“I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” “The answer was staring me in the face.” “He was hiding in plain sight.”
There was his headstone — in the graveyard at Bethlehem Methodist Church. The stone marking the grave of E. Jack Fowler stands tall. It almost feels as if it is guarding the final resting places of other members of his family buried only steps away.
E J “Jack” Fowler was born March 15, 1854, and died July 29, 1893.
The graveyard at Bethlehem is familiar to me. I have been there many times, walking among the dead.
Mark Fowler (1785-1862) is there, the son of John Fowler the Elder.
Zillah Hames, daughter of Sarah Fowler, daughter of Ephraim Fowler lies beside her husband William Bevis. There are Bevis children, and the mother of William Bevis.
The names of the long ago departed at Bethlehem are as familiar to me as my own. Many are my family. But this E. Jack Fowler amongst my Fowlers — who was he?
And then, there was the obituary. Printed in the Union Times on August 4, 1893, it gave few clues about E. Jack Fowler. He had been ill with consumption and he lived and died on T.F Gault’s place. (John T.F Gault 1829-1906?)
Unfortunate — but not unusual for the times– the names of his father and mother were not mentioned.
“A wife and several children” are all we get — no names but we at least know he had a family.
In past years, I had been contacted by some of E Jack Fowler’s descendants asking if I knew anything about their ancestor: Who was his father? Who was his mother? Who was E. Jack Fowler?
There is one thing I could tell them:
Do not copy and paste the Family Tree of E. Jack Fowler that shows his parents as Andrew Jackson Fowler Sr (1818–1904) and Holly Helms (1821–1893)!!
These were NOT the parents of E. Jack Fowler.
Andrew Fowler and his wife Holly Helms lived in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina. They had many children, including a son born in 1851, named Andrew Jackson Fowler after his father.
Jackson Fowler of Monroe, NC was recorded in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina census records in 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920.
Jackson Fowler of Monroe, NC married a woman named Emeline and they had many children. Jackson Fowler died in 1926 and was buried in Monroe, NC.
I shall say this again:
Andrew and Holly Fowler were the parents of Andrew Jackson Fowler who was born in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina, lived his entire life in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina, and died in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina.
Andrew Jackson Fowler of Monroe, Union County, North Carolina was NOT the E. Jack Fowler who lived in Union County, South Carolina.
For many years, I searched for E. Jack Fowler The questions of this man’s origins occupied my thoughts. Of course I had theories. I always do. But I had no proof.
There were direct male descendants who could DNA test to answer questions but I had no takers.
And then, while searching for another, I found a name in a newspaper from 1879 that rang a bell in my head … or actually, the name clanged a brass gong that shook me head to toe –to my very core.
ELLIS JACKSON FOWLER.
I immediately recognized this brief mention in the Union Times as a reference to the estate settlement of Womack Fowler and his wife Susannah Moseley.
Every single one of the names from the newspaper is known to me. I have examined the lives of each one, as they were one and all descendants of Womack and Susannah Moseley Fowler.
In the legal documents of the Womack Fowler estate settlement, of which I have copies and transcripts, there was a son of Jane Hodge named in legal-speak as…
- Elias J. Fowler,
- Ellis J. Fowler
- E.J. Fowler
… all in the same document!
I spent years looking for this man. I knew that he was alive in 1879 since he was named in the document as an heir in the estate of his great grandfather Womack Fowler.
Jane’s mother was Martha Patsey Fowler, eldest daughter of Womack Fowler and Susannah Moseley.
Womack Fowler was a son of Union County, South Carolina Fowler Patriarch, Henry Ellis Fowler.
Martha Patsey Fowler, mother of Jane, married John Jackson Hodge, a man if not born in Ireland, then certainly of Irish descent.
Jane was the firstborn child of this union, with six brothers and three sisters to follow in the ensuing years. Jane’s birth in or about 1826 and marriage prior to 1850 to her cousin Ellis Fowler (son of Mark and Elizabeth Moseley Fowler) prevented her name from ever being listed in a census record with her parents. Subsequently, the origins of her birth and surname lay undiscovered by many researchers.
Jane Hodge had married her cousin Ellis Fowler before 1850, and they had two children, Martha Fowler born in 1846, and Mark Fowler born in 1849.
Daughter Martha may have been named after Jane’s mother, Martha Patsey Fowler Hodge, and perhaps son Mark named after Mark Fowler, father of Ellis.
In 1850, Ellis Fowler, wife Jane, daughter Martha and son Mark lived next to Mark Fowler and Elizabeth Moseley Fowler.
Jane Hodge Fowler gave birth to a daughter, Susan, in 1854, and a son, John, in 1856. These two children were likely fathered by Ellis Fowler.
Susan Fowler was named after Jane’s grandmother Susannah Moseley Fowler,
John Fowler was Ellis Jackson Fowler — “Ellis” after his father and “Jackson” after Jane’s father, John Jackson Hodge.
It is known that Ellis Fowler was out of the household before 1860, whether by desertion or death as Jane Hodge Fowler was married to Simeon Fowler (son of William Fowler and Rhoda Mosely).
In 1860, Jane and her second husband Simeon Fowler and children Martha, Mark, Susan, John, and Samuel lived in the household next to Simeon’s widowed mother, Rhoda Moseley Fowler. .
Jane and Simeon Fowler had at least three children: Samuel born in 1860; Franklin born in 1861; and Elma (or Elvira) born in 1866.
Jane and Simeon’s 1870 household included children Martha, Susan, Samuel, Franklin, and Elma.
Sons Mark and John Fowler were conspicuously missing from the home. I shall concern myself with John for the time being.
Where was John Fowler in 1870? He worked as a clerk in Unionville, SC and he lived with merchant Alfred Foster, a wealthy man of military renown and whose descendants would have future Fowler ties. Alfred Foster is another story for another day.
Note the Napoleon Eison at the top of the census in the image below.
Napoleon Bonaparte “N.B.” Eison (1839-1908) and his family lived adjacent to Susannah Moseley Fowler in 1850. This fact lends support that N. B. Eison and John Fowler, great grandson of Susannah Moseley Fowler would have been acquainted with each other, perhaps friends, thus making it possible that they entered into business together.
There are many quotes made by wise men that business and friendship don’t mix. It was again in the Union Times that I found an article mentioning a lawsuit brought against E.J. Fowler by the N.B. Eison & Company. Property owned by E.J. Fowler was being sold at the home of Thaddeus Lemuel Hames in order to settle a lien held by N.B Eison.
E. Jack Fowler married Ellen Woolbright (1859–1935). The marriage took place around 1878/79, the same time that E. Jack Fowler ceased working in the Unionville mercantile business and instead became a Pinckney farmer
Ellen was the daughter of Seaborn Woolbright (1835–1862) and Louisa Eliza Comer (1839–1900). The story of the 1862 brutal murder of Mastin Comer by his son-in-law Seaborn Woolbright deserves to be told and will be done so in my next post.
The 1880 Union County SC Census confirmed that E. Jackson Fowler lived in Pinckney with his young wife Ellen and one-year old son Arthur. More children would follow.
The 1880 census was the last one in which we find E. Jack Fowler. He became ill with consumption, known today as pulmonary tuberculosis, and he died on July 29, 1893.
Ellen Woolbright Fowler would outlive her husband, and even marry again.
Now, I shall examine arguments for and against my very strong theory that E. Jack Fowler was one and the same as Ellis Jackson Fowler.
- E. Jack Fowler was born in 1854 as per his headstone. Ellis Jackson Fowler was born between 1851 to 1856 if one goes by his age in census records.
- Ellis Jackson Fowler was often known as John Fowler. His name was a combination of his father Ellis Fowler and his grandfather John Jackson Hodge.
- The names “Jack” and “John” were often used interchangeably in the 1800s, even well into the 1900s (i.e. John F. Kennedy known as Jack Kennedy)
- John Fowler or E. Jack Fowler — but not both — are found in one census record each decade, 1860 1870, and 1880.
- The naming pattern for most of the children of E. Jack Fowler does not fit the typical names used for descendants of the Henry Ellis Fowler line.
It is my opinion that the son named Ellis Jackson Fowler born ca. 1854 to Jane Hodge and Ellis Fowler is the man lying in Bethlehem Cemetery, asleep under the headstone engraved with the name E.J. Fowler.
Am I right? Only yDNA testing will answer this question. Testing will also confirm which husband of Jane Hodge was the genetic father of Ellis Jackson Fowler —
Ellis Fowler, son of Mark (probable)
Simeon Fowler, son of William (possible but not likely).
Ellis Jackson Fowler (1854-1893) m. Ellen Woolbright Bullock (1859–1935)
- Arthur Fowler (1879–1895)
- Robert Smith Fowler (1881–1938) m. Ida Inez Garner (1884–1938)
- Mahala “Haley” Fowler (1905–1940) m. Paul Bevis (1901–1987)
- Robert Jackson Bevis (1920–2005)
- James E. Bevis (1925–1980)
- Paul William Bevis (1934-2004)
- Arthur J. Fowler (1908–1931)
- Annie Belle Fowler (1909–1972)
- Pauline Fowler (1914–1951)
- Pearl Lee Fowler (1915–1964)
- Lonnie Woodrow Fuzz Fowler (1920–1988)
- Mahala “Haley” Fowler (1905–1940) m. Paul Bevis (1901–1987)
- Walter Alonzo Fowler (1883–1920) m. Beulah Adelaid Bagwell (1880–1931)
- Sidney Hiram Fowler (1903–1972)
- Ruth M Fowler (1904–)
- Arthur Edgar Fowler (1904–1936)
- Richard Roy Fowler (1905–1908)
- Claude Lee Fowler (1908–1991)
- Culpernia Jane “Pennie” Fowler (1908–1992)
- Mamie Ellen Fowler (1913–2002)
- John Fowler (1917–)
- Eliza Fowler (1885–1964) m. Esley Edwards (1881–1932); m. Julius Modd Ducker (1878-1949)
- Louise Virginia Edwards (1908–1966)
- Frank Wilton Edwards (1913–2000)
- Lonnie Esly Edwards (1921–1991)
- Letha Fowler (1888–)
- Anna Amberzine Fowler (1890–1968) m. George Edward Rogers (1880–1936)
- Helen Louise Rogers (1904–1973)
- Grace Auteen Rogers (1908–1991)
- Jessie Lee Rogers (1912–2010)
- Nettie Bell Rogers (1916–1994)
- Willie Mae Rogers (1920–1985)
- George Edward Rogers Jr. (1928–1981)
- Beulah Fowler (1892–1970) m. Charles Jackson Gibson (1889–1969)
- Lillie Mae Gibson (1909–1988)
- Margaret Elizabeth Gibson(1916-2007)
- James Gilbert “Pete” Gibson (1919–1983)
- Beatrice Fowler (1895-1900)