Murder.  Is the propensity for taking the life of another embedded in the DNA of a man’s genetic code?  One could argue that environment or circumstance or just plain bad luck be reason enough to place a man in the position of making a split second decision to pull a trigger and end a life.

What follows is a tale of the two Mize brothers who chose the path leading to the murders of two men, and the story of the two Fowler women who married the Mize men.

Solomon Mize was born circa 1821 in Union County, South Carolina.  He married Nancy Dodd (b. 1832) and their first child, Mary Ann Mize, was born in 1848.  Four sons were to follow — Thomas Mize in 1850, John Mize in 1853, Elliot Mize in 1857, and James Monroe Mize in 1859.

Mary Ann Mize married Benson Petty; Thomas Mize married Mary Carolina Vandiver; and Elliot Mize died a young boy.  Their stories, their lives….. while filled with joyful events and  human suffering…… lend little to the telling of the lives of their brothers John and James Monroe Mize.

Brothers John Mize and James Monroe Mize had more in common than shared parents.  They both married Fowler women; they each pulled a trigger and were arrested for killing a man.

And as murder often goes, the two victims were related to their killers by marriage: John Mize ended the life of his wife’s cousin, and James Monroe Mize took the life of the man married to his daughter.

Enter Desdamona Fowler, the daughter of James Fowler and Caroline Hodge, both descended from the same Fowler family, endowing their daughter a double dose of Fowler DNA as well as a beautiful name.

James Fowler (1832–1862) was the son of William Fowler and Rhoda Moseley.  This particular William Fowler was most likely the son of John Fowler “the Elder” (d. 1818) and his wife Fannie.  Forthcoming DNA testing will confirm this, or not.

Caroline Hodge (1830-1912) was the daughter of John Jackson Hodge (1802-1882) and  Martha Patsy Fowler (1809-1872).  Womack Fowler (1785-1949) was the father of Martha Patsy Fowler, and of course, Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808) was the father of WomackMartha Patsy Fowler’s mother was Susannah Moseley (1792-1878).  DNA testing has already proven these relationships.

In 1860, six year old Desdamona Fowler lived in the household with her parents and two younger brothers.  Her paternal grandmother Rhoda Fowler lived in the household next door.

james Fowler Caroline Hodge
1860 Union County SC Census


Desdamona’s father, James Fowler, died before the 1870 census.  She still lived in the household with her mother and siblings.

caroline hodge 1870
1870 Union County SC Census

John Mize, age six, and his brother James Monroe Mize, age 4 months, lived in the household with parents Solomon Mize and Nancy Dodd in 1860.  Mary Ann, Thomas, and Eliot Mize were the other children of Soloman and Nancy.

john mize 1860
1860 Union County SC Census


The Solomon Mize household remained the same size in 1870.

john mise 1870
1870 Union County SC Census


Shortly after the 1870 census was taken — and shortly could mean  weeks or months or even a year or two — Desdamona Fowler, daughter of James, married John Mize, son of Solomon.  Their first child was born circa 1872.  Three more children followed in rapid succession.  Then, trouble struck — John Mize killed a man.


john mise shot john lipsey
The Intelligencer
Anderson, South Carolina
Thu, Nov 06, 1879 · Page 2

Who was this man, John Lipsey?

John Lipsey was born in 1841 in Union County, SC.  He was the son of Ricketson Lipsey (b. 1806) and Frances Fowler (b. 1815).  He was married to Mary Burgess (1843-1915) and the father of John (b. 1864), Anna (b. 1868), Sallie (b. 1872), Silas (b. 1873), and Bobby (b. 1875).  John Lipsey was also Desdamona Fowler’s second cousin.

John Lipsey’s mother Frances Fowler (b. 1815) was the daughter of Mark Fowler (1785-1862), son of John Fowler (d. 1818) and Fannie.

Desdamona Fowler’s father James Fowler was the son of William Fowler (17. -1800), son of John Fowler (d. 1818) and Fannie.

The spiderwebbed story of cousins and sons-in-law and murder gets way more complicated than this; but not to worry, there will be the familiar chart at the end of the article to help explain the twists and turns of this tale.

John Mize went to jail for the killing of John Lipsey.  Both the 1880 census and the  1880 schedule for Inhabitants in Prison bear this out.

In 1880, the Solomon Mize household included Solomon, wife Nancy, daughter-in-law Desda (Fowler), and the four children of Desda and her “missing” husband John Mize: Charles, Martha, John, and  baby Thomas.

Desdamona Fowler 1880
1880 Union County SC Census


John Mize was not in the 1880 census record with his wife and children, but he was found in the schedule below.  In the Union County Jail.  For murder.

john mize prison


John Mize was recorded in 1880 as one of three prisoners in the county jail.

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Desdamona was not the only woman who had moved back into a household with parents;  Mary Burgess Lipsey, now a widow, and her four fatherless children moved into her parents’ household, headed by her father Silas Burgess.


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1880 Union County SC Census


Poor dead John Lipsey was not forgotten.  He was listed in a schedule in 1880 as well:

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U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules

It’s difficult to read, but it states that 35 year old John Lipsey died in October 1879 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Good news for John Mize came in 1880.  He was found not guilty of the murder of John Lipsey.  The two articles below are somewhat conflicting in the reasons John Mize was set free.


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Union Times
Union, South Carolina
Fri, Jun 25, 1880 · Page 2


Did the jury return a verdict of not guilty or did they fail to agree upon a verdict?  Either way, John Mize was a free man.

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The Intelligencer
Anderson, South Carolina
Thu, Mar 18, 1880 · Page 2


What happened to John Mize after his return home from the county jail?  He and Desdamona had four more children: Monroe Mimms Mize (b. 1883), Albert Horace Mize (b. 1885), Virginia James Mize (b. 1885), and Mattie Mize (b. 1887).

It must be mentioned that Monroe Mimms Mize and Mattie Mize were absent in the 1900 census within the John Mize household.  Mattie Mize was named Mattie Smith on her marriage certificate.  I am not totally sure that these two children were, in fact, the biological children of John Mize and Desdamona Fowler.  Death certificates and other documents lend support that they were children of the couple, but I do suspect they may have been informally adopted from another family, even another Mize family.  Please note that this is mere speculation but I find that things do not add up.  More research is forthcoming.

Desdamona died or left the household, for John Mize married Margaret Anna Putnam (b. 1875) in 1891.  John and his new wife had four children: Annie (b. 1896), Christopher Columbus (b. 1898), Bessie (b. 1906), and Ruby Estelle (b. 1909).

The John Mize family were in Cooks, Fulton County Georgia in 1900, but later returned to South Carolina, living in Greenville in 1910; and old John Mize, dying there in 1912.

This article is titled Murder: The Mize Brothers and Their Fowler Wives for good reason.  I shall now take you down another path to murder with the younger Mize brother, James Monroe Mize.

Enter Harriet Fowler, daughter of Bryant Fowler and Elizabeth Wright.  Bryant was the son of Stephen Fowler and his first wife, Sarah.  Stephen was the son of Ephraim Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

Harriet Fowler was a cousin to Desdamona Fowler two ways: through Henry Ellis Fowler, and John Fowler (d. 1818).   Harriet was also a cousin to John Lispey.

Harriet Fowler married James Monroe Mize, brother of John Mize and son of Solomon.  “Monroe” (as we shall now call him) and Harriet had two children: Logan Mize (b. 1881) and Viola Mize (b. 1884).

Logan Mize married Hattie Strain, daughter of John Strain, in 1902.  Logan’s sister Viola Mae married John Gore, exact date unknown.  John Gore and Viola were the parents of two living children, Jannie May (b. 1906), and John (b, 1908).  Two other children had not survived.

Monroe Mize was a fiddler of local renown.  His son-in-law John Gore played the banjo. Trouble was in the air when both men were invited to provide music for a dance to be held at the home place of William “Bill” Reynolds.  The night would end with one man dead, and the other in jail.  This tragic event took place December 12, 1908.

It is not mentioned in any of the press articles written about that dreadful night of how many patrons attended to watch Bill Reynolds dance.  It is known that Logan Mize was there and John Fowler,  son of Harriet Fowler Mize’s sister Emma Fowler Wilkins, was there playing a banjo, and very much involved in the events.   John proved to be a credible witness at the trial.

It is known that Monroe Mize, Logan Mize, and John Gore stopped by John Fowler’s house to have supper before the dance.  It has been reported that all but Monroe indulged in drink.  Afterwards, the four men made their way to the home of Bill Reynolds where they continued their drinking.

They eventually made their way into a pasture where they built a fire, danced, cursed and quarreled, and — no doubt — drank.  Things got out of hand as Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning.  John Gore produced a knife and proceeded to chase old dancing Bill Reynolds out of the pasture.  John Gore and Logan Mize got into a scuffle.  The party broke up, Monroe and Logan Mize going to the home of Bill Reynolds; John Gore and John Fowler going to the nearby home of John Fowler.

As John Fowler and John Gore were preparing for bed, they heard Monroe and Logan Mize outside in the yard.  The air must have been filled with rage for Logan Mize and John Fowler soon got into a fight.  The four men were in the house, out in the yard, in the house, out in the yard.  John Fowler’s wife, barefoot and in her night clothes, went into the yard, then back into the house.  Guns were flashed about, harsh words spoken.  It was chaos all around.

By the time the dust settled, Monroe Mize had fired three shots.  John Gore lay facedown –dead — on the ground.  John Fowler examined the body while the father and son Mize men departed the scene.  They went to the home of Emma Fowler Wilkins, a sister of Monroe’s wife Harriet.

There was much written in the newspapers of the time.  Both Monroe and Logan Mize were arrested.   The trial was held in 1910.  Logan Mize received thirty days on the county chaingang for carrying concealed weapons.  Monroe Mize was sentenced two years in the penitentiary for manslaughter.

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Gaffney, South Carolina
Tue, Dec 15, 1908 · Page 4
Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 10.57.00 PM
The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, Jul 16, 1909 · Page 5

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Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, Apr 07, 1911 · Page 1
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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Tue, Apr 18, 1911 · Page 2


Monroe Mize was — without a doubt — a popular man in his community.  I found many articles written about him ranging from stories about cock fighting to petitions trying to free him from the penitentiary.  Add a banjo and a very colorful character comes to mind.

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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, Jan 19, 1912 · Page 2


Viola Mize Gore married Mr. Cook in 1910 and began another family.

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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, May 03, 1912 · Page 4

James Monroe Mize died in 1926 of heart and renal failure combined with flu.

Logan Mize was married and working as a blacksmith in 1921 in Charleston, South Carolina.  It was reported that he had been making fun of the appearance of one James Slappey who took offense and shot Logan Mize in his legs.  The gunshot shattered the bones and his legs were amputated. The shock was too great.  

Logan Mize lived by the gun, and died by the gun.


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9 thoughts on “Murder: The Mize Brothers and Their FOWLER Wives

  1. You mention Mary Burgess Lipsey’s father Silas Burgess. Her mother (Silas’ wife) was Mariah/Myriah/Maria Fowler who (based on DNA) is in Henry Ellis Fowler’s (1746) line, perhaps a granddaughter. I am trying to figure out who Mariah’s parents were. Do you have any insight?


    1. Hi Kara, Thank you for your comment! I do have some insight and theory on possible candidates for Mariah’s parents, but no solid proof yet. She may have been a granddaughter or great granddaughter of Henry Ellis Fowler through his son Ellis. It is also possible and very likely that she was a granddaughter of John Fowler (the Elder) d. 1818 and his wife Fannie. Would love to communicate more with you to try to figure this out. Thanks again! Deb


  2. Somewhere I got the idea that her father was named Ellis (now I can’t find my notes on that). She could be a daughter of Henry Ellis’s son Ellis – I have not seen a Mary/Myriah attached to him, but there seems to be some confusion about his children. If she was a daughter of John, she would have been born just about the time he died. That could explain her not being mentioned in his will. He did say he had other unnamed children. In the 1850 census, she and Silas are just a few pages away from John’s son James C Fowler and also Wymac’s daughters Tempa Gibson and Martha Hodge, plus Milligan and Coleman and Thomas Gilliam Fowler and my ggg grandparents Godfrey Fowler and Nancy Kelly. She belongs in there somewhere.


    1. As you know, Ellis Fowler (b. 1770) married to Mary (b. 1880) was a son of Henry Ellis Fowler. He and Mary had several children whom I have not been able to document and it is very possible that one of the daughters was named Mariah. The only four children that I have documented are as follows: Ellis (b. 1810) married Sarah Clark; Nancy (b. 1815); Winnifred (b.) married James Worthy; and Fanny (b. 1825) married William Worthy. Ellis Fowler is the only child of Henry Ellis Fowler that I have not fully researched. He was listed as a pauper in the census and there are few records in the courthouse. There are several Fowler men who may be descended from Ellis; (Andrew Fowler is one of them and Reuben Fowler (my great great great grandfather is another). I do not believe that Mariah Fowler was a daughter of John the Elder Fowler and Fannie. If she was from this branch of the family, she would have been a daughter of possibly Little Mark Fowler (son of John the Elder). Mark was married twice (to Nancy and Mary O’Neal) and he had several children with Nancy, most of whom I have not identified. Regarding the 1850 census — Silas Lipsey and Mariah are listed on (ancestry) page 162, only 4 households away from Nathaniel Gist. The Nathaniel Gist home was built in 1815 and is north of Jonesville. I know this because my in-laws owned this historic home at one time. It should be noted that more than a few of the Ellis Fowler (b. 1770) descendants lived in this area, near Nat Gist and the Rev. Elias Mitchell families. The Thomas Gilman Fowler home (built circa 1840) listed on (ancestry) page 169 is south of Jonesville near the fork in the roads leading to Lockhart and Union. A descendant of Thomas Gillman Fowler lives in this home and has been kind enough to let me bring in genealogists to see the home which is remarkably very much unchanged from the time it was built. I will put Mariah at the top of my research list and see if I can find anything out. Which son or daughter of Godfrey do you descend from? Reuben Fowler is my brick wall.


      1. I am descended from Godrey and Nancy Fowler’s daughter Mary Fowler who married John Allen McWhirter Sr. Mary’s sisters Keziah and Elizabeth both married John Allen McW’s brother Robert Charles McWhirter. Can you send me an email?


  3. Deb,

    At least one person is using time wisely during this COVID Pandemic. Your research must also be interesting since it is holding your focus until early in the morning when mental fatigue becomes overwhelming and forces one to seek a place to sleep.

    Take care, dear cousin,


    1. Also I have to add in that my GG Grandfather name is Thomas Mize, his wife’s name was maiden was vanderveer! All my immediate family and ancestors were born all different parts of the South! Mostly Union, SC and around Cherokee county! Spartenburg, Cowpens, same area as your information you dug up! We’re definitely related for 100% positive! I recognized a lot of same names! Get in touch! My dad passed when I was 11 in 1972, didn’t know anything about the Hall side, because my mother Grace and Father Lonnie left SC and moved to Rhode Island in 1956 and had my brother in ’59’ Thomas, I was born in ’61’ my younger sister Terry was born in July ’62’ she passed suddenly in ’86’ at 23 from Spinal meningitis! Mother passed in ’90’ at 67 yrs. It’s me and my brother left! I lived in SC with my Auntie and 2 cousins in ’69’ stayed the summer when I was just 6, went back few times but, I only knew about my mother’s side, but I actually had a few surprises in my DNA story! Hope you get in touch with me! 😉✌


      1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading my blog and for your comments. I have taken a look at your family, most of whom I already have in my family tree. We are perhaps even more related that you know. I have a lot of information and questions to run by you. Do you mind if I email you? I am especially interested to see how much shared DNA we have. Thanks again, and hope to hear from you! Deb


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