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Turnbull-Bowman-Lyons Family Papers

(Mss. 4026)



Biographical/Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Series Descriptions

Index terms


Size. 3.5 linear feet.

Geographic locations. Louisiana, California, Cuba, Manilla.

Inclusive dates. 1797-1955.

Bulk dates. 1820-1910.

Languages. English, Spanish.

Summary. Correspondence, financial papers, legal documents, plantation management papers, personal papers, and printed and graphic materials document the lives of members of the Turnbull, Bowman, Lyons, Barrow, Matthews, and Stirling families. These related families had sugar and cotton plantation and other properties in West Feliciana Parish, Iberville Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Source. Purchased, 1987.

Access. No restrictions.

Related collections. Turnbull-Bowman Family Papers (Mss. #4452) Turnbull-Allain Family Papers (Mss. #4261)

Copyright. Physical rights are retained by the LSU Libraries. Copyright of the original materials is retained by the creators, or their descendants, of the materials in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Citation. Turnbull-Bowman-Lyons Family Papers, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Stack designations. C:113-115, OS:T

Biographical/Historical Note


The Turnbull and Bowman families were cotton and sugar planters with properties in West Feliciana, Iberville, and Pointe Coupee Parishes of Louisiana. Daniel Turnbull (1796-1861), son of English immigrant, John Turnbull, founded Rosedown Plantation in 1835. He also operated Styopa, Catalpa, Middleplace, Hazelwood, Grove, Inheritance, Woodlawn, and De Soto plantations. He lived on Rosedown Plantation with his wife, Martha Hilliard Barrow Turnbull (1809-1896), and their children, James Daniel (1836-1843), Daniel, William B., and Sarah (1831-1914). Martha, an avid horticulturist, established the extensive gardens at Rosedown.

The Turnbull and Bowman families were connected by the marriage of Sarah Turnbull to James Pirrie Bowman. James was the son of Eliza Pirrie and her second husband, William R. Bowman (1800-1835), rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Saint Francisville. Eliza and William also had a daughter, Isabell (married William Wilson Matthews). Eliza's first marriage to her cousin, Robert Hilliard Barrow (1795-1823), produced a son, Robert H. Barrow, Jr. (b. 1824). In 1840 Eliza married her third husband, Henry Lyons, a lawyer from Philadelphia. They had three children, Cora, Lucie, and Eliza. The children's half sister, Isabell, cared for them after their mother's death in 1851. Lyons practiced law in West Feliciana with F. A. Boyle. He was also associated with John Bennett Dawson (1800-1845), a relative (uncle?) of Martha Turnbull. Dawson, owner of Wyoming Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, was a member of the Louisiana Legislature from 1826 to 1828, a Parish Judge, from 1827 to 1828, a candidate for governor in 1834, and a member of the U.S. Congress from 1843 to 1845. In the 1840s Lyons traveled to San Francisco where he speculated in real estate and later served on the Supreme Court of California.

James P. Bowman operated Frogmoor and Bayou Grosse Tete plantations in Pointe Coupee Parish. James, Sarah, and their family lived on Rosedown Plantation with Martha Turnbull. Sarah's children included Martha (b. 1858), Eliza (1859 or 60-1907, called "Sly" and "Lilie," she married George Shotwell), Sarah (b. 1861, called "Sadie"), Daniel T. (b. 1862), Anna K. (b. Sept. 8, 1864, she married Mr. Fort), Nina (b. 1869), James P. Bowman, Jr. (b. 1869), Corrie (1872-1929), and Bella M. (b. 1876). The Forts resided on Catalpa Plantation. Nina Bowman ran a small nursery business in the 1920s. She sold azaleas, camellias, and other plants. Daniel T. Bowman enlisted in the Army with the 1st Montana Regiment Volunteers, Co. C., on July 15, 1898, and was stationed in Manilla. James P. Bowman shared an interest in Cuba with John Sidney Thrasher (1817-1879), author and editor.

Note: For more biographical information, see the Biographical/Historical Notes of the inventories for the Turnbull-Bowman Family Papers (#4452) and the Turnbull-Allain Family Papers (#4261), Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries.

Scope and Content Note


Correspondence, plantation management papers, financial papers, legal documents, personal papers, and printed and graphic materials spanning from 1797 to 1955 document the lives of members of the Turnbull, Pirrie, Lyons, Bowman, and to a lesser extent, the Barrow, Stirling, and Fort families. Correspondence discusses plantation, financial and social matters and includes antebellum letters. The bulk of the correspondence is of Sarah T. Bowman and her children. Plantation records of William B. Turnbull and James P. Bowman include slave lists and plantation diaries which document Frogmoor and Rosedown Plantations. The diaries contain lists of slaves and details of plantation management. Financial papers include factors' statements, mostly of Daniel Turnbull and James P. Bowman, which document sugar and cotton produced on Rosedown, Middleplace, Inheritance, Hazelwood, and other plantations. Among the financial papers are receipts and statements for goods and services. Legal documents of the Turnbull, Pirrie, Lyons, Matthews, Barrow, Bowman, and Fort families consist mostly of land title documents and succession papers. Legal papers of John B. Dawson, a parish judge and relative of the Barrow family, are present. Personal papers and printed and graphic materials reflect the lives and interests of family members, particularly the Bowmans.


Series Descriptions


I. Correspondence, 1799-1955 (1.5 linear feet)

Summary: Correspondence of the Turnbull, Pirrie, Lyons, Barrow, and Bowman families. The bulk of the correspondence is of Sarah T. Bowman and her children. Arranged by personal names and by date.

Among the earliest correspondence in the collection are letters of John and Catherine Turnbull. A letter (1799) from Thomas Durnford (1762-1826) to John discusses attempts to recover two runaway slaves. Durnford immigrated from Ringwood, England in 1776. Letters (1837-1896) of Daniel and Martha Turnbull discuss social and economic matters. Included are letters (1870) to Martha from George H. Miller, overseer of Styopa Plantation. Two letters (187-) from W. D. Winter to Martha relate to the destruction of property on Styopa and De Soto Plantations during the Civil War. Testimony of white and African-American witnesses is discussed, with notes on the lineage and ownership of former slaves.

Letters of the Pirrie family relate to personal and financial matters and the education of Ruffin Gray Stirling, a relative (nephew?) of James Pirrie. A letter (1851) from a Stirling family member to James P. Bowman reports the death of James' mother, Eliza B. Lyons. A letter (1814) from Ruffin Gray, Jr. of Lexington, Ky., describes letters he received which contain accounts of the British siege of New Orleans.

Letters (one oversize) of Eliza B. Lyons relate to family and economic matters. Some letters (1826-1828) discuss the sale of Bayou Boeuf Plantation and slaves belonging to the estate of Robert H. Barrow, Eliza's late husband. Letters (1841, 1850, n.d.) to Eliza from Henry Lyons describe economic conditions in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Letters (1837, 1840) from John Bennett Dawson to Lyons, William Barrow, and others, are included. One concerns the commission of a portrait of Dawson by artist Wm. H. Contant. Dawson was the son of Sarah Barrow (1773-1816) and was under the guardianship of William Barrow (1765-1823) after her death. Letters to Lyons from family members include letters (1851) from Isabell Matthews, the daughter of Eliza Lyons and her second husband, William R. Bowman. Isabell took care of Lyon's children after Eliza died in 1851. Letters (1851, n.d.) from William Wilson Matthews to Isabell before their marriage are included. Letters (1840-1857) of Alexander Barrow and Robert H. Barrow (b. 1824) discuss financial matters and plantation management. Letters from Robert to James P. Bowman relate to mutual financial interests and Rosale Plantation.

Correspondence of James P. Bowman (Eliza's son) relates to plantation management, to financial interests, and to family matters. Letters (1828) from James' father, Jacob Bowman, to his brother, William R. Bowman, discuss business and land ownership and offer advise about religion and life. Other items includes letters from James' schoolmates from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, and from various friends and relatives. A letter (1854) from John Sidney Thrasher (1817-1879, author and editor) to James requests that he read and comment on his essay Cuba and Louisiana. A letter (1869) from James to Henry Lyons concerns money he inherited from Eliza.

James Bowman's correspondence with plantation overseers discusses the management of Frogmoor, Bayou Grosse Tete, Oakley, and Rosedown Plantations. Letters (1857-1858) from George W. Woodruff, overseer, describe affairs on Frogmoor Plantation. A letter (1862) from A. Heise (a later overseer of Frogmoor, and of Rosedown Plantation for Daniel Turnbull) relates the story of a messenger who lay in a ditch to "escape Yankee bullets." Letters (1855-1856) from S. B. Raby, overseer of a plantation at Bayou Grosse Tete, describe his management and protest his termination as overseer. James Bowman's response (1856) complains of Raby's conduct with the slaves.

James' letters (1856-1865) to his wife, Sarah T. Bowman, are included. Most of Sarah's correspondence (1852-191-) concerns family, social, and economic matters. Included are letters (1852-1860) of Mary Jackson, a school friend. One discusses the ownership of slaves at the settlement of an estate. A letter (1874) from Sarah to her daughter Eliza recounts an uprising of African-Americans in Bayou Sara. A letter (1896) from Sarah to her son, Daniel, describes Martha Turnbull's aging and comments on her work in the gardens at Rosedown Plantation. Correspondence (two items oversize) of Bowman family children include letters of Nina Bowman (sometimes called "Nix") which relate to her horticultural business. She cultivated and sold azaleas, camellias, and other plants. Letters to Nina (Nov.-Dec., 1925) from "Mary" in Natchez concern arrangements to sell Audubon books which Nina had in her possession. Letters (1898-1899) of Daniel T. Bowman describe his experiences while stationed in Manilla.

II. Plantation management papers, 1857-[1880s?] (.5 linear feet)

Summary: Plantation records of William B. Turnbull and James P. Bowman with slave lists and plantation diaries for Frogmoor and Rosedown plantations.

Two lists (185-) of slaves of William B. Turnbull record their ages and monetary valuations. Two plantation diaries (1867, 1858-1859) maintained by George W. Woodruff record activities on Frogmoor Plantation. The diaries include lists of slaves, lists of deaths and births on the plantation, lists of provisions and clothing issued to slaves, and daily accounts of plantation activities including work, illness, weather, and other agricultural news.

A Rosedown Plantation diary (1858-1867) kept by James P. Bowman records shoes, cloth, and provisions supplied to slaves (and later, laborers). The diary records sales of sugar and molasses (1858), sugar grown and ground (1859-1861), and the cotton crop (1865) at Rosedown. Bowman's account book [1880s?] lists supplies issued to field hands. A "sketch" (n.d.) of Rosedown Plantation prepared for the estate of Sarah T. Bowman shows property lines of Rosedown and surrounding properties, and Bayou Sara.

Newspaper clippings which were pasted into a Frogmoor Plantation diary (1858-1859) and into James P. Bowman's account book [1880s?] have been removed (only partial removal of clippings was practicable with the Bowman account book). Photocopies of these clippings are housed in the Printed and Graphic materials series.

III. Financial papers, 1802-1955 (.5 linear feet)

Summary: Papers of the Turnbull, Pirrie, Lyons, Matthews, Barrow, Bowman, and Fort families. Arranged by personal names and by date.

Papers of the Turnbull family include a receipt (1810) from the Turnbull & Joyce Co. Papers of William B. Turnbull and his wife, Caro, include a statement (1855) listing goods purchased from Prudent Francis Mallard, furniture maker of New Orleans. Receipts (1831-1857) from plantation overseers reflect activities on Daniel Turnbull's Rosedown, Middleplace, Inheritance, and Hazelwood Plantations. Factors statements (some oversize) record sales of cotton produced on these plantations and on Woodland Plantation. Factors represented are Nathaniel Cox, Washington, Jackson, & Co., and A. Fisk, Watt & Co. Daniel's miscellaneous financial papers include a receipt for seeds and plants purchased (Jan. 12, 1850) and checkbooks from a trip to Rome (1860). After Daniel's death, Martha received statements from factors including J. Norman Jackson (1861-1865), R. Pritchard (1865-1866), John Chaffe & Bro. (1870-1871), David Urquhart (1871), and Richard Flower (1867-1873). Receipts (1870-1871) for payment of A. S. Murphy and George H. Miller, managers of Styopa Plantation, and for payment of laborers on Styopa and Rosedown Plantations are included. Also present are receipts for taxes and for merchandise purchased by Martha.

Financial papers of the Pirrie family include James Pirrie's receipts and sight drafts (1802-1823) and statements (1815-1824) from factors Flower, and Reynolds Ralston & Co. Factors' statements (1835-1848, some oversize) from Burke, Watt, & Co. and from Nathaniel Cox are written to his daughter, Eliza B. Lyons. Miscellaneous bills, receipts, account books, and an issue of the New Orleans Price Current and Commercial Intelligencer (1841) of Eliza and Henry Lyons are included.

William Wilson Matthews' (Eliza's son-in-law's) financial papers include a receipt for pew rental at Grace Episcopal Church in Saint Francisville. Barrow family financial papers include steamer bills of lading (1871) for Styopa Plantation, and a factors' statement (1851) for produce from Oakley, Home and Grosse Tete Plantations.

Financial papers of the Bowman family consist of factors' statements and miscellaneous bills and receipts (1829-1922, some oversize) of William R. Bowman, James P. Bowman, and Sarah T. Bowman. Factors represented include Nathaniel Cox, R. Pritchard, and Richard Flower. Accounts (1888-1895) with the merchant Julius Freyhan & Co. of Bayou Sara comprise the bulk of statements recording expenses of Sarah Bowman. A statement (1895) records cotton appropriated to pay notes. Bills and receipts of the Fort family and other miscellaneous items are included.

IV. Legal documents, 1828-1874 (.25 linear feet)

Summary: Documents of the Turnbull, Barrow, Lyons, and Bowman families. Papers of Boyle & Lyons and of John B. Dawson are included. Arranged by personal name and by date.

Legal papers of the Turnbull family include items related to the disposition of property from the estate of William B. Turnbull. One item outlines an agreement between Caro Turnbull (widow) and Martha Turnbull over the ownership of slaves and other property left in the estate. Also among the Turnbull legal papers is a contract between Martha H. Turnbull and a gardener at Rosedown Plantation. Barrow family legal documents largely consist of papers (1828-1842) related to the settlement of the estate of Robert H. Barrow and the guardianship of Robert H. Barrow, Jr. Legal documents of Henry Lyons include items related to his partnership with William D. Boyle, with documents of the law firm Boyle & Lyons.

Bowman family legal papers include a document placing James P. Bowman (son of William and Eliza Bowman) under the guardianship of Nelson B. Bowman of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Also included are the passport of James P. Bowman to Cuba (1867, oversize) and his certificate of appointment to the state board of education (1896, oversize); wills of Sarah T. Bowman and Carrie Bowman; and legal documents pertaining to leases and other financial matters. The series includes documents (1840-1841) of John B. Dawson, Judge of West Feliciana Parish, and items (1797, 1843, one oversize, in English and Spanish) related to land holdings of Thomas Young and family. Miscellaneous papers include legal claims of various people, an argument (185-?) for the exemption of a domestic vessel (the "Sea Witch") from a legislative act, and a legal opinion (n.d.) on paraphernal property.

V. Personal papers, 1846-1924 (.25 linear feet)

Personal papers were created primarily by members of the Bowman family. Included are inventories of household goods; lists of books including books at Rosedown Plantation (1862, [19--], n.d.); genealogical notes (n.d.) on the Turnbull, Bowman and related families; recipes and remedies (n.d.); poetry (1855, n.d.); prose pieces (one oversize); school notes (1846-1879); and memoranda (1874-1924). Manuscript volumes (1847-1897) include writing primers and memorandum books containing notes, addresses, and herbaria.

VI. Printed and graphic materials, 1851-1941 (.5 linear feet)

Items include pamphlets and catalogs (1851-1894); ephemera and advertisements (1853-1893); postcards, greeting cards, calling cards (n.d.); photocopies of newspaper clippings removed from Frogmoor Plantation diary (n.d.) and James P. Bowman's account book (1890s), and other miscellaneous newspaper clippings; and photographic prints (1887, 1922, 1941). Two of the photographs (n.d.) probably depict James P. Bowman.

The following items were removed from the collection for separate cataloging:

King, John W. Memorial to the State Legislatures of the United States. Morgan & Overend, Printers, Cincinnati, 1849. (2 copies)

Memorial to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Legislature of Texas. Longley & Brother, Printers, Cincinnati. 1853.

Meyer, Adolph. The Relations of Cuba With the United States: The Question of a Reciprocity Treaty and Annexation. Washington, 1902.


Index terms

Turnbull, John


Turnbull, Catherine, d. ca. 1832


Durnford, Thomas, 1762-1826


Turnbull, Daniel, 1796-1861


Turnbull, Martha Hilliard Barrow, 1809-1899


Turnbull, William B., 1829-1856


Pirrie, James


Gray, Ruffin, Jr.


Bowman, Jacob


Bowman, William R.


Bowman, James P. (James Pirrie), 1832-1827


Bowman Sarah T. (Sarah Turnbull), 1831-1914


Thrasher, John Sidney, 1817-1879


Dawson, John B. (John Bennett), 1800-1845


Barrow, Robert Hilliard, 1795-1823


Barrow, Robert Hilliard, Jr., b. 1824


Bowman, Daniel T., b. 1862


Bowman, Nina, b. 1869


Lyons, Henry A.


Lyons, Eliza B. (Eliza Bowman), 1805-1851


Stirling Family


Boyle & Lyons


Turnbull & Joyce Co.


Matthews, Isabell


Young, Thomas


Mallard, Prudent Francis


Woodruff, George


Cox, Nathaniel


Bayou Boeuf Plantation (La.)


Bayou Grosse Tete Plantation (La.)


Frogmoor Plantation (La.)


Hazelwood Plantation (La.)


Home Plantation (La.)


Inheritance Plantation (La.)


Middleplace Plantation (La.)


Oakley Plantation (La.)


Rosale Plantation (La.)


Rosedown Plantation (La.)


Styopa Plantation (La.)


Woodlawn Plantation (La.)






Slaves--Condition of slaves


Cotton trade--Louisiana


Cotton growing--Louisiana


Sugar trade--Louisiana


Sugar growing--Louisiana



I, V

Commission merchants--Louisiana


California--Gold discoveries











Container list














Series I. Correspondence






John Turnbull, Catherine Turnbull, Daniel Turnbull, Martha Turnbull (1799-1896, n.d.)






James Pirrie, Lucy Pirrie, Henry A. Lyons, Eliza B. Lyons, Isabell Matthews (1807-1869, n.d.)






Alexander Barrow, Robert H. Barrow (1840-1857, n.d.)






Jacob Bowman, James P. Bowman (1828-1922, n.d.)






Sarah T. Bowman (1852-1911, n.d.)






Bowman children: Sarah (Sadie) Bowman, Anna Bowman, Eliza (Sly) Bowman, Corrie Bowman, Bella M. Bowman, Daniel T. Bowman, James P. Bowman, Jr. (1871-1946, n.d.)






Nina B. Bowman (1881-1947, n.d.)






Fort family, Miscellaneous, invitations, cards (1839-1955)






Eliza Lyons, Bowman Family (1874, n.d.)






II. Plantation management papers






Slave lists [185-]






Frogmoor Plantation diaries (1857-1858)






James P. Bowman, Rosedown Plantation diary and account (1858-1861, [1880s?]






"Sketch" of Rosedown Plantation (n.d.)






III. Financial papers






Turnbull & Joyce, William B. Turnbull, Caro Turnbull (1810-1858)






Daniel Turnbull, overseers' receipts, factors' statements, misc. (1822-1869)






Martha H. Turnbull, overseers' receipts, factors' statements, misc. (1853-1873)






James Pirrie, Eliza B. Lyons, Henry Lyons (1802-1857)






Matthews family, Barrow family (1828-1871)






William R. Bowman, James P. Bowman, factors' statements, misc (1829-1922)






Sarah T. Bowman, Corrie Bowman, factors' statements, receipts (1858-1935)






Fort family, misc. (1829-1955)






Factors' statements of Eliza B. Lyons, William R. Bowman, Daniel Turnbull, Sarah T. Bowman (1833-1895)






IV. Legal documents






Turnbull family (1830-1874)






Barrow family (1828-1842)






Henry Lyons, Boyle & Lyons (1837-[185-])






Bowman family, Misc. (1840-1939)






Thomas Young, James P. Bowman (1797, 1867, 1896)






V. Personal papers






Inventories, genealogical notes, recipes, remedies, prose,poetry, memoranda, manuscript volumes (1846-1924)






Prose (n.d.)






VI. Printed and graphic materials






Pamphlets, catalogs, Ephemera, advertisements, postcards greeting cards, calling cards, newspaper clippings, photographic prints (1851-1941)