Great-Grandmother Eva

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Eva Bowers

Eva Bowers

Today I’m honoring my great-grandmother Eva Reinhardt.  Eva was born in Heidelberg, Baden, Germany to Johann Konrad Reinhardt and Anna Maria Schwebler on February 14, 1877. [1] Eva came to the United States when she was almost two years old.[2]  Her brother John was born on the boat.[3]  Her first home in the United States was in Amana, Iowa.[4]  They spent a few years in Amana and then moved to Ottawa, Illinois where Eva grew up with her brothers and sisters.[5]  I’ve already written about her sisters, Emma, Liz, and Agnes.  It seems that all of them lived interesting lives.  Eva grew into a young woman and sometime around 1896 she married Robert Bowers also of Ottawa, Illinois.[6]  The family story is that Robert and Eva ran off to Chicago to be married.  I have never been able to find a marriage record for them in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. According to family stories, Robert’s family never accepted Eva as his wife or acknowledged that any of the children were Roberts.  I started to wonder if they were ever really married and that is why Robert’s family didn’t want anything to do with Eva or their children.  However, when Robert’s father died, Robert and Eva as his wife signed a quit-claim deed to a piece of property to Robert’s mother.[7]  I was told that if they were not married, Eva would not need to sign the quit-claim deed.  Perhaps they were married somewhere other than Chicago.  Robert and Eva had three children, Ralph born in 1897,[8] Helen in 1898[9] and Frances in 1900. [10]  Shortly after Frances was born Robert left Eva.  Again family stories say they were divorced, however I have never found divorce records for them.  In 1900 Eva was on her own and had to make a living for her and her three kids.  According to the 1900 census she and two of her children are boarding with Enoch and Anna Lindstrom and her occupation is Milliner.[11]  One of the children missing is my grandmother, and I haven’t been able to figure out where my grandmother was living.  I checked the logical place with her maternal grandparents and she is not with them.  I remember my Aunt Fran talking about how her mother sent her to live with some people in Wisconsin and when her mother went to get her back, the people didn’t want to give her back.  I don’t remember Aunt Fran’s age when this happened, but Aunt Fran said she loved these people and didn’t remember her mother anymore.  So she didn’t want to leave them, however Eva got her back.  Maybe she sent my grandmother, Helen, to live with someone before she sent Frances to live with someone else.  I’m sure financially things were hard as there was no welfare or food stamps for single mothers in those days.  Sometime later she moved to Chicago where she took in boarders and was a dressmaker.  They moved to Oklahoma for a while and were in Oklahoma when it became a state.[12]  Eventually they came back to Chicago.  According to my grandmother, Eva married a man by the name of Andrew Schmidt.  He was supposed to be a doctor.  I have not found evidence of this marriage either.  Unfortunately, when my grandmother told these stories I was young and not into genealogy so I didn’t ask questions.  Now I wish I had dates of this supposed marriage.  They divorced too, however Eva didn’t use the surname Schmidt.  Eva went by the surname Bowers until the day she died.  She managed to support her children and they all adored her.  She died in 1941 and according to her death certificate she was widowed[13]  I never knew her, but not only did her children adore her so did her grandchildren.  I have some quilts she made and some candle stick holders that belonged to her.   I hope one day to find answers to questions that linger about her mysterious marriages and divorces.

Quilt made by Eva

Quilt made by Eva

Another quilt made by Eva

Another quilt made by Eva

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[1] Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.

[2] Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filbry, ed., Germans to America: List of passengers arriving at U.S. ports, Volume 34 October 1878 – December 1879; ( Wilmington, Delaware, Scholarly Resources,1993), Page 106.

[3] Ibid

[4] Conrad Reinhardt household, 1880 U. S. Census, Amana, Iowa; Roll 345; Family History Film 1254345; page 146D; Enumeration District 201; Image 0155.

[5] From family stories told to this author.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Quit-claim deed record from Robert Bowers and Eva Bowers, his wife to Alexena Bowers, City of Ottawa, County of LaSalle, state of Illinois; deed book 448, page 167.  LaSalle County Illinois Genealogical Guild collection.

[8] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[9] Delayed Record of Birth for Helen Bowers, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statics, LaSalle County, City of Ottawa, State of Illinois, Date of Birth: December 3, 1898, Dated August  7, 1957.

[10] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[11] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[12] Story told to this author by Helen Bowers Kaiser.

[13] Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.

Copyright ©2015 Gail Grunst

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About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

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