This series explores the life of Dunbar Rowland (1864-1937), first director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. He served from 1902 to 1937. Rowland married Eron Moore Gregory on December 20, 1906.
Eron Opha Moore (1861/2-1951)2 was the daughter of Major Benjamin B. Bratton (c. 1815- unknown) and Ruth Stovall Rowland Moore (c. 1832-1889),3 who was the sister of Dunbar Rowland’s father. Eron, who went by the childhood nickname “Dixie,” was first married to Andrew E. Gregory (1849-1900) in 1885 in Monroe County. Gregory died in 1900 and according to one online source, was treated during his terminal illness by Dr. Peter Whitman Rowland (Eron’s cousin and Dunbar Rowland’s brother).4
The widowed Eron was employed as an assistant at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History on October 6, 1902. In his second annual report, Rowland said, “Mrs. Gregory has given faithful and efficient service for the past year, and I feel it my duty to say that her services are worth more than the amount paid her.” Her salary was $480, and in the report, Rowland asked the board to increase it to $700.5
Dunbar Rowland married Eron on December 20, 1906, at the Flora home of his brother Dr. Robert Walter Rowland. The marriage was performed by Bishop Theodore DuBose Bratton, who later became a member of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History board of trustees. Of her marriage to Rowland it was said, “Their beautiful devotion to each other and steadfastness of purpose in their work have been a subject of comment among their friends and acquaintances.”6
Eron was educated in part by her father, who had been a professor of Latin and Greek.7 In her youth she contributed poems, stories, and sketches to area newspapers, foreshadowing her productive writing career later in life. After her marriage to Rowland she continued to write and assist him at MDAH.
Mrs. Rowland was extremely active in the community and many of her endeavors were related to the patriotic societies of which she was a part: the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Colonial Dames, and United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). Her work with the UDC helped save the Old Capitol from being torn down in the 1910s. She wrote a history of the Natchez Trace and assisted the DAR in marking the roadway. She also chaired the committee that put the “grand central stairway” in the Governor’s Mansion in 1908 and supplied soldiers with books during World War I.8 In 1933, Eron received the honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.
One writer said of her:
Personally, she is a woman of great charm. Of a happy temperament, with a winsome grace of manner and person, she is absorbed in her work, taking pleasure in her home and flowers.9
After Dunbar Rowland’s death on November 1, 1937, Eron served as acting director of the department until January 1, 1938, when Dr. William D. McCain (1907-1993) became director.10 She then retired to her home at 429 Mississippi Street and gathered their accumulated books and papers to start the “Rowland Historical Library,” where scholars were invited to conduct their research. At the time of her death in 1951 she was working on “The Story of Jackson,” a history of the city. Dr. McCain finished the project, using parts of Eron’s work. Her unfinished manuscript has been preserved in the MDAH holdings.11
Eron died on January 6, 1951.
Mrs. Rowland’s publications included:
Andrew Jackson’s Campaign Against the British, or The Mississippi Territory in the War of 1812. New York, NY: The Macmillan Co., 1926. MDAH call number 976.2/R79aa/1926.
History of Hinds County, Mississippi, 1821-1922. Jackson, Mississippi: Jones Printing, Co., 1922. MDAH call number 976.251/R79h.
Life, Letters and Papers of William Dunbar of Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland and Natchez, Mississippi: Pioneer Scientist of the Southern United States. Jackson, Mississippi: Press of the Mississippi Historical Society, 1930. MDAH call number B/D91L.
Varina Howell, Wife of Jefferson Davis, 2 vols. New York, NY: The Macmillan Co., 1927-1931. MDAH call number B/D291ros.
1 Full image citation: William D. McCain, “Biographical sketches of the builders of the capital of Mississippi” in The Story of Jackson, vol. 2 (Jackson, Mississippi: J.F. Hyer Publishing Co., 1953), 678. MDAH call number 976.2511/St7.
2 There is inconsistency among sources on Eron Rowland’s date of birth. Biographical sketches in the MDAH subject files list it as June 16, 1861, but her tombstone lists June 1, 1862. In her youth, the age listed in the federal census supports 1861 or 1862, while in her later years, it supports a date between 1865-1867.
3 Benjamin and Ruth Rowland Moore buried in Chickasaw County, see Cemeteries in Chickasaw and Surrounding Counties, 2 vols. (Houston, Mississippi: Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1992), vol. I, page 30 and vol. II, page 179 (MDAH). Benjamin’s tombstone listed no dates, just his status as a Confederate veteran.
4 http://www.gregoryfamily.com/chaptr6-165.htm#Andrew Eusebus Gregory (accessed December 17, 2010).
5 Dunbar Rowland, Second Annual Report of the Director of the Department of Archives and History of the State of Mississippi from October 1, 1902, to October 1, 1903 (Nashville, Tennessee: Press of Brandon Printing Company, 1904), 49.
6 “Rowland, Dunbar Biographical Sketches,” Subject File, MDAH.
7 Biographical information for Eron Rowland from “Rowland, Dunbar Death” Subject File, MDAH.
8 “Mrs. Dunbar Rowland” in “Rowland, Eron Opha 0-1939,” Subject File, MDAH.
10 “Dr. and Mrs. Dunbar Rowland” in “Rowland, Dunbar Death,” Subject File, MDAH.
11 The manuscript is in the “Rowland (Mrs. Dunbar) papers [manuscript]1908-1938” collection, MDAH call number Z/0591.002/S.