Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Based on the date chiseled into her gravestone in Mt. Pleasant’s Old City Cemetery, Diana Bowen died in 1854, at the young age of forty-one. Research shows she was born in Ohio, the daughter of Isaac Bowen and the sister of Huldah Bowen, who became the wife of Presley Saunders, founder of Mount Pleasant.
Diana made a name for herself in local county history books because of her three marriages and the fact that all three husbands were buried with her in the same family plot.
At some point during her short life, an oil painting was done of Diana. After her death, the large painting passed down through family members and ultimately, in 1969, the portrait was sold at auction to a collector in Kentucky. Taped to the back of the canvas was a typed letter, identifying Diana and telling of her burial in the City Cemetery of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
Eventually, the purchaser gifted the painting of Diana to his son, who stored the unframed portrait for years. Wanting to dispose of the painting, David P. Taylor Antiques of Owensboro, Kentucky, was contacted in February 2021 to put Diana’s portrait up for sale. Intrigued by the letter of provenance, Mr. David Taylor reached out to Mt. Pleasant Director of Public Works Rick Mullin, who forwarded the call to Henry County Heritage Trust.
After many emails and phone conversations, coordinated by Mr. Taylor, the owners agreed to donate Diana’s portrait to Henry County Heritage Trust. It was then determined the painting needed restoration and framing. Again, Mr. Taylor stepped up and contacted his art restorer friend Paul Plaschke of Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Plaschke also offered to donate his services!
Finally, after months of extensive cleaning and repair work, the newly framed portrait of Diana looked good as new. Due to the generosity of donors, Bob and Teri Meythaler, the expert restoration by Paul Plaschke and the efforts of David P. Taylor, Diana Bowen was ready to return to Iowa.
In June 2022, a trip was made to Kentucky and the portrait of Diana is now at home and on display at the Henry County Heritage Center Museum. Please come and visit. The museum is open every Saturday, 1-4, May through October; any other times by appointment by calling 319-385-4983.