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William B. and Corie Bowman Lyon correspondence

Identifier: Ms-0506

Content Description

The letters highlight the courtship of Lyon and Bowman, the early years of their marriage, and their lives in Mesilla, Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Information on family members, other Mesilla and Las Cruces personalities and area events are also communicated within the letters. Also included are two autograph books one belonging to Corie Bowman (1875-1886) and one belonging to her brother Ernest Bowman (1880-1883). The autograph books are filled with notes of good wishes and signatures of prominent Mesilla residents. Box five contains the transcription of all the correspondence. The letters were first transcribed from the originals in the 1960s by Corie Connell, the granddaughter of William and Corie. During 2015 and 2016, William C. Hunt, of Albuquerque retyped Corie Connell’s original transcriptions into electronic files and compared them to the original letters, correcting several mistakes and omissions that were made in the original transcriptions, particularly about the spelling of names of people. In the transcript, square brackets were used by Hunt to make clarifications, and identifications not in the original letters.


  • November 19, 1881 - November 12, 1889

Biographical / Historical

In 1879, two years after arriving in Mesilla Park, 23-year old Corie Bowman struck up a friendship and eventually a romantic relationship with 37-year old Dr. William B. Lyon. Prior to meeting Corie, William had spent 11 years as an assistant surgeon for the U.S. Army in New Mexico. His last assignment at Fort Stanton was during the Lincoln County War. After his contract with the Army had been terminated in 1879, William settled in Mesilla and began his private practice. Corie Bowman was the daughter of George D. and Jane Bowman. George and his two eldest sons, George R. and Henry D. Bowman, were crucial to the development of Mesilla Park. George D. was a banker, landowner, and farmer, who came to the Mesilla Valley in 1876 as land register. He served in that capacity until 1884, when he and his sons founded Bowman and Sons Bank and Trust Company in Las Cruces. Bowman and Demetrio Chavez, a leading merchant in Mesilla, purchased the land that was later developed as Mesilla Park. Bowman was instrumental in negotiating with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to build the train depot at Mesilla Park, he filed the Mesilla Park town site plat, began real estate development to establish the town, and aggressively marketed the community to potential buyers. Prior to April 1882, both William B. Lyon and Corie Bowman were living in Mesilla, New Mexico. In April, William moved to Albuquerque and kept up a frequent correspondence with Corie until their wedding on September 14, 1882. After William Lyon and Corie Bowman were married in Mesilla on September 14, 1882, they moved into their new home in Albuquerque. William’s medical practice began to improve and Corie’s younger brother, Ernest, lived with them while he attended the newly established Albuquerque Academy. Ernest didn’t live to graduate with his class. He was struck with pneumonia while on Christmas break and died January 13, 1884. Corie continued to spend a great deal of time with her family in Mesilla. Letters were written by William to Corie during her absences from Albuquerque. Only one letter from Corie to William survives from this period. After five years in Albuquerque, William and Corie returned to southern New Mexico. Instead of Mesilla, they settled in nearby Las Cruces, which had become the more prominent community since the arrival of the railroad. Soon after their move to Las Cruces, Corie and William lost Jennie, their only child at that time, to Diphtheria in 1889. William and Corie had two more children; Edwin Bowman Lyon born in 1892 and Eleanor Corie Lyon born in 1896. William became ill soon after Eleanor was born and began receiving a Civil War veteran's pension. Two years later, June 10, 1898, he died at age 56. An obituary in the Rio Grande Republican gives paralysis as the cause of his death. A hardship for Corie since his death came only nine days after Corie’s mother, Jennie Bowman, died of pneumonia. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Corie is listed as a widowed head of household living with two children and her father. She continued to take care of her father until his death in April 1903. Sadly, less than two years later, on February 27, 1905, Corie suddenly died at age 48. Her obituary in the Rio Grande Republic lists cause of death as thrombosis of the cerebral sinus. William and Corie’s two surviving children, ages 12 and 9, were raised by Corie’s brother Henry, the last member of the Bowman family remaining in New Mexico. George, her eldest brother moved to Fort Worth Texas in 1891. Corie’s son, Edwin attended West Point and ended his military career as a Major General, he and his wife Elsa had no children. Her daughter, Eleanor attended the School of Physical Culture in Massachusetts. She taught Physical Culture at the University of Texas. She married Frank M. Barger on June 6th, 1922. They moved to El Paso, Texas where Frank Barger was employed as chief clerk for the Vice President and General Manager of the El Paso and Southwestern Railway. The had one son, Frank L. Barger and one daughter, Corie Bowman Barger (Connell) who handed the William and Corie Lyon letters to her daughter Barbara Connell. Eleanor Barger lived to be 99 years old and is buried in the Masonic cemetery near her parents, William and Corie Lyon. Her brother Edwin is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.


ca. 450 items

2.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Condition Description

Materials are in good condition, letters have creases from being folded into envelopes
Guide to the William B. and Corie Bowman Lyon correspondence
Teddie Moreno
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Latin (Fraktur variant)
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA