Nellie Showers Teter

Cousin Howard Maxwell sent us the biographical sketch and picture below, which appeared in pages 421-423 of Trustees and Officers of Indiana University, 1820 to 1850, by Burton Dorr Myers, Dean and Professor Emeritus of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Even though Nellie (Showers) Teter is related to my Bloomington family only through marriage, I chose to include this sketch in our family album. Her uncle, James David Showers, married my grandmother's aunt, Anna Belle Allen, so she and grandmother certainly would have known each other through the extended Seward/Allen/Showers family. Nellie was eight years older than my grandmother. As the biography written by her first cousin's husband, Dr. Myers, mentions, Nellie was the first woman to serve as a trustee of Indiana University.


TRUSTEE, 1924-1945

NELLIE SHOWERS TETER (Mrs. Sanford F. Teter), of Monroe County, was born in Bloomington, November 11, 1873, the daughter of William N. and Hannah (Hendrix) Showers. The Showers family is of Swiss descent. The grandfather was a cabinet-maker and an itinerant Methodist preacher. During the early part of the nineteenth century the family lived for a brief time in a number of places as far north as Fort Wayne and as far south as Shreveport, La.

To escape from a yellow fever epidemic the family joined an exodus from Shreveport, came north by boat, intending to land in Memphis, Tenn. But when the boat reached Memphis, yellow fever had broken out among the passengers, and no landing was permitted. The boat, therefore, proceeded up the Mississippi and the Ohio to New Albany, where passengers were allowed to disembark. Indiana at that time was a cabinet-maker's paradise. Some of the most beautiful trees of this continent were growing in the forests of southern Indiana. After living a short time in several Indiana communities, the family came to Rloomington in 1856. The grandfather and the son began cabinet-making, employing foot power. This business grew ultimately into one of the largest furniture factories on the continent.

Nellie received her preliminary education in the Bloomington schools from which in 1887 she entered the Preparatory Department of Indiana University. Two years later, in September, 1889, she entered the University on certificate and was graduated in 1893 with the degree A.B.

On April 24, 1895, she married Sanford F. Teter,1 a prominent graduate of Indiana University. They had two children,2 and the family home has always been in Bloomington.

In 1924 Nellie Showers Teter was elected alumni trustee of Indiana University.

It was in 1867 that the first woman student was admitted to the University. It was in 1871 that a woman was first elected as a member of the faculty. Fifty-one years later, just a century after instruction was begun in Indiana University, Mrs. Teter had the honor of being the first woman to become a member of the Board of Trustees. She served continuously for twenty-one years.

Mrs. Teter took her place on the board at the time of the dedication of Memorial Hall, and while concerned with all matters affecting the welfare of Indiana University, she was particularly interested in construction and equipment of dormitories for women students. She is a member of Mortar Board, the Faculty Women's Club, the Women's Faculty Club, and other organizations.

Sources: University records supplemented by Mrs. Teter.

Nellie's initial candidacy for the alumni trustee position was mentioned in an article in the 4 Apr 1924 Bloomington Daily Telephone:

4 Candidates
I.U. Trustee

Petitions by alumni naming four candidates for the position of alumni trustee of Indiana University at the expiration of the present term of Edward Corr, of Bloomington, have been filed with Librarian Alexander, it was announced here today. Mr. Corr is announced as a candidate to succeed himself for a term of three years. Roy O. Pike, cashier of the Citizens Loan and Trust Company; Mrs. Sanford Teter, of this city; and J. A. Price of Ossian, are the other candidates named for the position...

Mrs. Teter is a member of the class of 1893 and is associated in various civic enterprises of Bloomington. She is a member of the Local Council of Women, the American Association of University Women, the Kappa Gamma Sorority, and has had an active part on the Bloomington hospital board. Mrs. Teter before marriage was Miss Nellie Gertrude Showers. She is a sister of W. E. Showers. It is understood that Indiana University alumnae of Indianapolis drew up the petition for her election to the Board of Trustees...

The death of Nellie's husband occasioned the shutdown of the Showers factory, as described in this item from the front page of the Bloomington Telephone, 23 February 1928:

Showers Factory Monday

The Showers factory plants which have been down from Tuesday morning until this evening on account of the funeral of Sanford F. Teter, will not start up until Monday.

One of Indiana University's residence halls, the Nellie Showers Teter Quadrangle, was named in Nellie's honor.

1 Sanford F. Teter was born 25 May 1871, the son of Newton Teter and Susan E. Adkins, according to Florence A. Wilson Houston, Maxwell History and Genealogy, Indianapolis, Press of C.E. Pauley and Company, 1916, pp. 360-368.
2 Nellie and Sanford were enumerated in the 1910 census along with their children, Mary Louise and William S., at 508 N. Washington St., a few blocks from the I.U. campus.
This page was last updated 11 Feb 2005.