Walter Gaines Fowler was born in Union County, South Carolina, the youngest of three sons of Big Mark Fowler (1780-1853) and Elizabeth Moseley ((1782-1883).

In 1850, Walter Fowler resided in the household with his father, mother, sisters, and several nephews. His older brother Ellis Fowler and his family lived next door. It is possible that the William Fowler in the Littlejohn household was also a brother.

1850 Union County SC Census

By the time 1860 rolled around, things had changed drastically for the Big Mark Fowler family. For one thing, Mark had died February 10, 1853. The family moved from the Pacolet River closer to Jonesville after the death of the family patriarch. Most of the adult children and the nephews had left the nest, leaving a greatly reduced household.

It is most likely that the family had moved onto property belonging to Elizabeth Moseley Fowler’s nephew, Milligan Fowler (son of Godfrey Fowler and Nannie Kelly). Milligan Fowler owned 1500 acres in and around the town of Jonesville, and he left his Aunt Betty (Elizabeth Moseley Fowler) “the tract of land on which she now lives” in his Last Will and Testament dated in 1870.

From the 1870 Last Will and Testament of Milligan Fowler

The 1860 household of Walter Gaines Fowler included his mother Elizabeth, and his sisters Salena and Mary. Salena Fowler was a deaf mute and never left the household of her mother. It is through mention of her handicap in records that I am able to accurately follow the Mark Fowler family from the very early years of his marriage to Elizabeth Moseley until the deaths of both Mark and Elizabeth. Salena and her sister Melissa Fowler Leonard were the only two children out of nine to survive their mother.

1860 Union County SC Census

My best guess is that, in 1865 or thereabouts, Walter Gaines Fowler married his first cousin once removed: Mahala Rebecca “Becky” Worthy (1845-1925). Becky Worthy was the daughter of William Worthy and Fanny Fowler, daughter of Ellis Fowler and Mary. Ellis Fowler was the son of Henry Ellis Fowler. Thus, Henry Ellis Fowler was the grandfather of Walter Gaines Fowler, and the great grandfather of Becky Worthy.

Walter Gaines Fowler and Becky Worthy welcomed daughter Alpha Ethel Fowler into the world circa 1866, although her birthdate is shown in some records as the eighteenth of September, 1868.

A second daughter followed — Bettie — in 1868. A son named Walter Gaines Fowler was born in 1870 and died in 1870. Alpha Ethel Fowler would later name one of her own sons Walter, but alas, that Walter would live less than a year as well.

The elder Walter Gaines Fowler was alive and well — well, perhaps not well — at the end of 1870 when his cousin Milligan Fowler mentioned him in the Will.

For a very long time, I was unable to find the Walter Gaines Fowler family in the 1870 census. I could not understand this, but it is not uncommon for a family to be missed once or twice during a lifetime. I don’t like to admit this, but it took many years before I realized that the family was there all along — hiding in plain sight. Now, I definitely do not understand the reasons, and I am sure that they must have had good ones……

The Walter Gaines Fowler family used the Fowler surname in the 1870 census, but the first names for the family make absolutely no sense to me. Please continue reading….

Fowler Walter (age 35) is transcribed as Fowler Wallace. It looks more like Walter to me, but it is not perfectly clear. Regardless, this is Walter Gaines Fowler.

Fowler Sarah (age 28) is Mahala Rebecca “Becky” Fowler. Why did she use Sarah in this record?

Fowler Susan (age 4) is Alpha Ethel Fowler.

Fowler Caty (age 2) is Bettie Fowler. Was her name Catherine Elizabeth, Catherine Betty, Caty Elizabeth, or was the name Caty meant to be a joke on us, one hundred and fifty years later?

Fowler Hamlet (age 1) was Walter Gaines Fowler, the son. Did he start off his life as Hamlet and a name change came about to honor his father, or is this just to confuse and misdirect?

Fowler Martha (age 42) was listed as a deaf mute in this record, (although it does not show in the screenshot). This was Selina Fowler. Was her name Martha Selina, or Selina Martha, or was “Martha” a pseudonym? I have never seen her name as anything other than Selina in other records.

Now for the kicker. Fowler Elizabeth (age 95) is Elizabeth Fowler. Go figure.

I left two names on the bottom of the screenshot: Mary Catherine and Edward. Could not decide if this was last name Menz, Catherine and her son Edward, or Fowler, Mary Catherine and her son Edward. I will investigate this at a later date.

1870 Union County SC Census

The absence of Walter Gaines Fowler and the absence of any additional children in the 1880 household headed by Rebecca Fowler indicate that Walter Gaines Fowler had died. Further proof is the Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Moseley Fowler who left her estate to her unfortunate daughter Selina Fowler and the two daughters, Alpha and Bettie, of her deceased son Walter Gaines Fowler. The Will was signed and dated March 27, 1873.

1880 Union County SC Census

Daughter Bettie married a Mr. Jackson and had a son in 1893 whom she named Jesse. Bettie died in April of 1894 and did not live to see the boy Jesse grow into manhood.

Alpha Ethel Fowler married Mr. Garner and birthed ten children, although half of her brood died when still babes in arms. In her later life, she moved to Georgia and married Mr. Crawford. Alpha Ethel Fowler Garner Crawford died in Georgia in 1929, and was laid to rest in the red Georgia clay.

Becky Worthy spent her last days living with her daughter in Georgia. She died in Georgia in 1925, but unlike her daughter’s, her remains were returned to South Carolina and she was buried at Gilead, probably near her husband of years long gone. I can find no record of the burial of Walter Gaines Fowler, but I have to believe that he lies near his father Big Mark Fowler — and perhaps not too far away from his dear Becky — in the graveyard at Gilead.

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