Saturday, January 11, 2020

Three Photographs Related to the Bowles and Reeves Families of Groton, South Dakota

Three photographs of members of the Bowles and Reeves families of Henry Township, South Dakota, and Sparta, Wisconsin.

The families were apparently connected when Ethel Emma Reeves moved from Wisconsin to Groton, South Dakota, and married merchant Wesley Edward Bowles there.

In the photograph above, twins Frank Elmer Bowles and Fred Clark Bowles, with the added information that they were born on December 24, 1881 and that they were sixteen years of age in the photograph and were wearing their "first store suit".

Frank and Fred were the sons of William Bowles and Mary Ann (Bredner ?) Bowles.  I found Mary Ann's maiden name in Fred's death certificate, but other records would be preferable.

A brief description of the William Bowles family appears in EARLY HISTORY OF BROWN COUNTY, A LITERATURE OF THE PEOPLE, BY TERRITORIAL PIONEERS AND DESCENDANTS. This states that William and Mary Ann were born in Scotland, married in Canada and lived in New York for a time before arriving with their horses and other possessions to Henry Township.  Frank and Fred are said to be the first set of twins born to the new homesteaders in the area.

The photograph below shows what appears to be another member of the Bowles family and may actually depict Frank Bowles or Fred Bowles, or Wesley Edward Bowles or another Bowles relative. This photograph was taken at the Hatton Sisters studio of Groton, South Dakota.

The third photograph shows James Reeves, his wife Emily Jane (Steele) Reeves and their daughters Edith Emma Reeves and Cora Mabel Reeves.  This photograph was apparently taken about 1887 as the parents would have a third daughter, Ella Mae Reeves, in 1888.  In 1880 the family was living in Sparta, Wisconsin.

Edith Emma Reeves, who was born in 1877, moved to Groton, South Dakota about 1898 and was working there as a jeweler at the time of the 1900 Census.  She married merchant Wesley Edward Bowles, who may be the man pictured in the second photograph, about 1906.  Wesley gave his place of birth as Canada in numerous records; his World War I draft registration card shows that he was a U.S. citizen by virtue of his father's naturalization.

Hopefully a reader will provide details on how Wesley Edward Bowles ties in with the Bowles twins Frank and Fred. Was he perhaps an older brother or older half-brother, born while William was in Canada, or was he a cousin to the twins?

If you have corrections to the details above, or additional information to share, please leave a comment or contact me directly.


  1. I have pictures of the bowles and the Reeves. Frank Bowles married my great-grandmother sister. My great-grandmother was the photographer at the Hatton studio. Some of the information you post here is helpful

    1. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. The information I have came from online research, so you may have a better take on it. If so, please let me know if anything should be corrected. Interesting about the Hatton studio connection!

  2. Please email me. So we can talk further.