The following article was taken from The Highmore Herald. They were running a series of articles on Pioneer Daughters. This was written by Erma Raske (niece) as told by Bessie Meigs Stowell (#1286).
Born to SylvanusR. (#875) and Georgiana Bates Meigs on July 15, 1867 in a small log cabin near Malcom, Iowa. Lived here until 1869 when she moved with her parents into a larger home on the same farm. This home was located on a state road, one mile from the school house where she received her early education, attending from the time she was four years old and so small for her age she was often carried to and from school by an uncle and a neighbor boy.
One winter evening when the parents had returned from town, they found the fires all out and the house cold so they built up a good cob fire to get warm before going to bed. In the night the mother awoke to smell smoke and they barely escaped from the burning building only managing to save a few belongings.
They lived for a time with Grandma Meigs until another house owned by the family was vacated so they could move into it. Bad luck struck again when this house caught fire and only the quick action on the part of the hired girl saved it when she crawled to the roof and poured on water that was carried to her by the children.
Bessie moved with her parents and brothers and sister to a homestead in Dakota Territory in the spring of 1883, this claim being located seven miles south west of Highmore station. Here, too, the children went to a small country school, gaining as much education as possible for those days.
In 1887 Sylvanus Meigs was elected to the office of Sheriff and moved part of the family, including Mrs. Meigs, Bessie, Simeon, Frank and baby Austin into town, leaving the farm in the hands of Sylvester and Zillah.
Bessie was anxious to finish her education so she could become a teacher and realized that ambition in 1892 when she taught a three month spring term in Douglas township living with a family near the school. This home was a tiny, two room sod shanty and she occupied a cot in the only bedroom, while the two little boys of the family shared it with her, sleeping in a bed on the floor.
The next fall she taught a term in Highmore township and lived at home, buying a pony which she rode back and forth.
That winter after school, she returned to Malcom and visited her Aunts and Uncles and their families until It was time to return for the spring term.
This term of school was taught in Sedgwick township where she boarded with a Hunt family.
Rose Foote, Earl McLaughlin, Jim and Will VanCamp all taught school in or near this township and Jim, Rose and Bessie all boarded at the same home. They had a very pleasant time that season often attending the neighborhood dances.
One school, the pupils were all from Bohemian families, except for one boy, Jim Morton who felt superior to the rest and tried to bluff the teacher. Bessie promptly persuaded him with her riding whip that she was still boss and thereby became the champion of all the older boys in the school. This term ended about the time her fathers term of office ended and as he needed his family on the farm with him, she went back there to live. He gave her the privilege of raising horses to sell for spending money and she proved herself an able horsewoman, often driving horses the men couldn't handle.
The summer of 1907 her father built a lovely new home in Highmore and moved into it that Fall with all his family.
Here he enjoyed his home until February 1908 when he contracted pneumonia and passed away. Bessie lived here in this home with her mother until Mrs. Meigs passed away in January 1911. That summer Austin and his family took over the home and Bessie continued living with them until her marriage on November 12, 1919 to Erwin A. Stowell. They started their married life in a small home near the west edge of Highmore. During this first year Erwin, a carpenter by trade, built them a new home on Bessie's lots just to the north of the Meigs family home and here they resided for many years.
At the beginning of the early 1930's a depression caused a slump in building and jobs became scarce for all. Erwin decided to go to the West Coast into the logging sections to get work. When he was successful Bessie disposed of her household goods, stored her most prized possessions at her brother Austin's home, rented her home and prepared to leave for the West Coast, too.
She left, riding with a niece Mary and her husband Don Wareing and family, in their car on November 14, 1936. After a five day trip they arrived in Portland, Oregon where they stayed with relatives until after Thanksgiving.
On December 1 she left for Seattle where Erwin was then situated. For a time they lived in a rooming house and took their meals out but soon tired of that and moved to an apartment. They only stayed here for two weeks when they left for Marysville where Erwin and Donald could be closer to their logging jobs. They lived in cabins on the shore of beautiful Lake Stevens and since this was a new experience to Bessie she enjoyed every minute of It.
Many young people spent happy hours here and Bessie enjoyed their enjoyment, since never having a family of her own, she loved all young people. They stayed here until in May when they had to move for the tourist season.
They then moved into an apartment at Locksloy on the same Lake and here they lived for two years. Social life was pleasanter here too and she joined a whist club which her land lady belonged to. They raised a large garden and canned many vegetables and fruit.
They lived in several other apartments and cabins for a time and then Erwin suffered a broken leg while logging, and they were out of work for a while. During this time an old gentleman friend asked them to care for his small farm and home after his wife had died, and here they lived until Erwin was able to once again go to work. They finally were able to save enough money for a nice 5 room house in Everett, Washington. Erwin used his carpenter's skill in improving it and sold it in about six months making a sizable profit.
They then moved to Central Oregon near Redmond, where they lived on a small ranch while Erwin worked at his old carpenter trade in and around Redmond. They were soon able to buy a small farm with water rights and he began building up the buildings on it. They were able to move into this little four room cottage in the summer of 1948, and here she lived until her death on Sept 9, 1950.
They had no children.
Copyright (c) by Rick Meigs