When I first saw the name “Purchase” in the household of Ellis Fowler and his wife Sarah Clark Fowler, I thought the task of documenting her life would be an easy one. It was not a totally uncommon female name used in the 1800s, but it was an unusual name in the Union County Fowler families.


Purchase fowler photo.png
Sarah Purchase Fowler


Rest, mother, rest in

Quiet sleep

While friends in sorrow

o’er thee weep

sarah purchase photo.jpg
Sarah Purchase Fowler Johns 1860-1933


As I have stated before, Ellis Fowler b. 1770 has been the most difficult son of Henry Ellis Fowler to document. He left no will nor can I find any land transactions or deeds in the courthouse.

I had only been able to document four of the children born to Ellis Fowler b. 1770:

  • Ellis Fowler b. 1807 (married Sarah Clark)
  • Nancy Fowler b. 1805
  • Winnifred Fowler b. 1822 (married James Worthy)
  • Fanny Fowler b. 1825 (married William Worthy)

Son Ellis Fowler b. 1807 and his wife Sarah Clark had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Augilar Fowler 1841–1924
  • Martha Fowler 1844–
  • Julia Fowler 1847–
  • Jesse Fowler 1849–
  • Nancy (Nannie) P Fowler 1854–1939
  • Thomas Fowler 1859–
  • Purchase Fowler 1860–1933
  • Lotty Fowler 1862–

Some Fowler researchers confuse Nancy P. Fowler and Purchase Fowler, thinking that they were the same daughter of Ellis and Sarah Fowler. Since both daughters were recorded on census records together, I am not sure how this confusion began. They are clearly two different children.

It was fairly easy to discover that Elizabeth Augilar Fowler had married Robert Henry Petty, and her sister Nancy P. Fowler had married John Worthy Eison. I have been able to trace both daughters and their descendants to present day.

elizabeth augilar fowler
Elizabeth Augilar Fowler


nannie p
Nannie P. Fowler


The remaining children of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Clark seemed to have disappeared into thin air. I was more than a little surprised that I was unable to find daughters Purchase and Lotty given that these names were a little unusual.

Purchase Fowler was first recorded on a census record in 1860 as an unnamed female infant, 3 months old. Included in the household along with her parents Ellis and Sarah Fowler were sisters Elizabeth, Martha, Julia, Nancy, and brother Thomas.

ellis fowler 1860
1860 Union County SC Census

In 1870, Purchase was in the household with parents Ellis and Sarah Fowler, sisters Julia, Nancy, and Lotty .

ellis fowler 1870
1870 Union County SC Census

The extended view of the 1870 census shows 12 year old Purchase Fowler  (highlighted in yellow) and her family.  Next door were the families of Elijah Fowler and Gassaway Fowler (both sons of Thomas G. Fowler and grandsons of Godfrey Fowler).

My great grandmother Lura Mabry (highlighted in tan) lived next to these Fowler families.  Lura was 6 years old.  She was the daughter of Sarah Watts Mabry and William Thomas LittlejohnLura would eventually marry Thomas Gillman Fowler who was a cousin of Purchase Fowler.

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In 1880, Purchase was 20 years old, and lived with her parents Ellis and Sarah Fowler, sisters Nancy and Lottie. three young Jefferies children who were the children of either Martha or Julia Fowler, and her aunt Nancy Fowler, sister of Ellis.

ellis fowler 1880
1880 Union County SC Census

In 1880, twenty-year-old Purchase Fowler (yellow highlight below) lived next door to my great grandmother, 16 year old Lura Mabry (tan highlight).   I have no doubt that Purchase and Lura were friends.  Lura married my great grandfather Thomas Gillman Fowler a year later.  Perhaps Purchase or her sisters introduced them.  This is one of many reasons why I hold Purchase Fowler near to my heart.

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Purchase Fowler seemed to vanish after 1880.  I found a census record from 1900 in Pacolet SC listing a single woman, aged 40 with 4 children: daughter Nellie, sons Steady, Grover, and Freddie. It was difficult to read the name of the woman, but the record got my attention because of the name Steady.

The Union County Fowler families had a history of naming their sons Steadman.  This tradition began after the Civil War when Godfrey Butler Fowler (1837-1906), son of Joseph Fowler, son of Godfrey Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler) named his only son Nathan Steadman Fowler (1867-1924) after the captain of his army company in the Civil War, Captain James B. Steedman.

Since that time, other Fowler boys descended from Henry Ellis Fowler had been given the name Steadman:

  • Steadman Lee Fowler 1884-1971, son of Emma Fowler, daughter of Bryant Fowler, son of Stephen Fowler, son of Ephraim Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler.
  • James Steadman Fowler 1872-1952, son of Gassaway Fowler, son of Thomas Gillman Fowler, son of Godfrey Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

I wondered — who was this Steady Fowler born in 1882?  How did he relate to the Henry Ellis Fowlers, if at all?  And who was his mother with the hard to read name?  Could she possibly be my Purchase?

purchase fowler 1900.JPG
1900 Pacolet, Spartanburg County SC Census

A little research and a lot of luck led me to a census record in Spartanburg SC in 1910. There was a woman named Sarah, aged 50 — right age for my Purchase — who was living with sons Grover and Fred. This family headed by Sarah Fowler lived next door to Steddy Fowler, his wife Nancy, and their three children Beulah, Buford, and Cecil. They lived on Howard Street in Spartanburg.

I knew that I was on the right trail. I began to think that Sarah was perhaps Purchase……..Sarah Purchase Fowler…….maybe.

purchase 1910 1

purchase 1910 2
1910 Spartanburg County Census

I also noted that, in 1910, there was a John A. Johns, widower, living 6 households away, on Howard Street, with two of his daughters, and two granddaughters.

john johns 1910
1910 Spartanburg County Census

I could not find Purchase Fowler, or Sarah Fowler in 1920 census records, but I did find Sarah Johns in the household of Steady Fowler, his wife Nannie Fowler, and their children Beulah, Buford, Cecil, L.C, Ruth Gladys, and Warren.

Was it possible that Sarah Purchase Fowler had married her widower neighbor John Johns??  Although Sarah Johns was listed as the mother-in-law, I decided to take a closer look at the Johns family.

sarah johns 1920
1920 Spartanburg County SC Census

John Andrew Johns (1848-1926) was the son of Joseph Johns and Elizabeth Haney.  He was born in Union County, SC, as was Purchase.  It is possible that they knew each other long before they had both moved to Spartanburg, SC.

john jones photo
John Andrew Johns

John Johns married Laura Cain (last name not yet documented) circa 1870, and they were the parents of many children, mostly daughters. Laura died in 1905 and was buried at Beulah Cemetery near Neal Shoals in Union County, SC.

laura johns photo
Laura Johns, wife of John Andrew Johns

From the Spartanburg SC City Directories:

  • 1903: Sarah P.Fowler, widow of William Fowler, 29 Milon Street
  • 1910: Sarah Fowler, widow of John Fowler, 256 Farley Avenue with son Fred
  • 1911: Sarah Johns and husband J. Andrew Johns,  222 Howard Street
  • 1913: Sarah Johns and husband J. Andrew Johns, 222 Howard Street

Sarah Purchase Fowler married John Andrew Johns circa 1910/1911.  By the year 1920, they were either divorced or separated.

Sarah Purchase Fowler lived with her son Steady Fowler on Arch Street in Spartanburg in 1920, and she was recorded as being a widow even though John Johns was still alive and well living with his daughter Leona on nearby Howard Street.

John A. Johns died in 1926, and was laid to rest beside his first wife Laura at Beulah Cemetery in Union County.

Sarah Purchase Fowler is missing from the census records of 1930.  Her son Fred Fowler and his family lived on Louise Street in Charlotte NC.  Sometime after the 1930 census was recorded, Sarah Purchase Fowler moved to Charlotte to be near her son.

Through city directory records, I have been able to locate and visit the street they lived on in Charlotte. The houses were very small, and mostly built in the 1920s. Many of these houses remain.  The addresses on record for Fred Fowler — 1013 Louise Street — no longer exists. The Fred Mark Fowler home has been torn down and replaced with a large industrial complex.

Sarah Purchase Fowler died in her home at 1209 Louise Street on August 28, 1933.  There is still a house at this address, although real estate records indicate it may not be the same house that she occupied.

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I found a death certificate for Sarah P. Fowler. She died August 28, 1933. F.M. Fowler was the informant (her son, Fred Mark Fowler).

purchase death certificate
Sarah P. Fowler

Now that I had a date of death, I began looking for a grave site. The information of the death certificate indicated that she was buried in Pacolet, SC.

I searched for Sarah Purchase Fowler, Sarah Fowler, Purchase Fowler, Sarah P. Fowler, Sarah Purchase Johns, Sarah Fowler Johns, Purchase Fowler Johns…..you get the idea. No luck.

I looked in my records for the grave of her sister, Elizabeth A. Fowler Petty.  Pacolet Methodist Church. A quick internet search led me to Sarah P. Fowler JONES. Right dates of birth and death…..wrong last name. Could this be the grave of Sarah Purchase?

Two hours of driving, I arrived at the cemetery.  I located the grave of Sarah Purchase Fowler Johns.  Johns was spelled “Johns” and not “Jones”.  Correct dates of birth and death…… last name too.  Her grave was next to some of the children of her sister Elizabeth Fowler Petty.

I felt like my journey into the life of Sarah Purchase Fowler had come full circle.

Sarah Purchase was born in Union County, SC to Ellis and Sarah Clark Fowler; moved to nearby Pacolet and raised four children; married a widowed neighbor and hopefully had a few years filled with happiness; moved to Charlotte, NC with her son; died in Charlotte; and laid to rest in Pacolet, SC near some of her immediate family.

Sarah Purchase Fowler had also come full circle.  I placed flowers on her grave and hoped that she somehow knew that she was still remembered.


Now let us take a look at her four children and their descendants. We know from census records that Sarah Purchase Fowler had one daughter and three sons:

  1. Nellie Caroline Fowler  1880-1956
  2. Steadman William Fowler 1882-1930
  3. John Grover Fowler 1890-1952
  4. Fred Mark Fowler 1895-1956

Nellie Fowler:

I was not able to find much information regarding Nellie Fowler. I did locate her in a Spartanburg City Directory living with her brother Steady Fowler in 1905. She was unmarried at that time.

After contacting the grandchildren of Sarah Purchase Fowler, one granddaughter was kind enough to fill in the missing information about Nellie, as follows:

Nellie Caroline Fowler m. Robert Cleveland Sarratt 1884–1949

  • Ocey Enola Sarratt 1911–1993
  • Alma M Sarratt 1914–2004
  • Everett R Sarratt 1918–1971
  • Orville Cleveland Sarratt 1922–2012

Everett R. Sarratt and his wife Mary Kathleen Bolding Sarratt died in an airplane crash on September 26, 1971 in Georgia.

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Steadman William Fowler:

Last year, I visited Oakwood Cemetery in Spartanburg. I was looking, of course, for Fowler graves and planned to take photographs of all that I could find. One headstone caught my eye, that of Stedia W. Fowler (1882-1930) and his wife Nannie Fowler (1883-1944). The name Stedia was so close to Steadman, I figured that he had to have been one of my Fowlers. I took a photos of the headstone and filed this newly found information in my mind.

steady fowler grave
Steadman William Fowler and Nannie Phillips Fowler
steady fowler death cert
Steadman William Fowler

Steadman Fowler was in an automobile collision with a train near Inman, SC on February 10, 1930.  Although he was reported as seriously injured in local newspapers, Steadman Fowler died the next day from his injuries.  He was the son of Sarah Purchase Fowler.

Screen Shot 2019-09-23 at 1.21.38 PM.png

More research shed light on Steady’s family. He was married to Nannie Phillips, daughter of George Marion Phillips 1843-1920 and Annie Fowler 1848-1936. Annie Fowler was the daughter of Daniel Fowler and Cansandra Cook.

Daniel Fowler was the son of Israel Fowler II and wife Polly.

Israel Fowler II was the son of Israel Fowler I and wife Fannie.

Israel Fowler I was the son of John Fowler b. 1720 and Phoebe.

The Israel Fowler line moved into Union County, SC around the same time as the Henry Ellis Fowler line…..late 1700s. DNA testing has proven that these two Fowler lines did not share a common male ancestor, hence two totally different Fowler families. However, the two Fowler lines did live near each other, witnessed documents for each other, and married into each other’s families.

Stedia W. Fowler is a direct descendant of Henry Ellis Fowler. Nannie Phillips is a direct descendant of Israel Fowler. The offspring of Stedia W. Fowler and Nannie Phillips were the perfect storm of the two Fowler lines combining!!

The family from whom Cansandra Cook descends is a family that I have spent much time researching.  I descend from this line through my paternal Fowler grandfather and my paternal Mabry grandmother. This Cook family intermarried in so many ways with the Fowler families.

Cansandra Cook’s first known ancestors were John Cook 1707-before 1772 and his wife Sarah Fulton 1715-1783. John and Sarah immigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania. After John’s death, Sarah and her children move to Union County, SC and settled on the Pacolet River near Grindal Shoals.

This intermarriage connects me to the offspring of Stedia Fowler and Nannie Phillips three ways: once from Ellis Fowler, and twice from the Cooks.

Steady Fowler and his wife Nannie had the following children:

  • Beulah Fowler 1903–
  • Burie S. Fowler 1906-1908
  • Buford Paul Fowler 1906–1975 m. Ruby Satterfield
  • Cecil E. Fowler 1909–1974 m. Iva Gertrude Smith
  • Thomas C.  “T.C.” Fowler 1911-1978 m. Ethel Gregory
  • Ruth Fowler 1913–1995 m. Blackwell; m. Alfred Price
  • Gladys Leona Fowler 1916–2002 m. Wofford T. Blanton
  • Warren William Fowler 1918–1980 m. Anita Devieu Brown
  • Ruby Fowler 1920-1995 m. Otis W. Nolan


John Grover Fowler:

John Grover Fowler married Pearl Thomas, daughter of A.J. Thomas and Nancey Jane Cox. They had no children. John Grover Fowler and wife Pearl lived in Spartanburg and Darlington, South Carolina, and eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. He worked as a chain gang prison guard, and worked in textiles.

John Grover Fowler’s life took a little turn after the death of his wife Pearl in 1948. It was mentioned in The Gaffney Ledger from Gaffney, South Carolina on March 14, 1944 … Miss Margaret Clippard and Grover Fowler of Charlotte spent Sunday with the former’s sister, Mrs. L. E. Gantt, and Mr. Gantt, at their home in Gaffney...

Margaret Clippard 1909-1975 was the daughter of Scott and Josie Fronniem Clippard. The sister that she and John Grover Fowler visited was Lila Mae Clippard 1907-1980 married to Lester Eugene Gantt 1905-1975.

An interesting fact is that Lester Eugene and Lila Mae Clippard Gantt were buried at Corinth Baptist Church in Gaffney, SC where many of the Israel Fowler descendants were buried.

John Grover Fowler evidently married Margaret Clippard as she was listed as his wife on his death certificate. John Grover Fowler was buried beside his first wife Pearl Thomas at Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte.

After John Grover’s death, Margaret married Charles Fisher.

john grover death cert
John Grover Fowler
john grover fowler
John Grover Fowler

Fred Mark Fowler:

Fred Mark Fowler was born on September 12, 1895 in Union County, SC.  He was to be the last child born to Sarah Purchase Fowler.  The name “Mark” was a name often used in this family.  Our Fowler family’s first known Mark Fowler was a son of John Fowler the First, our immigrant ancestor from England who died in Virginia in 1683.

Fred Mark Fowler was four years old when the census was taken in 1900.  He lived with his mother and three siblings in Pacolet, SC.  Fast forward to 1910….. fourteen-year-old Fred Mark and his family had moved to nearby Spartanburg.

On June 5, 1917, Fred Mark Fowler signed a World War I Draft Registration card.  From the information obtained on this record, he was a single, tall, slender young man, seventeen years of age, grey eyes and light-colored hair.  His address was 914 N. Davidson Street in Charlotte, NC.

Fred Mark Fowler did not remain single for very long, for he soon married Bessie Norris.  She was born in North Carolina in 1901, but her family had moved to Spartanburg SC before 1910, and it is likely the place Fred Mark and Bessie met.

The Fred Mark Fowler family was recorded in census records in Charlotte NC for the years 1930 and 1940.  They had seven daughters and one son:

  • Louise Cornelia Fowler 1921–1981 m. Furman F. Tomberlin 1922-2009
  • Sarah Mae Fowler 1923–2012
  • Marie Fowler b. 1925 m. James Muriel McCormick 1926-2000
  • Fred Mark Fowler Jr. 1929–2017 m. Marie Georgette Legrand
  • Betty Jean Fowler b. 1930 m. Robert Evans Goodwin b. 1930
  • Phyllis Ann Fowler b. 1933– m. William Edward Crump, Jr.
  • Sylvia Grovene Fowler b. 1939 m. Larry Joel Graham
  • Joy Rae Fowler b. 1941 m. William Lee Martin

Fred Mark Fowler died on March 22, 1956 in the Veteran’s Administration Hospital; in Durham NC. He was buried at Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte. Bessie Fowler died in 1990 and was laid to rest beside her beloved husband.



  • Henry Ellis Fowler
    • Ellis Fowler 1770-  m. Mary 1780
      • Ellis Fowler
        • Sarah Purchase Fowler 1860-1933
          • Nellie Caroline Fowler m. Robert Cleveland Sarratt 1884–1949
            • Ocey Enola Sarratt 1911–1993 m.John Harold Fowler 1909–1983
              • son Fowler 1939
              • daughter Fowler 1939–
            • Alma M Sarratt 1914–2004 m Wade Arthur Carpenter1910–1976; Rhett Fowler Traynham 1903–1961
            • Everett R Sarratt 1918–1971 m. Mary Kathleen Bolding 1914–1971
              • daughter Sarratt
              • daughter Saratt
            • Orville Cleveland Sarratt 1922–2012 m. Mary Conner 1927–
              • David Thomas Sarratt 1946–2017
              • Louis James Sarratt 1948–
              • Arnold Elwood Sarratt 1949–
          • Steady Fowler m. Nannie Phillips
            • Beulah Fowler 1903–
            • Burie S. Fowler 1906-1908
            • Buford Paul Fowler 1906–1975 m. Ruby Satterfield 1909–1996
              • Peggy Jean Fowler 1928–1999
              • Carl Hewitt Fowler Sr 1934–2012
              • Delores Fowler Roe 1937–2010
              • Cheryl Jane Fowler Lawson 1943–2009
            • Cecil E. Fowler 1909–1974 m. Iva Gertrude Smith
            • Thomas C. “T.C.” Fowler 1911-1978 m. Ethel Gregory
            • Ruth Fowler 1913–1995 m. Blackwell; m. Alfred Price
            • Gladys Leona Fowler 1916–2002 m. Wofford T. Blanton 1911–1971
              • James Eugene Blanton 1939–2014
            • Warren William Fowler 1918–1980 m. Anita Devieu Brown
            • Ruby Fowler 1920-1995 m. Otis W. Nolan
          • John Grover Fowler m. Pearl Thomas
          • Fred Mark Fowler m. Bessie Norris
            • Louise Cornelia Fowler 1921–1981 m. Furman F. Tomberlin 1922-2009
            • Sarah Mae Fowler 1923–2012
            • Marie Fowler b. 1925 m. James Muriel McCormick 1926-2000
            • Fred Mark Fowler Jr. 1929–2017 m. Marie Georgette Legrand
            • Betty Jean Fowler b. 1930 m. Robert Evans Goodwin b. 1930
            • Phyllis Ann Fowler b. 1933– m. William Edward Crump, Jr.
            • Sylvia Grovene Fowler b. 1939 m. Larry Joel Graham
            • Joy Rae Fowler b. 1941 m. William Lee Martin

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