23 March 2011

Lillian Wetherall Bowie - the Career Girl

I come from a long, long line of farmers. And while I'm very proud of that fact, I'll admit I tend to get excited when I find "city folk" in my family tree.

Lillian Wetherall Bowie was born 25 April 1873 in the District of Columbia to John W. Wetherall and Ella J. Stanford. Lillian did marry, but it was not until 22 October 1907 at the age of 34 that she wed Arthur L. Bowie. For most of my relatives, that would be considered a little "late" to be getting married, especially for a woman.

Nonetheless, what impresses me the most about Lillian is that she did not sit at home waiting for her suitor. She instead went about the business of making a living for herself.

I was fortunate to find Lillian Wetherall Bowie in every census recorded that is applicable to her life. In 1880 she was with her parents in Washington, DC. In 1900 she was with her widowed mother in the same city. In 1910 and 1920 she was with her husband in Maryland. And in 1930 she was a widow herself, heading a household, still in Maryland.

Since I was working backwards, I first noticed Lillian's occupation in the 1930 Prince George County, Maryland federal census. She was listed as an Examiner at the U. S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This particular government agency is the part of the U. S. Department of the Treasury that designs several security products for the government, including paper currency. How cool is that?

1918 aerial view of the Bureau.
Continuing backwards, Lillian does not have an occupation listed for the 1920 and 1910 census years when she was married and raising a family. Back to 1900, however, she is a young working girl with an occupation of "Government."

I then was smiled upon again with a gift from "Boyd's Directory of The District of Columbia" (via Ancestry.com). In 1896 and 1898, Lillian is entered in this manner: Wetherall, Lillian, bur ptg, 1244 NJ av nw (italics mine). I'd say she must have been pretty good at her job and left a positive, lasting impression if she could take roughly a twenty year break in employment and return to the same department. You go, girl!

Lillian died 7 November 1930 in the District of Columbia at the young age of 57. She was buried with the Bowies in Rockville, Maryland. Lillian was my 4th cousin, 5 times removed.

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