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|Size||10.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 7400 items)|
|Abstract||Correspondence, financial and legal items, diaries, photographs, and other materials of six generations of the Sours and related families. Much material relates to the Rev. John Dickson Sours (1815-1912), Methodist circuit rider, minister, and teacher of Adams County, Pa., and to the descendents of iron-worker and Civil War soldier Jacob Sours (1823-1888) of Virginia and Ohio. Included are materials that document the lives and careers of Mary Bowling (d. 1956), Alabama teacher, World War II soldier, and long-time music student; genealogist Noland Hubbard Bowling (b. 1886); librarian Sarah Bowling Holland (b. 1910), who was graduated from the University of North Carolina Library School and worked in several southern states; Adam Sours (1836-1888), who went to California to mine gold; Margaret Emma Sours (1859-1926), who taught school in rural Pennsylvania; and other members of the Sours family and the related Bowling, Holland, Hubbard, and other families.|
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The Sours, or Sowers, family members are descendants of Adam Siers, an iron worker born in Germany (circa 1720) who settled in Mary Ann Furnace, Pennsylvania, about 1770. His son Paul (circa 1755-1840) worked as a blacksmith in Adams County, Pennsylvania, married Magdalena Thron, or Trone, and had ten children. Paul's second son, Adam Sowers II (1782-1851) became a hatter, married Mary Dickson (1783-1864), and took over part of the Dickson farm in Cumberland County near Idaville, Pennsylvania. Nine children, four of whom appear as correspondents in this collection, were born to this marriage. The third son, John Dickson Sours (1815-1912), is the primary author and recipient of most of these papers.
John Dickson Sours was born on the family farm. As a young man, he followed his older brother Paul (1812-1874) to Findlay, Ohio, where he learned carpentering. While there, he became a Methodist. He returned to Idaville in 1841 to make his headquarters with his parents while he served as a Methodist circuit rider and rural school teacher. In 1856, he married Anna Mary Mears (1828-1917) and brought her to live at the family home. In 1869, he moved to Mechanicsburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania. He supplemented his meager church and school income by selling books and wagon spokes, by shoemaking, and by various other short-lived enterprises. His avocation was writing religious verse. He was interested in genealogy and compiled a history of the Sours family. Of his six children, two sons and a daughter died in childhood. Two daughters, Margaret Emma (1859-1926) and Laura Myrtle (1863-1923), and a son, Benjamin Franklin Mears (1863-1956), never married, but lived together in the parental home.
M. Emma, as she was known, became a teacher serving in rural schools in southern Pennsylvania. L. Myrtle apparently never worked outside the home. Frank worked for thirty years in a wheel factory in Mechanicsburg, then for eighteen years as a clerk with the Elliot-Fisher Company, an office supply firm that went out of business in 1931. Thereafter, he was supported by Pennsylvania Family Assistance and spent his last fourteen years in the Methodist Home for the Aged in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Myrtle and Frank shared their father's penchant for writing verse. Frank is said to have produced 11,214 poems, some of which were published in religious periodicals, mostly gratis. He, too, was an amateur genealogist and completed the family history that his father had begun. Most of this generation's social life centered around church meetings, camp meetings, and church conferences.
Little is known about Anna Mary Mears Sours, John Dickson's wife, except that she came from a family of "old-time Methodists" and that her father seems to have been a fairly prosperous farmer.
Three siblings of John Dickson Sours, son of Adam and Mary Dickson Sours, are well represented in these papers. Margaret (1808-1894), oldest child of Adam and Mary Dickson Sours, married Henry Whitezel, a blacksmith from York Springs, and settled in Centerville, Pennsylvania. They had one son, Adam (1836-1888). In 1851, Adam went to California with family friends, prospected on the Yuba River, prospered, married, was widowed, and died in 1888 of smallpox. In 1860, Henry paid a brief visit to his son in California. Later, in 1867, blacksmithing being slow in Pennsylvania, he returned to California to seek work, settled in Oregon, and died there in 1876. Margaret, meanwhile, remained in the family home in Centerville. After hearing of her son's death, she moved to nearby California, Pennsylvania, for the remaining six years of her life.
Lena (Magdalena) Sours (1813-1900) kept house for her parents until she married John D. McKinney, a widower with three children. Her only child died of scarlet fever in infancy. She lived as a farm wife in Wenksville, Pennsylvania. She was very devout and practiced her faith by taking several "unfortunate" young women into her home.
William Sours (1818-1903), the fifth son of Adam and Mary, kept up a correspondence with John Dickson and his family, much of which is included in these papers. He was a blacksmith and moulder who worked at various furnaces in Pennsylvania before moving to Virginia in 1844. He worked at foundries in New Market and Mt. Jackson, Virginia, then set up business with his younger brother Jacob in 1851 at Rocky Mount. In 1849, he received a patent for the design of a cooking range and, the same year, married Mary Ann McAllister of Virginia. When the Rocky Mount foundry was destroyed by a flood, William moved to Big Lick (now Roanoke), where he bought a foundry. In 1860, he bought land at Whitmell, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, on which he raised tobacco and where his family lived while he worked in various foundries. During the Civil War, he worked in railroad shops in western Virginia and North Carolina. After the war, he rented a foundry in Leatherwood, Virginia, with his son Charles Dickson Sours (1857-1939). William died at Whitmell in 1903.
Charles Dickson Sours (1857-1939) worked with his father at the Leatherwood foundry until its owners moved it to Martinsville, Virginia, in 1883. He moved with the foundry and worked there until 1891, when he returned to Leatherwood, bought the old foundry, and went into business for himself. He held the post of justice of the peace in the district for many years. He married twice and had thirteen children, ten of whom reached maturity. One of his younger daughters, Belva Cornelia Sours Uppercue (b. 1909) is the author of two unpublished poetry manuscripts and family reminiscences that are included in the collection (volumes 51 and 52). Charles's grandson, the Reverend William Edwin Winn (b. 1927), a Presbyterian clergyman of Laurinburg, North Carolina, is the donor of these papers.
Jacob Sours (1823-1888), brother of John Dickson Sours, moved to Virginia in 1848 and followed the family trade of iron working. He was drafted into the Confederate Army, but was assigned to work as foreman of the foundry at the Ordnance Works at Salisbury, North Carolina. After the Civil War, he settled in Chatham, Virginia, where he had a farm and also a share in a foundry and machine shop. His oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth (1852-1928), married John Mitchell Hubbard and was the mother of Noland Hubbard Bowling (b. 1886) who wrote Meet Your Ancestors: Siers, Sours, Sowers and Allied Families, privately published in 1981 (volume 53).
Sarah Bowling, daughter of Noland Hubbard Bowling, was a librarian. She began her training at Howard University in 1930, and, after a brief period of teaching in Alabama, went to library school at the University of North Carolina. After graduation, she worked at the Women's College in Greensboro. Returning to Alabama, she met and married the Reverend Wylie Malcolm Holland, a widower with a nine-year-old-son named James. Sarah continued to work as a librarian, first at Tulane, then in Pell City, Alabama, and finally at the University of Tennessee. She also was interested in genealogical research.
Mary Bowling, daughter of Noland Hubbard, pursued many careers during her lifetime, beginning as a teacher in Alabama. She then joined the army where she trained as a radio operator and saw active duty in World War II. After the war, she studied piano for a year at the Julliard School in New York. Mary then moved back to Alabama for health reasons. There she met and married Robert Pellerin in 1952. She died in 1956.
Jacob's great-grandson, William Merchant Sours (b. 1933), a surveyor of Hampton, Virginia, son of Charles Gray Sours, Jr., and grandson of Jacob's eldest son, Charles Gray Sours, continued the family genealogical studies and published The History of the Sours Family in Germany, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in 1977 (volume 52).
GENEALOGICAL CHART: Siers-Sours Family
These papers consist chiefly of correspondence among Sours family members. The letters have been grouped into series by recipient and arranged as follows:Back to Top
John Dickson Sours made his living as a Methodist minister and school teacher, supplementing his income in various ways, but chiefly by selling books. His avocations were writing verse, letters, and, in his later years, genealogy.
Letters from JDS's grand-niece Noland. The correspondence tells of her trials as a student and expresses her thoughts on religion and concern over her uncle's health problems.
Letters from JDS's niece Mary Elizabeth (Mollie).
Letters from Magdalena (Lena) Sours McKinney, discussing family news and going into great detail about her daily life in Wenksville, Pennsylvania. Lena was deeply religious, and the church was her chief social outlet. She also wrote particularly vivid descriptions of family illnesses and home remedies.
Letters from JDS's brother Adam, including brief notes about family health. In a letter, dated 1850, he discussed early surgical techniques. Other letters tell of his attempts to become a tailor and of land acquisitions. A 1857 letter tells of his inability to loan John money in his times of need.
Letters from JDS's daughter Emma. After 1880, the correspondence deals with events that took place after Emma left home. Beginning in 1881, letters detail her teaching career in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which included such duties as tending the fire, finding sleigh rides home in poor weather, and preparing lectures. In addition to daily activities, there are accounts of religious sermons.
Letters from JDS's brother Samuel. A tailor, he wrote mostly of religious revivals, family news, and weather conditions. Samuel moved from Ohio to Virginia after the Civil War, but later moved to St. Joseph, Missouri. Samuel switched from independent tailoring to a large company in 1884.
Letters from JDS's brother Paul. Early letters describe the efforts to encourage family members to settle in Ohio. Letters describe conditions in Findley, Ohio, ranging from health considerations to the quality of church services, the cost of living, and the availability of social services. Many letters discuss the Civil War and its impact on trade. Also included are letters written by Paul Sours's daughter, Eugenia Margaret Sours (1845-1914).
William Sours's correspondence reflects his problems as an itinerant, and later master, foundryman. In these letters, he discussed economic conditions in Virginia and frequently commented on political developments. Following a letter dated 12 December 1861 about Virginia's secession from the Union, there are only a few communications until the end of the Civil War. William kept the Pennsylvania family apprised of the activities of his two younger brothers, Jacob and Samuel, who had also moved to Virginia.
Margaret Sours Whitezel's letters to John Dickson Sours relate her daily life, church meetings, and news about other family members. She frequently quoted portions of letters she had received, especially from her son Adam, who migrated at the age of fifteen to California in 1851. Her husband's letters also provided her with material to pass along in 1860 and again after his departure for the West in 1867. Thus, her correspondence provides glimpses of life in post-gold-rush California and in Oregon, where her husband settled in the 1870s. Her letters from the 1860s reflect the effects of the Civil War on her town, Centerville, Pennsylvania.
Mary Winders, daughter of Adam Sours, chiefly discussed the day to day activities of her family in Ohio.
Letters from JDS's niece, concerning family illnesses and other family and school news.
Letters from JDS's niece Mary telling him about her school work and family activities.
Materials from 1841 through the 1850s are communications from church associates concerning JDS's circuit-riding and the activities of the local Methodist teacher in "subscription" schools. There are also letters from book dealers and from suppliers and customers relating to his other business ventures. After his marriage in 1856, there are fewer items relating to circuit-riding, but church and conference matters remain important subjects. After 1875, most letters are from Reverend Sours's children and from members of his extended family. Late in life, his interest in genealogy deepened, and his circle of correspondents consequently widened to include distant relations scattered throughout the United States.
Arrangement: by type.
Folders 60 through 64 contain financial and legal Papers, chiefly bills, receipts, and promissory notes, as well as teacher's certificates and contracts (the latter through the 1870s). In addition, there are printed materials, flyers, advertisements, newspaper clippings (folder 65), a variety of drafts of poems and sermons, sketches, penmanship exercises, notes, formal announcements of weddings and commencements, invitations, and greeting cards (folders 66-67).
JDS's teaching experience and other activities are documented in his diary (folder 68). Many entries are undated and the years covered by this volume are unclear. Other volumes relate primarily to financial transactions, but also reflect Sours's tendancy to jot down ideas as they occurred to him. His account and cash books frequently contain Biblical references, notes for sermons, and poems, aides-memoires, and so forth. Notebooks (from 10 to 50 pages) in folders 69 through 73 are predominantly account books. Folder 74 contains account books consisting primarily of religious and pedagogical scribbles. Folder 75 contains a Sunday School class-book. Folder 76 contains two day-books, two address books, and two miscellaneous notebooks.
There are only a few letters addressed to Anna Mary Sours (Mrs. John Dickson Sours); the majority are addressed to her husband and begin, "Dear Brother and Sister," or "Dear Father and Mother." Her correspondence is almost exclusively from family members.
B.F.M., or Frank Sours, John D. Sours's only son to live to maturity, apparently led a quiet life. His correspondence consists chiefly of greeting cards and social announcements. He wrote many poems, primarily of a religious nature, which he reportedly gave to Brown University. After the deaths of his sisters, his chief interest was genealogy. Distant relatives supplied him with family data. In 1930, he sent out a form letter offering copies of the family history (begun by his father), which he had just completed. Much of this correspondence consists of responses to that offer. Other correspondence relates to his efforts to sell his verses, and, after 1932, to apply for financial relief from Pennsylvania State Assistance. Other papers include greeting cards, invitations, advertisements, religious printed material, and other miscellaneous items.
Letters from B. F. Sours cousin, Noland. Most of the letters discuss family matters and deaths. One letter, dated 28 February 1929 discusses Noland's genealogical book, which was published in 1981.
Laura Myrtle Sours's Papers, like those of her brother, consist primarily of correspondence from her parents, siblings, and a few cousins and aunts. During her mature years, 1911-1923, her correspondents included Sunday School pupils, church associates, and more distant relatives. Other papers include bills, receipts, magazine subscriptions, and a temperance pledge.
Letters relate to daily events, including health, school, weather, elections, prices, and also relay information about other family members.
Letters from other family members.
Items include bills, receipts, magazine subscriptions, and a temperance pledge.
Margaret Emma Sours spent several years as a teacher in rural schools in southern Pennsylvania, boarding in her school districts. She also attended camp meetings and church institutes. After her parents' deaths, she lived with her brother and sister in the family home. Her papers consist of correspondence and other papers. The latter comprise a few bills, a report of the Royal Temperance Society, and greeting cards and announcements.
Letters from Margaret's aunt Catherine discuss her health, her religious devotion, daily events, and other news.
Letters from Margaret's father J.D. Sours.
Letters from Margaret's sister Myrtle. Letters detail daily events, including news about church associates and distant relatives.
Letters from other family members.
Reports from the temperance legion, a diploma, and financial records.
Letters to Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) Hubbard, daughter of Jacob Sours, who married James Mitchell Hubbard and had four children: Travis, Noland, Carson, and Sallie. The letters discuss daily family activities. Also included are Sunday school records kept by Mollie.
Noland Hubbard, wife of Robert Bowling, kept up an extensive correspondence with various family members. Her husband Robert Bowling, who died in 1959, was a professor at Judson College. Noland moved in with her son Robert in 1970, and began working on the family genealogy. A prolific writer, she continued her correspondence past her 100th birthday.
Letters from Noland's daughter Mary relating to her various career goals and health problems.
Letters from Noland's son Robert and his wife Lois.
Letters to Noland and Robert from their son-in-law Malcolm. Early letters reflect the relationship between Malcolm and the Bowlings before his marriage to Sarah.
Letters to Noland from her daughter Sarah. Sarah wrote frequently to her parents after she left home in 1930. These letters tell of her experience as a librarian and her attempts to raise a family, including problems with her step-son James. In her later years she exchanged genealogical information with her mother. This extensive correspondence documents Sarah's life and her relationship with her mother over a fifty-eight year period.
Carson Hubbard, Noland's brother, left business school and moved to Canada, where he adopted the nickname "Hit." Letters describe the conditions in Canada, chiefly the cold conditions and Carson's prospecting activities.
Letters from Noland's mother Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) relate to daily events. One letter, dated October 1914, discusses race relations.
Letters from Noland's sister Sallie.
Letter from Noland's uncle Paul Sours giving a detailed account of the descendants of Adam and Mary Sours.
Letters from Charles, Noland's cousin about family matters and some genealogy.
Letters from Noland's cousin Belva. Most of her letters are concerned with domestic matters and genealogical material. But she also discusses race relations in a 1965 letter.
Letters from Noland's cousin chiefly concerning family and church matters.
Letters to Noland and Robert from other family members
Included are letters from non-family members and miscellaneous letters written by Noland to individuals not otherwise mentioned in this collection.
Mary Bowling received a Master's Degree in French from the University of Alabama, after which she taught at Camp Hill, Alabama. During World War II, she enlisted in the army, which sent her back and forth across the country before settling her in England. After the war, Mary studied piano at the Julliard School in New York. She halted her studies when she became obsessed with earning enough money to buy a Steinway. Failing in that quest, she returned to Alabama, where she met and married Robert Pellerin.
Letter from Mary's mother Noland gives a detailed portrait of events occuring in 1949.
Letters from Mary's sister Sarah discuss daily events of college life and Sarah's first years as a librarian.
Letters from other family members.
Correspondence between Mary and non-family members pertaining to a wide variety of interests and plans.
Chiefly bank statements.
Robert Bowling, a farmer, married Lois Worley and had two children, Blair and Linda. Robert was wounded while serving in World War II. After 1970, Robert's mother Noland moved in with the family; letters after that date were obviously meant to be read to her.
Mary, Robert's sister, wrote letters telling of her adventures as a teacher.
This letter was also sent to Robert's sisters and is an account of family activities.
Letters to Robert and Lois from Robert's sister Sarah. After 1974, the letters become more formal, since they were to be read to their mother Noland.
Two letters, one announcing the marriage of Robert's sister Mary and the other from Robert's niece acknowledging receipt of "some green stuff."
Sarah Bowling worked primarily as a librarian in several states including Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee. In 1945, she married Reverend Wylie Malcolm Holland, who had a nine-year old son, James, from a previous marriage.
Letters from Sarah's sister Mary describing her adventures as a teacher, soldier, and pianist. She tells of her efforts to find her brother in England and to buy a Steinway in New York.
Letters from Sarah's mother Noland and some from her father Robert Bowling recounting events in their lives and relaying information from other family members and friends.
Letters from Sarah's brother Robert.
Letters to Sarah from her husband after they were married, and a letter from Malcolm's father to Sarah.
Letters from other family members.
Letters to and from Sarah to non-family members.
Itinerary, school work assignments, and information relating to the Bowling Memorial Library.
Susan Holland married Ronald Noah with whom she had two children: Rebeckah (b. 1967) and Elizabeth Christine (b. 1978). Most of these letters date from her teenage years.
Letters to Susan from her grandmother about daily activities and events.
Letters to Susan from her mother Sarah. Many of these letters were sent to Susan during a childhood visit to Noland.
Letters from other family members.
Letters, 1842-1984 and undated, from miscellaneous family members and other persons. The majority of the correspondence provides details of daily family life and social activities, which were usually church-related. The Creightons, who were related to the Sours, are represented by letters, 1794-1852, pertaining to William Creighton of Kentucky, and to his son, William Creighton, Jr.
This series contains genealogical correspondence between members of recent generations, genealogical notes, deeds, and photocopies of documents concerning family history. Correspondence is chiefly between Noland Hubbard Bowling and other family members. An item worthy of note is an unsigned draft of a letter urging the release of Samuel Sours from a federal prison camp, apparently in 1864. The miscellaneous material includes a bond relating to Adam Sours, 1845; photocopies from the National Archives of a patent issued to William Sours for the design of an iron stove, 1849, and of the Civil War records of a William Sours; notes; and some vital statistics information about family members.
For volumes relating specifically to John Dickson Sours, see Subseries 1.13 (volumes 1a - 49).
Processed by: Anne von Storch, August 1986; Robert Foster, April 1988; Roslyn Holdzkom, July 1988; Chuck Israel, January 1989
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