Benjamin Fowler was born in 1862 in Cherokee County Georgia.  He was the son of B. Elbert Fowler and Malinda Susannah Newbury.  He was a direct descendant of Henry Ellis Fowler of Union County South Carolina.

Through the use of the wonderful research tool of yDNA testing, the Henry Ellis Fowler family of Union County South Carolina has been proven to be of the yDNA Haplogroup I-Lineage IV.

  • Henry Ellis Fowler 1846-1808
    • Ephraim Fowler 1765-1822 
      • Ellis Fowler 1805-before 1840 
        • B. Elbert Fowler 1830-1882 
          • Benjamin Fowler b. 1862

B. ELBERT FOWLER (1830-1882) Son of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Mabry

This article is not about him.

The Benjamin Franklin Fowler whom this article is about has been somewhat of a research mystery.  Until now.

I shall go back a generation or two for a better understanding of this family…..

Jacob Lewis (1772-1857) was born in Guilford, North Carolina and moved with his parents to the Pendleton District in South Carolina.  After the death of his father, he and his family moved to Pickens County South Carolina.  He married Ailsie Leonard (1771-1857) and together they raised a large family.

Jacob and his wife Ailsie had a son born in 1797, Abner Lewis, who married Mary Breazeale Gibson (1804-1877), daughter of Absalom Gibson (1774-1856) and Fanny Alexander (1774-1841).  The Gibson and Alexander lines have been well researched.

Abner Lewis was born in Randolph County North Carolina, lived in Pickens County, South  Carolina in 1830 and 1840, before moving to Sonoraville, Gordon County, Georgia prior to 1850.  He died in Gordon County in 1889.

Abner Lewis and Mary Breazeale Gibson had a daughter named Francis Lewis born 1823.  Francis was born in Pickens County, South Carolina, and married William B. Barton there in 1841.  Their marriage announcement was printed in the Pendleton Messenger.

It must be said here that the Barton family of Pickens County, South Carolina and their related lines from North Carolina have been very well researched, and this research has been backed up with an extraordinary amount of yDNA testing.  The yDNA Haplogroup for this Barton family is R1b.

William Barton and his wife Francis Lewis had a son named Benjamin Franklin Barton, born 1844/1845.  

I’ve not yet delved deeply into finding the parents of William Barton, nor do I know what happened to him after his marriage to Francis Lewis.  I do know that Francis Lewis (age 27) and her son Benjamin Barton (age 5) were living in the household with her parents, Abner and Mary Lewis, and her siblings in 1850 in the 12th Division of Gordon County, Georgia.  I do not know where William Barton was in 1850; he was missing and I presume dead.

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1850 Gordon County Georgia Census

Francis Lewis Barton married Jeremiah “Jere” Dempsey before 1860.  It was not the first marriage for either; Jeremiah Dempsey had been married to Julia A. McCall and their family included two sons and four daughters.

In 1860, Francis was recorded in the Calhoun County, Alabama census with her husband Jeremiah Dempsey, three children from his previous marriage, her son Benjamin Franklin Barton now known as Franklin Dempsey, and the three children she had with Jeremiah DempseyCharles DempseyJessie Dempsey and Mary Camilia Dempsey.

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1860 Calhoun County Alabama Census

Recorded as Ben F. Barton in the 1870, census, Benjamin Franklin Barton lived in the household with his mother, Francis Lewis Barton Dempsey, his stepfather Jeremiah Dempsey, and his three half siblings.  James Lewis, the younger brother of Francis, also lived in the home in Gordon County, Georgia.

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1870 Gordon County Georgia Census

Benjamin F. Barton lived in the household of his stepfather Jeremiah Dempsey and his mother Francis in Sonoraville, Gordon County, Georgia in 1880.

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1880 Gordon County Georgia Census

Jeremiah Dempsey died October 13, 1881 and was laid to rest at the Bethlehem Baptist Church cemetery in Sonoraville, Georgia.

Abner Lewis and his wife Mary Breazeale Gibson, parents of Francis, were also buried at Bethlehem.  Their son Joab Lewis (1825-1910) and his wife Phalba L. Barton (1829-1900) were buried there as well.

The paper trail abruptly ends for Benjamin F. Barton and his mother Francis Lewis Barton Dempsey after 1880. Perhaps Francis Lewis Barton Dempsey was buried beside her husband Jeremiah with no headstone.  But what happened to Benjamin Barton?

I must divert for a moment to Joab Lewis, brother of Francis.  His wife Phalba L. Barton was the daughter of Bailey Anderson Barton (1795-1847) who was the son of Benjamin Franklin Barton (1760-1818) and wife Dorcas Anderson (1773-1849).  These were Pickens County, South Carolina Bartons and William B. Barton, first husband of Francis, was no doubt  very closely connected.

Exit Benjamin Franklin Barton.  There are simply no records to be found of him after the 1880 census.  It is possible that he died in the decades between 1880 to 1900 and that he lies in an unmarked grave in the Bethlehem cemetery.  But I don’t think so!  What has been written up to now is documented fact.

The following sentence is speculation based on circumstantial evidence and the solid foundation of yDNA testing:

Benjamin Franklin Barton changed his name to Benjamin Franklin Fowler after the 1880 census was taken and before his marriage in 1881.

Enter Benjamin Franklin Fowler.   B.F. Fowler and Sarah Nix were married on December 4, 1881 in Cherokee County, Georgia.  Gordon County, Georgia and Cherokee County, Georgia form a “four corners” with Pickens and Barton counties; to be clear, these counties are very close to each other.

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Sarah Matilda Nix (1861-1946) was the daughter of Charles Nix (1776–1865) and Christiana Peterson (b. 1830).  Charles Nix was formerly of South Carolina but lived in Cherokee County, Georgia before 1840.  Charles Nix was much older than his wife Christiana; she was his second wife.  The May-December couple had three children together; Sarah Matilda was the youngest.

The marriage certificate of B.F. Fowler and Sarah Nix is below:

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Upon closer examination, it appears that the name “Fowler” has been altered, perhaps a name was erased and written again.  Why?  Was the name first written as “Barton” then rewritten as “Fowler”?

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Sarah M. Nix


I am currently in the process of searching for reasons that Benjamin Franklin Barton may have changed his name to Benjamin Franklin Fowler.  I can certainly think of many reasons, but I need to know if and why he did this.

It is known that Benjamin Franklin Fowler and Sarah Nix moved their family from Georgia to Tennessee between the years 1893 to 1900.

In 1900, Ben F. Fowler lived in Civil District 10, Loudon County, Tennessee with his wife Sarah and their six children.  They had been married for 19 years, and Sarah had given birth nine times during the marriage.  Three of these children did not survive until 1900 and their names are unknown to me.

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1900 Loudon County TN Census

Benjamin Franklin Fowler died after the 1900 census was taken and before Sarah Fowler was listed in the 1908 Knoxville, Tennessee city directory as the widow of Frank Fowler.  In the 1910 census, Sarah was listed as a widow  in the household of her daughter Martha Christine Fowler Hickman and her son-in-law, James Hickman.  It was a most extended family, illustrated and explained below.

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1910 Knox County TN Census

Apparently, both James Hickman and Martha Christine Fowler had been married before as the census indicates this was a second marriage for them.  Ethel M. Fowler and William Fowler were listed as stepchildren to James Hickman.   Martha Christine was their mother.  Who was their father?  Sarah Nix Fowler lived in the home, and Ray Hickman, brother to James was in the household too.  Charles Fowler and Carrie Fowler, the youngest children of Sarah Nix Fowler, were also in the household.

Carrie Fowler had married William Dewey Smith before 1920, and Sarah Nix Fowler had moved in with them prior to the 1920 census.

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1920 Knox County TN Census


Sarah Nix Fowler remained in the household in 1930 with her daughter Carrie Fowler Smith and her son-in-law Dewey Smith, although the household had moved from Knoxville, Tennessee to Simpsonville, South Carolina.

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1930 Greenville County SC Census


Carrie Fowler Smith and Dewey Smith’s family had grown considerably, and the elderly Sarah Nix Fowler continued to live with them in 1940.

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1940 Greenville County SC Census

The following documents offer proof of the family of Benjamin Franklin Fowler and Sarah Nix Fowler.  Note that he was almost always referred to as “Franklin” Fowler.  Sarah Nix Fowler died in 1846 in Simpsonville, SC.  The first document is her Certificate of Death; the remaining ones are Certificates of Death for two of her children, Martha Christine Fowler Hickman and Charles A. Fowler, and a Delayed Certificate of Birth for her son Oscar Franklin Fowler.


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In the 1850 Cherokee County, Georgia Census, there are Nix, Barton, and  Fowler families who came from South Carolina.  I’ve not had time to analyze them, but I know in my heart that they are interconnected in many ways…

…an example:

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I have briefly analyzed the census taken in 1880, the year before B. F. Fowler married Sarah Nix.  Of course, I am looking for a logical explanation as to why a man would require a new surname.  I thought perhaps proximity to a Fowler family would offer a clue……

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1880 Cherokee County Georgia Census


The BLUE arrow is the family of Augustus Fowler (1846-1926).  Augustus was the son of William Benjamin Fowler (1824-1909).  Descendants of this Fowler line have yDNA tested and the Haplogroup does not match the Barton line or the Henry Ellis Fowler line.  Was there a connection between this Fowler family and the Barton or Nix families or only coincidence that the Fowler and Nix families were neighbors?

The ORANGE arrow points to the household of Lucy Nix, widow of John L. Nix (b. 1800), probable son of Charles Nix and his first wife Sarah.   John L. Nix would be an older half-brother to Sarah Nix (as Sarah was the daughter of Charles Nix and his second wife Christiana Peterson).  Complicated and confusing?  Absolutely.

The RED arrow indicates the family of Christiana Peterson Nix, widow of Charles Nix.  The household includes her three children, Sarah M. Nix being the youngest at eighteen.

There is no proof in the above three paragraphs that Benjamin Franklin Barton changed his name to Benjamin Franklin Fowler prior to his marriage to Sarah Nix in 1881; nor is there any logical reason that I can find, although I have to admit that I have not yet spent the time necessary to dig deeply.

We do have circumstantial evidence: Benjamin Franklin Barton is well documented from his birth in 1844 up until the 1880 census.  He disappears — and Benjamin Franklin Fowler appears a year later and is documented until around the time of his death in the very early 1900s.  Is that enough?  Absolutely not.

Circumstantial evidence relies on inference, and sometimes that’s all we get.  But fortunately for the researchers out there interested in this Fowler family line — we have more — we have yDNA and DNA is truth.

A direct Fowler male from this line has yDNA tested and the yDNA Haplogroup is R1b- Lineage II.  This lineage is referred to as the Fowler-Barton Lineage.

Yes, Benjamin Franklin Fowler is a direct descendant of the Barton family.  It seems very likely that he was born Benjamin Franklin Barton, and for reasons unknown to me at this moment, changed his surname to Fowler.

Benjamin Frankin Fowler is the Founder of a new line of Fowlers.  He was a true Patriarch!


William B. Barton m.  Francis Lewis 1823–1880

  • Benjamin Franklin Barton/Fowler 1844-before 1908 m. Sarah Matilda Nix 1861-1946
    • Martha Christine Fowler 1881–1947 m. James T. Hickman 1882-1923
      • Ethel M. Fowler 1901-
      • William T. Fowler 1905-
      • Paul Hickman 1910-
      • Elmer Hickman 1912-
      • Deila Mae Hickman 1914-1959
      • Helen Pauline Hickman 1916-2000
      • Mary Ruth Hickman 1920-199
    • John Wesley Fowler 1882–1954 m. Josephine Williams 1887-
      • Clyde Fowler 1907-
      • Floyd Fowler 1910–
      • Zola M Fowler 1913–
      • Elizabeth Fowler 1917–
      • Ray Fowler 1919–
      • Ruth Fowler 1920–
      • Robert Fowler 1923–
      • Harold Eugene Fowler 1925–
    • Lou C Fowler 1888– m. Oscar C. Cheek 1892–1959
      • Frank Benson Cheek 1916–1966
      • Judson Freeman Cheek 1918–1993
      • Ben Nettie Cheek 1924–1924
    • Arthur Francis Fowler 1889–1972 m. Addie Sue Murphy 1898-1973
    • Oscar Franklin Fowler 1889–1971 m. Etta Bane 1896–1969
      • James Arthur Ray Fowler 1912–2001
      • Edna Mae Fowler 1915–1931
      • William Franklin Fowler 1917–1917
      • Furman Lewis Fowler 1918–1990
      • Earl Truman Fowler 1920–1975
      • Mary Francis Fowler 1932–1987
    • Charles A Fowler 1895–1953 m. Rachel M. Young 1890-1975
      • Robert Wesley Fowler 1914-2008
      • Loyd Franklin Fowler 1920-1985
      • Joe Fowler 1924-2005
    • Carrie Malissa Fowler 1900–1987 m. William Dewey Smith 1897–1963
      • Homer Smith 1918–
      • Ethel Christine Smith 1920–1940
      • William D Smith 1923–1993
      • Charles L. Smith 1927–1995
      • Mildred Smith 1929–2012
      • Lilliam Lorena Smith 1932–1954
      • Daughter  Smith 1938–
      • Bobbie F. Smith 1938–2015
      • Alvin Dennis Smith 1941–2017





5 thoughts on “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FOWLER (1844-before 1908) Married to Sarah Nix

  1. Thank you for you research. Benjamin f Fowler is my husbands grandfather.
    I have been trying to clean up our family tree so that our information is correct. With our initial inexperience & help from others, I have found how easy it is for this to go wrong.
    Deila Mae Hickman 1914-1959, was my husbands mother, her correct name is Della Mae Hickman. My husband, Samuel Earl Wilson 1946-2019 & I am Tandy Kay Wilson 1948-( I was a Wilson & married a Wilson), were born in Knoxville. (We have a distant DNA match on ancestry but not 23 & me) We have lived adjacent to Cherokee County GA for many years. Have you check the Georgia Archives? I hope to make it there, I have a relative born in GA that my family has been trying to obtain addition about. Your research makes Benjamin Fowler interesting.


    1. Hi Tandy, Thanks so much for your comment and I hope the article helped with your research. I usually write articles about my own Union S.C. Fowler family but someone needed help with this line and I think we solved the mystery surrounding the Barton/ Fowler confusion! I have not been to the Georgia Archives yet but maybe I’ll make it some day. I do visit the S.C. State Archives and local court houses. Please let me know if you ever need help with your research and thanks again for getting in touch. I really enjoy hearing from the people who take the time to read my articles!!!! Deb


    2. To Tandy Wilson, The Benjamin Franklin Fowler who was your husband’s grandfather was never a BARTON. He was born a FOWLER. I knew his second wife and two of his daughters. The daughters married my uncles (my mother’s brothers) and I’m currently corresponding with a grandson. If you want the info I have, contact me at
      amcelhannon at


  2. Hi there! I’m not sure how I stumbled onto your page but WOW! Lol so my husband – William Franklin Fowler -DOB 3/12/81 is from Habersham Ga. His paternal grandfather was Franklin (Frank) Fowler. Whom married Marie Bailey. frank passed away when my husband was around 3. (I can get more info) but from all the info I have on Frank, his mother passed away when he was young leaving him and his sister to live with an Aunt. Marie- Frank’s wife -(Maw Maw) had just recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s with I Married into the family. Saying that, her memory of Frank’s family was very sparse. But what has the hairs on the back of my neck standing is this,
    When my husband and I were expecting our second child (son) Tony (williams dad) was helping us come up with some names. We wanted to try to stick with family names. I knew I wanted William and or Franklin to be in there somehow but couldn’t decide on what would be the first and or middle name.
    One day out of the blue, Tony said “hey! Y’all can name him Benjamin Franklin Fowler!” I laughed only because I instantly thought of the inventor .B.Franklin. And asked where he came up with that name. To which he replies, “it’s an old family name from way back on daddy’s side I believe.”
    We didn’t name our son Benjamin in the end but chose to go with William Bently Fowler(DOB 8/4/14) instead, and then fast forward to 7/28/20 when we welcomed Tucker-Lee Franklin Fowler into the world.
    I’m not sure if there’s anything to any of this. My father in law never really cared to check out his family tree and I guess since his paternal grandmother passed away young and his paternal grandfather wasn’t in the picture (side note: I have NEVER heard ANYTHING about the man) I guess stony just wasn’t interested. But he swears there’s. Benjamin Franklin “down the ways” in the family.
    And what makes it even more crazy is how close my husbands family has always lived to the Fowlers you’re researching. Habersham and Banks county Georgia is just a hop and a skip away from your Fowler Family.
    … would be interesting and crazy if somehow they were of the same.
    Anyways sorry for the long message and I hope it’s not too confusing. Please feel free to email me anytime! I love this info of the Fowlers even if they’re not my Fowlers lol.
    I’ve always been so interested in family history and where and whom I come from. Just have never had the time to research to the extent you have.
    Again thanks and hope to hear from you soon!
    -Brittany Grace Fowler


    1. Hi Brittany, Thanks so much for your comments! I very much enjoyed reading it. I am sending you an email with some family information which may include your husband’s line of descent. Deb


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