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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Margaret Bobbitt Ettleman papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1951-1984
Creator: Ettleman, Margaret Bobbitt (1877-1984)
Extent: .25 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0711
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: The 1951 memoir describes rural life in nineteenth century Iowa and Indiana.

Arrangement: One folder, shelved in SCVF.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor. See donor file for restrictions.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 639) were donated by Gertrude Ettleman in 1999.

Preferred Citation: Margaret Bobbitt Ettleman papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Margaret Bobbitt Ettleman was born January 26, 1877 in Lewis, Iowa to Benjamin Claiborne Bobbitt and Laura Virginia Littlefield Bobbitt. In 1878, the family moved to a farm southwest of Sidney, Iowa. Margaret Bobbitt graduated from Sidney High School in 1895 and to the University of Nebraska to receive a teaching certificate. While teaching in a country school, she met her future husband, Wallace Ettleman, who farmed north of Sidney. They married on May 31, 1913. Margaret Bobbitt Ettleman and her husband raised three children: Virginia, Frances, and Howard. In 1946, they moved to Nebraska City, Nebraska due to Wallace Ettleman's health. He died in 1947.

Shortly after her eightieth birthday, Ettleman went to live with her daughter Virginia and her husband, Floyd Smith. She stayed there two years before moving to the Cromwell Home in Blair, NE. She lived there for seven years and acted as hostess, answering the phone and greeting visitors. Ettleman eventually outlived the home, so she returned to the Smiths, remaining there for sixteen years until her death in 1984.

The Margaret Bobbitt Ettleman papers date from 1951 to 1984 and measure 0.25 linear inches. The papers include a memoir written by Ettleman in 1951 of her girlhood. She tells of her father's family moving from Marion County, Indiana in 1849 to settle in Iowa. Ettleman describes her how her parents met in 1871 at a Sunday School Convention in Cass County, Iowa. Benjamin Bobbitt and Laura Littlefield corresponded for two years before marrying on September 23, 1873.

Ettleman also describes living on a homestead southwest of Sidney, Iowa, telling of hail storms that damaged her father's crops, as well as a business raising timber that Benjamin Bobbitt started. She also remembers a barn-raising on her parents' farm, as well as the coming of the Ringling Brothers' Circus to Sidney, Iowa. As a child, Ettleman's main job was wood gathering.

In her memoir, she describes the attributes of each kind of wood, as well as the best way to start a fire. Ettleman also describes making homemade ice cream and how her Aunt Mollie could make lye from wood ashes for soap. In 1893, Ettleman and her parents traveled by train to Chicago to attend the World's Columbian Exposition. Ettleman recounts the wonders of the exposition, the crowds, the 265-foot Ferris wheel, a cooking school, and various restaurants. In her memoir, Ettleman discusses memories concerning her ancestors, including weddings, locations, and occupations. One ancestor, Randolph Bobbitt who lived in Virginia, was rumored to have been a descendent of Pocahontas. Also included at the end of the memoir is a family genealogy and Ettleman's obituary.

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  • Memoir - 1951