TEXANNA FOWLER b. 1860, Victim of the Pacolet River Flood of 1903

“Four angels now on high
They are hand in hand together
Four are linked now to bind us to them
Four fingers beckon us to come”

June 6, 1903.  The most catastrophic flood in recorded South Carolina history roared down the Pacolet River, destroying homes and mills, –the raging waters dragging dozens of men, women, and children downstream to their deaths.

Texanna Fowler was born in Union County, South Carolina in 1860.  Her father was William Earle Fowler, son of Mark Fowler, son of John Fowler the Elder and Fannie.

Texanna’s mother was Martha O’Neal, daughter of Nancy and her husband Barney O’Neal, immigrant from Ireland and, if one can believe what has been written about old Barney O’Neal, quite a character.

Martha O’Neal Fowler was dead by July 2, 1860 — the day census-taker T.J.Harris visited the household to count the family members within.  One month old and motherless, Texanna Fowler was surrounded by family — father William Earle Fowler, grandmother Nancy O’Neal, brother Belton Fowler, sisters Mary and Nancy Fowler, and aunt Elizabeth O’Neal.

Her grandfather Mark Fowler lived next door with his second wife, Mary Ann O’Neal (also a daughter of  Barney O’Neal), and their children.

texanna 1860.png
1860 Union County SC Census
  • Nancy O’Neal 80 (widow of Barney O’Neal; mother of Elizabeth, Mary & Martha)
  • Earl Fowler 26 (son of Mark Fowler & Nancy)
  • Elizabeth (O’Neal) 24 (daughter of Barney O’Neal & Nancy)
  • Belton Fowler 6 (son of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • Nancy Fowler 4 (daughter of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • MaryAn Fowler 3 (daughter of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • Texanna Fowler 1 month (daughter of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • Mark Fowler 73 (son of John Fowler the Elder & Fannie)
  • Mary Ann O’Neal Fowler 34 (daughter of Barney O’Neal & Nancy)
  • Christian Fowler 16 (daughter of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Harriet Fowler 13 (daughter of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Andy Fowler 9 (son of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Noah Fowler 5 (daughter of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Thomas Fowler 3 (son of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)

The years in-between 1860 to 1870 brought many changes to these families.  Mark Fowler died, leaving Mary Ann O’Neal a widow who lived with her son Noah Fowler in 1870.  Mary Ann O’Neal Fowler and Noah lived next door to her daughter Harriet Fowler who had married James Powell, and their two young children.

William Earl Fowler had married Taylor Ann Harris and had begun a new family with her.  They had moved from the Kelton area to Gowdeysville north of the Pacolet River and what was later to become part of Cherokee County, SC.

Elizabeth O’Neal and Texanna Fowler are found in 1870 census records with Jack Willard, and a three year old Calvin WillardElizabeth and Texanna were recorded as Lizzie Willard and Texanna Willard.     

Elizabeth Fowler and Texanna Fowler were counted as mother and daughter in 1880 with an elderly John Willard and twelve year old Calvin Fowler.  Most likely, Elizabeth was raising Texanna as her own daughter after the death of Martha O’Neal Fowler, and Elizabeth had given birth to son Calvin, fathered by John Willard Calvin was always recorded in legal documents as Calvin H. Willard after the 1880 census.

Bradley Sevier Johnson (1866-1919) was the son of Noble Perry Johnson (1826-1883) and Malinda E. Israel (1840–1895).  Noble Perry Johnson was the son of Hugh Johnson (1793-1876) and Sarah Lane Bradley (1793-1868).

Noble Perry Johnson was born in Henderson County, North Carolina and lived most of his life there.  He was included in the 1880 census in that county.  Noble Perry Johnson moved from North Carolina to Spartanburg County, South Carolina after 1880,and he died there in 1883.  He is buried in the Liberty United Methodist Church cemetery along with many other Johnsons.

The paths of Texanna Fowler and Bradley Sevier Johnson crossed sometime between 1880 and 1890, for they married circa 1890 and began their family:

  • Oliver Johnson 1892–1903
  • Roscoe Johnson 1894–1903
  • Beulah Johnson 1895–1896
  • Maggie Johnson 1896–1903
  • Chester Johnson 1899–1900
  • Hugh Johnson 1901–1903

Their last child, Hugh, was likely named after Bradley Johnson’s father, Hugh Johnson.

BS Johnson 1900.png

Bradley Sevier Johnson was a merchant in 1900 who owned his home free and clear.

1900 general merchandise.png

While researching the Pacolet River Flood of 1903, I stumbled upon a partial list of victims from Clifton who had perished in the flood.  The list included Mrs. S.B Johnson and four children.  Was this Texanna Fowler Johnson, wife of Bradley Sevier Johnson?

I discovered another list of victims from The History of Pacolet, Volume II, by Willie Fleming:

1903 victims.png

Mrs. B.S. Johnson (Texanna Fowler) had four living children prior to the 1903 flood, and two of her sons were named Oliver and Roscoe Johnson.

I also read  that “Ben Johnson, a merchant of the settlement of Santuck, just below the No. 2 mill, drifted nine miles with his wife and two children, down to the raging Pacolet River on the roof of his house, only to see his family disappear of the Pacolet Mills dam in a swirling eddy.”

ben johnson.png

 from the article The Great Freshet of 1903 written by William M. Branham and published in the Sandlapper magazine Feb 1980.

Was this Bradley Sevier Johnson misidentified as Ben Johnson?

The following from 1904 Spartanburg Almanac, compiled by J.A. Gamewell and D.D.
Wallace, W.F. Barnes, Spartanburg 1904, pp. 7-15:

At Clifton No. 2 a large number of houses were built upon a beautiful plane on the right bank from ten to fifteen feet above the water and seventy-five yards in width. 400 yards lower down on the opposite side was another level plane that encircled by a sharp curve of the stream, where lay the section of the town known as Santuc. From these two flat places 60 houses were swept, and here occurred the great bulk of the fatalities. The drowned reaching the number of fifty. Here occurred some of the most pathetic scenes and some of the most thrilling escapes. Here, too, lived B. S. Johnson, who escaped from the raging flood after having been borne for several miles upon its bosom, but whose wife and five children were drowned. It was his little boy who floated on a piece of timber eight miles to Pacolet and disappeared in the waves fifteen feet high plunging over the dam and Shoals. 

There is no official or accurate death count from the great disaster of 1903, more than a few persons were reported dead even though they were alive and well, and many bodies were buried, mutilated and unidentified, many weeks later on the banks of the river where they had drifted miles and miles downstream.

I took all of this into account in determining the family of B.S. Johnson/S.B. Johnson/Ben Johnson and the four or five children swept to their early deaths along with their mother.  I also had the good luck to have found written records from family members who knew that Texanna Fowler had married Mr. Johnson, and that she and her children had died in the flood of 1903.

B. S. Johnson was Bradley Sevier Johnson.  Did he float down river with his family, or did he watch from the banks as they washed over the dam? It was reported that he watched as his family was tossed over the Clifton Dam to their deaths.

His wife was Texanna Fowler and the four children who drowned with her were  11 year old Oliver, 9 year old Roscoe, seven year old Maggie, and 2 year old Hugh.  The only body recovered was that of the youngest.  Hugh Johnson’s body was found ten miles downstream, washed ashore near Pacolet.

The two children who had died before the flood, one year old Beulah in 1896, and one year old Chester in 1900, had died far too young, but had escaped the horrendous death that their siblings would face in the rushing, muddy waters of 1903.

Beulah and Chester Johnson were buried at Liberty United Methodist Church near Spartanburg, SC in proximity of their grandfather Noble Perry Johnson.  From the inscriptions on their headstones, it is evident that they were very loved.


 Dau. of B.S. and Texanna Johnson

Born Aug 26, 1895

Died Feb 3, 1896

Little bud of love

To bloom with God above


beulah johnson



Son of B.S. & T. Johnson

May 19, 1899

May 23, 1900

Our darling hath gone before

To greet us on the blissful shore

chester johnson

There is only one headstone that honors the memory of Texanna Fowler Johnson and her four children who perished in the flood of 1903.  That headstone marks the grave of two year old Hugh Johnson in the Clifton Cemetery near Spartanburg.  The names of his siblings whose bodies were never found, as well as his mother, are inscribed on the stone.



Son of B.S. and Texanna Johnson,

Drowned in the great Pacolet flood,

June 6, 1903,

Together with his mother, Oliver, Roscoe and Maggie

None of the bodies except his were ever found, age 2 years.

Four angels now on high

They are hand in hand together

Four are linked now to bind us to them

Four fingers beckon us to come


1903 hugh.png


With the exception of Bradley Sevier Johnson, an entire family was wiped off the face of the earth in one horrendous day.  Mr. Johnson lost his wife and all four of his children.  One cannot imagine the sorrow he endured.   I wondered what became of this broken man………

Bradley Sevier Johnson married Ida Burma Dodd (1883-1985) circa 1905.  Ida was the daughter of Thomas Lewis Dodd (1855-1903) and Ida Susan Compton (1862-1943).

When I saw that Ida Burma Dodd’s father died in 1903, I had to pause a moment — did he also perish in the flood?  He did not.  Thomas Lewis Dodd died after suffering a long illness in Oconee County, South Carolina.

Bradley Sevier Johnson and his second wife, Ida Burna Dodd, had four daughters and one son:

  • Nita Bell Johnson 1906-2000
  • Isla Melinda Johnson 1908-2005
  • Irene Johnson 1908-
  • Sara Johnson 1914-2003
  • Bernard Samuel Johnson 1916-2009

Bradley Sevier Johnson died on May 29, 1919.  

There is little that I can add to what already has been written about the devastating Pacolet River Flood of 1903.  I am adding links below to several websites that well describe what happened that day and the weeks afterwards.


“poor boy! I never knew you,                                                                                                         Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you,                                                             if that would save you”

― Walt Whitman, Drum Taps

bunk fowler.png

Thomas W. “Bunker” Fowler


From the Union Daily Times, December 1960:

bunker hill.png


Thomas W. (Bunker) Fowler was the son of Mrs. Katherine Fowler and was born near Jonesville on May 21, 1834.  During his childhood he attended the public schools taught on the outskirts of the present town limits of Jonesville and near Gilead Church, with William Meng his principle instructor.

He was the first soldier from the Union District to fall in the War Between the States, being killed at First Manassas.

Shortly after the secession of the state, he was employed in the store of D.B. Beardon as a clerk.

With the slow means of communication in those days, the climax came when it was learned on April 14, 1861 of the siege of Fort Sumter.  On that afternoon Capt. Clark, the conductor of the Southern train from Charleston to Spartanburg got off his train, waving a South Carolina flag and scattering circulars telling of Fort Sumter being fired upon and calling for volunteers.

“Bunk” Fowler was one of the first to determine to answer the call of his state and left the next day to join the Pea Ridge Company, 5th Regiment in Charleston.  This command remained on the coast for defense until the latter part of May when they returned home.  Upon arriving home, the group enlisted in the army of Virginia and were ordered to Virginia in June arriving at Manassas on the 20th of July.

On the morning of the 21st of July, 1861, he approached a cousin of his, John D. Long and told him that he had a presentment that he would be killed on that day and that he wished to give him his knife and the $30 in money he had brought with him in order that it might be returned to his mother.  So to satisfy the young man, Mr. Long took the possessions and on that day — July 21, 1861 — Thomas Fowler was killed in the First Battle of Manassas true to his presentment.  He died in the arms of Dr. Jim Long, who was a private in the same command.

“Bunk” came from a family long renown for bravery, being a great nephew of the famous Sergeant Jasper of Revolutionary fame.

He was buried temporarily on the battlefield by members of his company.  Later his remains were brought home and on November 30, 1861, the funeral was conducted at his mother’s home in Jonesville by Rev. A.A. James.  He was buried in Gilead Cemetery, in the presence of an old comrade who had assisted in his first burial — Elias Mitchell.  Although on crutches he again assisted in the burial.

After the war a stone was erected over his grave by members of his company with the following inscription

“Thomas Fowler, 27 years old                                                                                                            Killed July 21, 1861 at Manassas                                                                                                Member Pea Ridge Company, 5th Regiment                                                                                This is a tribute to his bravery and soldiery qualities                                                              from his comrades in battle”

headstone bunker fowler.png

Headstone of Thomas W. Fowler


Not withstanding the bravery of Thomas W. Fowler during the midst of battle, we learn three very important bits of information from the above newspaper article above regarding the ancestry of this fallen soldier.

  1.  Thomas W. Fowler was son of Mrs. Katherine Fowler. 
  2.  Thomas W. Fowler was employed in the store of D.B. Bearden.
  3.  Thomas W. Fowler was a great nephew of Sergeant William Jasper.

There is no mention of his father in the newspaper article, but there is little doubt that Thomas was the grandson of Mark Fowler and Elizabeth Moseley.  The following facts will lend support to this statement.

Thomas W. Fowler’s mother was Katherine Fowler.  Was she a daughter or daughter-in-law of Mark Fowler and Elizabeth Moseley?

Why was Thomas Fowler’s father not mentioned in the article written about his death in the War between the States?  Was it because Katherine Fowler was unmarried?

It is stated that Thomas Fowler was a great nephew of Sergeant Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero.  Sergeant Jasper was William Jasper, born circa 1750 and died in 1779 during the Siege of Savannah.  It is thought that he was a son of John Jasper of Virginia, a blacksmith who moved to Union County, SC in the early 1770s.

Elizabeth Moseley was the daughter of James Moseley and Nancy Anna Jasper, daughter of John Jasper and sister to Sergeant William Jasper.

It is known that Mark Fowler and Elizabeth Moseley’s granddaughter Alpha Ethel Fowler Garner Crawford (daughter of Walter Gaines Fowler) attended the unveiling of the William Jasper monument in Savannah, Georgia in 1888.  She was escorted by her cousin Gideon Long, a grandson of Womack Fowler (brother of Mark Fowler).

jasper monument.png

Sgt. William Jasper Monument

Thomas W. Fowler would be a great nephew of Sergeant William Jasper if his mother were indeed Katherine Fowler, daughter of Mark Fowler and Elizabeth Moseley.

The 1850 Union County Census lends another layer of proof in surmising that Thomas W. Fowler was the grandson of Mark Fowler.  A breakdown of the record below:

mark fowler census 1850.png

1850 Union County Census


  • Mark Fowler age 70
  • Elizabeth Moseley Fowler age 67
  • Walter Gaines Fowler age 22
  • Catherine Fowler age 45
  • Orry Fowler age 44
  • Mary Fowler age 42
  • Huldah Fowler Leonard age 35
  • Selina Fowler age 30
  • William Leonard age 9 (son of Huldah Fowler)
  • James Leonard age 6 (son of Huldah Fowler)
  • George Leonard age 5 (son of Huldah Fowler)
  • Michael Leonard age 2 (son of Huldah Fowler)
  • Thomas Fowler age 16 (son of Catherine Fowler)

Knowing that Katherine Fowler was the mother of Thomas W. Fowler, the presence of Catherine Fowler and Thomas Fowler within the household of Mark Fowler is circumstantial proof of the relationship.

It should be mentioned that Huldah Fowler (1815-1853)  married Alex Leonard (1810-1870) in Jonesville, SC in 1836.  They had four sons who are incorrectly recorded in the 1850 census with the surname of Fowler:

  • WIlliam R. Leonard b. 1840
  • James Hood Leonard b. 1842
  • George V. Leonard b. 1845
  • Robert Norris Leonard b. 1847

Was  Huldah’s husband Alex Leonard also known as Michael Leonard?  In 1840, there was a household headed by Michael Leonard adjacent to the Mark Fowler household.  It included the following:

  • 1 male 20-29   (Michael/Alex Leonard?)
  • 1 female 20-29   (Huldah Fowler Leonard?)
  • 1 male < 5    (William R. Leonard?)

Was two year old Michael in the Mark Fowler household of 1850 named after his father Michael/Alex Leonard?  If so, was his name later changed to Robert Norris Leonard?

In 1860, there were several Thomas Fowlers in the Union County census who could have been Thomas W. Fowler.  I eliminated several of them but could never be entirely sure which one may have been young Bunker.

Benjamin Dixon “Berry” Bearden was born circa 1827, a son of James Bearden and Cassandra Meaders.  He was a postmaster for the town of Jonesville, SC and opened a store there in 1857.  He died in 1864, leaving a widow, Sarah, and five young children.

…… “Shortly after the secession of the state, Thomas W. Fowler was employed in the store of D.B. Beardon as a clerk.” 

The bell in my head clanged loudly as I remembered twenty-six year old Thomas Fowler, clerk, in the 1860 household of B.D. Bearden.   Was this Thomas W. Bunker Fowler?  Yes.  No doubt.  Yes!

The household next door was that of Catherine Fowler (aged 36 but probably should read 56) and Robert aged 12 and Leonard aged 10.  Was this Catherine, daughter of Mark and mother of Thomas W. Fowler raising the two younger sons of her deceased sister Huldah Fowler Leonard?  Probably.  A careless census taker perhaps wrote down the incorrect age for Catherine and  was perhaps confused over the names of George and Robert Leonard.

bunker 1860.png

1860 Union County Census

Thomas W. Fowler’s name was added to the Union County census on July 25, 1860.  Less than one year later –July 21, 1861 — this brave soldier was shot through his body by a round ball on a battlefield in Virginia.  Thomas W. Fowler crossed the eternal river an hour later.

Thomas W. Bunker Fowler was a son of Union County, and it is there where he was laid to rest one hundred and fifty-seven years ago.  He will not be forgotten.

“Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Last words of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

ELLIS FOWLER 1805-before 1840, son of Ephraim

Named after his grandfather, Ellis Fowler was the last son born to Ephraim and Nancy Moseley Fowler.  He was born circa 1805 in Union County, SC and died before 1840.

Ellis and his sister Betty were still living in his father’s household in 1822 when Ephraim’s will was probated.  How do I know this?  From Ephraim’s will of 1822:

Ellis and Betty remain with their mother.png

“Ellis and Betty remain with their mother”


Sometime after 1822 and before 1825, Ellis married Sarah “Sallie” Mabry.  An analysis of census records indicates that Ellis, his wife Sarah, two young sons, and a young daughter lived in the home of his widowed mother Nancy Fowler in 1830.

How do I know that Nancy Fowler’s household of 1830 included Ellis and his young family, and not that of Betty and her family?  If I may turn aside from Ellis for a moment, I will explain my train of thought…………….


Ephraim left his daughter Betty a negro girl named Jane, a feather bed, a cow and calf.

to betty.png

“I will and bequeath to my Daughter Betty…”

Betty married Richardson Bentley between 1822 and 1830.  The 1830 Union County census reflects the following household:

  • Randall R. Bentley age 20-29 (Richardson……Randall…….a census taker’s mistake when recording the name of the head of household?)
  • a female age 15-19  (right age for Betty)
  • a female slave age 10-23 (“one negro girl named Jane“)

Richardson Bentley and Betty Fowler began their family with the birth of son Lemuel Bentley in 1831.  They may have had more children born in Union County before moving to Blount County, Alabama where some of their children were born.

The Bentley family was counted in the 1840 census for Blount County.  Richardson Bentley died in 1843.  Betty Fowler Bentley was included in Blount County census records in 1850 and 1860.  She was summoned to Union County SC in 1866 for the settlement of her brother Stephen Fowler’s estate settlement.

If the 1830 household of Randall S. Bentley was indeed the Richardson and Betty Fowler Bentley household — the 1830 household of Nancy Fowler could only include her son Ellis, his wife Sarah, and their three young children:

  • Nancy Fowler: female 50-59
  • Ellis Fowler: male 20-29
  • Sarah Mabry Fowler: female 20-29
  • Henry Richard Fowler: male <5
  • Julia Fowler: female <5
  • B. Elbert Fowler: m<5

(daughter Mary Jane Fowler was born after 1830)

Ellis and Sarah had four children prior to his untimely death before 1840.  Was his  death caused by an accident or illness?  Was he laid to rest in the graveyard on the old Fowler place?  His early demise meant that he would never be head of household in any census records.  Instead, his widow, Sarah Mabry Fowler was counted in 1840.

sarah mabry 1840.png

1840 Union County SC Census

  • Sarah Fowler: age 30-39
  • Julia Fowler: age 10-14
  • Mary Jane Fowler: age 5-9

Were twelve year old Henry Richard and seven year old Elbert sent to live with relatives?

sarah mabry 1850.png

1850 Union County SC Census

In the 1850 census, Sarah Fowler was living with her eldest son, Henry Richard Fowler.

  • Sarah Fowler: age 42
  • Henry Fowler: age 24

Julia Fowler had married William Sprouse and was counted in his household in 1850.  Mary Jane Fowler was living with her favorite aunt, Mary Fowler White (sister of Ellis Fowler), and B. Elbert Fowler was not to be found although he was soon to marry Malinda Susannah Newbury and move to Cherokee County, Georgia.

Sarah Mabry Fowler is absent from records after the 1850 census.  Did she marry again, or perhaps follow her dearly departed husband Ellis Fowler into the afterlife?  I still continue to search for her, and hope to someday have more answers.

Children of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Mabry

  • Henry Richard Fowler b. 1825
  • Julia Fowler b. 1828
  • B. Elbert Fowler b. 1830
  • Mary Jane Fowler b. 1833



  • Ellis Fowler 1805-before 1840 m. Sarah (Sallie) Mabry 1808–after 1850
    • Henry Richard Fowler 1825–1885 m. Nancy Ann Elizabeth Farr 1840–1923
      • John Henry Fowler 1861–1914 m.  Eunice Lawson 1869–1919
        • Henry Richard Fowler 1889–1917
        • Robert K Fowler 1891–1917
        • Mamie Fowler 1893–1951 m. William Oscar Horne 1892–1966
          • Robert Horne 1918–
          • Gladys Horne 1921–
          • James Cecil Horne 1921–1953 m. Alta Jones
          • William Fowler “Billy” Horne 1923–2005
          • Peggy Horne 1927–2003
          • Sarah Ann Horne 1930–
        • Carrie Fowler 1895–1975 m. James F Faulkner 1891–
          • James Fowler Faulkner 1924–2000
          • Hugh Grier Faulkner 1927–1993
          • Rachel Faulkner 1929–
          • John Wilson Faulkner 1932–1989
        • Vera Fowler 1897–1977
        • William Fred Fowler 1900–1968
        • Mary Fowler 1903–1995
        • John Wilson Fowler 1906–1975
        • James Glenn Fowler 1909–1968
      • William Gist Fowler 1863–1923
      • David Nicholas Fowler 1866–1950
      • Sarah Catherine Fowler 1867–1950
      • James Thomas Fowler 1871–1954
      • Louise Fowler 1873–1953
      • Lucy Caroline Fowler 1876–1963
      • Richard Franklin Fowler 1878–1961 m. Mamie Aycock 1886–1972
        • Richard States Rights Fowler 1910–1962
        • Norris Rogers “Buddy” Fowler 1912–1997
        • Harold C Fowler 1914–1988 m.  Carolyn Eugenia Brown 1917–2006
          • Julian Harold Fowler 1944–2006
        • Rowland Franklin Fowler 1915–1917
        • Thesis Fowler 1916–1989
        • Julian Campbell Fowler 1918–1937
      • Nannie Mahala Fowler 1881–1973
      • Mary Ellen Darling Fowler 1885–1974
    • Julia Fowler 1828–1880 m. William Sprouse 1822–1870
      • Mary Jane Sprouse 1848–1910 m. Andrew Jackson Foster 1834–
        • Emma Foster 1866–
        • William D. Foster 1873–
        • Elizabeth Foster 1876–
        • Lizzie Foster 1885–
        • Texanna Foster 1886–
      • John H Sprouse 1850–1910
      • James Calvin Sprouse 1853–1929
      • Sallie Sprouse 1854–1880
      • McSwain “Doc” Sprouse 1856–1936
      • Caroline Sprouse 1859–1880
      • LouElla Sprouse 1865–1939
      • Len Newton “Jesse” Sprouse 1868–1952 m Syphrone  Fowler 1870–1953
        • Willie C Sprouse 1889–1975
        • Clara M Sprouse 1892–
        • Cea L Sprouse 1897–
        • Eula Sprouse 1901–
        • Clarance Sprouse 1905–
        • Effie Sprouse 1908–
        • Lin Newton Sprouse 1909–1930
    • B. Elbert Fowler 1830–1900 m.  Malinda Susannah Newberry 1833–1905
      • Mary Fowler 1852–
      • Texanna Jane Fowler 1856–1923 m. Joseph H. Jones 1839–; m. Charles Hoffman 1865–
        • Lillie Jones 1877–1949 m.  Joseph Benjamin Garner 1875–1950
          • Hubert Lee Garner 1894–1943
          • Oco Lydia Garner 1896–
          • Anna Beatrice Garner 1899–
          • Murdie Garner 1902–
          • Marion Garner 1909–
          • Willie Garner 1913–
          • Ida Garner 1919–
        • Charlie Hoffman 1893–
      • Susan Northa Fowler 1858–
      • Harriett Fowler 1861–
      • John Marion Fowler 1861–1909  m. Nora Louise Strozier 1871–1935
        • Bennie L Fowler 1888–1963
        • Wilson S Fowler 1893–1968
        • Herbert F Fowler 1895–1915
        • Annie L Fowler 1897–1909
        • Walter Godard Fowler 1899–1984 m. Leila Jane Hencely 1914
          • Walter Godard Fowler Jr. 1939–1999
        • John L Fowler 1901–1965
        • James E Fowler 1903–1978
        • Edward Jefferson Fowler 1904–1967 m. Rena Mae Davis 1906–1984
          • Jefferson Edward Fowler 1941–2007
      • Benjamin Fowler 1862–
      • Henry R Fowler 1869–1933 m. Georgia P Harris 1871–1949
      • Calvin Fowler 1873–
    • Mary Jane Fowler 1833– m. Newton Lipsey

STEPHEN FOWLER 1800-1866, son of Ephraim


On April 12, 1861, the first shot of the American Civil War was fired just before sunrise at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.  Eight days later, Professor Thaddeus Lowe left Cincinnati Ohio in his hot air balloon, the Enterprise, bound for Washington, D.C.   After traveling nine hours and eight hundred miles, he landed “slightly” off course in the Kelton farmlands of Union County, South Carolina.


The Enterprise

There has been much written about Professor Lowe’s balloon landing on April 20, 1861.  The locals erected a historical marker, and more than one hundred and fifty years after the landing, an occasional newspaper article recalling the event makes its way into print.

There was no photographer present to preserve Professor Lowe’s arrival.  Instead, we are fortunate to have a visual “snapshot”—his observations of the locals: the gun toting men who met him in the field with mostly reddish long hair and beards…their rotund stomachs covered with blue jean clothing and their heads with slouch hats.

While many of the men cowered behind bushes, two brave women, Theresa Hames and Susie Palmer, took hold of the rope that Professor Lowe dropped to the earth, and pulled him out of the sky.  Once he had convinced the frightened spectators who had witnessed the balloon’s descent that he was neither a Yankee spy nor the devil, he and his hot air balloon were loaded upon a large, lumbering wagon pulled by six mules and driven by Stephen Fowler to Unionville.

Stephen Fowler was the third son born to Ephraim Fowler and Nancy Moseley. His year of birth fell around 1798 to 1800, and his place of birth was Union County, South Carolina.  He was married twice–his first wife being Sarah and his second, Letticia.

One of the rope-pulling women, Susie Palmer, was a daughter of Stephen Fowler and his first wife SarahMary Susan Fowler was born c. 1834, married Jackson Palmer, and died June 30, 1918.  She was buried in the Haney graveyard in Kelton, not so very far from the site of the balloon landing.

Theresa Hames, the other rope-pulling woman, was the daughter of Stephen’s sister, Lydia Fowler Hames and Charles Hames.   Theresa Hames was recorded in the 1860 Union County census living at Mount Joy……the present site of the Balloon Landing historical marker.

In my search for records of Stephen Fowler, his mention in the Balloon Landing saga is an extraordinary glimpse into a day in his life.  It is most fortunate for us that he and the two brave female members of his family were involved with the events on April 20, 1861, and even more so that their names were recorded for posterity.

There is another document that I am extremely grateful to have found–the estate settlement petition made by his second wife, Letticia.  This document gives us the first names of his two wives, and the names of his sons and daughters.



Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 6.30.05 PM

” The petition of Letticia Fowler, widow of Stephen Fowler, late of the District and State aforesaid, dec’d, would respectfully show unto your court that Stephen Fowler, late of the District and State aforesaid, deceased as before mentioned, departed this life intestate on or about the 13th day of June 1866, leaving heirs surviving, his heirs at law, the following persons, viz, your Petitioner his widow, Marion Fowler and Louisa Fowler, children of your Petitioner, Moorman Fowler, Henry Fowler, Shelton Fowler, Cansady Wright, Susan Palmer, and Briant Fowler, children of Sarah Fowler, dec’d former wife of intestate;”

From the above document, we learn that Stephen Fowler was married first to Sarah, and they had sons Moorman, Henry, Shelton, and Bryant; and daughters (Mary) Susan (married to Jackson Palmer), and Cansady (married to Henry Wright).

Stephen’s second wife was Letticia who petitioned the court to settle the estate after his death in 1866.  Stephen and Letticia had son Marion, and daughter Louisa.

Census records seem to indicate that Stephen and Sarah may have had more children not mentioned in the estate settlement.  There is circumstantial evidence that there may have been a daughter (or daughter-in-law) named Caroline and a son (or son-in-law) named Jack Fowler.

What else do we know about Stephen Fowler?

  • In 1832, he mortgaged 100 acres located on Fannins Creek to William Gault for a $26 debt.  This property adjoined land owned by William Gault, James Millwood, Mark Wood, William Fowler, and other land owned by himself.
  • Previous to October 1, 1849, he sold his one-eighth share of his father’s estate to James Farr.

Stephen Fowler died June 13, 1866; his possessions were appraised in September, and put up for auction on November 30, 1866.  His widow Letticia purchased most of the estate, buying 30 pounds of cotton, 12 bushels of corn, 1 bed and furniture, 1 cupboard, a spinning wheel, a slab and a box, a table and 3 chairs, 2 jars and some nails, a lot of irons, and a plow, a vase, 3 earthen plates, 3 hogs, and a mule.

Son Morman Fowler purchased 2 iron wedges, fodder, and a mule.  Son Marion Fowler bought a lot of irons, some hoops, farming tools, and “truck” wheels.

Dr. Robert Little walked away with some old irons, 3 hogs, and a wagon that sold for $30.25……perhaps the very wagon that Stephen Fowler used to transport Professor Lowe’s hot air balloon to Unionville in 1861!

The land that Stephen Fowler owned was 85 acres, more or less, bounded by land owned by David Gallman, the estate of A.F. Haney, and Thomas Whitesides.  Widow Letticia Fowler purchased the land at auction on November 4, 1867 for $110.

William Bevis was the executor of the estate.  He was a neighbor but also had other connections to the Fowler family.  William Bevis had married three times, the second wife being Zilla Hames, daughter of Ephraim Fowler’s daughter Sarah Fowler Hames.  His daughter Selena Bevis married William G. Fowler, and his son John M. Bevis married his niece Vesta Fowler (daughter of Selena Bevis and William G. Fowler).

William Bevis had been deeply involved with the final settlement of Ephraim Fowler’s estate during the years 1846 to 1899.   His ties to the Fowler family were many and complicated.


stephen fowler 1830

1830 Union County SC Census

The Union County census of 1830 is the first in which Stephen Fowler was listed as head of household.  It was a rather large household and may have included his wife Sarah’s mother and two or more of Sarah’s brothers.  Below is fact combined with a little speculation of the persons living in the household:

  1. Stephen Fowler:   male 30-39
  2. Sarah Fowler:    female 20-29
  3. Henry Fowler:    male 10-15
  4. Shelton Fowler:    male 10-15
  5. Cansady Fowler:    female 5-10
  6. Bryant Fowler:    male 5-10
  7. male 5-10
  8. Morman Fowler:    male <5
  9. male <5
  10. female <5
  11. Sarah’s mother:   female 50-59
  12. Sarah’s brother:   male 20-29
  13. Sarah’s brother:   male 15-20



stephen fowler 1840

1840 Union County SC Census

There were fewer persons living in the Stephen Fowler household of 1840.  His wife in 1840 could have been either Sarah or Letticia.  At one time, I believed that Sarah was the female listed as age 30-39.  At this present time, I speculate that Sarah had died before 1840, Stephen had married Letticia, and their daughter Louisa was the female >5 recorded in the census of 1840.

  1. Stephen Fowler:   male 40-49
  2. Letticia Fowler:   female 30-39
  3. Bryant Fowler:   male 15-20
  4. male 15-20
  5. Morman Fowler:   male 10-15
  6. Caroline ? Fowler:   female 5-10
  7. Susan Fowler:   female 5-10
  8. Louisa ? Fowler:   female <5




stephen fowler 1850

1850 Union County SC Census

The 1850 census defines the Stephen Fowler household with the names of all persons living within.  I only question the presence of Caroline.  Was she a daughter, or a daughter-in law?  Caroline and Jack Fowler were the future parents of Clementine Fowler, born in 1870.  If Caroline was a daughter, why was she not mentioned in the Stephen Fowler estate settlement of 1866?  And why was Jack missing in census records in 1850?

  1. Stephen Fowler: 50
  2. Letticia Fowler: 29
  3. Caroline Fowler: 17
  4. Susan Fowler: 15
  5. Louisa Fowler: 10
  6. Marion Fowler: 3



steven 1860.png

1860 Union County SC Census

Stephen Fowler and his family were recorded in the 1860 census.  The upcoming decade would bring many changes to the family.  The Civil War began the next year, Stephen would meet his death six years later, leaving Letticia a widow, and son Marion would become involved in the KKK post war, and would eventually serve prison time in upstate New York for his Klan activities.

  1. Stephen Fowler: 62
  2. Letticia Fowler: 47
  3. Louisa Fowler: 19
  4. Marion Fowler: 15



letticia 1870

1870 Union County SC Census

Stephen Fowler died in 1866, and his widow Lettica was head of household in 1870.  Son Marion Fowler had married and was head of his own household.  Daughter Louisa Fowler still lived with her mother.  There were three young girls in the home—Mary, Etta, and Clementine Clementine was the daughter of Jack and Caroline Fowler.  Were Mary and Etta also the children of this couple, or the daughters of Louisa?

  1. Letticia Fowler: 61
  2. Louisa Fowler: 26
  3. Mary Fowler: 10
  4. Etta Fowler: 5
  5. Clementine Fowler: 8 months



bentley letticia

1880 Union County SC Census

The 1880 census raises more questions than it answers.  It perhaps gives us a hint of Letticia’s origins.  She was recorded as Tishie Fowler, age 71 and disabled with paralysis, in the household of William Bentley in 1880.  Was Letticia a “Bentley” before she married Stephen Fowler?  Eleven year old Clementine Fowler was also living in the household with the William Bentley family.   Was Clementine the (step)granddaughter of Letticia?  This conclusion depends on Caroline Fowler or Jack Fowler being a child of Stephen Fowler and Sarah.

Etta Fowler, age 14, was living in the Shelton Addis household next door.  Shelton Addis had married Eliza BentleyEliza’s sister Josephine Bentley was also living in the home.

Why were Letticia, Clementine, and Etta Fowler in these households?

All told, there were four households containing Bentley family members next to each other in 1880.  The first three contained extended family members, and the fourth consisted of a single female…..Lettie Bentley  (named after her aunt Letticia Fowler??)

Clementine Fowler was connected to the Stephen Fowler family.  The big question is how?  Was Caroline a daughter of Stephen, or was Jack a son?

It may be of some importance and must be mentioned that there was a Jackson Fowler in Cobb County, Georgia in 1870 with possible ties to the Ephraim Fowler family. As it often is in genealogy, the path is twisted and takes many turns, but please bear with me.  The conclusion is worth the journey.

Ephraim Fowler’s son, Ellis Fowler, had a daughter named Julia Fowler, born circa 1828.  Julia married William Sprouse and the couple moved from Union County, SC to Georgia in the years between 1850 to 1860.

Ephraim Fowler’s daughter Milly Fowler married James Millwood.  They had a son named Tillman Millwood born in 1827.  Tillman married a woman named Mary, and a daughter was born to them in 1858.  The daughter was named Rameth Millwood.

Three years later, on November 22, 1862, Tillman Millwood was killed while on picket post duty during the Civil War.

Fast forward to 1870.  Cobb County, Georgia.  Julia Fowler Sprouse and her family are living in this county adjacent to Jackson Fowler, wife Mary, daughter Emily, and Rameth Millwood, daughter of the deceased Tillman Millwood.

Bottom line: Ephraim Fowler’s great-granddaughter Rameth Millwood was living in the household of Jackson Fowler in 1870 next to Ephraim Fowler’s granddaughter Julia Fowler Sprouse.

So…..who was this Jackson Fowler and how was he connected to the Ephraim Fowler family?  Was he the “Jack” Fowler, father of Clementine Fowler?  Was he a son of Ephraim’s son Stephen?  Was he a Fowler cousin who married Stephen’s daughter Caroline?

And MaryTillman Millwood was married to Mary.  So was Jackson Fowler.  Was this the same Mary?  There is an age discrepancy in census records so I am not sure about this.  It is possible but more research is needed.

From the book, Philippi and Its People – 1888-1988 – The First Hundred Years by Anne Lawson Patrick:

clem fowler

L. Clementine Fowler


“Clementine Cudd, a daughter of Jack and Caroline Fowler, was born in Union County, SC on December 11, 1870. Orphaned as a small child, she was raised by Bill and Nancy Ann Bentley of the Adamsburg section of Union County. Mrs. Bentley taught her many skills, for which Mrs. Cudd became well-known: knitting, quilting, weaving, spinning, and tatting.

Clementine married Lemuel C. Cudd (1860-1917), who was called “Chud.” Making their home first below Kelton and later in Union, the Cudds raised ten children: Mary Susan; Mae Bell; Ben Tillman; Pearler; Rodney; Winifred Winthrop; Alice Elizabeth; Aileen Lucille; Pauline; and Madora. Mrs. Cudd died on May 26, 1947, and was buried in Rosemont Cemetery in Union.”

The Descendants of Stephen Fowler

Steven Fowler 1800-1866 m. Sarah d. before 1840; m. Letticia

  • Henry Fowler 1816–1880 m. Lucinda Wright 1821–
    • Sarah Ann Fowler 1840–1919 m. George Alexander Goforth 1832–1876
      • Sarah Jane Goforth 1859–1864
      • Nancy Georgianna “Nannie” Goforth 1861–1938 m Joseph Edward Johnson Foster 1865–1933
        • Sallie Ann Foster 1882–1960
        • Lilly Elizabeth Foster 1885–
        • George Washington Foster 1888–1964 m. Hettie Belle Garner 1891–1961
          • Jessy Foster 1909–
        • Margaret Jane Foster 1890–1963
        • Mildred Lucendie Foster 1892–1954
        • Mamie Eva Foster 1895–1993
        • Willie Blanche Foster 1898–1984
        • Mary Musgrave Foster 1900–
        • Harry Goodin Foster 1903–
        • John Boyce Foster 1905–1959
      • J. Wesley Goforth 1862–1864
      • Alexander Goforth 1865–1865
      • Susan Edwina Mills Goforth 1866–1947
      • Elizabeth Malicy “Lizzie” Goforth 1867–1962
      • Angeline Goforth 1875–1907
      • Mary Helen Goforth
    • John Fowler 1843–
    • Newton Fowler 1846–
    • Wesley Fowler 1859–
    • Mary J. Fowler 1864–
    • James Edward Fowler 1866–1950 m. Sallie Owensby 1875–1958
      • Charles Henry Fowler 1898–1966
      • Lula Fowler 1900–1995
      • Joel Glenn Fowler 1902–1918
      • Mary Lee Fowler 1910–1994
      • Gladys Fowler 1915–1971
  •  Shelton Fowler 1818–1880
  • Cansady Fowler 1824–1870 m. Henry Wright 1820–
    • Amanda Jane Wright 1846–
    • Augusta Canzada Wright 1847–1919
    • Gadbery (G.B.) Wright 1850–1918
    • Joseph Wright 1852–
    • Gassaway Wright 1855–
    • Wade Wright 1859–
  • Bryant Fowler 1824–1906 m.  Elizabeth Wright 1824–1914
    • Gillman Fowler 1852–1924 m. Julia Ann Wood 1859–1913; m. Carrie Guyton 1877-1968
      • John Wesley Fowler 1873–1943 m. Hester Bridges 1889–1951
        • Dewey Fowler 1905–
        • Broadus S. Fowler 1909–1972
        • Ruth Fowler 1914–
        • Paul Kenneth Switzer Fowler 1920–2005
        • Vera Fowler 1922–
        • Daniel Fowler 1924–
        • Clara B Fowler 1928–
        • Nellie Fowler 1929–
        • Charles Fowler 1930–
      • Mary Elizabeth Fowler 1876–1958
      • Nancy A. Fowler 1880–
      • William Thompson Fowler 1882–1962
      • Katie Fowler 1884–
      • Asalee Olivia Fowler 1888– m. Joe Bascomb Rineheart 1882–1959
        • Letha Rhienheart 1914–2012
        • Carl H. Rhinehart 1916–1985
      • Lara Fowler 1895–
      • Benjamin Fowler 1897–1954
      • Sallie Fowler 1909–
      • Samuel Fowler 1910–
      • Noah Fowler 1911–1975
      • Estell Fowler 1914–
      • Cole L Fowler 1917–1949
    • Isaac Fowler 1859–1924 m. Mary Emaline “Molly” Blackwood 1863–1932
      • Hettie Rodoxxa Fowler 1877–
      • Stewart Isaac Fowler 1887–1968 m. Lindy Horn 1885–1962
        • Johnnie Mallory Fowler 1906–1989 m. Dewitt C. Cudd 1898–1977
          • Virginia Evelyn Cudd 1927– m. Francis Monroe Froelich
          • Samuel Jackson Cudd 1928– m. Delores Irene Watts
        • Sammie Fowler 1909–
      • Lillie Fowler 1888–1960 m. Thomas Blackwell
        • John Earl Blackwell 1910–
        • Charlie Blackwell 1913–
        • Paul Blackwell 1916-
        • Mimie L Blackwell 1919–
      • Maganola Balm “Maggie” Fowler 1890–
      • Mamie Fowler 1894–
      • Nannie Rogenia Fowler 1894–1976 m. James Benjamin Harris 1890–1948
        • Jessie Mae Harris 1912–1985
        • Robert Harris 1917–1997
        • Carrie Harris 1920–1966
        • Berdie Harris 1922–
        • Francis Benjamin Harris 1924–2008
        • Auther Harris 1927–
        • Margaret Katherine Harris 1930–2004
        • Juanita “Cricket” Harris 1933–2013
      • Willie Fowler 1897–
      • Carrie Fowler 1902–1962 m. Thomas J. Jett Sr 1901–1971
      • Edward Fowler 1904–
    • Emma Fowler 1860–1927 m. H Clem Mabry 1859–1921; m. Goodman Wilkins 1859-1916
      • John Bryant Fowler 1882–1947 m. Ina Jane Street 1878–
        • Zennie Fowler 1903–1985
        • Lulu Fowler 1907–
        • Virgil Fowler 1910–
        • George Fowler 1915–
        • Onie Fowler
      • Steadman Lee “Steady” Fowler 1884–1971 m. Lydia Mae Kinsey 1896–1960
        • Clyde Fowler 1908–1983
        • Thomas Bryant Fowler 1914–2001
        • Albert Dewey Fowler 1917–1997
        • Stead Lee “S.L.” Fowler Jr. 1924–2009
        • Roy Fowler
        • Ruth Fowler
      •  Eva A Wilkins 1888–1970 m. William Edward Osteen 1878–1943
        • Grady Lee Osteen 1909–
        • Ray Osteen 1912–
        • Sina E Osteen 1915–
        • Marion Osteen 1918–
        • Pierce Osteen 1918–
        • Virginia Osteen 1922–
        • Solomon Osteen 1928–
        • Herman Osteen 1930–
        • Harold Osteen 1930-
      • Bessie G Wilkins 1890–
      • Albert Horace Wilkins 1896–1947
    • Harriet Fowler 1861– m. James Monroe Mize 1859–1926
      • Logan Mize 1881–1921
      • Ola Mize1884–
    • Joseph Fowler 1865–1930
  • Morman Fowler 1829-after 1870
    • Thomas Fowler 1853-1937 m. Sarah Sallie Moore 1869–1960
      • Fowler 1889–1900
      • Clyde Thomas Fowler 1896–1989 m. Clara Austin 1902–1985
        • Curtis Ross Fowler 1921–2004 m. Dorothy Marie “Dot” Vaughan 1928–2015
        • Marie Fowler 1925–1994 m. Carl William Gregory Sr  1922–2010
      • Jessie M Fowler 1897–1986 m. Wallace Thomas Alexander 1897–1958
        • Albert Alexander 1919–
        • Melvin Alexander 1919–1981
        • Francis Alexander 1922–2007
        • Madeline Alexander 1925–1991
        • Thomas Alexander 1931–
        • Rosanell Alexander 1936–
        • Carrol Alexander 1940–
      • Rose Mae Fowler 1908–
  • Caroline Fowler 1833– m. Jack Fowler
    • L. Clementine Fowler 1870-1947  m. Lemuel Cyrus Cudd
  • Mary Susan Fowler 1836–1918 m. Jackson P Palmer 1836–1907
    • Edward Palmer 1856–
    • Elizabeth “Lizzie” Palmer 1857–1931
    • Robert P. Palmer 1859–1926
    • Isaac P “Ike” Palmer 1860–1933
    • Joseph “Joe” Palmer 1866–1937
  • Louisa Fowler 1840–
    • Mary Fowler 1860-
    • Etta Fowler 1865-
  • Marion Fowler 1847–1900 m. Frances Horne 1845–1928
    • Hattie Fowler 1870–1923
    • Annie L Fowler 1872–
    • William Fowler 1879–1934 m. Leona James 1877–
      • William F Fowler Jr. 1903–1973 m. Annie G. 1902–1988
      • Fred Fowler 1925–
      • Marie Fowler 1904–1983 m. Rexford Blalock 1905–1977
      • Fred (Boots) Fowler 1907–1986 m. Margaret Bishop 1911–1986Jennie Lee Fowler 1934–
      • Ruby Belle Fowler 1912–1979 m. Fred Carline Mahaffey 1907–
    • Lola Fowler 1882–1966 m.  Fernando Fowler 1870–1931
      • Jesse Peter Fowler 1898–1973 m. Estelle Johnson 1901–1955
        • Walter Lee “Pete” Fowler 1919–1988
      • Lillie Mae Fowler 1904–1991 m. James Walter Brown 1898–1986
        • Beulah Mae Brown 1920–1996
        • Dorothy Elizabeth Brown 1927–1992
        • Charles Walter Brown 1935–2002
      • Clarence Fowler 1909–1963 m. Daisy Belle Cannon 1906–1983
        • Helen Marie Fowler 1927–2006
        • Ted Fowler 1930–2000
        • Clyde Julian Fowler 1932–2002
        • Bobby Dean Fowler 1940–1994
      • Franklin Fowler 1910–1966 m. Ida May Johnson 1911–
        • Margaret Louise Fowler 1928–1991
        • William Fowler 1934–
      • Ruby Fowler 1913–1984
      • Jack Fowler 1915–
      • George Fowler 1916–1997 m. Lillie Bell Revels; m. Margaret 1917-2005
        • Evelyn Fowler 1931–2006
        • Carroll Fowler
        • Johnny Fowler
      • Nellie Fowler 1918–2001 m. Cecil E Willis; m. James Garfield Allen 1920-1994
        • James Edward Willis 1935–1994
      • Ruth Fowler 1920–2015 m. Jim Dean Gilbert
      • John Arthur Fowler  1922–2007 m. Virginia Ruth Burch 1923–2012
    • Addie Fowler 1885–
    • Lela Fowler 1887–


The Final Estate Settlement of EPHRAIM FOWLER: Darkas, Mahala, Dorcas, and Charlotte

After Ephraim Fowler’s death in 1822, there was no rush to settle the affairs of the estate he left to his ten children. All but three of his sons and daughters had married and left home by 1820, and it is likely that only the two youngest children, Ellis and Betty, were still in the home when his will was written in 1822.

Ephraim Fowler surely knew that he was in failing health when he penned his will on February 8, 1822. On the same day, he sold fifty acres of land to his eldest son Jasper.  He was getting his affairs in order.

The home and land upon which Ephraim and his family lived were left to sons Stephen and Ellis as per the will.

Two of his daughters. Lydia Hames and Sarah Hames, and their husbands were offered, in exchange for money, the land and homes they already occupied by provisions in Ephraim’s will.

Twenty five years would pass before final settlement of the estate was completed.

For reasons not known, daughter Sarah Fowler Hames and her husband John Hames began the process of the final estate settlement in 1846 when she sold her one eighth share of the estate to her son-in-law, William Bevis—married to their daughter, Zilla Hames.  John and Sarah Fowler Hames gave their consent to William Bevis to do everything in his power to settle the estate. It would be three years later, in 1849, when the remaining heirs followed suit.

What follows is evidence of the events that transpired beginning on the day Ephraim Fowler signed his will until the last of the estate was sold to William Bevis.

I will also attempt to follow the lives of the four important women who were intertwined within the estate settlement: widow Nancy Fowler, slaves Darkas/Dorcas b. 1796, Mahala b. 1829, and her daughter Dorcas Eleanor b.1848.

In addition to wife Nancy, there were ten living children mentioned in Ephraim Fowler’s Last Will and Testament of 1822:

  • Jasper
  • Lidia
  • John
  • Polly (Mary)
  • Sarah
  • Stephen
  • Milley
  • Caty
  • Ellis
  • Betty

The names of a few slaves are also found:

  • Bob
  • Jane
  • Darkas and her unnamed children

I believe that the sons and daughters of Ephraim Fowler were mentioned in their birth order, with the exception of Betty who was not included in the group. Betty was mentioned early in the will and given special gifts.

The wording of “Ellis and Betty remain with their mother” leads me to believe that these were the two youngest children, unmarried and still in the household in 1822.

The Union County SC census of 1820 enumerated the following persons:

  • Male 45 + Ephraim
  • Female 45 + Nancy
  • Male 10-15 Ellis
  • Female 10-15 Caty
  • Female <10 Betty
  • 3 Male slaves < 10
  • 1 Female slave <10
  • 1 Female slave 16-25 (Darkas?)

I deduct from the information on the 1820 census and Ephraim’s will of 1822 that the family unit was comprised of Ephraim, Nancy, Caty, Ellis, Betty, and five slaves…..the elder female slave being Darkas and her four young children: Jane, Bob, and two unknown.

Caty’s absence in any documents beyond 1822 (the final settlement papers of Ephraim’s estate 1846 to 1849, Mary Fowler White’s estate settlement of 1861, and Stephen Fowler’s estate settlement of 1866) leads me to speculate that Caty was in the family home in 1820, had married and moved out by 1822, and had died without heirs before 1846.

The apparent lack of heirs could indicate that Caty died in childbirth shortly after her speculative marriage. Or she died as a young unmarried girl.  Whatever the reasons, I can find no evidence of Caty’s existence after 1822.

Daughter Betty was alive and well during the three years of the final estate settlement, 1846-1849, but she was not included in the affairs. She had married, moved to Alabama, and was raising a family during that time. Perhaps it was her absence from Union County that explains her lack of involvement, although she was summoned from Alabama to South Carolina when the estate of her brother Stephen Fowler was settled in 1866. It is possible that she had sold her share of the estate to a sibling previous to the final settlement. My opinion is that it was a case of “out of sight…..out of mind.”

Documentation will follow to backup the following observations and statements:

  • Previous to October 1, 1849, Lydia Fowler Hames, Stephen Fowler, and four of (deceased) John Fowler’s children, Thomas Fowler, Charity Fowler, Rebecca Fowler Burgess, and John Fowler had sold their shares of the estate to James Farr.
  • Previous to October 1, 1849, Washington Fowler, son of John Fowler (deceased) sold his one fifth of one eighth share to David Gallman.
  • April 4, 1846: Sarah Hames Fowler and husband John Hames sold her one eighth share of the estate to William Bevis.
  • July 5, 1849: Three children of (deceased) Ellis Fowler Mary Jane Fowler, B. Elbert Fowler, and Julia Fowler Sprouse — sold their shares to their brother Henry Richard Fowler.
  • October 1, 1849: James Farr sold to William Bevis the shares that he had previously bought from Lydia Hames Fowler, Stephen Fowler, and four of the children of John Fowler.
  • October 1, 1849: David Gallman sold to William Bevis the one fifth partial share that he had bought from Washington Fowler.
  • October 10, 1849: Mary Fowler White sold her one eighth share to William Bevis.
  • October 29, 1849: Henry Richard Fowler sold to William Bevis the one eight share that he solely owned after buying the shares of his siblings.
  • November 7, 1849: Milly Fowler Millwood and husband James Millwood sold to William Bevis her one eighth share.
  • November 7, 1849: Susan Fowler (daughter of Jasper) sold her one eighth share to William Bevis.

Sarah Fowler Hames to William Beavers (Bevis)

November 7, 1849 was the final date of the estate settlement. William Bevis now was sole owner. But why exactly did this mean?

Interestingly, no mention was made of land, no measure of acreage, given.

Instead, William Bevis bought human life. The document of 1846, whereas Sarah Fowler Hames and John Hames began the settlement process, indicated that the estate consisted of two negro slaves, fifty year old Dorcas, and seventeen year old Mahala.

Was fifty year old Dorcas the female slave Darkas mentioned in Ephraim’s will of 1822 and was Mahala her daughter?

The estate documents of 1849 specified that two negro slaves were being sold— Mahala and her child Dorcas Eleanor. No mention was made of the elderly Dorcas. Had Dorcas died in between the years 1846 and 1849? I think so. And was Dorcas Eleanor born after the 1846 document which may explain why she was not specifically mentioned until the 1849 documents? I think Dorcas was born in 1848.

The 1850 Union County Slave Schedule shows that William Bevis owned two mulatto slaves— a twenty one year old female (Mahala? Yes!) and a two year old female (Dorcas Eleanor? Yes!)  The information is a good “fit” and indicates that these two slave women may have been the first that William Bevis had owned.

Mulatto is a word that describes a person of mixed white and black ancestry.  Were Mahala and Dorcas Eleanor descendants of Ephraim Fowler or his sons?

The Union County Slave Schedule of 1860 for William Bevis lists the following slaves:

  • female age 31 Mahala
  • female age 12 Dorcas
  • female age 10 Charlotte
  • male age 9
  • male age 6
  • female age 4
  • female age 1


On July 7, 1937, Caldwell Sims of Union, SC went to the County Home and interviewed Caroline Bevis, daughter of William Bevis. The interview was later published in a book edited by Elmer Turnage. The book was a compilation of interviews of former slaves and slave owners.

In the voice of Caroline Bevis: “Two darkies waited on our table that night, Dorcas and Charlotte.”

Were these two women, Dorcas and Charlotte, the two older daughters of Mahala? Yes.

It is somewhat amazing that we are able to trace a slave woman named Darkas/Dorcas born circa 1796 and mentioned in Ephraim Fowler’s will of 1822 to a document selling her in 1846, and learning of her probable death before 1849 due to her absence in the documents of 1849.

It is equally amazing that we perhaps “know” that she had a daughter named Mahala born circa 1829 who was sold in the estate transactions of 1846 to 1849.

Even more so miraculous is that we can trace Mahala’s known daughter, Dorcas Eleanor b. 1848, through the 1849 estate documents and Mahala’s probable daughter Charlotte and the unnamed children from the 1860 Slave Schedule.

The reference of Dorcas and Charlotte in the interview that Caroline Bevis gave in 1937 allows us a rare glimpse into the lives of typically hard to trace enslaved people.

In the 1870 Union County census, William Beavis, wife Zillah Hames Beavis, daughters Caroline and Amanda Beavis were living only four households away from Charlotte Beavers, age 21 and black. Was this Charlotte, daughter of Mahala? Yes.

William “Bevis” was William “Beavers”and William “Beavis” in legal documents. The misspelling of names in the 1800s was common.

Former slaves often took the surnames of the men who owned them. It is not a far stretch of the imagination to assume that the Charlotte Beavers living near the William Beavis family was the former slave of the Bevis family.

Do I intend to look for Mahala, Dorcas, Charlotte, and the other children? Yes.

I leave Nancy Fowler, widow of Ephraim for last.

It has been written that Nancy became the common law wife of Benjamin Hodge after the death of Ephraim. This couple left Union County and traveled to Tennessee and Missouri.

Nancy Fowler was mentioned several times in the estate settlement documents of 1846 to 1849. It was stated that the Ephraim Fowler estate was “in the hands of Nancy Fowler.”

The “widow Fowler” was also mentioned in another unrelated document.

Nancy Fowler was recorded in the 1850 census living with her daughter Lydia Fowler Hames. I do not know if Nancy moved from her home into the household of Lydia, or if Lydia moved back into the Ephraim Fowler home with her mother.

I do not know with whom Benjamin Hodge left Union County, but it was most definitely not Nancy Fowler, widow of Ephraim.

Nancy Fowler was an old woman in 1850, and her absence in any documents beyond that year indicates that she died during the next decade.

The Sons of HENRY ELLIS FOWLER: A Brief Look

There is a book that contains wonderful information about the descendants of John Fowler the First. I like this book and refer to it often in my research. It was written many years ago when family research was much more difficult and DNA testing was not available to prove paper trails.

This book follows the family line from John Fowler the First down to our Henry Ellis Fowler. It is stated in the book that Wymac was the eldest son of Henry Ellis, and that Mark was probably the second son.

In a study of Union County, SC census records, we discover that Henry Ellis Fowler was recorded as head of household in 1790. He had one son recorded in this census: Ephraim Fowler.  I must believe that Ephraim may have been the oldest son, or at least, near the top of the list.

I have noticed that most family trees have Ephraim’s date of birth as 1784. That would put him at the grand old age of 6 when he was listed as head of household in 1790. I think his date of birth was more like 1765, give or take a year. If his father Henry Ellis was born circa 1746, it certainly is logical to think that his first child would have been born twenty years later, give or take a year.

Going back to census records, Ephraim and his wife Nancy began having their children around 1785. I think we can throw Ephraim’s date of birth of 1784 out the window. I am. I’m sticking with circa 1765. I am also putting Ephraim in my family tree as the eldest son of Henry Ellis Fowler and Catherine Puckett.

I believe that Ellis was the second son born into this family. Ellis was born circa 1770 in Virginia and married Mary, born in Virginia in 1880. Ellis was recorded on the 1800 census as 26 to 44 years old. Ellis and Mary had four children circa 1795 to 1800 with more to follow.

A note on Ellis: thanks to the (mis)information in the above mentioned but not named book, most people researching this Fowler line are under the mistaken notion that Ellis married SarahSallieMabry. He did not. I’ll get around to explaining the many Ellis Fowlers of Union County in a later discussion, and it is all documented! But for now, just go with me that Ellis son of Henry Ellis was born in or about 1770 in Virginia, married Mary, and moved to Union County, SC. On my family tree, Ellis is son number two.

I’ve got Godfrey as son number three. I believe that Godfrey was born circa 1773 in Virginia. Godfrey and his wife NancyNannieKelley had their first child around 1793. Godfrey first appeared in the 1800 census as age 26 to 44 with four children under the age of 10.

John H. “the Hatter” may have been the fourth son born to the Henry Ellis Fowler family, and I believe that he was born circa 1775, most likely in Virginia.

Many Fowler researchers think that the John Fowler in the 1790 census living near Henry Ellis was the son of Henry Ellis. I thought that too. But an intelligent researcher from Hawaii who is descended from the Union County Fowlers brought to my attention that the John Fowler of 1790 would have been far too old to have been Henry Ellis Fowler’s son. And she is right. I have not yet figured out how the John of 1790 connects to Henry Ellis. DNA testing has proven that Henry Ellis Fowler and John Fowler of the 1790 census are of the same Fowler line. They may have been brothers.

One more thing about John of 1790 and John the Hatter“…… I’ve noticed that some researchers have them as father and son. I do not think this is correct! John of the 1790 census did have a son named John but I believe that it was not John Fowler, Hatter.

Johnthe Hatter” made his first appearance in the 1800 census at age 16 to 25 with a wife and one daughter born before 1800. He left a will that was probated in 1833.

Mark may have been the next son born to Henry Ellis and Catherine. I have seen his date of birth as 1780 and 1785.

Mark married Elizabeth Mosley in 1802. Elizabeth was the daughter of James Mosley and she became somewhat famous in the town of Jonesville for living to be 100 years old. That’s quite an accomplishment even today, but back in 1882 when women were as likely to die as not during childbirth, we must admire a woman who had 11 children, and lived in a time with no running water, no electricity, and no corner market to pick something up quick for dinner. Elizabeth is one of my personal historical heroes!

If the Mark Fowler on the 1810 census is Mark son of Henry Ellis, and not Mark son of 1790 John, then he was 16 to 25 in 1810, and definitely one of the younger sons of Henry Ellis and Catherine. It is certain that he is the Mark married to Elizabeth in the 1850 census where he is recorded as 70 years old, (born 1780 in Virginia).

There is a story that son Wymac was named after a Captain Wymac who lived near Danville, Virginia. When the perils of the Revolutionary War were getting a little too close for comfort to his family in South Carolina, Charles Sims had his trusty friend, Henry Ellis Fowler, escort Mrs. Sims and their children from South Carolina to Virginia.

Captain Wymac gave the weary travelers shelter and made enough of an impression with his generous hospitality that Henry Ellis Fowler and Charles Sims agreed that the first son born to either of them would be named Wymac.

I think this might be where the confusion about Wymac being the oldest son of Henry Ellis began. It was probably said that the next son and not the first would be named Wymac.

The trip from South Carolina to Virginia conveying the Sim’s family happened during the Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783). We know Henry Ellis and Catherine had already started their family long before this time. So, I am putting Wymac as one of the youngest sons since it is obvious that he could not have been born prior to the war if the story is true.

Wymac married Susannah Mosley daughter of James Mosley in 1808, and he was counted in the 1810 census as age 16 to 25. He and Susannah had two children prior to 1810. He is a younger son, but a son with an interesting story attached to his name.

Of course, Wymac could have just been named after his mother’s paternal grandfather, Womack Puckett……

I have saved William for last, although he could have been a little older than Wymac and Mark, or he could have been born in between them, or he may have been the last son of Henry Ellis. I have seen his date of birth all over the board…… anywhere from 1776 to 1789. No matter when he was born, we know that he made his will in January 1812, and it was probated in March 1812. William was a schoolteacher and never married. Or did he?

William left his estate to the two daughters of Sarah Burgess. Some researchers have put it out there that he was married to Sarah. I have never seen proof of this. Other researchers have suggested that Sarah’s two daughters, Delinda and Polly, were his children. I do not know one way or the other. I do know that he left everything to them, and in the event of their deaths leaving no heirs, he requested that his estate be divided between his brothers Wymac and Mark. That last sentence leads me to believe that he was closer in age to these two brothers and I am confident in saying that Mark, Wymac, and William were the three youngest sons of Henry Ellis.

When Henry Ellis Fowler wrote his last will and testament in 1808, he left “the tract of land where I now live” to sons William and Wymac. They may have been the only two sons who had not married and moved out of the family home. Wymac was married in 1808, but probably not during the first two months of the year when the will was written and probated. I have never been able to find William in a census record. He should have been recorded as head of household in 1810. Perhaps he was living with another family, or maybe he just got missed that year. His brother Ellis is not to be found in 1810, but reappears in 1820. Regardless, William died in 1812 and would never have a chance to be in the census again.

One last thought: if the range of dates of birth for Mark (1780 to 1785) are correct and he was born in Virginia, it is possible that the Henry Ellis Fowler family did not move to South Carolina in the 1770s and may have come to the state a little later.

To sum up the sons of Henry Ellis Fowler :

  • Ephraim Fowler 1765-1822 married to Nancy Mosley
  • Ellis Fowler 1770-after 1850 married to Mary
  • Godfrey Fowler 1773-1850 married to NancyNannieKelley
  • John H. Fowler 1775-1883 married unknown
  • Mark Fowler 1780 1852 married Elizabeth Mosley
  • Wymac Fowler 1786-1884 married Mary Susannah Mosley
  • William Fowler died 1812

ASA FOWLER 1811-1885



ASA FOWLER 1811-1885

I research and write articles primarily about my Union County, SC ancestors.  I help many people with their family research but I do not usually devote the hours and hours it takes to write and post articles online for others.   As much as I would like to do that, I have material enough for at least a hundred or more of my own articles and not enough time to accomplish all that I wish to do.

Two weeks ago, it was brought to my attention that there was a Fowler family Bible for sale.  It would have been against all odds that this Bible was connected to my family, but my interest was peeked and I sought out the volume.

It was not a Bible ever owned my Fowlers.  It had belonged to Asa Fowler and I did not recognize any of the names nor the lineage from the family pages of births, marriages, and deaths.  Nothing about the family was familiar.

I decided to research just a little into this Asa Fowler fellow.  Much to my surprise, I was looking at a very prominent, well educated, and already well researched Fowler line!

I was fortunate enough to also obtain a first edition of The Fowler Family, written by a descendant of this family and published in 1883.

I will soon add more information about the Asa Fowler family, along with wonderful photos of the two books.

I have traced this line to present day in hopes of finding a direct male Fowler descendant willing to yDNA test.  The following is a brief descendancy chart from the earliest known ancestor to almost present day.  I have omitted the names of living descendants for privacy reasons, but would love to hear from anyone interested in pursuing genetic research into this line.


  • Philip Fowler 1590-1679 m. Mary
    • Joseph Fowler 1629-1676 m. Martha Kimball
      • Philip Fowler 1648-1715 m. Elizabeth Herrick
        • Philip Fowler 1691-1767 m. Susanna Jacob
          • Symonds Fowler 1734-1821 m. Hannah Weeks
            • Benjamin Fowler 1769-1832 m. Mehitable Ladd
              • ASA FOWLER 1811-1885 m.  Mary Dole Cilley Knox 1815–1882
                • Frank Asa Fowler 1842–1904 m. Flora Adella Johnson 1856-1881; m. Caroline A. 1876-1958
                  • Frank Asa Fowler 1881-1881
                  • Evelyn Sadie Fowler 1899–1993 m. Harold Douglas Reed 1886–
                    • James Marshall Reed 1930–2010
                    • Edward F Reed 1930– 2015
                • George Robert Fowler 1844–1897 m. Isabel Minot 1846-1909
                  • Ethel Walker Fowler 1874-1899
                  • Mary Pickering Fowler 1877-1936
                  • Josiah Minot Fowler 1880–1931 m. Martha Louise Parsons
                    • Minot Parsons Fowler 1913–1913
                    • Josiah Minot Fowler Jr. 1914–1997
                    • Jean Parsons Fowler 1916-1996 m. George Rodney Harris Jr 1918–2012
                    • Isabel Minot Fowler 1921-1984
                  • Robert Fowler 1884–1951 m. Rosalie Gretchen McIntyre 1887–1959
                    • Virginia Minot Fowler 1908–1996
                    • Robert Fowler Jr. 1915–2001 m. Grace Evelyn Kahrman 1917–1984
                      • Robert Earle Fowler 1941–2013
                    • Kenneth Walker Fowler 1918–1969
                    •  Donald Haines Fowler 1923-1983 m. Patricia Gail Smith 1923-2015
                      • Douglas H. Fowler 1949–2014
                • Clara Maria Fowler 1847–1931
                • William Plumer Fowler 1850–1918 m. Susan Farnham Smith 1886–1928
                  • William Plumer Fowler 1900–1993 m. Ellen Sprague 1902–
                    • Clara Fowler 1929–
                    • Richard Fowler 1931–2013
                  • Katherine Stevens Fowler 1902-1997 m. James Watson Lunn b.1894;  m. Marland Prott Billings 1902–1996
                    • Elizabeth Farnham Billings 1940–1990
                  •  Philip Fowler 1906–1978 m. Madeline Bittmann 1912–2005
                • Edward Cilley Fowler 1853–1913 m. Sarah A Watson 1855–1941
                  • Mary Josephine Fowler 1887–1960 m. Thomas Francis Haley 1885–1963
                    • Herbert Francis Haley 1901–1935
                    • Edward Fowler Haley 1908–1982
                  • Sadie Fowler 1888–1888