It has taken years of research to find one answer to the question of “Who was William Fowler married to Rhoda?”

It took years of searching to find a descendant willing to take a DNA test. The few weeks waiting for results almost seemed longer than the years of looking for my guy.

And when the results of the yDNA test finally came back, I was absolutely, totally floored.

I was convinced that this Fowler line was my Henrico Clan: Haplogroup I – Lineage IV. The Henry Ellis Fowler line. The John Fowler married to Fannie line.

I was convinced that the William Fowler married to Rhoda was the son of John Fowler married to Fannie.

Once I got through the initial shock of the “If-you-don’t-want-to-know-the-truth-then-don’t-test-because-DNA-doesn’t-lie” results, I went through the five stages of grief –denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

The yDNA results for this Fowler paternal line did not match any Fowlers. None. Instead, it matches the Cobb (and Story/Storey) paternal line.

It must be said that the Story/Storey family appears to have branched off from the Cobb family through an NPE (Non Paternal Event, also known as an out of wedlock birth).

There were Cobb and Story/Storey families in Union County, South Carolina during the 1800s, so I knew anything was possible.

There was a remarkable coincidence that seemed, at first, to explain these wayward DNA results.

Margaret “Peggy” Selby (1763–1827) was born in Maryland in 1763, likely lived in Union County SC with her father, and died in Abbeville 1827. She was the daughter of Samuel Selby (1734–1830) born in Maryland and died in Union County, SC.

According to my research, Margaret “Peggy” Selby was married twice — to Samuel Fowler (d. 1813) and to Edmund Cobb (1771–1849). She had children by both husbands.

It certainly seemed possible that she could have conceived a son with the Cobb husband and that son somehow ended up with the Fowler surname.

If that happened, then William Fowler married to Rhoda was genetically William COBB.

The only problem with this theory is that I could not find a son in her household that was a good fit for a son born in 1795, or thereabouts. If she had this son, did she send him to someone else to raise? This was not an uncommon practice when children from a previous marriage were involved.

I have spent the past few months running this theory through my mind, over and over. It seems like something that may have happened, yet I cannot convince myself that this is what really happened. There was just not enough evidence to support the theory.

After all of that, I still believe that William Fowler married to Rhoda was the son of John Fowler and Fannie. And I will find another man to yDNA test in the very near future.

So, what about the DNA test results that I am now holding in my hands? Read on for my speculation backed by circumstantial evidence……..

William Fowler and Rhoda had a son named James Fowler who was born in 1830. James Fowler married Caroline Hodge (b. 1830) (a granddaughter of Womack Fowler).

James Fowler and Caroline Fowler had a son named James Monroe Fowler (1858–1931). So far, so good. I believe that the yDNA was solidly Fowler at this point.

James Monroe Fowler married Julia Cook (1852-1945). This, I believe, is where things went awry.

Julia Cook was the daughter of William Cook Jr. (1806–1860) and Lucinda Golden (1812–1861). This Cook family was from Ireland and intermarried often with the Fowler family.

Julia Cook was always listed in census records as being older than her husband James Monroe Fowler. Was it possible that she had a son with a Cobb man before her marriage?

Julia Cook is found in the 1860 census. She is the youngest of the Cook children, listed as eight years old, making her year of birth 1852.

1860 Union County Census

James Monroe Fowler is also found in the 1860 census, the youngest child of James Fowler and Caroline Hodge Fowler. His age was recorded as two years, making his year of birth 1858.

1860 Union County SC Census

In 1870, seventeen year old Julia Cook lived in the household with her older sisters Mary Cook, and Cordelia Cook Worthy — married to James F. Worthy (1842–1921), son of Winnifred Fowler, daughter of Ellis Fowler (b. 1770), son of Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808). (James F. Worthy was not listed in this census record. Why not?)

Julia Cook, her sisters Mary and Cordelia along with Cordelia’s two Worthy daughters Mary and Martha shared a home with the Wheeler Fowler family. Wheeler’s father Daniel Fowler and his wife Canzada lived next door.

I need to make a few points:

Cordelia Cook Worthy is the only one of the above mentioned family members who is showing a dollar amount for real estate owned. This no doubt was real estate actually owned by her husband James F. Worthy. (I have to wonder if he was in prison during this time for KKK activities like so many other Union County men.)

Daniel Fowler and his son Wheeler Fowler are not of the same paternal Fowler line as the Henry Ellis Fowler men. Daniel and Wheeler Fowler are descendants of the Israel Fowler family line. Different Fowler family, different yDNA Haplogroup.

So, why were the Cook women living next to Daniel Fowler and in the same household with Wheeler Fowler? What was the connection??

Canzada, wife of Daniel and mother of Wheeler, was born Canzada COOK.

She may have been the sister of William Cook, Jr., father of Julia, Mary, and Cordelia. This would make the Cook women and Wheeler Fowler first cousins.

If Canzada was not the sister of William Cook, Jr., then she was most definitely closely related in some way. The Cook family descended from John Cook (1707–1767) and Sarah Fulton (1720–1783) of County Antrim, Ireland.

1870 Union County SC Census

Twelve year old James Monroe Fowler and his older brother William Edward Fowler were counted twice in 1870. In July, they lived with a Hodge relative and worked on the farm. Their father James Fowler had died and perhaps their mother Caroline Hodge had sent them to stay with their uncle in order to have a strong male influence over their young lives.

In September 1870, the two boys were back in the household with their mother Caroline Hodge Fowler and their sisters.

July 1870 Union County SC Census
Sept 1870 Union County SC Census

It should be noted that Julia Cook, in 1870, lived in the section of Union County SC known as Gowdeysville. This township was north of the Pacolet River.

Another family lived in Goudeysville in 1870: shoemaker George Scott Cobb (1848-1927) and his young wife Rachel.

1870 Union County SC Ce

George S. Cobb was the son of William Cobb (b. 1805) of Cleveland County, North Carolina. George S. Cobb had at least three brothers — John H. Cobb (b. 1837), William W. Cobb (b. 1842), and Richard J. Cobb (b. 1844).

It is known by me that George S. Cobb was born in North Carolina, lived and died in South Carolina. I do not know nor have I researched where his brothers lived in their lifetimes. I know that it is almost certain that James Monroe Fowler was the son of one of these Cobb men. It is probable that George S. Cobb who lived near Julia Cook in 1870 was the father. It is possible that one of the Cobb brothers met Julia Cook while visiting their brother. I also know for certain that a yDNA test of a Cobb descendant would clear this matter up.

You will see later on in this article that Julia Cook was previously married before her marriage to James Monroe Fowler. It is my theory that she was married to — or at least had a son with — a Cobb man.

James Monroe Fowler, son of Julia Cook, was born in 1876. Records indicate that Julia Cook (b. 1852) did not marry James Monroe Fowler (b. 1858) until 1880 or 1881. The second child born in 1881 to Julia Cook was a daughter, Minnie Fowler.

The 1880 census would have answered many questions. Unfortunately, Julia Cook was not counted in 1880; neither was James Monroe Fowler. The five year gap between the birth of Julia Cook’s son James Monroe Fowler born in 1876 and her daughter Minnie Fowler born in 1881 makes one wonder what happened during the decade 1870 to 1880.

Interestingly, there is a census entry in the Goudeysville township in 1880 for Joseph Wright and his NEPHEW J. Munroe Wright age 4 (born i n 1876). What makes this most interesting is that Julia Cook’s sister Eliza Jane Cook (1849-1927) had married Joseph Wright (b. 1833)

To make things a little more interesting, Joseph Wright and his nephew “J. Munroe Wright” lived adjacent to the Thomas Fowler household. I strongly believe that this Thomas Fowler was the son of John Fowler and wife Fannie.

JAMES MONROE FOWLER, son of Julia Cook, would have been the nephew of Joseph Wright and Eliza Jane Cook Wright.

Speculation: Did Julia Cook live in the household of her second husband James Monroe Fowler (b. 1858) in 1880, and had she placed her Cobb son in the household of her relatives to raise?

By 1900, the James Fowler and Julia Cook family had moved to Jonesville, south of the Pacolet River. The recorded census information of that year tells us that they had been married twenty years, and that Julia had given birth six times and four children still lived in 1900. Three children were in the home along with Caroline Hodge Fowler. Julia’s son James Monroe Fowler (Cobb) (b. 1876 was not in the household).

The 1910 census for Jonesville, Union County SC for the James and Julia Cook Fowler family reveals even more to us. The number of years married is 29 (marriage date of 1881). The number of children born to Julia Cook Fowler was six in the previous census; now the number has been reduced to four. The number of living children — four — is the same.

More importantly for this research, the number of marriages is recorded. James M. Fowler was recorded as having been married one time. The entry for Julia Cook indicates that she was in her second marriage.

The Death Certificate for James Monroe Fowler states that he was born June 27, 1876, and died January 19, 1961. His mother was Julia Cook, and the record has J.M. Fowler in the section reserved for his father’s name.

The Death Certificate for James Monroe Fowler states that he was born June 27, 1876, and died January 19, 1961. His mother was Julia Cook, and the record has J.M. Fowler in the section reserved for his father’s name.

I had hoped that this yDNA test would wrap the “William Fowler married to Rhoda” line up in a nice, tidy package. Instead of giving me a definitive answer, I have been given many more questions with no clear answers.

What do I believe? Until proven, I will always think that William Fowler married to Rhoda was the son of the elder John Fowler (d. 1833) and his wife Fannie. It may take more years of research, but eventually I will prove this one way or the other.

I do believe that Julia Cook had a son with a Cobb man in 1876, and that son was James Monroe Fowler. As it often happened then, I believe that her Cobb son took the name of her Fowler husband. I do not know what was common knowledge then or now about these events. All I know is that DNA testing has uncovered something that happened in the past, somewhere, somehow.

I am including the link to my first article about William Fowler married to Rhoda. There will be a third installment in the future after more truths are revealed.

The Four Known Children of Julia Cook

James Monroe Fowler (1876–1961)

Minnie Fowler (1881–1962)

Forest Eldred Fowler (1884–1926)

Marvin McAddam Fowler (1889–1927)

2 thoughts on “WILLIAM FOWLER (1795-before 1860) Married to Rhoda: Answers and More Questions

  1. This is a very interesting article. It seems complicated. I read it through once and need to read it a few more times. I should mark the people down on paper. For that would greatly help. I understand what you are saying but need to read again to get all the details better.


  2. Well, that was fascinating. You know I’m a relative through my Millwood/Fowler ancestors. I’m also very involved in DNA testing and so often been disappointed by results that don’t match expectations. Last year, I discovered that my first cousin, raised by my dad’s brother, was not my first cousin after all. His mother had had an affair or moment with their minister. DNA matches led to the identification of his paternal line–because a daughter of his biological father had been tested. These things are a shock to the system.


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