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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Mrs. George H. France.

Nannie Bourne France is the daughter of one of the first white settlers of Iowa Territory and as such is certainly a real daughter of Iowa.  She was born in De Witt, Clinton county, Iowa.  She is the daughter of the Hon. James D. and Christiana Dennis Bourne who were married in 1844 and resided in Clinton county the remainder of their lives.  Mr. Bourne was born in Prince Williams county, Va., in 1832.  At the age of 21 he came to Gelena, Ill., and was one of a company which built the first smelting works in this section of the U. S.  In 1836 he moved to Clinton county, Iowa, and occupied a cabin built by the American Fur Co., on the banks of the Waubesipinicon river.  He was the second white settler in the county and was postmaster at Waubesipinicon, Dubuque county, which was then a part of the Wisconsin territory.  He was appointed lieutenant of the militia by the governor of the Territory.  He served as deputy sheriff continuously by election until Iowa was admitted as a state.  He filled the office of U. S. Marshall, was a member of the second general assembly, and served both as treasurer and recorder of Clinton, and as U. S. Commissioner.  In 1863 he began the study of law, was admitted to the bar and became one of the best known members of the profession in Iowa.  His death occurred in 1893.  His wife having died Nov. 23, 1890.

On April 13, 1887, Nannie Bourne was married to George H. France, of Des Moines.  They have one son, George Bourne France, who was born Nov. 23, 1889.  He is a graduate of the North High School of Des Moines, and of the University of Wisconsin, and is in business in Des Moines.  Mrs. France is an active club woman and identified with many of the prominent organizations of Des Moines.  She is a P. E. O. and has served chapter Q, which is the largest chapter in the State, as treasurer and as president.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Roadside Settlement House.  She has for a number of years been chairman of the Civics Committee of the Des Moines City Federation of Women's Clubs.  She was the first woman of that city to take up the movement against the smoke nuisance.  She spent the greater part of nine years in familiarizing herself and the public, through the press, of the waste and of the destruction to plant and animal life and to property by the smoke nuisance.  Defeated many times in securing a state law, giving cities power to deal with this problem constitutionally, Mrs. France did not give up, but persevered with determination, that for the sake of suffering humanity she would yet win.  At last in 1910 the Anti Smoke law was passed, and in Sep. 6, 1911, a city ordinance was passed for the abatement of smoke.  These laws are being enforced by a smoke inspector and by a smoke abatement commission of five persons of which Mrs. France is one, being the only woman on the commission.

She is an earnest advocate of equal suffrage and is an active member of two clubs, working for the full enfranchisement of women.  Mrs. France has for a number of years been a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Des Moines.  She is a lover of nature and of travel and has seen the greater part of this country.  While she is a woman of public spirit and interested in civic affairs, yet her home is her first consideration and receives a great deal of her personal supervision.



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