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.
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 Sarah. Mary 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.
” 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.
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:
- Stephen Fowler: male 30-39
- Sarah Fowler: female 20-29
- Henry Fowler: male 10-15
- Shelton Fowler: male 10-15
- Cansady Fowler: female 5-10
- Bryant Fowler: male 5-10
- male 5-10
- Morman Fowler: male <5
- male <5
- female <5
- Sarah’s mother: female 50-59
- Sarah’s brother: male 20-29
- Sarah’s brother: male 15-20
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.
- Stephen Fowler: male 40-49
- Letticia Fowler: female 30-39
- Bryant Fowler: male 15-20
- male 15-20
- Morman Fowler: male 10-15
- Caroline ? Fowler: female 5-10
- Susan Fowler: female 5-10
- Louisa ? Fowler: female <5
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?
- Stephen Fowler: 50
- Letticia Fowler: 29
- Caroline Fowler: 17
- Susan Fowler: 15
- Louisa Fowler: 10
- Marion Fowler: 3
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.
- Stephen Fowler: 62
- Letticia Fowler: 47
- Louisa Fowler: 19
- Marion Fowler: 15
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?
- Letticia Fowler: 61
- Louisa Fowler: 26
- Mary Fowler: 10
- Etta Fowler: 5
- Clementine Fowler: 8 months
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 Bentley. Eliza’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 Mary. Tillman 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:
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
- 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–