-Lelia M. Rowan



Lelia M. Rowan, born 25 February 1837, was the daughter of Joseph Weaver Paul, a native of France, and Elizabeth Wright of New York State. They named her Lelia Mary Paul and the family resided at that time in Fairview, Pennsylvania.

In 1861, when Lelia was 24 years old, she married Joseph A. C. Rowan. The couple made their home in Little Rock, Kendall County, Illinois. It was a turbulent time to enter into a new marriage, as the Civil War was to break out that year and rage for four long years.

Sure enough, in August of 1862, her young husband joined the 127th Illinois, company F, and was soon far away from their Illinois home, headed south to save the Union. After he departed, Lelia gave birth to a daughter, Edith May.

As it turned out, Joseph Rowan distinguished himself during the war, seeing action in several major battles including the siege and surrender of Vicksburg and the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia.

He was made sergeant and remained with the 127th until the close of the war, when he was discharged in June of 1865. Several of Lelia's poems have to do with the ravages of this most tragic of wars. (you can view Joseph Rowan's entire military career at his listing on Find-a-Grave.com)

When her husband returned from war, Lelia and Joseph made their home in Petoskey, Michigan where they were to live out their lives. A second daughter, Ethel L., was born there in 1867. It was here that Lelia wrote much of her poetry, many poems of which are dated with place of writing noted. Both in the census records for Lelia and on her death record, she is listed as housekeeper or housewife, so poetry writing must have been, for her, a treasured hobby. Her book was privately printed in 1902 when Lelia was 65 years of age.

By the 1900 census, the couple's children having grown and gone, the Rowans apparently ran a boarding house on Michigan street with as many as 16 boarders at a time. They were still running the boarding house in 1910, though with fewer boarders.

Lelia died on 30 December 1923, aged 86, in Petoskey and was buried in the cemetery there. Her husband would join her in 1927. Their younger daughter Ethel survived to the age of 91 and died in Petoskey in 1958.

Perry Hotel in Petoskey, MI- Lelia's home town
Siege of Vicksburg May-July 1863

Petosky, Michigan

Trailing Arbutus


by Lelia M. Rowan

Robin's Return

Dear little Robin, come, 'tis time

You returned to the northern clime.

I'm watching for you all day long,

List'ning eagerly for your song.

Come again to the maple tree,

And build your nest where I can see

Mr. Robin swinging there,

Guarding you all with tender care.

There from my window I'll look down

Into your nest in maple crown,

And when the birdlings first appear,

List to their baby chirpings near.

Come, and I'll give you silken floss,

Which, together with lint and moss,

You may weave into fairy nest,

Snug and neat, my little Redbreast.

And when your baby birdlings grow,

I'll help you gather food to throw

Into the mouths that open wide,

Long as you in the nest abide.

A Sonnet

Sunset on the Bay

Into the bosom of the silvery bay

In splendor sinks the sun to nightly rest

And all the shimmering flame athwart the west

Echoes his farewell to the dying day.

Majestic mountains, misty, purple clad,

And blazoned turrets high upreared and bold,

Circled about with dainty fleece of gold--

As halos of celestial glory had

O'er battlements of paradise been flung;

And thrilling all to rapturous amaze,

It holds the vision in sweetly hallowed gaze,

Then, lingering still, the cloud hues that o'er hung

The distant hills, die in the waning light

And the grandeur passes to the gloom of night.

Our Country's Dead

[in memory of the Civil War]

Gather the fairest blooms of earth

And scatter them o'er the dead,

Who, for the land that gave them birth,

So freely their life's blood shed.

Question not, is it blue or gray,

That rests 'neath emerald pall,

Only remember this to-day,

They were honored soldiers all.

Strangers though they may be to you,

Your love they have dearly bought,

Hold them in memory brave and true--

Give to them tenderest thought.

Somebody loved them, some one wept,

When the last good-byes were said,

Somebody's heart and vigil kept,

When these were reported dead.

Somebody's kiss hath often pressed

The lips that are silent now,

Somebody's tender hand caressed

With loving the soldier's brow.

All the world would somebody pay

If they could but take your place

And scatter roses here to-day,

On their dear dead soldier's face.

Beautiful flowers, pile them high

All over the velvet sod,

Breathe for somebody's boy a sigh,

Who lies 'neath the cold earth clod.

Scatter the roses that the breeze

May carry their fragrance high

Up through the maze of lofty trees,

To the home beyond the sky.

Lead Thou the Way

[Written on the death of President McKinley]

Beneath the bitter chastening rod,

In deep humility, to-day,

A nation breathes -- in Thee oh, God;

In Thee we trust, lead Thou the way;

Amid the gloom and tears we pray,

Lead Thou the way, lead Thou the way.

Have we, in blindness nourished wrong

Unwittingly, through freedom's claim,

Till vipers writhing 'mid the throng,

A nation moves to tears and shame?

Our father's God, turn not away,

Be Thou our tower of strength to-day.

The horoscope of time lays bare;

We see in this most awful deed

The problem solved, the people's care,

To pluck from earth the dangerous seed.

Our Nation's God, give us the will--

Lead Thou the way, be with us still.

The life of our illustrious Chief,

A benediction sweet has been;

His death so grand, so fraught with grief,

A benediction brings again,

And while the nation mourns to-day,

The God he trusted leads the way.

The kingly life so lost to earth,

Was fashioned by a mother's prayer;

A saintly mother love gave birth

To character sublimely fair;

To Thee, that mother's God we pray,

From out the gloom lead Thou the way.

Lines To A Loaned Book

Roaring Brook

Oh Beulah, dear Beulah, the wretch who beguiled

You far from your mates on the shelf,

Has forgotten perchance you are not his child,

That you still belong to myself.

They've read you, and loved you, but never returned you,

Just thoughtlessly laid you away--

And now I am sending a messenger for you,

Come home with him Beulah I pray.

I'm willing dear Beulah, most willing to lend you,

But now you've been gone a whole year,

And I have decided this message to send you,

So Beulah, come home, will you dear?

(dated 1870)

Dainty, tinkling, bubbling brook

Tumbling out through quiet nook,

'Neath an overarching crown

From the hilltop bending down.

Softly gliding, murm'ring rill,

Bringing from the wealth of hill

Sparkling jewels, deftly made,

Sailing down through glen and glade.

In thy fragrant, leafy dells,

Full of beauty's magic spells,

Youth and maiden, arm in arm,

Strolling, find a mystic charm.

If we could but understand

All the lore of fairy land,

Sweet indeed the love tale then

We might list to in this glen.

By thy side we're lulled to dreams,

First of silver gurgling streams,

Then of life's best happy hours

Crowned by truth's prophetic pow'rs.

Dream that castles in the wood

Close beside a streamlet stood,

Filled with gems of lavish worth

Gathered from the realms of earth.

Dream of kingdoms all our own--

Wake to find our emerald throne

But a mossy cushioned nook,

Down beside the Roaring Brook.

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