I have spent many hours, many months, many years researching Richard Jefferson Fowler. I was convinced — really hoping — that he was the son of my Andrew Fowler (b. 1804) of Union County, SC.

He seemed like a fairly good fit. Richard Fowler was born to Andrew Fowler and wife Mary Scisson in or about 1845. Richard Fowler was in the 1850 and 1860 census records with his family. Then a Richard Fowler born in South Carolina ca. 1842 was in Ohio by 1863, and his appearance in the 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 Ohio census records seemed to be a continuous documentation of this son of Andrew.

Richard Fowler of Ohio married and had ten children. Surely I could find at least one descendant to DNA test and confirm a connection to my Union County Fowlers. But the sons and daughters of Richard Fowler were not inclined to marry and have children. Out of the ten offspring, only one married and had no children; the other nine remained single and childless.

Last night, I discovered a book published in 1918, and digitized for the Internet Archives in 2016. There was a brief mention of the Richard Fowler who was born in South Carolina, lived and died in Ohio, and to my great disappointment, he was not the son of my Andrew Fowler and Mary Scisson.

Writing this article may be an exercise in futility.

If you are researching Richard Fowler, son of Andrew of Union County, you will find no new information. The entire Andrew Fowler family seems to have vanished into thin air after 1870.

If you are researching Richard Fowler of Chester County, and later of Ohio, you have come to the right place. But as there were no children of his children, the likelihood of anyone researching this man is slim to none.

Taking into consideration that I have spent more than a few years chasing this rabbit down the proverbial rabbit hole, I shall put my research out into the universe in hopes that someone, somewhere will read it and somehow connect to the family.

Richard Jefferson Fowler was born to Edward and Martha Lackuv Fowler on the fourteenth of March in the year 1842 in Chester, South Carolina. He left his southern beginnings behind when he relocated, in 1863, to the small township of Cedarville, Ohio.

It must be mentioned that Richard Fowler was usually listed as a Mulatto in census records. At various times, he and his family would be recorded as white, mulatto, and black. One must realize that opportunities in Ohio during the Civil War would be greater for a man of color. One must wonder if his parents were free blacks, and how their son escaped the institution of slavery.

Richard Fowler, his wife, and ten children thrived in their professions and were highly esteemed members of their community. They excelled in their fields of education, religion, and farming, and railroads. This would have been an uphill, almost impossible accomplishment in Chester County, South Carolina.

Richard Fowler married Martha Ellen Silva, daughter of William Silva (1812–1880) and Elizabeth Jeffreys (1828–1887). Martha Ellen had been born in Ohio in the early 1850’s.

The Richard Fowler family –husband, wife, and daughter Mary — were counted in the Greene County, Ohio census in 1870.

1870 Greene County Ohio Census

More children had been born to Richard Fowler and wife Martha by 1880. Elihu Hamilton, a Chester, South Carolina born nephew of Richard Fowler lived with the family.

1880 Greene County Ohio Census

The year 1900 found that the Richard Fowler family had stayed in Greene County, Ohio, and more children had been born.

1900 Green County Ohio Census

The Richard Fowler family of 1910 remained the same with two exceptions: son William Leonard Fowler had died in 1902, and son Richard McMillan Fowler had married and left the household.

On March 10, 1917, Richard Fowler rode on his wagon in his fields, while his son Clarence walked nearby. Both men were working on the farm when Richard fell from the wagon dead. Obviously in haste to include news of the death in the current edition, the newspaper mistakenly printed his name as Robert J. Fowler.

The obituary of Richard Jefferson Fowler left no doubt of the high esteem in which he was held by his many friends and business associates.

Greene County Ohio Census Records 1920-1950


Mary Elizabeth Fowler (1870–1948)

Although her obituary states that she was born in 1860, the 1870 census indicates that Mary Elizabeth Fowler was born in July 1870. Given that her father was not in Ohio until 1863, and did not marry until 1870, I shall assume that the 1860 date in the obituary was a typographical error.

Mary Fowler did not marry. She became a teacher and devoted more than thirty years of her life teaching young black children in Selma, Alabama. The Knox Academy was run by the Selma Reformed Presbyterian Church. These mission schools were set up by the church so that young black children could be educated in school studies and religion.

It is to Mary Fowler’s credit as well as the other teachers that the reputation of Knox Academy was better than many of the nearby white schools. Her life would have been easier if she had stayed in Ohio, and her choice of teaching in the poor, rural south was more than admirable. Selma, Alabama in the early 1900’s was still a long, long way from equal rights for blacks.

Below are Mary Elizabeth Fowler’s obituary and a photograph of the Selma Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Robert McMillan Fowler (1871–1926)

Robert Fowler, eldest son of Richard J. Fowler, was the only one of the siblings to marry. Robert was in Buffalo, New York by 1900 working as a Railroad Porter. He married Regenia Spencer (1872–1928) in 1901. The couple lived in Buffalo New York through 1920, or longer. They had no children.

Robert Fowler died in Detroit, Michigan in 1926. He was buried at Westwood Cemetery in the town of Oberlin, Lorain County, Ohio. His wife Regenia died two years later and was buried alongside him.

Laura Ellen Fowler (1872–1962)

Laura Ellen Fowler may have stayed at home taking care of her mother, and later, her siblings and brother Clarence. There is no indication that she ever worked outside the family home where she spent her almost ninety years. There is evidence that she was very close to her sister Helen. The two sisters lived together and share a headstone in Massies Creek Cemetery.

Anna M Fowler (1875–1956)

Never married and having spent a great part of her life in the family home, Anna Fowler devoted her life to nursing. She may have lived and worked as a nurse in St. Louis for a time, but she was always counted in the Ohio household of her mother, and later, her siblings.

Like her siblings, Anna Fowler was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and she was laid to rest at Massies Creek Cemetery.

Jane (Jennie) Ethel Fowler (1877–1952)

Jane Ethel Fowler (also known as Jennie Ethel Fowler in some documentation) was a school teacher. She lived and taught school in St. Charles, Missouri. Her youngest sister Edna Irene Fowler may have lived with her previous to her 1918 death.

Ethel Fowler died on June 13, 1952 in Columbia, Missouri, a hundred miles away from St. Charles. She was buried in the Columbia Cemetery, far away from her family.

William Leonard Fowler (1881–1902)

William Fowler did not live a long time. He died a few weeks after his twentieth birthday. He was the first of his family to be laid to rest in the Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville.

Clarence Edward Fowler(1882–1951)

Clarence Fowler, like his eldest brother, worked for the Railroad. Unlike his brother, Clarence spent his entire life in Greene County, Ohio and never married.

He helped his father with the family farm until his father’s death in 1917, then he took over the day-to-day operations of the farm, living with his maiden sisters, until his own death in 1951.

Helen Carrie Fowler (1885–1971)

Helen Fowler outlived her parents, and all of her brothers and sisters. Having never married, having no children or nieces or nephews, and no family to care for her, Helen spent the final days of her life in a long care facility.

Helen died at the age of eight-five on March 30, 1971. She was laid to rest beside her dear sister Laura Ellen Fowler in the Massie Creek Cemetery,

Howard Sproul Fowler (1889–1915)

Howard Fowler was the youngest son of Richard J. Fowler. Four and a half years before his death in 1915, he became ill with tuberculosis. Upon the advice of his doctor, he moved to the dryer climates of the American Southwest. Howard Fowler spent the last years of his life in southern California, southern Arizona, and then finally, Silver City, New Mexico where he lost the battle with the disease that affected so many of the times.

His remains were sent back to Ohio and after a funeral attended by his family and many friends, Howard Fowler was laid to rest in the Massies Creek Cemetery where his brother had been buried in 1902.

Edna Irene Fowler (1894–1918)

Edna Fowler was the last born child in the Richard Jefferson Fowler family. She was an aspiring pianist, and lived with her sister Jane Ethel Fowler in St Charles Missouri when she contracted tuberculosis. Edna Fowler died on April 30, 1918 less than a month after her twenty-fourth birthday, and her remains were sent back home to Cederville, Ohio.

After years researching the Richard J. Fowler family, I was never certain if I was actually on the trail of my Richard Fowler, son of Andrew Fowler of Union County, South Carolina.

Only due to the information recently found, I now have closure for the Richard J. Fowler of South Carolina and Ohio. My search for Richard Fowler, son of Andrew Fowler, continues.

I am thankful for the following excerpt from the book HISTORY OF GREENE COUNTY OHIO: ITS PEOPLE, INDUSTRIES AND INSTITUTIONS (HON. M. A. BROADSTONE. Editor-in-Chief; VOLUME II. ILLUSTRATED. 1918. ;B. F. BOWEN & COMPANY, Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana)


The late Richard J. Fowler, who died at his home, the old Turnbull place, in Cedarville township, March 10, 1917, was a native of South Carolina, born at Chester, that state, but had been a resident of this county since the days of his young manhood. He was born on March 14, 1842, son of Edward and Martha (Lackev) Fowler, both of whom also were born in South Carolina, where they spent all their lives. Deprived of his parents by death in the days of his boyhood, Richard J. Fowler was “bound out” to learn the trade of millwright and remained in his native state until he was twenty-one years of age, when, in 1863 he came to Ohio and became a resident of Cedarville township, this county. Upon coming here he joined the local company of the Ohio state militia and was thus serving at the time of the scare produced by the raid of Morgan’s cavalry up from Kentucky. He went with that company to Camp Chase to report for duty but after ten days of service there the company was ordered to return home, the “scare” having subsided by that time.

Until 1867 Mr. Fowler was engaged working at various occupations in and about Cedarville and then in that year he rented a small farm in Cedarville township and began farming on his own account. There he bought five acres on the Federal pike. After his marriage in 1870 he established his home on that place and there continued to live until 1874, when he bought seventy-eight acres of the old Turnbull place, including the stone house built there by W. T. Turnbull in 1821, and there spent the remainder of his life. He remodeled the old stone house and it is still doing service as the family residence, having been used as a
dwelling place for nearly one hundred years. Mr. Fowler also bought the old John B. Squires farm of seventy-six acres on the Columbus pike, but this latter place he sold in 1913 and bought land adjoining the home place, thus bringing the acreage of the latter up to one hundred and forty-eight acres, which is now being operated bv Clarence Fowler, who is managing the same for his widowed mother. Richard J. Fowler was a Republican and by religious persuasion was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian churchat Cedarville. of which he long served as chairman of the board of trustees and in which he did not miss a communion service for fifty-five years.

Mr. Fowler’s widow is still living on the old home place. She was born in this county, Martha Ellen Silva, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Jeffreys) Silva, both long since deceased, the former of whom was a blacksmith and farmer in Cedarville township. To Richard J. and Martha Ellen (Silva) Fowler were born ten children, namely: Mary Elizabeth, who is
now teaching in a mission school at Selma, Alabama ; Robert McMillan Fowler, who married Regina Spencer and now lives in Buffalo, New York, where he is engaged in the railroad service ; Laura Ellen, who is at home ; Annie M., a graduate nurse, who is now located at St. Louis; Jennie Ethel, a teacher, now engaged in the graded schools at St. Charles, Missouri ;
William Leonard Fowler, who died in 1902; Clarence Fowler, who is now managing the old home farm ; Carrie Helen, also at home ; Howard Sproul Fowler, who died on August 19, 1915, and Edna Irene, a pianist, who is contemplating completing her musical education with a view to becoming a. teacher of piano music. Clarence Fowler, who since his father’s death has been managing the home farm, was born on the farm on which he is still living, December 14, 1882. Upon leaving school he took up the study of telegraphy and was for some time thereafter employed as a telegraph operator, in the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, but since the death of his father has been giving his whole attention to the direction of the home farm.

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