Skip to main content

Dowd family papers

Identifier: 00055

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of approximately 100 letters, most of which concern three generations of the Dowd family: Horace Dowd, his son, Jefferson Dowd, and Jefferson Dowd's sons and daughter

Most of the letters were written by the Dowds, their relatives, and friends and are concerned with family affairs and agricultural life. Of special interest, however, are the letters written by Joseph Barrows to his sister, Mary Barrows Dowd. Joseph Barrows, originally of Mansfield, Connecticut, was among the first pioneers to settle in Vermillion, in the Dakota Territory (c.1830). These letters tell of crop and cattle raising in that area.

Another group consists of the Civil War letters of Jefferson Dowd, who served in Company D, 66th Illinois Infantry and participated in Sherman's march to the sea. A final group of letters relate to the experiences of Willard Dowd and his wife Muriel who did missionary work in Assam, India, during the early part of the 20th century.

Also included is a small teachers notebook listing class attendance and expenses, and containing a few poems.


  • Creation: 1828 - 1944

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Horace Dowd was born in New England (probably Massachusetts) and moved with his father, Israel Dowd, to Wayne County, New York in the early 19th century. Horace married Mary Barrows of Mansfield, Connecticut in 1832. In 1844, he and his family moved to Michigan, settling in Van Buren County. The Dowds were the first settlers in Hartford Township and Horace Dowd speculated in land, reselling it later to settlers in what is now the town of Hartford.

Jefferson Smith Dowd enlisted in Company D of the 66th Illinois Infantry on September 23, 1861. The 66th Illinois formed as a specialized sharpshooter regiment meant for skirmishing on the Western Front. It drew soldiers from a number of states and Company D was drawn almost exclusively from Michigan. Some records indicate Dowd was transferred to Company H, but it seems more likely he remained in Company D for his term of service. Dowd was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862, but recovered quickly and briefly served as a nurse in the hospital at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. When his term expired, he was mustered out on September 17, 1864. Jefferson married Olive P. Fox on April 5, 1865, in Hartford, Van Buren County, Michigan, and they had three daughters and four sons together.


0.33 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of Arthur Dowd, Sr., date unknown.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Dowd Family Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
M. Hobson
March 1968
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US