Isabella Baxter (1848-1882)

Isabelle, circa 1873, about age 26

Happy 175th birthday Isabella!

Today January 9th, 2023 is the 175th birthday of my 2nd Great Grandma Isabella Baxter (1848-1882). Isabella Baxter was born in Providence on Sunday, January 9, 1848. Twins! Twin sisters Isabella and Adelaide entered this world 175 years ago today. During her life Isabella was also known as Isabell, and Belle. She is also referred to as Elizabeth on a few historical documents but it’s unclear if that was a mistake or another version of her name.

When Isabella and her twin sister Adelaide “Addie” were born on that Sunday in Providence their father, Josiah, was 42 and their mother, Hannah, was 32. Her father Josiah liked working with his hands and building things. At this time he was a cabinet maker. Soon he would add plough maker to his repertoire and would make both for the rest of his life. I wonder if any of his cabinets or ploughs are still around?

Isabella was born and grew up where her ancestors resided for more than two centuries! Her ancestors on the Olney-Potter-Sayles-Williams side founded Providence in 1636. Two plus centuries of family lived and flourished in Providence. In 1636 Roger Williams founded Providence, and in 1654 he founded Rhode Island. He is Isabelle’s 7th great grandpa (and my 10th great grandpa).

Isabella was the last of a long line of our direct-line ancestors born and raised in the liberal colony founded and settled by her ancestors. The Providence-born line of ancestors goes back 7 generations to Catherine Sayles, the granddaughter of Roger Williams. Catherine was born in 1671 in Providence. Catherine’s mother Mary, the first born of Roger Williams, was born in 1633 in the nearby Plymouth Colony just three years before Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in January 1636. He was banished by the pilgrims for promoting basic freedoms such as freedom to practice any or no religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought. Despite our taught history, Pilgrims were religious fanatics and very bad people. They were not in favor of religious freedom, they simply wanted to dictate that their religion was the only one anyone can practice and they fined, jailed, banished, cut off limbs, and killed anyone that disagreed with them. After six years of trying to persuade the Pilgrims of their errant ways, Roger Williams evaded their punishment and escaped into the wilderness in the dead of winter despite being very ill at the time. He lived with local native tribes through the tough winter. He founded the Providence Colony 14 weeks later.

Providence holds a special place in history especially for liberal thinking people. It is the first place in modern history where citizenship and religion were separate. Providence provided religious liberty and separation of church and state. This was combined with the principle of majoritarian democracy and was a template for modern American life and for democracy-based freedom around the world. Later, in 1802, Thomas Jefferson used Roger Williams’ phrase “wall of separation” to describe the separation of church and state in America.

My Relation to Isabelle

Isabelle is my 2nd Great Grandma on my mom’s mom’s side of the family.

Civil War Then Marriage

Back to the soon-to-be husband of Isabelle. Edwin Lowe was born in 1842 in England and immigrated to America with his family as a barely-teen 13 year old. Six years later as a tender elder-teenager of 19 Edwin Lowe fights in the Civil War fighting for the North. He enlisted on July 7, 1862. A Private in the 26th Infantry he fought in one of the bloodiest wars in history for nearly 3 years and mustered out after the end of the war on June 6, 1865.

When Edwin enlisted he lived in Iowa. One can imagine the war took him up and down the East Coast. I don’t know, but perhaps it’s the war that led him to Providence for a chance encounter with his future wife Isabella.


At the tender age of 18, Isabella marries 23 year old Civil War soldier Edwin Lowe on Tuesday, July 3, 1866 one year after the end of the Civil War. They were married in Providence, Rhode Island. Her ancestral hometown for more than two-centuries.

Isabella and Edwin Move to Iowa

Our newlywed ancestors Isabella and Edwin move to Iowa sometime between 1867 and 1869.

It appears to me that Isabella’s split with the family at this time was more than just separation of distance. It included a religious split as well from the Protestant faith. The family history in Providence was solidly one Protestant sect or another going back to when Roger Williams founded the First Baptist Church in America in Providence in 1638. Now, Isabella, one of the twins, is heading West and leaving the Protestant church to become Mormon. A decade or so later in 1878 they are both baptized as members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at Blue Cut by Edward Larky.

Also, in January 2023, Norah Cunningham, the great granddaughter of Isabella, wrote to me with stories that at least resonate with Isabella’s move to Iowa:

“…Grandma [Winifred Faith Wright (1881-1958)] told me [Richard Henry Lowe’s (1872-1962)] mother [Isabelle Baxter] was a Mennonite [Anabaptist Protestant] who had left her Church and family for him [Edwin Lowe, Sr.] …I knew [Edwin Lowe] donated money to the Mennonites [Anabaptist Protestants] all his life, cause Grandma [Winifred] was opening mail and showed me a thank you letter. …grandpa [Richard Henry Lowe] was really skinny and he used to go out every day to do roofing when he was in his 80’s. …He hated liquor. I have a letter to my Dad [Joseph Cunningham (1912-2001)] that [Richard Henry Lowe] wrote about how liquor was no good!; and how [my dad] ought to quit.”

And she also wrote to me and said:

“…and that [Edwin Lowe, Sr.] was the son of a half-Jewish peddler, who traveled on the frontier selling clothingand stuff to pioneers…[Their son Edwin Lowe, Sr. had a toy rattle when he was a baby.] I’ll send you a picture of the toy…Grandma [Winifred Faith Wright] told me that they put straight pins (for sewing in it, and it rattled, but you could also shake the pins out to use them! She said they [Edwin Lowe, Sr. and parents] traveled somewhere in a covered wagon when he [Edwin Lowe, Sr.] was a baby, with that rattle.” –Norah Cunningham, 15 Jan 2023.

Circa 1845. Edwin Lowe, Sr. toy rattle with sewing pins inside. Picture courtesy Norah Cunningham 2023.

Kids and Family

They had seven children in 15 years.

Circa 1873

Circa 1873. Left to right unknown, Isabella Baxter (1848-1882), Richard Henry Lowe (Jan 1872-1962), Edwin Lowe (1843-1914), and first born Cora (1867-1949).

The above picture was restored by me from the following picture:

As of 2017, original tin picture is with cousin Colleen Cunningham. She gave me a scanned copy in 2017. -Mike Prestwood


Isabella died from complications of childbirth. After giving birth to her 7th child Edwin, Jr. on Monday July 3, 1882 she suffered from intermittent fever; a type of fever that spikes and returns to normal for a period of time. Nowadays we know this is most likely caused by an easily treated bacterial infection. After 8 days of intermittent fever, she died early in the morning on Wednesday at 5 AM, July 12th. Her journey was cut short at the age of 34 years – 8 months – 3 days. She was buried the next day in Canton.

Life Endures

As we all must, the family carried on. Edwin remarried three years later and had one more child.

Edwin Lowe Sr. married Alice V. Abbie on Wednesday, April 7, 1886, in Jackson. Alice is the daughter of Luther Feeple and Eliza Mills. Alice was born in Sparta, Ontario, Canada, in 1844. Alice immigrated in 1858 from Canada to America. She was also a member of the Reorganized LDS church.

Machinery and hardware were the family business. Edwin’s father Richard Lowe (1805-1861) was a machinist. By 1880 his son Edwin was a Tin Smith, and later a hardware merchant. Edwin’s son Richard Henry Lowe owned a hardware store. The following picture is from about 1910. I do not know for sure, but I believe that is Edwin and Isabella’s son Richard Henry Lowe in this picture. The same Richard as the 1.5 year old on his father’s lap in the picture above.

Edwin Lowe, Sr. circa 1910 (“dad” with the giant beard in the old picture above).

Edwin would leave this Earth a few years after this picture on Saturday, February 14, 1914 at the age of 70. His second wife Alice reaches 72 years of age and dies on Wednesday, December 20, 1916. All three (Edwin, Isabella, and Alice) are buried in Canton, Iowa.

One final picture to wrap up this journey into history. Richard Henry Lowe, the 1.5 year old on his father’s lap above, lived to age 89 and fathered a large family. He died just 7 days shy of his 90th birthday on, of course, a Wednesday. He died January 3, 1962 in Los Angeles, CA.

Richard+Win Lowe Family, 1925

Related Articles I authored:

Research Notes:

The names on the 1873 picture were given to me by Colleen Cunningham. She wrote what she knew on the back.

Albert and Walter Analysis: I do not know why Albert and Walter are not in this picture. We believe Albert died sometime before 1880 so perhaps he had passed by 1873. He would be about 4 years old as of this picture. Based on the July 29, 1870 census Albert was born sometime on or between January 1st and July 28th of 1869. Walter is missing from the picture too. Walter was born in 1870 after July 29th and would be about 4 years old at this time. He is in the 1880 census so Walter was definitely alive at this time.

Religion Analysis: Both Edwin and Isabella became Mormons in 1878. They were baptized members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1878. Edwin’s second wife Alice was baptized a member of the LDS church much later in 1906.

Unknown girl analysis: I have no information who the unknown person is. It could be a friend, a sister to either Isabella or Edwin, a cousin, or she could even be a second wife to Edwin. There is no evidence they practiced polygamy. Polygamy was primarily practiced by Mormons from 1852 to 1890 but only about 25% of Mormons ever practiced polygamy.

Assuming the girl in the picture is somewhere between 14 and 25 that would mean she was likely born between 1848 and 1858. Further assuming she is a family member, she could be any of the following people:

  • Edwin’s sister: Charlotte Lowe (1846-1915)
  • Edwin’s sister: Esther Lowe (1848-1922)
  • Isabella’s sister: Cynthia Baxter (1845-?)

Edwin’s future second wife Alice was born in 1844. If this is her, then she is a rather young looking 29 year old. Perhaps she is a friend of the family at this point.

The cover of the 1873 tin picture. I do not know if this is a cover or if it folded. I assume it folded.

Finally, here is a 5×7 I created that’s suitable for printing and framing:

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