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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. James B. Diver

There is no more attractive spot in Iowa, than Port Sunshine, the home of Mr. and Mrs. James B. Diver, of Keokuk.  It stands on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and is filled with treasures brought from many lands, and with family heirlooms, priceless in their association.

When Port Sunshine was built, there were no river improvements on the rapids.  Mr. and Mrs.  Diver have seen from Port Sunshine the building of the Government canal and locks, the steel bridge which spans the river, the dam and power house, the greatest power plant in the world.  Descriptive of this last great work, the power plant, Mrs. Diver has written a booklet, "Sound Waves," which gives a graphic picture of the great work, through the various sounds which accompanied the construction.  The conception is unique, and it is charmingly written.

Lorene Curtis Diver, the daughter of Julius C. Curtis and Eliza Skinner Curtis, was born in Lima, Ohio.  The family arrived in Keokuk to make their home the day on which President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and her early memory of the nation's sorrow is very vivid.

Mrs Diver is a descendant from the Yale family of Wales.  The first ancestor recorded in the direct male line in the pedigree, was Dominus Otho, nobleman, who came from Florence, Italy to England, in 1057, A. D.

The ancestor of the maternal side of the house, was Cuneda, 415, A. D., the head of the long line of kings and princes from whom the Yales were descended.

The name, date of, and place of birth, of the line from these two, down to Lorene Curtis Diver, is recorded and vouched for by historical records.

In December, 1869, Lorene Curtis was married to James Brice Diver in Keokuk.  Two children were born to them.  Their first child died at birth.  Helen Curtis Diver, born Thanksgiving day, 1875, lived fifteen short years, passing in the early springtime of young womanhood.

Mr. Diver comes from a long line of honorable ancestry, prominent in Colonial affairs, and in the formation of the State of Maryland, Thomas Johnson and Thomas Brice, signers of the "Resolutions of the Committee of Observation," March 22, 1775, which antedates the Mecklenburg Resolutions and the Declaration of Independence.  On July 4, 1900, a bronze tablet commemorating the signers was placed on the ground in Harford county Maryland.

Mr. and Mrs. Diver accepted the committee's invitation and went to Harford county to witness the ceremonies.

James Brice Diver is the son of Dr. Wm. Beck Diver and Lavina Brice.  Dr. Diver after graduating as a surgeon, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, was sent by the American Board of Foreign Missions as a medical missionary to China, May, 1838, where he established dispensaries and hospitals in Canton, Macoa, and other coast cities.  After his return to America he crossed the plains to California in 1849 as surgeon to the Cincinnati Mining and Trading Co.

James Brice Diver, engineer in steel and iron construction, bridges, viaducts, etc., (now retired), among close friends he is called, "bureau of information," a veritable court of inquiry;  courteous, generous, progressive, liberal and philanthropic in his views.  Served in the Civil War, is a son of American Revolution, Shriner, Knights Templar, Royal Arch, Master Mason, Elk.

A few years ago Mr. and Mrs. Diver made the tour around the world.  While in Macoa, China, they visited one of the hospitals which Dr. Diver had established nearly seventy years before.  When about to leave Madras, India, they incidentally learned from an Englishman of an interesting pagoda-like monument, erected in 1681, by Elihu Yale, then Governor of Madras, in memory of his son, David.  For more than two hundred years this peculiar structure had stood alone on the open plain in full view from the sea, now within the compound and surrounded by the High Courts of Madras.  Believing they were probably the only descendants of the Yale family who had ever seen this monument (from America at least), a young German officer who was with them took a picture of this old, old structure, with these two twentieth century tourists in evidence; while under surveillance of a native guard, suspicious of their harmless intentions.  Later, while on the home stretch, circling the world, they went purposely to Wrexham, Wales, to the church, the grave of this Elihu Yale, Gov. of Madras, founder of Yale University 1701.

In England they realized they were among their own, "The mother country," after more than a year among the dark races of the far east.  They enjoyed the White Man's Country, and prowled about London by themselves, making discoveries of places read about, and found the locality, then the old building where Mrs. Diver's mother's forebears had manufactured ink, Printers Ink, and ink spot on her memory not to be effaced.

Mr. and Mrs. Diver have traveled extensively through the States seeing the places of wonder and pleasure in their best seasons.  In 1906-'07 they made the journey around the world.  They took with them in their minds a wealth of information, and in their hearts, a love for travel, and so the journey meant more to them, than the average traveler.  They covered some 42,000 miles and visited 26 countries.  Nothing could better illustrate Mrs. Diver's position in her home city than to give a list of clubs of which she is a charter member:  Keokuk Book Club, 1883;  Audubon Society of Iowa, 1886;  Woman's Club, 1898;  Keokuk Chapter D. A. R.., 1898;  The Benevolent Union, 1890;  Monday Music Club, 1900;  Wednesday Reading Club, 1895;  Country Club;  Humane Society;  Sunshine Society;  Civic League, 1912.  Mrs. Diver was one of the organizers of the State Audubon Society in Iowa.  She is devoted to the study of birds and loves nature in all its forms.  The first meeting of the Keokuk Chapter, D. A. R., was held at "Port Sunshine," when the organization was effected.



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