at the estate auction of Mary Ann Dicke in 1975 (M1975.0019; M1949.0011).

Terms governing use: Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.

Please cite this collection as: George S. Bowen papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.


This descriptive inventory contains the following sections:

Biographical note,

Summary description of the collection,

Description of some material related to the collection,

List of online catalog headings about the collection,

Arrangement of the collection,

Detailed description of archival series in the collection,

List of contents of the collection.


Biographical note:

George Stephen Bowen (Nov 30, 1829-Jan 12, 1905) was a prominent entrepreneur and civic leader in Chicago and in Elgin, Illinois. In 1849, he left his native upstate New York and migrated to Chicago, where he began working for N.H. Wood, a wholesale and retail dry goods merchant. Influenced by George Bowen's success, two of his brothers, Chauncey and James, followed him to Chicago. In 1852, George and Chauncey T. Bowen established the firm of Mills, Bowen and Dillingbeck with two other partners, but soon left that company to form Bowen Brothers, woolen merchants. James Harvey Bowen arrived in Chicago and joined their partnership in 1857.


By 1860, the family firm had become one of the leading jobbers of dry goods and notions in Chicago. During the Civil War, James Bowen served as a colonel, and George Bowen, as a commission merchant, supplied the Union troops with uniforms. In 1866, when the five-story Bowen Buildings was erected at 15-19 Randolph Street, brothers Chauncey and James retired from active participation in the woolen business and occupied themselves with banking and real estate. George Bowen continued to operate the woolen business during the 1860s and in addition was president of the Young Men's Library Association in 1861, helped establish a free public library in Chicago, and also led the formation of the Woolen Manufacturer's Association of the Northwest in 1867.


Bowen's wholesale and retail woolen partnerships underwent a steady stream of changes, as George joined with and then separated from a number of partners, yet at the same time each firm was located in the Bowen Building. Eventually the firm became known as Bowen, Hunt & Winslow, and under this name it operated successfully until 1871 with the three Bowen brothers, James T Hunt, and Almira Winslow as partners. When James's son Ira Pardee Bowen entered the family firm it expanded its line of merchandise to include glassware and crockery. Ira took the crockery business with him when he left Bowen, Hunt & Winslow to establish Byrn, Bowen & Co., and later Ira P. Bowen & Co., receiving financial backing from his father and uncles in both ventures. The firms of Bowen, Hunt & Winslow and Ira P. Bowen & Co. were both destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.


Before the 1871 fire, the Bowen brothers (James H., Chauncey T., and George S.) had owned three adjoining stone-fronted houses on Michigan Avenue.


James Harvey Bowen and his wife Caroline A. Smith Bowen lived at 124 Michigan Ave., with their five children, Ira Pardee, Jennie, Charlotte Eliza (Lottie), James Allison (Jimmy), and Arthur Peabody Bowen. Ira Bowen later married Mary Reid, and their children were Ira Jr. and James (Jack). Jennie married William Harrison French, and their children were Charlotte and Bowen. James, who married Cecile, became the American Vice-Consul in Paris. Arthur became the Purchasing Director of the Pullman Company.


George S. Bowen lived at 125 Michigan Avenue, with his wife Julia Emma Byington Bowen and their two children George Erwin and Anna Caroline. George Erwin Bowen became a newspaper journalist and a poet, using his poetry to support patriotic efforts during World War I. He joined his father on many of his entrepreneurial ventures, and continued some of them after his father's death. Anna Caroline Bowen married her first cousin, Erwin Byington.


Chauncey T. Bowen, who shared many of George S. Bowen's entrepreneurial ventures, lived at 126 Michigan Avenue. He and his wife Therese Dewey Bowen had only one son, Frederick, who died during childhood. Chauncey and Therese traveled in Europe after this, until Therese died. Later, he remarried and had a second child.


Asa Bowen, a fourth brother, lived in Sand Spring, Iowa, where other family members also owned property.


After the fire, the Bowen woolen business was absorbed into two woolen firms that operated out of new buildings constructed on the ruins of Bowen properties. Richards, Shaw & Winslow operated at 123-125 Michigan Avenue, the former sites of the Bowen family homes, and Enos Brown & Company, in which Chauncey and George Bowen were silent partners, reopened on the same site as the previous Bowen woolen businesses. Enos Brown & Co. expanded the wholesale merchandise line to include cotton and woolen manufacturing supplies. The Bowen brothers continued to deal in real estate, as well as managing the Calumet & Chicago Canal & Dock Co., and the Chicago & Pacific Railroad (which ran through Elgin, Illinois). Elgin was the site of George's summer home, to which he, his wife Julia, and their two children, George Erwin and Anna, moved after their home on Michigan Avenue burnt in the 1871 fire. Already a member of the Elgin Scientific Society, president of the Protestant Orphan Asylum, and a treasurer of Grace Episcopal Church in Elgin, George Bowen cemented his status as a leading citizen by successfully promoting the Chicago & Pacific Railroad. He ran unopposed for Mayor of Elgin in 1872 and 1873. In 1873, he helped raise money to build the structures for Chicago's Inter-State Industrial Exposition (as he would later assist in fundraising work for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.)


During the depression of 1873-1878, George S. assumed the presidency of the C & P RR, but the railroad was unable to withstand the pressures of rising costs, and in 1880, control of the company passed to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Bankrupted by this failure, George soon recouped his losses by forming the Elgin Electric Light Company in 1881. As a result of his efforts, Elgin became celebrated as the first city in the United States to apply the system of overhead outdoor street lighting. George was a leader in the formation of the National Electric Light Association in 1885.


George S. Bowen became involved in commercial/political interests in 1878, organizing a manufacturer's association in Chicago which lobbied for legislation to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition. He arranged for the National and International Commercial Convention in that same year, and in 1881, he organized a railroad excursion of Chicago business and industrial leaders to the International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta to promote Chicago and Illinois products. In the late 1880s, George S. and George E. Bowen, his son, formed the Georgia-Alabama Investment and Development Company of Tallapoosa, Georgia, which sought to interest the public in investment in the South. The Bowens also served as special agents for the Alabama Fruit Growing and Winery Association, headquartered in Vinemont, Alabama. The father and son team was the only partners in the Chicago firm of George S. Bowen & Son.


George S. Bowen's trade interests extended to Mexico in 1878, when he organized an excursion of businessmen to Mexico, and later that year hosted a reception in Chicago for the Mexican minister to the United States. In 1899 he became president of the Compania de la Hacienda de Coahuayula, whose aim was to enhance U.S. trade with Mexico. Bowen's mercantile interests later extended to China and the Far East. In 1903 he formed the North Pacific Trading Company, an import-export firm headquartered in Chicago which also maintained offices in Japan, China and Korea.


Motivated by his concern for the restoration of the United States' economic health, George S. Bowen became involved in national politics in the 1870s. He was a Republican until he joined the Greenback-Labor Party in 1876 and ran unsuccessfully as the Greenback candidate for Congress from the 1st Illinois district. He was attracted to the populist movement for national currency reform, particularly the campaign to monetize silver. He was president of the Bimetallic Reform League of Cook County, and he and his son were publisher's agents for many authors of reformist publications. In 1897 George S. Bowen joined with publisher Charles H. Kerr and editor Frederick U. Adams to form the New Time Corporation, which published social reform materials in The New Time, New Occasions, and other periodicals. During the same year, Bowen planned to publish a morning daily in Chicago, entitled The Commoner, to publicize the cause of bimetallism and social change, but this never materialized.


After the defeat of William Jennings Bryan in the U. S. Presidential election of 1896, the bimetallism issue declined and was superseded by the fight against trusts. Having established contacts within the National Anti-Trust League, George S. Bowen organized a National Anti-Trust Conference in February 1900 in Chicago. The Bowens subsequently published the conference proceedings and offered them for general sale. In 1900 the Bowens also formed the Campaign Polyphone Company, which recorded and marketed the speeches of Bryan.


During the last years of his life George S. Bowen lived in retirement at his home in Elgin, Illinois, much respected by the local community. He died in Elgin in 1905.


See also "George S. Bowen and the American Dream," by Hugh S. De Santis, Chicago History, Volume VI, Number 3, Fall 1977.


Summary description of the collection:

Correspondence, diaries, financial records, legal documents, promotional materials, and newspaper clippings related to George S. Bowen's career as an entrepreneur and civic leader in Chicago and Elgin (Ill.). Topics include manufacturing and trade in woolen textiles and pottery and glassware (1865-1875); Chicago and Pacific Railroad (1870s); Elgin Electric Company, national survey of electrical companies, electrical equipment companies (1880s); and investments in real estate, railroad lines, electric utilities, manufacturing associations, agricultural products, and various types of merchandise in the Middle West, Alabama and Georgia, Mexico, and Asian trade. Also in the collection are materials on Bowen's national and local political activities, including the National Greenback Party, Populist Party, free silver, and anti-trust movements; Bowen's own election campaigns; political conferences and publishing (1890s); and Bowen family affairs. Family members represented include Chauncey T. Bowen, George Erwin Bowen, Ira Pardee Bowen, and James Harvey Bowen.


Description of some material related to the collection:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the George S. Bowen collection of visual materials (1975.0019); and various portrait photographs filed by name; and a few items relating to Chauncey T. Bowen and James H. Bowen that are listed in the Manuscripts Card Catalog.


Materials about George Bowen also are found in the Bimetalism and currency reform collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Daley Library, Special Collections Dept.


List of online catalog headings about the collection:

The following headings for this collection have been placed in the online catalog:


Bowen, George S., 1829-1905--Archives.

Bowen, Chauncey T., 1832-1896.

Bowen, George Erwin, d. 1934.

Bowen, Ira Pardee, d. 1907.

Bowen, James Harvey, 1822-1881.

Brown, Enos.

Jefferds, M. R., Colonel.

Kerr, Charles H., b. 1860.

Mori, Hiroshi.

Bowen Brothers.

Bowen, Hunt & Winslow.

Calumet and Chicago Canal and Dock Company.

Chicago & Pacific Railroad.

Compania de la Hacienda de Coahuayula.

Elgin Electric Light Company.

National Greenback Party.

North Pacific Trading Company.

Vanderpoele Electric Manufacturing Company.

Inter-State Industrial Exposition (1873 : Chicago, Ill.)

Populist Party (U.S.)

World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)

Business enterprises--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Businessmen--Illinois--Chicago--20th century.

Currency question--United States--19th century.

Electric industries--United States--19th century.

Electric industries--Equipment and supplies.

Exhibitions--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Families--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Families--Illinois--Chicago--20th century.

Greenbacks--United States--19th century.

Industries--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Industries--Illinois--Elgin--19th century.

Investments--Alabama--19th century.

Investments--Georgia--19th century.

Investments, American--Asia--19th century.

Investments, American--Mexico--19th century.

Political conventions--United States--19th century.

Populism--United States--19th century.

Pottery industry--Illinois--19th century.

Publishers and publishing--United States--19th century.

Railroads--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Real estate investment--United States--19th century.

Woolen goods industry--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Asia--Commerce--United States.

Chicago (Ill.)--Commerce--19th century.

Chicago (Ill.)--Social conditions--19th century.

Chicago (Ill.)--Social conditions--20th century.

Elgin (Ill.)--Commerce--19th century.

Illinois--Politics and government--19th century.

Mexico--Commerce--United States.

United States--Commerce--Asia.

United States--Commerce--Mexico.

United States--Politics and government--19th century.







Financial records.

Insurance policies.

Newspaper clippings.


Added entries:

Adams, Frederick Upham, 1859-1921.

Altgeld, John Peter, 1847-1902.

Bowen, Chauncey T., 1832-1896.

Bowen, George Erwin, d. 1934.

Bowen, Ira Pardee, d. 1907.

Bowen, James Harvey, 1822-1881.

Brown, Enos.

Jefferds, M. R., Colonel.

Kerr, Charles H., b. 1860.

Mori, Hiroshi.

Bowen Brothers.

Bowen, Hunt & Winslow.

Chicago & Pacific Railroad.

Compania de la Hacienda de Coahuayula.

Elgin Electric Light Company.

North Pacific Trading Company.

Vanderpoele Electric Manufacturing Company.

United States--Illinois--Cook County--Chicago.

United States--Illinois--Elgin.


Arrangement of the collection:

The records are divided into four series:

Series 1. Entrepreneurial and investment records, (box 1-47):

Subseries 1. Merchant and manufacturing records, 1859-1900;

Subseries 2. Elgin Railroad and Electric Company records, 1872-1904;

Subseries 3. Insurance and real estate investment records, 1856-1900;

Subseries 4. Materials not identifiable by company, 1859-1918.

Series 2. Manufacturing associations, trade expansion and investments, 1870-1917 (box 48-53);

Series 3. Political activities, 1882-1928 (boxes 53-64);

Series 4. Bowen family papers, 1868-1920 (box 64-72).


Detailed description of archival series in the collection:

Series 1. Entrepreneurial and investment records (box 1-47)

This series contains the records of George S. Bowen's various companies, including office files, correspondence, legal documents, ledgers, and journals. It is composed of four subseries:


Subseries 1. Merchant and manufacturing records, 1859-1900

Subseries 2. Elgin Railroad and Electric Company Records, 1872-1904

Subseries 3. Insurance and real estate investment records, 1856-1900

Subseries 4. Materials not identifiable by company, 1859-1918


Subseries 1 contains correspondence, ledgers, journals and office files pertaining to George S. Bowen's early activity as a woolen and crockery goods merchant and wholesaler. The business papers, which begin with the Bowen Brothers woolen goods company, continue to refer to this company for many years after its formal dissolution in 1867. After this date, Chauncey, George and James Bowen continued to work together in real estate and financial matters as the Bowen Brothers. Records postdating this dissolution refer to both real estate matters and the woolen trade.


The successor companies to Bowen Brothers (wool merchants) were Bowen, Whitman & Winslow; Bowen, Whitman & Hunt; and Bowen, Hunt & Winslow—all of which answered correspondence addressed to the Bowen Brothers and occasionally signed their outgoing correspondence "Bowen Brothers." Since all four companies dealt with the same merchandise and customers, and operated from the same location, their correspondence, financial and legal records form a continuum. Further possibilities for confusion arise when the fifth and final woolens company, Enos Brown & Co., answered correspondence addressed to the Bowen Brothers and handled the same merchandise as the four previous companies at the same location, 15-21 Randolph Street. George S. Bowen was supposedly a silent partner in Enos Brown & Co., but his outgoing correspondence can be found throughout the Enos Brown & Co. records. Also present are the records of Reynolds, Reed & Co., another woolen merchandising company that was absorbed into Enos Brown & Co. in 1871.


Ira Pardee Bowen, the son of James Harvey Bowen, entered the family woolen business in the 1860s with a specialty in crockery and glassware. Owen, Hunt & Winslow expanded their line of merchandise to include crockery, until 1868 when Ira left to form Byrn, Bowen & Co., with another partner. The new partnership operated with the financial backing of the Bowen Brothers, as well as the firm Ira P. Bowen & Co., which began in 1870, and was rebuilt after the fire of 1871. Records from these partnerships include a ledger from Byrn, Bowen & Co. as well as correspondence, inventory lists, invoices, ledgers and receipts from Ira F. Bowen & Co.


The final company whose records are represented in Subseries 1 is the Fox River Manufacturing Company of Elgin, Illinois, a manufacturer of woolen goods. The earliest records of this company in the collection date from 1865, six years before George S. Bowen began his association with it upon his move to Elgin after the Chicago fire of 1871. Bowen's interest in the company stemmed from his association with it during his years of active participation in the woolen trade in the 1850s and 1860s, although by 1871 his activities were focused on other ventures.


All seven manufacturing and merchandising companies are represented by correspondence (incoming and outgoing), financial records (ledgers, statements, invoices, and city and county tax records), and legal documents such as contracts and articles of incorporation and dissolution. The correspondence routinely details Bowen's or Brown's transactions with retailers and individual purchasers regarding orders of woolen goods or crockery, letters of remittance, and receipts of payments. Their business associates were located mainly in the Midwest, but some were from the West, particularly California and Utah. Little information is present concerning the buildings these seven companies built or rented, although maintenance records can be found in the routine office expense accounts.


Subseries 2 deals with Bowen's substantial railroad interests and his pioneering electric company. The railroad records consist mainly of general correspondence with railroad officials and investors throughout the country and with equipment manufacturers and contractors located primarily in Chicago and in Elgin, Illinois. Other correspondence, including one letter book, and some financial and legal records, date from Bowen's tenure as president of the Chicago and Pacific Railroad in the 1870s. In addition, a small amount of correspondence sheds light on Bowen's interest in the traction system of public transport during the latter years of the century.


Files relating to the creation of the Elgin Electric Light Company in 1881 contain considerable correspondence with manufacturers and suppliers (especially with the Vanderpoele Electric Manufacturing Company of Chicago) and with citizens of Elgin and Chicago. Of special interest is a national survey conducted by Bowen in 1883 to determine public acceptance of electric (versus gas) lighting, and a local survey conducted by the Elgin Electric Light Co. in 1885 for the same purpose. Invoice books, accounts receivable and payable, accounting statements and other financial records are also present in Subseries 2..


Subseries 3 details Bowen's involvement in the insurance business and in the acquisition of real estate in Chicago and elsewhere. The Bowen family had purchased personal insurance policies as well as insurance on their real estate properties, and these policies as well as premium payment information is included. The Bowens also made investments and financial arrangements for their companies through insurance companies.


The extensive real estate interests of Bowen and his family were reportedly their chief source of income. Primarily concentrated around Chicago in Cook County, and in Iowa, the properties also included one lot in Washington Heights, Colorado. Information concerning taxes on the properties is present only for certain years, but a complete run of tax assessments for the years 1865-1877 is included. Supplementing the sketchy correspondence files, additional letters may be found in the legal document files, where articles of agreement, deeds, quitclaims, warranties, mortgages, indemnity bonds, indentures of property, and certificates are interfiled with related correspondence. Correspondence is also found among the memos and the miscellaneous real estate bills and receipts. The property in Sand Spring, Iowa, may have been owned by Chauncey, George, or James Bowen, or by Asa Bowen, their brother who resided in that town.


Subseries 4 contains ledgers, correspondence, account books and legal documents. The dates of these records are the same as the records of George S. Bowen's other enterprises such as the woolens trade, but they cannot be clearly identified with any one firm. Of particular interest is an account book in Box 45, Folder 14, which records the daily cash-on-hand accounts of a firm that employed both Ira P. Bowen and Enos Brown. A ledger found in Box 47, Folder 5, includes a list of persons organized by state, which may refer to the woolens business but may also be a list of political supporters for one of Bowen's causes.


Series 2. Manufacturing associations, trade expansion and investments, 1870-1917 (box 48-53)

The papers of George S. Bowen's interests in manufacturing associations, trade expansion, and investments document his efforts to expand the marketability of Chicago and Elgin manufactures to other parts of the United States, Mexico and the Far East. Correspondence and other administrative records concerning the Manufacturer's Association meeting of May 1878 are present, as well as materials relating to the National and International Commercial Convention of Nov 1878, both of which were held in Chicago. Extensive correspondence and promotional materials connected with the Georgia-Alabama Investment and Development Company (of which George S. Bowen was vice-president) as well as several items from the Alabama Fruit Growing and Winery Association are included. The correspondence is especially rich between the years 1888 and 1892; after the depression of 1893, public interest in the project was curtailed, and the correspondence continued sparsely until 1901.


Bowen's promotion of American commerce with Mexico focuses primarily on the Compania de la Hacienda de Coahuayula, which sought to interest Chicagoans in the development of Mexican coffee, cacao, rubber, and sugar cane, which would ultimately enhance trade with Chicago. The correspondence is clustered in the period 1899-1902, although news clippings extend to 1917. The correspondence relating to Bowen's railroad excursion tour of Mexico for business and industrial leaders dates from 1878 to 1890. Other materials concern railroad and gold mine financing which Bowen arranged with investors in London.


The promotion of trade and commerce in the Far East is included in this series, especially correspondence, financial records, and publications of the North Pacific Trading Company. Correspondence between Bowen and Colonel M.R. Jefferds, a civil engineer, Mr. Hiroshi Mori, vice-president of the North Pacific Trading Company, and other investors, is extensive and substantive for the years 1895-1904. Also of interest are the promotional materials, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and brochures treating Asian culture.


Series 3. Political activities, 1882-1928 (boxes 53-64)

George S. Bowen's national political activities began with his support for the Greenback-Labor party in 1876, but only fragmentary documentation is available for the years prior to 1890. In the 1890s he became a supporter of bimetallism and an opponent of trusts. Bowen's correspondence with Silver Republicans, the National Committee of the Democratic Party, bimetallist clubs, and other organizations interested in the silver question is rich and wide-ranging. Also present are newspaper clippings, primarily for the years 1898-1899. Correspondence and ledgers for bimetallist publications are included (dating from 1895-1908) primarily in reference to The Commoner, a proposed daily newspaper, "Live Questions," and "The New Time." Bowen corresponded extensively with Frederick U. Adams, editor of "The New Time" and "New Occasions." Application books for dividend and non-dividend stock are also present in the collection for "The New Time" magazine. There are also many poems, songs and jingles written by various citizens about bimetallism from 1896-1928.


George S. Bowen's activities with the National Anti-Trust League are represented by correspondence, publications and organizational materials. The largest part of this correspondence between Bowen and other League officials, business leaders, and citizens across the country dates from Oct 1899 through February 1900. A significant amount of post-conference correspondence is included which relates to the conference proceedings, published and sold to the public by Bowen. Newspaper clippings and expense accounts for the conference are also present.


Information on various election campaigns is included for the years 1882-1900, including materials on Bowen's 1876 attempt to win election to Congress on the Peter Cooper ticket, as well as materials of the Campaign Polyphone Company, and a list of persons by state which is unidentified, but which may relate to Bowen's political activities.


Series 4. Bowen family papers, 1868-1920 (box 64-72)

The Bowen family personal papers, consisting primarily of letters to and from George S. and Julia Bowen, are organized by the author's names. Letters from George's parents Stephen and Lucinda Bowen, and from his brothers Asa, Chauncey, and James, and their children, are present, especially for the years 1870-1893. The largest portion of the series consists of George S. Bowen's personal correspondence referring to his business and professional ventures, his personal financial arrangements as the executor of several estates, and his social and civic activities, including the Mayoralty of Elgin in 1872 and 1873, the Young Men's Association, the Elgin Scientific Society, and church-related materials. The correspondence with his wife Julia Emma Byington Bowen and his son George Erwin Bowen concerns details of their family life in Chicago and Elgin during George S.'s frequent absences on business trips, and refers to business matters as well. Also present are his diaries for the years 1876, 1882, and 1884, documents concerning his bankruptcy in 1888, his fundraising work for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and news clippings on his family, business ventures, poetry, and spiritualism. Julia E. Bowen's correspondence and papers relating to her real estate are present, as well as the papers of George Erwin Bowen, which contains correspondence, diaries for the years 1877 and 1879, poetry, and materials on his patriotic work during World War I. The diaries of Erwin Byington, Julia E.'s brother, are present for scattered years from 1862 to 1875. Also included in this series are unidentified personal accounts from 1870-1871 and 1877-1880.


List of contents of the collection:


Abbreviations used in the following list:

shelf = oversize materials shelved at the end of the collection but listed in logical order. When requesting this material in the Research Center, please specify "shelf" and describe it in detail.

vol. = volume


Series 1. Entrepreneurial and investment records (boxes 1-47)

Subseries 1. Merchant and manufacturing records 1859-1900

box 1   biographical and historic data


1          Bowen Brothers (woolen merchants)

2          Bowen Brothers (woolen merchants) correspondence, 1859-1868

3          Bowen Brothers (woolen merchants) dissolution of company, Jan. 1, 1867

4          Bowen Brother (real estate) balance book, Apr. 1872-May 1877

5          Bowen Brother (real estate) cash, petty, Apr. 1872-July 20, 1875

6          Bowen Brother (real estate) cash, petty, Oct. 9, 1875-Jan. 22, 1876

7          Bowen Brother (real estate) correspondence, 1865-1874

8-9       Bowen Brother (real estate) correspondence, 1871-1875


box 2


1-3       Bowen Brother (real estate) correspondence 1876-June 1877

4          Bowen Brother (real estate) ledger 1875-1876 (1 vol.) Miscellaneous 1871-1876

5          Bowen Brother (real estate) ledger 1875-1876 (1 vol.) Tax Ledger, city tax 1872-1873

6-7       Bowen, Whitman & Winslow checking account Ledger Apr 1867-Dec 1871

8          Bowen, Whitman & Winslow correspondence 1866-1869


box 3


1          Financial Correspondence 1869-1870

2          Financial Correspondence 1870-1872

3          Bowen, Whitman & Hunt Correspondence 1870

shelf    Balance Book Nov 30, 1871-Jan 1 1875 (1 vol.)

shelf    Bills receivable Apr 1870-Dec 1873

4          Cash book Jan 4, 1876-Jan 1877

shelf    Collection register 1871-1873

5          Correspondence, June-July, Oct. 1870

6          Correspondence, Oct 1870

7-8       Correspondence, Nov 1870


box 4


1-6       Correspondence, Nov 1870


box 5


1-6       Correspondence, Nov 1870


box 6


1          Correspondence, 1870

2-3       Correspondence, Jan 1871

4          Correspondence, Apr-Dec 1871

5-6       Correspondence, Oct 1871


box 7


1-3       Correspondence, Oct 1871

4          Correspondence, Oct-Nov 1871

5-6       Correspondence, Oct-Dec 1871

7          Correspondence, Nov 1871


box 8


1          Bowen, Hunt and Winslow correspondence, Nov 1871

2-3       Bowen, Hunt and Winslow correspondence, Nov-Dec 1871

4-5       Bowen, Hunt and Winslow correspondence, Dec 6, 1871-Jan 4, 1872


box 9


1          Bowen, Hunt and Winslow correspondence, Dec 6, 1871-Jan 4, 1872

2-4       Bowen, Hunt and Winslow correspondence, Dec 1871

5          George S. Bowen's private letterbook Dec 1871-February 1875 (1 vol.)

6          1871


box 10


1-6       1871


box 11


1          1871

2          Jan 1872

3          Jan-February 1872


box 12


1          Jan-February 1872

            Jan-June 1872

3          February-Mar 1872


box 13


1          February-June 1872

2          Mar-May 1872

3          July-Dec 1872

4-5       1872


box 14


1-3       1872

4-6       1873

7-8       1873-1874

9-10     1874


box 15


1          1874

2          1875

2          1876

4          1877

5          1878

6          1879

7          1880

8          1881-1886

Financial accounts:

9          1864-1874

10        1876-1879 & undated

11        Miscellaneous accounts, receipts, invoices, ledgers, 1865-1900

shelf    General Journal: Feb 1870-June 1871 (1 vol.)

shelf    General Journal: June 1871-Jan 1875 (1 vol.)


box 16


1          Bowen, Hunts and Winslow Journal, 1872-1877


2          1862-1877

3          1865-1900

4          1872-1873

5          1872-1878

6-7       undated

8          George S. Bowen, Commission Merchant 1872-1877

Enos Brown & Co.:

9          Account book 1880

shelf    Balance book June 10, 1875-Dec 31, 1875

shelf    Cash book Jan 31, 1873-May 1875



box 17


1          Oct 21, 1871-February 22, 1872 (1 vol.)

2          1871-1873

3          February 22-June 5, 1872 (1 vol.)


box 18


1          June 5-Sept 14, 1872 (1 vol.)

2          July 30, 1872-Mar 21, 1874 (1 vol.)


box 19


1          Sept 14, 1872-Jan 13, 1873 (1 vol.)

2          Apr 18-Sept 13, 1873 (1 vol.)


box 20


1          Mar 27-July 3, 1874 (1 vol.)

2          Apr 22, 1874-Jan 26, 2876 (1 vol.)


box 21


1          July 1874 A-Z

1          Aug 1874 A-Z

3          Aug 3-Nov 20, 1874 (1 vol.)

4          Sept 1874 A-Z


box 22


1          Sept 1874 A-Z

2-3       Oct 1874 A-Z

4-5       Nov 1874 A-Z


box 23


1          Nov 20, 1874-Apr 16, 1875 (1 vol.)

2          Dec 1874 A-Z

3          1874 Miscellaneous

4          Jan 1875 A-Z


box 24


1          Jan-May 1875

2-3       February 1875 A-Z

4          Mar 1875 A-Z

5-6       Apr 1875 A-Z


box 25


1          Apr 16-Aug 11, 1875 (1 vol.)

2-3       May 1875 A-Z


4          June 1875 A-Z.


box 26


1          June 1875 A-Z

2          June-Dec 1875

3-4       July 1875 A-Z

5-6       Aug 1875 A-Z


box 27


1-2       Sept 1875 A-Z

3-4       Oct 1975 A-Z

5          Nov 1875 A-Z

6          1876


Shelf    Nov 18, 1870-Nov 24, 1871

Shelf    Nov 21, 1871-Oct 31, 1872

Invoice Book

7-9       1871-73


box 28


1          1871-73

2-4       Aug 15, 1871-Mar 10, 1873

5-6       Sept 26, 1873-Mar 10, 1875

7-8       Mar 10, 1875-Apr 17, 1876


box 29



1-2       July 1869-Dec 30, 1871

shelf    1870-1872

3          1871-1875

4          Legal matters, correspondence in re, with Charters and Crane, Attorneys

5-6       Miscellaneous

7          Receipts, personal 1868-1875

shelf    Receipts and sales 1872-1875

            Reynolds, Reed and Co. (later Reynolds, Brown and Co.):

Shelf                Journal May 4, 1869-Dec 16, 1871

Shelf                Ledger 1869-1871

Shelf                Receipts and sales 1869-1874

            Sales books:

8                      Aug 1, 1872-Dec 31, 1873


box 30


1                      Aug 1, 1872-Dec 31, 1873

2-4                   Nov 1, 1872-Aug 23, 1873

5-7                   Aug 25, 1873-June 15, 1874

8                      Jan 2, 1874-July29, 1876

9                      June 16-Oct 13, 1874


box 31


1-2                   June 16-Oct 13, 1874

3-5                   Apr 19-Aug 27, 1875

Enos Brown & Co.:

6          Telegraph messages, shipping and freight, receipts, accounting statements, etc.

7          Trial balance sheets, 1870-1876

8          Wool sales book Jan 11, 1872-Aug 7, 1873


box 32


1          Woolen goods pay book Oct 26 1871-Apr 22, 1872

Ira P. Bowen & Co.:

Shelf    Balance book 1870-1874 (1 vol.)

Shelf    Bryn, Bowen and Co. Ledger 1868-1871 (1 vol.)

Shelf    Cash book, Mar 1, 1870-June 29, 1872 (1 vol.)


2          1871-1875

3          February 25, 1871-Nov 10, 1873 (1 vol.)


Shelf    1871 (1 vol.)

Shelf    1874 (1 vol.)

4          February 1, 1873

5          Jan 1, 1874

Invoice on glass items:

6          Oct 9, 1871-February 1, 1873 A-Z


box 33


1          1872 A-Z

2          February 1, 1873-February 1, 1874 A-Z

3          Invoices Jan-Nov 1871

4          Receipts 1871-1875

5          Receipts 1872 H-Q


box 34


1          Savings accounts 1870-1874

Fox River Manufacturing Co.:

2          Agreement of incorporation

3          Contract of association

4          Correspondence, 1868-1876

5          Financial Materials 1867-1869


Series 1. Entrepreneurial and investment records, (box 1-47) - continued

Subseries 2. Elgin Railroad and Electric Company records, 1872-1904

box 34

Chicago & Pacific Railroad Company

6          Correspondence re traction systems for urban transit 1886-1902


7          1872-1880

8          1873-1880

9          Jan 7, 1880-February 14, 1881 (1 vol.)


box 35


1          February 18, 1881-Nov 2, 1882 (1 vol.)

2          1881-1887

3          1887-1900

4          Financial information 1873-1880

5          Legal agreements, contracts 1880-1902

6          Miscellaneous 1878-1902

Elgin Electric Light Company:

7          Ordinance from Elgin City council to electrify Elgin (and related material) 1883

Bills, invoices, telegrams:

8          1882-1889


box 36


1          1883-1886

2          Cash Book 1883-1888


3          1881-1882

4          Jan-May 1883

5          June-Sept 1883

5          Oct-Dec 1883

7          Jan-Apr 1884


box 37


1-3       Apr 16, 1884-Mar 16, 1885 (1 vol.)

4-7       May 1884-Sept 1885


box 38


1-6       Oct 1885-1890

Invoice Books:

7-8       1883-1884


box 39


1-2       1883-1884

3-6       1885-1886


box 40


1-4       1886-1888

5          Journal 1883, 1885

6-7       Ledger 1883-1885


box 41


1          Memo book 1883-1889

2          National Electric Light Association 1884-1904

3          National Survey 1883

4          Survey of public acceptance 1885


Series 1. Entrepreneurial and investment records, (box 1-47) - continued

Subseries 3. Insurance and real estate investment records, 1856-1900:

box 41

5 Charter Oak Life Insurance Co. 1877-1880


6          Correspondence

7          Policies, personal and business 1866-1891

8          Premium payments

Real estate:

9          Abstracts of titles


box 42


1          Abstracts/Examinations of titles


2          ca. 1860-1900

3          1869-1876


box 43


Legal documents:

1          Articles of agreement, correspondence 1856-1872

2          Articles of agreement, deeds, warranties, mortgages, etc. 1860s-1870s

3          Certificates, deeds, etc. 1860s-1870s

4          Correspondence, deeds, mortgages, etc. 1860s-1870s

5          Correspondence, deeds, warranties 1873-1880 & undated

6          Deeds, quitclaims, indemnity bonds, etc.

7          Deeds, mortgages, indentures of property 1860s-1870s

8          Memos on real estate

9-10     Miscellaneous bills and receipts


box 44


1          Miscellaneous

2          Opinions of titles

3          Promissory notes, claims, etc. re real estate and loans


4          Colorado, Washington Heights 1873



5          Cottage Grove Ave. 1871-1875

6          Isaac Parker Property 1870-1877

            Cook County:

7          Butters lots 1870-1875

8          Jackson lot 1869-1875


box 45


1          Iowa: Cherokee County

2          Iowa: Howard County 1868-1878

3          Iowa: Jones County

4          Iowa: Miscellaneous Iowa properties

5          Iowa: Packson County

6          Iowa: Sand Spring, Sand Spring Hotel

7          Miscellaneous

8          Taxes: Annual taxes

9          Taxes: Assessments, receipts-Bowen business and personal

10        Taxes: Hyde Park 1868, receipts

11        Taxes: Receipts and correspondence

12        Taxes: Vouchers, corner State and Madison 1872-1873

13        Taxes: Water tax 1868

14        Taxes: Accounts Daily accounts of cash on hand May-Oct 1871

            (Ira P. Bowen and Enos C. Bowen are mentioned)

15        Taxes: City book Oct 16, 1870-Aug 9, 1871


box 46


1-2       Cashbook Nov 26, 1872-1874


Series 1. Entrepreneurial and investment records, (box 1-47) - continued:

Subseries 4. Materials not identifiable by company, 1859-1918:

box 46 continued



3          1859-1875

4          1865-1888

5-6       1869-1880

7          1873-1880

8          Apr-June 1876


box 47



1          1867-1874

2-4       1872-1874

shelf    1912-1918

5          Ledger of names by state (wool business?) 1870s

6          Legal documents 1869-1870

7          Past due accounts 1872-1873

8          Bankruptcy document for George Bowen, James Bowen, and Chancy Bowen (M1949.0011?)


Series 2. Manufacturing associations, trade expansion and investments, 1870-1917 (box 48-53):

box 48


1          Alabama Fruit Growing and Winery Association Oct 1897-Mar 1900

American Association of Home Industries:

2          Correspondence Nov 1870-Nov 1878

3          Pamphlets, Miscellaneous May 1870-May 1878

International Cotton Exposition (Atlanta):

4          Correspondence July-Dec 1881& undated

5          Miscellaneous promotional material Oct-Dec 1881

6          Newspaper clippings Aug-Nov 1881

Far Eastern Investment:


7          Apr-Dec 1895

8          Apr-Nov 1896

9          February 1897-Dec 1898

10        February 1899-May 1902

11-12   Miscellaneous

13        Newspaper clippings

            North Pacific Trading Company:


box 49


1-2       Nov 1903-June 1904

3          Jan 1905-Aug 1909

4          undated

5          Financial records May-Oct 1904

6          Promotional materials, miscellaneous

7-8       Publications


box 50

Far Eastern Investments:

North Pacific Trading company:

1          Publications

2          Speeches, trade reports and related materials

Georgia-Alabama Investment and Development Company:


3          June-Dec 1891

4          Jan 1892-Jan 1901

5          Miscellaneous material

6          Newsclippings


box 51

1          Newsclippings

2          Pamphlets

3          Promotional material, miscellaneous

4          Publication proofs

5          Publications

6          Vinemont, Alabama, 1898, George S. Bowen and Son/Manufacturer's Association

Meeting May 22 1878.

7          Correspondence Jan-June 1899

8          Invitational materials, constitution and miscellaneous


Mexican Investments:

Compania de la Hacienda de Coahuayula:


9          June-Dec 1899

10        1899


box 52

Promotional material, description of Mexican property and related information 1884 Nov.-1889 June


2          Nov 1884-Apr 1898

3          Jan 1900-July 1902

4          Excursion of businessmen, correspondence Sept 1878-Jan 1 (?)

5          Gold mine and railroading financed through London

shelf    Newsclippings 1901-17 (1 vol.)

National and International Commercial Convention


6          Oct-Nov 1878

7          Nov 1878

8          Correspondence and convention materials

Credential of delegates, alphabetically by state:

9          Alabama-Kentucky

10        Louisiana-Wisconsin


box 53

1          Ledger and newsclippings of proceedings

2          Proceedings

3          Resolutions adopted, miscellaneous Oct 1878-Jan 1879

4          South American scheme Dec 1878-Aug 1890


Series 3. Political activities, 1882-1928 (boxes 53-64):

box 53 - continued:



5a        Account book 1893-1899

5          Articles from popular magazines

6          Bertram, G. Webb 1896: "Merchant of Venice"

7          Comments and Speeches (undated) of George S. Bowen

8          Correspondence February 1890-Oct 1900


box 54

1          Correspondence June 1895-June 1900

2          Handbills 1875-Sept 1896 & undated

3          Horr-Harvey Debate July 1895

4          Majority Rule League, Correspondence Nov 1897-Aug 1902

5          Newspaper clippings, 1892-93 (1 vol.)

6          Newspaper clippings, Apr-Dec 1894


box 55

1          Newspaper clippings, Jan 1895-Dec 1896

2          Newspaper clippings, Apr 1895-February 1898

3          Newspaper clippings, May 1897-Jamnuary 1900, & undated

4          Omaha Convention Nov 1875- Nov 1893

Organizations, correspondence:

5          Sept 1895-Mar 1897

6          Oct 1894-Dec 1895

7          July 1895-Aug 1900

8          Jan 1896-Nov 1896


box 56

1          Jan-May 1897

2          June-Dec 1897

3          Jan-Dec 1898

4          Aug 1898-Mar 1899

5          Jan 1899-Sept 1900

6          Newspaper clippings and pamphlets, list of contributors Apr 1895-May 1897

7          People's Party 1894 platform and campaign correspondence Aug-Nov 1894

8          Periodical subscription ledger 1898

9          Poems, songs, jingles submitted by the American public February 1896-June 1928 & undated

10        Political correspondence Nov 1894-Nov 1901

11        Printed items, General


box 57


1          Account book Sept 1896-Apr 1899

2          The Bimetallist, correspondence Oct 1895-Nov 1898

The Commoner:

3          June-July 14, 1897

4          July 15-Dec 1897

5          Subscription correspondence June-Aug 1897

6          Location 1894

General correspondence:

7          Oct 1876-Aug 1907

8          Oct 1879-Nov 1903


box 58



General correspondence

1          Oct 1890-Sept 1908

2          Oct 1891-Oct 1901

3          Mar 1895-Aug 1900

4          Jan 1897-Apr 1905 & undated

5          Jan 1897-July 1900

6          Oct 1897-July 1900

"Live Questions" correspondence

7          Mar 1899-June 1900


box 59

1          Mar 1899-June 1900

2          "The Money Question" correspondence Dec 1895-July 1897

3          "New Occasions" correspondence Dec 1895-July 1897

"New Time":

4          Application book for Dividend stock

            Nov 1897-Nov 1898

5          Application book for Non-dividend stock

            Nov 1897-Nov 1988


8          February 1897-May 1898


box 60

1          July 1897-May 1898

2          Jan-Mar 1899

3          Aug 1897-Aug 1900

4          Petty ledger 1898-99

5          Statements regarding the silver question

6          Campaign materials, miscellaneous 1882-1900

7          Campaign Polyphone Co.

National Anti-Trust Conference:

8          Cash book 1899-1900

9          Correspondence:

10        Jan-Sept 1899


box 61

1          Oct 1899

2          Nov 1899

3          Dec 1899

4          1889-1900

5          Jan 1900

6          Jan 1900

7          Jan 1900


box 62

1-4       Jan 1900

5-6       February 1900


box 63

1-3       February 1900

4          Expenses

5          Meeting Dec 13, 1899

6-7       Miscellaneous


box 64

National Anti-Trust Conference

1          Miscellaneous

2          Newspaper clippings

3          Organizational Material Dec 1899-Aug 1900

4          Pamphlets

Publications, correspondence:

5          Mar-May 1900

6          June-Sept 1900

7          Publications on trusts and monopolies, undated

8          Unidentified list of persons, by state


Series 4. Bowen family papers, 1868-1920 (box 64-72):

box 64 - continued:


9          Anna C. and T. H. Bowen correspondence 1871-75

Chauncey T. Bowen:

10        Correspondence 1871-93


box 65

1          Financial and legal materials 1974-77

George E. Bowen:


2          1871-1919

3          1892-1920

4          Diaries 1877, 1879

5-7       Miscellaneous


box 66

1          Poetry 1893-1903

2          World War I material 1917-1918

3          George H. Bowen correspondence 1871-1904

4          Addresses, notes, newsclippings on business, poetry and spiritualism 1873, 1880, 1900-02

5          Bankruptcy 1888

6          Calling cards and social invitations

7          Census material

8          Church-related material


9          A

10        Adams, F. U.

11        Auers, P. H. 1868-73

12        Avery, Susan Look

13        B


box 67

:1         Billings, A. M.

2          George E. Bowen 1879-1902

3          Julia E. Bowen 1877-1901

4          Bowles, John

5          Boyington, William

6          Clagett, William H.

7          C

8          D

9-11     Duncan, T. H.

12        E


box 68

1          F

2          G

3          Guyton, B. F.

4          H

5          Hamilton, W. T.

6          Honore, H.

7          Hoyt, J. W.

8          J

9          Jefferds, M. R.

19        K

11        L

12        Lamont, Charles A.


box 69

1          M-P

2          Proctor, Thomas H.

3          Randall, Robert E.

4          R

5          S

6          Smith, C. D.

7          Stolze, John

8          T

9          U-W

10        Vose, Richard H.

11        Wheelock

12        Y-Z


box 70

1          Diaries 1876, 1882, 1884

2          Elgin Scientific Society – Phrenology, Spiritualism, etc.


3          Hempseed Estate 1868-76

4          Jeffries, J. Jr. and Josiah Quincy 1874-76

5          Van Keuren, Mrs. M. 1869-76

6          Tuttle children estate (George S. Bowen, guardian) 1867-77

7          Tuttle estate 1870-76


box 71

1          Woodruff and Co., bankruptcy 1871-72

2          Mayor of Elgin/Greenback party

3          Miscellaneous 1871-95

4-8       Miscellaneous


box 72

1          Miscellaneous

2          News clippings

3          World's Columbian Exposition 1893

4          Young Men's Association 1865-1900 (Acc. # 49:11)

5          Ira P. Bowen correspondence 1872

6          James W. Bowen correspondence 1893-77

Julia E. Bowen:

7          Correspondence 1877-93

8          Real estate 1880

9          Lucinda W. Bowen correspondence 1881

10        Minnie H. Bowen

11        Nettie Bowen 1882

12        Stephen and Lucinda Bowen, correspondence 1865-98

13        Stephen T. Bowen correspondence 1865-98

14        Truman H. Bowen vouchers and life insurance 1873-77

Erwin Byington diaries:

15        1862, 1868-70

16        1871-75

17 Household accounts, unidentified family 1870-71, 1877-80


List of card catalog headings

The following subject headings were placed in the Manuscripts Room card catalog:

Main entry: George Stephen Bowen, 1829-1905




Bowen Brothers

Bowen, Hunt & Winslow


Businesses. Chicago

Calumet & Chicago Canal & Dock Co.

Chicago. Inter-State Industrial Exposition, 1873

Chicago. World's Columbian Exposition, 1893


Dry Goods. Chicago

Electric Utilities

Electric Utilities. Illinois

Elgin Electric Light Co.

Elgin, Illinois

Elgin Scientific Society



Illinois. Politics and Government

International Cotton Exposition, 1881. Atlanta




National and International Commercial Convention, Chicago, 1878

National Anti-Trust Conference, Chicago, 1900

National Anti-Trust League

National Greenback-Labor Party

Newspapers. Chicago. The Commoner

Periodicals. Chicago. The New Time

Populist Party


Publishers and Publishing. Chicago

Railroad Lines. Chicago & Pacific Railroad Co.


Real Property

Real Property. Chicago

Real Property. Illinois

Silver Question

Round Recording Industry. Chicago

Textile Industry and Fabrics

U. S. Commerce

U. S. Economic Conditions

U. S. Politics and Government.

Young Men's Association of Chicago. (box 72/folder 4)



Added entries:

Adams, Frederick Upham, 1859-1921

Altgeld, John Peter, 1847-1902

Bowen, Chauncey T., 1832-96

Bowen, George Erwin, -1934

Bowen, Ira Pardee, -1907

Bowen, James Harvey, 1822-81

Bowen, Enos

Compania de la Hacienda de Coahuayula

Jefferds, Colonel M. R.

Kerr, Charles H., 1860-

Mori, Hiroishi

North Pacific Trading Company

Vanderpoele Electric Manufacturing Company