LEMUEL HOLTER FOWLER (1808-1865) Son of John Fowler, Hatter

His grave lay undisturbed for one hundred and fifty-seven years. The headstone marking the final resting place of Lemuel Holter Fowler was buried in the ground — not as deeply as the bones over which it stood guard — but deep enough that it had perhaps been unseen by decades of descendants.

Lemuel Fowler

John H. Fowler was born in the latter part of the eighteenth century, probably between the years of 1775 to 1780. His father was likely Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808) but this still has not been determined beyond all reasonable doubt.

John H. Fowler was a hatter and a trapper. He may have been married to a woman named Sarah, but like the uncertainty surrounding his actual date of birth and his ancestral beginnings, the name of his wife is also unknown to us.

John H. Fowler, the Hatter, penned his will in 1832, and he was in his grave by 1833. His estate settlement included payments to two doctors — Dr. William B. Nott and Dr. Thomas Hancock. Both were practicing physicians in Union County, South Carolina in the 1830s, and both undoubtably tried — and failed — to save the life of John H. Fowler.

John H. Fowler left a family behind. His Last Will and Testament did not include the name of a wife, but it did give us the name of a son, and daughters, and their husbands.

Lemuel Holter Fowler was the only son of John Fowler the Hatter — at least, the only son who survived to adulthood. John Fowler fathered four daughters (Delila, Desina, Catherine, and Omey), and Lemuel. There may have been more children counted in census records, but they remain nameless to us.

Lemuel Fowler was born circa 1808 in Union County, South Carolina. In, or around, 1833, he married Permilly Mitchell who was born around 1811. Milly was the daughter of Elias Mitchell and Hannah Smith. Elias Mitchell was the son of the Reverend Elias Mitchell of whom much has been written.

Lemuel and Milly had two sons, followed by two daughters. There were fairly large gaps in between the births of some of these children, so it is likely that there were others born who did not survive infancy. Such were the times before the nature of disease was understood.

It is doubtful that Lemuel H. Fowler served in the Civil War because of his advanced age in the 1860s. The lack of any military records seems to support the possibility that Lemuel stayed home during the war. He sent his two sons to war– one returned home; one did not.

Lemuel H. Fowler died on May 23, 1865. His estate was probated on December 20, 1865. His widow Milly Mitchell Fowler and her father Elias Mitchell were mentioned in the estate documents.

Lemuel H. Fowler was laid to rest in a small family graveyard. Elias and Hannah Smith Mitchell would be buried nearby in years to follow. There are Smith, Mitchell, Faucett, and Fowler souls, all related by blood and marriage, in the graveyard. Some are marked by engraved headstones, and some by simple field stones.

The graveyard has been taken over by nature, and has returned almost entirely to its original state. Only the recent, dedicated work by two researchers have revealed the grave and headstone of Lemuel H. Fowler. More work will follow and more discoveries are yet to be made. A part of the past that has been hidden from sight for many, many years has come to light, and the memory of Lemuel H. Fowler and his family will continue to live in our hearts.

  • Lemuel Holter Fowler (1808-1865) m. Permilly “Milly” Mitchell (1811– after 1880 )
    • Ebenezer Fowler (1834–1863) m. Miriam Sharp (1835–1876)
      • Knight Edward “K.E.N.” Fowler (1857–1935)
      • Julius Noah Fowler (1859–1945)
      • Ida Fowler (1860–1870)
    • Elias Fowler (1836–1908)
    • Frances Fowler (1840–)
    • Sarah Fowler (1846–)

Samuel Hodge (1766-1854) Father-In-Law of Martha Patsey Fowler

Samuel Hodge lived a long life. It is thought that he was born in Ireland before his family immigrated to the Americas. Born in Ireland, or born in 1766 in Reading, York County, Pennsylvania, he made his way south to Union County, South Carolina and settled on the Pacolet River near Grindal Shoals. He was one of the more prosperous men of his time and was surrounded by influential and powerful neighbors at the Shoals.

Samuel Hodge married Martha Wright, a Virginia lass born in 1775. They raised a family of eight daughters and three sons on the banks of the Pacolet River. One of their sons, John Jackson Hodge, married Martha Patsey Fowler, daughter of Womack Fowler — thus uniting the Hodge and Fowler families.

Because of the proximity of these families, there was much intermarriage between the Hodge, Moseley, James, Mabry, and Fowler families. It is a tangled web that will make you shake your head in disbelief at the circuitous ancestral route these people of the 1800s took to get here today.

  • Samuel Hodge 1766-1854 m. Martha Wright (or Fowler) 1775–1850
    • Jane Hodge 1794–1838 m. Mr. Coleman
    • Benjamin Hodge b. 1797
    • Susannah Hodge 1798–1850 m. Jesse James 1786-1877
    • John Jackson Hodge 1802–1882 m. Martha Patsey Fowler 1809-1872
    • Sallie Hodge 1804–1835 m. Henry Mabry 1805- after 1770
    • Mary “Polly” Hodge 1806–1880 m. William Mabry 1810- before 1880
    • Elizabeth Hodge 1809–after 1860
    • Moses “Moke” Hodge 1813–1885 m. Mary Elizabeth James 1825–1860; m. Julia Ann McDaniel
    • Martha Hodge

Wife Martha Hodge was mentioned in the Last Will and Testament of Samuel Hodge. (I have seen her maiden name as Wright and Fowler).

Daughters Jane, Susannah, Sallie, Mary, Elizabeth, and Martha were mentioned in the will, as were sons John and Moses.

There was also a mention of a Nancy Hamilton in the will. Was she a daughter?

There is no mention of son Benjamin Hodge. There are conflicting reports. Did he die as an infant, or was he the Benjamin Hodge who married Dorcas Moseley?? According to the Reverend J.D. Bailey, author of History of Grindal Shoals, Benjamin Hodge died as an infant.

Last Will and Testament of Samuel Hodge:

The Shaderick Sherrod James family had also come to Grindal Shoals from Virginia, and, in 1815, Susannah Hodge married Jesse “Buck” James (1886-1877), son of Revolutionary War soldier Shaderick Sherrod James (1744–1852).

From a document found within the estate settlement of Samuel Hodge, it appears that Jesse James continued to live on the land of his father-in-law after the death of his wife Susannah. I found the document written by Samuel Hodge to be a little unusual in its vitriol narrative of his son-in-law Jesse James. Obviously, there was no love lost between the two men.

The document and the transcription are below:

Samuel Hodge intersects my Fowler family through the marriage of his son John Jackson Hodge who married Martha Patsey Fowler.

John Jackson Hodge was born in 1802, and died in 1882. His wife, Martha Patsey Fowler, was born in 1809 and died in 1872. She was the daughter of Womack Fowler (1785-1849) and Susannah Moseley (1792-1878).

  • John Jackson Hodge (1802-1882) m. Martha Patsy Fowler (1809–1872)
    • Jane Hodge (1826–1870)
    • Henry S. Hodge (1828–1885)
    • Caroline Hodge (1830–1912)
    • Catherine Hodge (1833–1880)
    • Minerva Hodge (1834–)
    • William Franklin Hodge (1837–1909)
    • Gasaway Hodge (1841–1916)
    • Neland Hodge (1843–1911)
    • John Wright Hodge (1849–1916)
    • Calvin Wister Hodge (1850–1928)

WALTER GAINES FOWLER (1828–1871) Son of Mark Fowler

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.

The Freedman Bureau: An Analysis of the Union County SC FOWLER Men and Women Who Received Rations

After four years of bloody battles, the loss of hundreds of thousands of fathers, brothers, sons, and the maiming of countless more, the American Civil War finally came to an end. General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 8, 1865, and, as the news spread throughout the south, confederate soldiers began slowly making their way back home to their starving wives and children, and what was left of their farms.

The Freedman’s Bureau — officially the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands — was established in 1865 by an act of Congress. The Bureau’s purpose was to give structure to the chaos and crumbled society of the south, to provide food and clothing to freed slaves and poor whites, to execute labor contracts between former slaves and former slave owners, and to manage lands seized or abandoned during the war. There were additional activities of the Bureau — the establishment and running of schools, dispensing medical supplies, resolving disputes, many other social and civil services to maintain order and help get a broken people back on their feet.

The document which inspired this article is called the Register of Rations Issued May- September (no year). In 1865, shortly after the Bureau came into existence, almost nine thousand souls in South Carolina towns and backwoods shell-shocked by the aftermath of a senseless war received food rations, clothing, and medical supplies. The next year, 1866, a decision was made to issue rations only to the needy in hospitals and orphanages. Based on this information, we must assume that the document was a record of May to September of 1865.

The debate over whether The Freedman’s Bureau was a success or a failure continues today. While great strides were made in education for the formerly enslaved people, little was done to ensure economic independence. The relief program ended in South Carolina by 1870.

This article will focus on the Fowler men and women of Union County, South Carolina who applied for and received food rations from the Freedman’s Bureau. This document is an invaluable tool to use with census records and other research papers to prove and document the lives of our Fowler family who lived before, during, and after the Civil War.

“South Carolina, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1910. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

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ALPHA ETHEL FOWLER (1869-1929) Daughter of Walter Gaines Fowler

Alpha Ethel Fowler was born on September 18, 1868 near Jonesville, South Carolina. She was twice descended from Henry Ellis Fowler.

Her father was Walter Gaines Fowler (1828-1870), youngest son of Big Mark Fowler (1780-1853) and Elizabeth Moseley (1782-1882). Mark Fowler was a son of Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808).

Alpha’s mother was Mahala Rebecca “Becky” Worthy (1845-1929), a daughter of William Worthy (1813–1880) and Fanny Fowler (1825–1852).

Fanny was the daughter of Ellis Fowler (1770-after 1850) and his wife Mary (b. 1780), and of course, that Ellis Fowler was the second born son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

Walter Gaines Fowler and Mahala Rebecca Worthy were first cousins once removed.

Walter Gaines Fowler and Mahala Rebecca Worthy Fowler had a son, named Walter Gaines after his father. The little boy was born, and died, in 1870.

A daughter named Bettie was born, and I have her date of birth as 1870. It is possible that she was a twin to her brother Walter. It is also possible that I have the incorrect date of birth for her. Bettie married a man with the surname of Jackson, and they had a son, Jessie C. Jackson. Bettie died in Trough Shoals (Pacolet Mills, SC) on April 7, 1894. She was buried at Gilead..

Walter Gaines Fowler died in the very early 1870s, and there would be no more children.

Felix Haile, born out of wedlock to Frances Haile and Milligan Fowler (1802-1871), was a Fowler by blood. He either traveled with or met family from Union County SC in Llano County, Texas before 1860.

In 1860, in Llano County, Texas, there was a young couple also newly arrived — Pruda Bolt from Van Buren, Arkansas and her husband, William Walter Garner.

W.W. Garner and Pruda had a son, Thomas Samuel Garner, born in Texas in 1864. W.W. Garner was said to have been killed by Indians in 1865. Pruda Bolt Garner had married Felix Haile by 1867, and their first child was born in 1868 in Texas.

There is no census record for the Felix Haile family in 1870, but they must have remained in Texas until after January 1873 when their son Creed Haile was born. The next son, John Gary Haile was born in South Carolina in 1877, and more children followed after their return to Carolina.

Fifteen year-old Thomas Samuel Garner was in the 1880 Jonesville household with his mother Pruda Bolt Garner Haile, his stepfather Felix Haile, and his half-siblings.

The Felix Haile Family in the 1880 Census

In 1880, Alpha Fowler was eleven years old and lived in an all female household — her mother Rebecca, grandmother Elizabeth, sister Bettie, and aunt Salina — in Jonesville.

The Rebecca Worthy Fowler Family in the 1880 Census
  • Rebecca Fowler
  • Alpha Fowler
  • Bettie Fowler
  • Salina Fowler
  • Elizabeth Fowler

By 1883, Thomas Samuel Garner and Alpha Ethel Fowler had married. Their son William Hoyt Garner was born April 2, 1884.

Thomas Samuel Garner and Alpha Ethel Fowler had six sons and one daughter born between 1884 and 1897. Of these seven children, only four survived. The three who did not were laid to rest in the Milligan Fowler family graveyard (now known as the Webber-Haile cemetery) in Jonesville.

Grace L. Garner July 31, 1890-Feb 24, 1891
Hugh Garner Jan 13, 1893-Aug 12, 1894
Walter E. Garner Apr 22, 1895-Nov 3, 1896

The Thomas Samuel Garner family was in South Carolina until 1897. By 1900, the family had moved to Fulton County, Georgia. The family next door to them in 1900 was Thomas Garner’s younger, half brother, John Gary Haile (1876–1922), son of Felix Haile and Pruda Bolt.

1900 Fulton County Georgia Census

Two (or possibly three) more children were born in Georgia, but only one survived. A son born in 1903 only lived a few months was laid to rest back in the Milligan Fowler family graveyard.

Thomas Garner his wife Alpha were recorded in an Atlanta City Directory in 1903. The 1910 Census entry for the family shows Alpha Garner as the head of a large household which included her mother, three sons, a servant, and four boarders. Alpha Garner was recorded as “married” but her husband was conspicuously missing from the home.

Alpha Ethel Fowler Garner married John Joab Crawford (1868–1954) before 1920. It was a second marriage for both. They were recorded together in a Georgia Census in a household that contained Alpha’s 19 year-old son Roy Garner, and her elderly mother Mahala Rebecca Worthy Fowler.

Mahala Rebecca Worthy Fowler died in Georgia in 1925, and her remains were returned to Jonesville to be buried at Gilead where so many of her family had been laid to rest before her.

Alpha Ethel Fowler Garner Crawford died four years later, in 1929, of pneumonia. She was laid to rest at Melwood Cemetery in DeKalb County, Georgia. John Joab Crawford would live many more years and, in 1954, would be laid to rest beside her.

I find no record of Thomas Samuel Garner in 1910, but he appeared again in 1920 in Enterprise, Clarke County Mississippi with a wife and son. The wife was Lillian S. Cubley (1872–1963), widow of Charles W. Martin (1869–1900). Their son James Elbert Garner was born in 1912.

1920 Enterprise, Clarke County Mississippi Census

Thomas Samuel Garner was recorded in the 1930 and 1940 census records in Mississippi. The 1930 census included E. Guy Garner, his son with first wife Alpha Fowler. The 1940 census indicated an empty nest, only Thomas Garner and wife Lillian were in the home.

1930 Enterprise, Clarke county Mississippi Census

James Elbert Garner, the son of Thomas Samuel Fowler, had moved to Washington D.C. by 1940 and is found in that census record. His father would soon leave Lillian and travel to D.C. Although I have not found a death record for him, I know that he lived in Washington DC until at least 1944. I have reason to believe that he died about 1945 to 1947.

The Milligan Fowler family graveyard is where most of Alpha Fowler’s children lie in eternal rest. The four headstones of Grace, Hugh, Walter, and Thomas are near the grave of Gary McKinley Garner — their brother who lived a long life before being laid to rest. There is another, much older grave beside that of Gary, and next to the four children. I believe that it may be the grave of the child for whom I have no name or dates, but I do not know this.

Gary McKinley Garner 1898-1993. The four graves of his siblings stand behind his headstone.
A different view of the four Garner children graves and that of brother Gary M. Garner
The unmarked grave among the Garner children graves
  • Henry Ellis Fowler 1746-1808
    • Mark Fowler 1780-1851
      • Walter Gaines Fowler
        • Alpha Ethel Fowler 1868-1929 m. Thomas Samuel Garner 1864- 1947
          1. William Hoyt Garner 1884–1957 m. Ella Ford 1894–1982
          2. Arthur Duboy Garner 1886–1963 m. Samantha E. Berry 1887–1960
            • Vera Mildred Garner 1906–1993
            • Ellen Garner 1909–
            • Glenn J. Garner 1911–1997
            • Mary Kathleen Garner 1921–2011
          3. Eathan Guy Garner 1888–1969 m. Ludie Belle Cole 1886–1918
            • Arthur Eugene Garner 1912–1947 m. Dixie Lee Doby 1913–1938
              • Richard Eugene Garner 1933–2011
            • Clarence Woodrow Garner 1916–2006
          4. Grace L Garner 1890–1891
          5. Hugh Garner 1893–1894
          6. Walter E. Garner 1895–1896
          7. Gary McKinley Garner Sr 1897–1993 m. Effie M'”Ethyl” Wheeler 1897–1985; m. Frances Hopwood 1909-1970
            • Winmon Griffith Garner 1918–1993
            • Oscar Garner 1920–1926
            • June Helen Garner 1923-2003
            • Gary McKinley Garner Jr 1935–2005
          8. Roy Ural Garner 1900–1984 m. Lillian Ann “Dot” Ford 1900–1980
            • Hayward Garner
          9. Thomas S Garner 1903–1903

The 1913 Murder of Robert Coleman, His FOWLER Ties, and Death by Lightning

The tale of murder, death, marriage, and family ties began simply; but as it so often happens while researching my Fowler family, I stumbled upon long, interwoven pathways into another, that of the Coleman family. Two Coleman family tragedies — a murder and a death by lightning — were linked to my family; thus, the following: a telling of events just a little over one hundred years ago near the sleepy, little village of Jonesville in Union County, South Carolina.

Robert Coleman, born in 1760 in Lunenberg County, Virginia…died in 1823 in Union County, South Carolina, must be considered to be the patriarch of the Coleman families who eventually populated the areas around Jonesville, Union, Gaffney, Pacolet. He was married to Elizabeth Treasy Smith (1765-1838) and they were the parents of five sons and five daughters.

The youngest of these was Reuben Coleman, born in Union County in 1802, married Letticia Faucett (1809-1893), had a passel of children of whom we will concern ourselves with Robert and Frank, penned his Last Will and Testament in 1851, and died in 1861.

It needs to be said that the three men who witnessed Reuben Coleman signing his Will in 1851 were closely connected to Henry Ellis Fowler: John Baxter Moseley, Joseph Fowler, and James Fowler.

I quickly glanced at the settlement papers, and the names of G.W Fowler, C.E. Fowler, W. Fowler, T. Fowler, and G.H. Fowler were glaringly apparent. It would not take much time to figure out that these men were Gilman H. Fowler, Charles Ellis Fowler, etc. My point is that the Coleman family and the Fowler family were solidly linked, by marriage and by other means.

Franklin Wallace Coleman was born ca. 1828 (or 1829), the firstborn surviving son of Reuben Coleman and Letticia Faucett. He was married twice — his first wife was Sarah Jane Rogers (1843-1870). Their three children were John Coleman, Mary Coleman, and Eliza Coleman.

In 1880, widower Franklin Wallace Coleman lived in the household of 66 year old Daniel Moseley. Why? Daniel Moseley was the son of John Baxter Moseley and Henrietta Fowler. To go back one more generation, John Baxter Moseley was the son of James “High Key” Moseley, and Henrietta Fowler was the daughter of Henry Ellis Fowler.

Daniel Moseley was married to a woman named Biddy (last name unknown). Two of their children — Damon P. Moseley and Martha Moseley — married Adeline Gibson and Starks Sims Gibson, both children of Tempe Fowler and James Gibson.

Daniel Moseley and Tempe Fowler were first cousins, and grandchildren of Henry Ellis Fowler. The marriages of their children were second cousins marrying second cousins.

The 1880 household of Daniel Moseley included Robert Gibson, son of Starks Sims Gibson and Martha Moseley, Franklin W. Coleman, and three of his children by his first wife, John, Mary, and Eliza.

Franklin Wallace Coleman had been a widower for several years before he married Suella “Ella” Gibson (1858-1929). His marriage coinciding with the timing of the 1880 census may explain why he was in the Moseley/Gibson household.

Suella was born out of wedlock, the daughter of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gibson. who was the daughter of James Gibson and Tempe Fowler (1810-1862). Tempe was the daughter of Womack Fowler (1785-1849), son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

Franklin Wallace Coleman and Suella Gibson had two sons and four daughters.

Mary Coleman, daughter of Franklin Coleman and first wife Sarah Jane Rogers, was born in 1861, (although her headstone indicates 1863). She married William A. Fowler.

William A. Fowler was the son of Felix Parham Fowler and Edith “Edy” Fowler. Felix Fowler was the son of Womack Fowler and Susannah Moseley. Edy Fowler was the daughter of William Fowler and Rhoda Moseley. Yes, cousins marrying cousin. Again.

William A. Fowler and Mary L. Coleman married in 1885, and had four children before 1900. One child did not survive long enough for a name to be recorded in a census record. The three daughters who did survive:

  • Pearl Lily Fowler 1891–1969
  • Mattie M Fowler 1894–1900
  • Sallie Aleane Fowler 1897–1916

Just a few months after the 1900 census was taken, little Mattie Fowler died at their Jonesville home on Saturday, December 29, and was buried at Gilead the following Monday. The family attended the funeral and returned home. A few hours later, Mattie’s father, Willliam A. Fowler, died in the same room in which his daughter had lain. He died from consumption, and he was buried at Gilead near his daughter.

Mary Coleman had lost two children and a husband in a short period of time. In 1907, she married James Wiley Pickens (1850-1933), It was a second marriage for him also. His first wife, Selina Harmon, had died in 1904.

It was to be a short-lived marriage for the new Mr. and Mrs. Pickens.

On Thursday night,July 29, 1909, about nine o’clock at night, tragedy struck. Mary L. Coleman Fowler Pickens was at home with her daughter, Pearl Lily Fowler Kirby, and some small children.

Mr. James Wiley Pickens had gone to Lockhart to visit his daughter when a bolt of lightning struck the chimney of his home. His wife Mary had just walked from the kitchen into the main room of the home when when she was struck, and at once fell to the floor, dead. All attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful and she was buried at Gilead the next day..

From The Progress, July 30. 1909: Mrs. James Wiley Pickens, whose husband owns a farm about 1 mile from Jonesville, was struck by lightning and instantly killed at her home last night (29 July) about 9 o’clock. Her husband was at Lockhart visiting his daughter and those who were in the house were her daughter, Mrs. Kirby, and some small children. She was about 45 or 50 years old, and before her marriage to Mr. Pickens about 2 years ago was a Mrs. Fowler. The funeral will be held today.

Pearl Lily Fowler Kirby — although in the house when lightning struck — lived until 1969. Her sister Sallie Aleane Fowler had married Samuel Sherbert (1892-1973). Sallie Ailene gave birth to a son, Paul, in 1916. Both mother and son died in 1916 and were laid to rest at Gilead.

Tragedy was only a few years away for another member of the Coleman family.

.Franklin Wallace Coleman had a younger brother named Robert D. Coleman, born in 1847. Robert married Nancy “Nannie” R. Smith (1852–1910), and they had two sons: Roland Coleman (1877–1941) and Harry William Coleman (b. 1885)

Harry William Coleman was known around town as a problem. His character was said to be the total opposite of his father, Robert D. Coleman, who was a well respected, upstanding neighbor and citizen of the community. Everyone called him “Uncle Bob” and loved him dearly.

Harry Coleman drank hard liquor and gambled and associated with a lower class of people. His father greatly disapproved that his son lived a hard life and ran with the wrong crowd. Everyone could clearly see that trouble was in the cards.

It was known that Harry Coleman abused and cursed his own mother. When Roland Coleman attempted to end the abuse, the two brothers argued. The elder brother trounced the younger, and their relationship became strained.

Roland Coleman packed up and disappeared in 1908 when his mother and father sided with his brother Harry, the abuser. His family did not know where he had gone. He swore never to return, and he made good on his promise.

Nancy Smith Coleman died March 1, 1910 and was buried at Gilead; thus, the household was reduced to two men in 1910 — father Robert D. Coleman and his adult son Harry William Coleman. It was reported that both men never cared that much about the wife and mother, and both were in their beds as Mrs. Coleman lay dying, neither caring enough to get up to see about her or to lay eyes on her after her death.

Did the son Harry inherit a callousness from the father Robert? Or was it just too difficult to see a loved one’s suffering?

Several factors perhaps came into play preceding the events of January 31, 1913:

  • Robert D. Coleman had over two hundred acres of valuable farm land.
  • Robert D. Coleman had amassed a good amount of cash.
  • The whereabouts of Roland Coleman were unknown.
  • Robert D. Coleman’s only heir was considered to be son Harry Coleman.
  • Robert D. Coleman had left his estate to Harry Coleman in his will several weeks prior to the murder.
  • Robert D. Coleman did not hide his disgust at son Harry Coleman’s behavior.

With Nancy Smith Coleman lying in the graveyard at Gilead, and older son Roland Coleman out of sight, out of mind, and possibly lying in a graveyard far away, the only thing standing in the way of Harry Coleman’s coming into a rather large inheritance was the life of his elderly father, Robert D. Coleman. And on the thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand, nine-hundred and thirteen, that one thing — the life of the beloved Uncle Bob — was removed, forever and ever, amen.

There was a cool, calm, collected son accused of the murder of his father. There would be three trials and circumstantial evidence. There would be accusations, and bloodhounds, and threats of lynching, and misinformation, and a long parade of witnesses. There was everything and more that accompanies a sensational murder trial.

This senseless crime rocked the very foundations of the tiny town and county. Not until Susan Smith sent her two little boys rolling into the cold, dark waters of the John D. Long Lake in 1994 would there be a murder case of such intense interest and indignant outrage in Union County.

The events unfolded on a cold, winter day — Friday — the last day of January of 1913. Both father and son had separately made the two mile journey into Jonesville. The elder Coleman had returned from town with a newspaper around 5 o’clock. Two hours later, he sat in front of the glowing amber flames of the fireplace, and read his paper by the light of an oil lamp on a nearby table. He did not know that his life would end in mere moments.

The younger Coleman had gone to Jonesville to sell two bales of cotton. According to his later testimony in court, he had been at Bowen’s store until 5 p.m., had visited several other places of business, had been at Ed Smith’s restaurant until 6:30 p.m, had purchased a half-pint of whiskey, then walked to Richard Foster’s house and stayed there for ten minutes, then proceeded to the Cook home where he and the residents heard two gunshots at approximately 7 p.m.

Harry Coleman, Lizzy Coleman, Smith Cook, and some children from the Cook household walked to the nearby residence of Robert D. Coleman. The elder Coleman had been shot in the head and lay on the floor in a pool of his own blood, his face partially blown away. Slugs had also pierced his right hand as he held the newspaper, reading the last words he would ever read.

One of the young girls fainted at the sight of the dying man on the floor. It took several moments before the party realized that Robert Coleman was not yet dead. It was not until Eleazer Mabry arrived and suggested that a physician be called for to attend the injured man. Robert Coleman never regained consciousness and died the next morning.

Harry Coleman did not appear to be distraught in any way over the tragedy that had just befallen his father. He was more interested in discussing political matters with the lawmen who arrived at the house, and he refused to see his father or look at his injuries; instead, he went back to dine at the Cook home. His behavior was odd and did not go unnoticed by the crowd assembled in the Coleman home.

An investigation that immediately began determined that someone unlocked a blacksmith shed in the yard, taken a double barreled shotgun, hidden behind a jasmine bush near the window behind which Robert Coleman sat reading his paper, and fired the fatal blast. The shotgun was returned to the shed and the murderer fled.

There were tracks going from the shed to the bush near the window, back to the shed which was left unlocked, to the Cook home. The footprints indicated that one of the shoes had a worn spot on the sole. The shoes that Harry Coleman wore matched the prints left by the man who fired the fatal shot. Only two men had a key to the shed, Robert Coleman and his son Harry.

Bloodhounds were brought from the State Penitentiary the next morning. The dogs tracked a path from the shed to the Coleman home, back to the shed, and then to the Cook home, then back to the Coleman home — straight to Harry Coleman who had returned home. Just to be certain, the sheriff asked Harry to go a short distance and wait. The dogs followed his trail once again and found him in a tree that he had climbed.

The shotgun was retrieved and it was determined that it had recently been shot and was, in fact, the murder weapon. Robert Coleman was killed by his own gun.

The evidence was circumstantial against Harry Coleman, but there was great fear that he would be lynched. Robert Coleman had been a man held in the highest esteem of everyone who knew him. He was successful in his business affairs and pious in his religion. Perhaps his only fault was having a depraved son of such ill repute and no apparent conscience. Harry Coleman was taken in custody to the Union jail for his own protection as much as the suspicion that he had murdered his father in cold blood.

The first trial was held within a month, in February. Lizzie Coleman testified that she had been living with her uncle Robert Coleman for about 4 years. John A. Fowler who lived very close by testified, as did my great grandfather, T.G. (Thomas Gillman) Fowler.

I would like to take a moment to look at the Fowler connections to Robert Coleman. Thomas Gillman Fowler was the son of Mary Fowler, daughter of Reuben Fowler (b. 1797). His paternal line was Cook, although I have not a first name for his father.

The Cook family who lived on Robert Coleman’s property and who were so deeply intertwined in this saga, was the family of Robert Smith Cook, who was the son of Albert Cook. Robert Smith Cook died in 1912; thus, the Cook household, at the time of the murder in 1913, was headed by the widow of Robert Smith CookMary Jane Adelaide Fowler, daughter of Martha Fowler, daughter of Reuben Fowler (b. 1797).

Thomas Gillman Fowler and Mary Jane Adelaide Fowler Cook were first cousins. Beulah Cook and her brother (Albert) Smith Cook, both of whom had gone to the Coleman home only to discover the dying Robert Coleman were the children of Robert Smith Cook and Mary Jane Adelaide Fowler.

The motive given for the murder was that Harry Coleman stood to inherit his father’s estate upon his death, estimated to be worth $10,000 — a fortune in the early 1900s. A second motive was the father’s disapproval of the son’s lifestyle. It would have been easier for Harry Coleman to do as he pleased without the displeasure of his father hanging over him.

The first trial ended without a verdict, and a second trial was held the following May. The witnesses were again paraded before a judge and jury. The evidence remained the same. The demeanor of the accused also remained the same.

Harry William Coleman once again displayed no emotion or compassion regarding the brutal murder of his father. When handed the gun that fired the kill shot, he did not hesitate to take it. He tossed the slugs around in his hands like they were stones and not the very ones that had punctured his father’s head and taken his life.

Harry William Coleman did not flinch or even blink his cold, grey eyes as his many depravations were exposed in the courtroom. He seemed proud, almost, that he drank and gambled with men of bad reputation, and he boasted that he was perhaps the father of mulatto offspring. It was well known that Harry Coleman had illicit relations with Lula Smith, and it was well known that his father had run her off the Coleman property.

Harry William Coleman took the stand and testified that there was no ill-will between himself and his father, although others testified that father and son were estranged. Harry Coleman told the jury that he had gone to extreme measures to not let his father know of his many vices. It seems unbelievable that Robert Coleman would not have known of the immoral behavior in which his son indulged. The whole of the community knew the character of Harry William Coleman, and it did not set well with them.

The second trial also ended in a mistrial.

A third trial was put onto the Court schedule. Harry William Coleman’s strange behavior was witnessed again, with many believing that he was a consummate actor with no shame and some believing that the 28 year-old, heavily-built man with the black hair was evil incarnate. ,

It has been said that the “third time’s the charm” and this was true in the third trial of Harry William Coleman, In September of 1913, the jury finally returned the verdict that would satisfy everyone but Harry Coleman: Guilty with Recommendation to Mercy. This meant that he would not be executed in the electric chair, but would spend the remainder of his life in prison.

One has to wonder how many times Harry Coleman would have been put on trial if the verdicts had continued to end in mistrial? But no matter, justice for Robert Coleman’s senseless murder had finally been served. The elder Coleman lay in his grave. The younger Coleman would languish behind iron bars.

The next year, interest in locating Roland Coleman –dead or alive — began to stir in the community. No one knew where he had gone when he left in 1908. He had written four letters home, but the last letter was received in November 1908, His declaration to cut all ties with his family was not made in jest.

Samuel Littlejohn had seen Roland Coleman in Roanoke, Virginia in 1908. He was the last person from Union County to know with certainty where the oldest son of Robert Coleman went after he left home.

L.G. Southard drove his car to Spartanburg, SC and caught a train to Roanoke. He was given the task of locating Roland Coleman or determining where he was buried. Upon his arrival in Roanoke, he was told that Mr. Coleman had long departed for Mansfield, Ohio. He set off for Ohio and eventually finally found his old acquaintance from home. The two men were truly glad to see each other.

Mr. Southard was sent to tell Roland Coleman that his father had been murdered, that his younger brother Harry had been convicted of the crime, and that Roland was in line to inherit at least part of the estate.

Roland Coleman had heard of the death of his father. He told Mr. Southard that he had decided to travel to Australia after hearing the news. He wanted to get as far away from his family in South Carolina as possible. He traveled to Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Fransisco, but returned to Ohio when he realized that it would be weeks before he could set sail for the land down under.

Roland Coleman had married a well-educated, respectable woman in Roanoke in 1908 and they had a son and a daughter. I do not know if he intended to take his family to Australia. I feel that he did, but no matter. He lived the rest of his life in Ohio, died in 1941, and was buried there. He never returned to South Carolina.

I shall not go into all of the details of how Harry Coleman transferred the deed to the property to relatives when he went to prison; or how Roland Coleman did not need the money from the estate because he had done very well in his life, and wrote that the money and property should go to another relative in Union County. I will not relate to you all of the details when the Secretary of the Governor’s office sent a telegram. to the newspaper that printed the said ten thousand dollar value of the Robert Coleman estate, instead stating that it was worth a mere $1090.

Perhaps you would be more interested in knowing that the January 9, 1915 issue of the State Newspaper reported that South Carolina Governor Coleman Livingston Blease granted a full pardon to Harry William Coleman.

Harry William Coleman married at least twice, had at least six children, moved to Florida, and died after 1940. He served less than two years for the murder of his father.

On November 3, 1915, Harry Coleman and his new bride Vera Adams became the parents of their first-born child. The baby boy was named Blease Hope Coleman, named no doubt whatsoever after Governor Blease who was responsible for letting a convicted murderer walk free.


I do not know exactly what day I first noticed the huge, beautiful, scary spider in her huge, beautiful, scary web in the frame of the door I use to go in and out of my home. Maybe it was a day or two before I decided to take a photograph or two of her and post it on Facebook, asking if anyone knew what kind of spider I was now living with.

My first instinct was to kill her, although I do not make a habit of killing spiders. I actually happily co-exist with many species of spiders, unless I think one may harm me, or especially my small animals. Brown Recluse and Black Widows are not my friends. I have recently begun relocating rather than stepping on the wolf spiders who cross my path. Other spiders, I just let them live.

I chose to learn more about the spider in my doorway. Every night she wove a very large, silk web in the doorframe. She hung upside down, suspended in the middle of the web, waiting for unsuspecting moths and other insects to make the last and largest mistake of their short lives.

When I needed to go outside, I had to stoop down and navigate around her so that I did not disturb her or her glorious silk home. I found out that she was an Argiope aurantia spider, aka a yellow garden spider, aka a writing spider, aka many other names depending on what part of the country you are from.

I discovered that she was harmless to me and my animals; not so much to the meals on wings who flew into her trap. I also discovered that she spun her web every night, being a spider of nocturnal inclination, and that she ingested her web every morning and hid nearby until the night time came again.

I was very happy that I had decided to live and let live when I was told that she was a relative of Charlotte, the spider immortalized in the E.B. White children’s book published in 1952. The book was Charlotte’s Web. I had read it, and I had seen the movie. I named my door frame visitor Charlotte after her ancestor.

I saw Charlotte every night. I did not bother her, and she did not bother me. Only once did I forget to duck in time, and I ran into her beautiful web, bringing a lot of it with me into the house and hoping that Charlotte had not come along for the ride as well.

For the past two weeks, I have seen her, appreciated her artistic talent, wondered if I should relocate her to the barn, left her alone, and wondered how long she would grace my home with her presence.

Tonight, I saw her web in the doorway. It was only half-made, and Charlotte was nowhere to be seen. As the evening passed by, I peeked outside my door many times, staring into the partial web and wondered why she had not finished building her home and why I was worrying about a spider.

I finally got on my laptop and searched for reasons a happy spider would begin her web, then just abandon it. Did a predator get her? Had she fallen out of the web and had I stepped on her? Where was Charlotte? Why did I care?

If what I was reading was true, the lifespan of a writing spider is only 12 months. Charlotte had been born during last year’s autumn, and had matured into an adult spider this past summer. She was on track to mate, lay egg sacks in her web, and die with the first frost. Her twelve months were up any day.

I grabbed a flashlight and headed to the door. The web was still there, still half finished. Charlotte was not. I shined my light around the top of the web, and I saw something. I used my camera with the flash on and zoomed in; I took several photographs.

When I examined the photographs moments later, I recognized Charlotte, crumpled up and still. Her lifeless body surrounded two tiny and one larger cocoons of white silk. She had laid her eggs, and then she had woven a protective shelter around her soon-to-be spiderlings. And then she had died. And her last moment in the doorframe, on this earth, was to use her body to protect the life that she left behind.

It has been only two weeks since I took the first photos of Charlotte. Our friendship was short. I cried at the end of Charlotte’s Web — the movie and the book. I cried at the end of Charlotte’s life. When I saw her final resting place, the realization hit me hard: the half-made, gossamer web gently blowing in my doorframe tonight will blow away in a day or two, and Charlotte is gone forever more.

WYMAC MATTHEW FOWLER (1836–1862) Son of Womack Fowler

Wymac Matthew Fowler was born September 27, 1836. He was the fourteenth child –the last child — born to Womack Fowler and Susannah Moseley.

Womack, Womach, Wymac, Wymack, Wymach. I am using “Womack” for the father and “Wymac” for the son. I have never seen or heard anyone refer to the son as “Mac” but I believe this may have been true. I have seen his name written as Mc Fowler in at least two records.

1860 Union County SC Agriculture Schedule

His birth was handwritten in the family bible. The next time his name was written was in the 1849 Last Will and Testament of his father.

“my youngest son Wymac my rifle gun”

Susannah Moseley Fowler was head of household when the 1850 census taker wrote down her son Wymac’s name.

1850 Union County SC Census

Widow Susannah Fowler was head of a household that contained her sons Rufus, Felix, James, and Wymac. Daughter Susannah lived with her mother, as did two young girls, Harriet and Jane, whom I suspect to have been granddaughters of Susannah and Womack Fowler.

Wymac Matthew Fowler had married a young woman named Jane before 1860. He, his wife Jane, and two year old James were counted in the 1860 census in Union County, SC.

1860 Union County SC Census

Wymac Fowler’s wife Jane may have been Jane Worthy (b. 1839), daughter of George Worthy (b. 1804) and Rebecca Burrell. George Worthy was the son of James Worthy (1760- bef. 1850) and another Jane.

Circumstantial evidence follows:

James Worthy (b. 1760) was the father of James Worthy (1809-1880) who married Winnifred Fowler (b. 1822), daughter of Ellis Fowler (b. 1770), son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

James Worthy (b. 1760) also was the father of William Worthy (1813-1880) who married Fanny Fowler (b. 1825), another daughter of Ellis Fowler (b. 1770).

After the death of his wife Fanny Fowler, James Worthy (b. 1809) married Sarah Floyd (b. 1833).

Jane (Worthy?) married a Floyd after the death of her first husband, Wymac Matthew Fowler.

I am slowly researching and eliminating all of the “Janes” born around 1839 in Union County. It is only my theory that Jane wife of Wymac was Jane Worthy, daughter of George. End of circumstantial evidence and speculation… for now.

A daughter, Lulu Fowler, was born to Wymac Fowler and Jane in 1861. One must pray that this daughter was born before the thirty-first of August, 1861, when Wymac Fowler enlisted in Company F of the 15th Regiment of the South Carolina Infantry, for — like three of his brothers — he would not return home from the War Between the States.

Wymac Matthew Fowler died of Typhoid Fever at Camp Elliott in Beaufort County, SC on May 18, 1862. Some accounts inaccurately state that the year of his death was 1861.

From the estate settlement of Susannah Moseley Fowler

The widow Jane married James Morgan Floyd (1844-after 1880), son of Lanta Foster (b. 1818), daughter of George Foster (1792-after 1860) and Cynthia (b. 1800).

The newly formed family lived in the Pinckney area of Union County SC in 1870. Morgan Floyd was listed as head of household, with wife Jane. Although James and Lura (Lula) were given the surname of “Floyd” in this record, they were the children of Wymac Fowler. By this time, three children had been born to Morgan Floyd and Jane: Ida, Anna, and William Thomas Floyd.

1870 Union County SC Census

Lulu Fowler died in 1877. Her death was mentioned in the estate settlement of her grandmother Susannah Moseley Fowler. The surname of Feaster was attached to her first name of Lulu. Did she marry before her death? Did she die in childbirth? I can find no reasonable possible Feaster husband, but I have not searched far and wide… yet. It was stated that she died without heirs so if she died in childbirth, her baby died as well.

1880 Union County SC Census

By 1880, the James Morgan Floyd family had moved to Goudeysville, Union County, SC — a part of the county which would soon be taken away from Union and used to form Cherokee County, SC. The James Morgan Floyd family lived beside Dorcas Moseley Fowler. Dorcas was the war widow of Rufus Marion Fowler, brother of Wymac Matthew Fowler. Rufus had joined Company F, 15th Regiment of the SC Infantry, as did Wymac, on August 31, 1861.

Rufus Marion Fowler died May 6, 1864 after the Battle of the Wilderness in Spotslyvania County, Virginia when he was hit by friendly fire; a gun in the hands of James Spencer exploded, and another of Womack Fowler’s sons would not return home.

Wymack Matthew Fowler died far away from home, as did thousands upon thousands of soldiers in the Civil War. He left behind a widow and two young children. There are descendants living today, many who may not even know the noble and respected line from which they descend.

The Descendants of Wymac Matthew Fowler and Jane

  • Henry Ellis Fowler
    • Womack Fowler (1785-1849)
      • Wymac Matthew Fowler (1836-1862) m. Jane (1839 – after 1880)
        • James Madison Fowler (1858- after 1900) m. Mary Ann Polly Maddox (1872–1950)
          • Thomas William Fowler (1890–1940) m. Ruth R. Hill (1900-1981)
            • Thomas H. Fowler (1924-1924)
            • Ruth May Fowler (b. 1925)
              • Son Fowler (b. 1953)
            • Thomas Harvey Fowler (1930–1930)
            • Elsie Adeline Fowler (1931–2005) m. Hudgins
              • Son Hudgins
              • Daughter Hudgins
            • Francis Etheleen Fowler (1935–2005) m. Floyd Stevenson Gregory (1934–2018)
              • Shirley Gregory (1959–2011)
              • Wanda Gregory (1961–2005)
          • Clara Bell Fowler (1893–1915) m. George Washington Mitchem (1895–1953)
            • Henry Lee Fowler (1912–2001) m. Pansy Richardson (1914–2008)
              • Henry Lee Fowler Jr. (1934–1975) m. Beckham
              • Daughter Fowler ( b. 1936)
              • Son Fowler
              • Son Fowler
          • Mary E Fowler (b. 1895)
          • James Mack Fowler (1897–1956) m. Lucille Brice (1902–1958)
            • Robert Glenn Fowler (1924–2010) m. Betty Louise Morgan (1927-1999)
              • Daughter Fowler
              • Daughter Fowler
            • Mary Louise Fowler (b. 1932) m. Bassinger
            • Alice Maxine Fowler (1935–2009) m. Bryant
              • Son Bryant
              • Son Bryant
              • Son Bryant
          • Charles Fowler (aka Freeman) (b. 1902)

Jane’s family with James Morgan Floyd

  • Jane (b. 1844) m. James Morgan Floyd (1844- after 1880)
    • Ida Floyd (1865–1937) m. Henry Bascomb Hughes (1857–1927)
      • Arthur Vernon Hughes (1883–1966)
      • Alfred Luther Hughes (1885–1925)
      • William Crowder Hughes (1888–1918)
      • Richard Lester Hughes (1891–1893)
      • Charles Bolin Hughes (1895–1981)
      • Beulah Mae Hughes (1897–1977)
      • Henry Buford Hughes (1900–1963)
      • Lillian Idalene Hughes (1902–1997)
    • Anna Floyd (b. 1868)
    • William Thomas Floyd (1870–1904)
    • Janie Floyd (1874–1898)
    • Charlie Floyd (1877–1928)
    • Emma Floyd (b. 1879)

REUBEN ROOF (1799–1885) of Lexington SC — and — REUBEN RUFF (1805-1874) of Noxubee County, Mississippi

Two Reubens born about the same time in South Carolina. A surname that was interchangeably Roof, Ruff, Reuff, and Reiff, and sometimes Rough. (I will use Roof for the remainder of this article to simplify things; specifically Lexington Reuben Roof and Mississippi Reuben Roof).

When writing an article about my ancestor Simeon Godfrey Jacob Roof, my research quickly identified two Reuben Roofs. That is not an issue for me. What became a bump in the road was the number of family trees on-line mixing up the two Reubens. This article will hopefully separate and clarify the two men.

Both Roof families came from Hesse, Germany to mid-state South Carolina. The Roof families populated Lexington, Newberry, and Saluda Counties. Were they all related? Probably. It is more than likely that both Reubens descend from Johann Rueff (born 1690 in Germany; died 1718 in the Netherlands).

I’ve well researched my Lexington Reuben Roof and the line of descent is Johann Rueff (1690-1718) > Johann Sebastian Rueff (171501788) > Johan Melchoir Rueff 1750-1801 > Godfrey Roof 1770-1825 > Reuben Roof 1799-1885.

I’ve not well researched the Mississippi Reuben Roof line, but the line of descent appears to be Johann Rueff 1690-1718 > George Jacob Reuff 1718-1751 > Christian Reuff 1736-1797 > John Roof 1765-1819 > Reuben Roof 1805-1874.

My ancestor Lexington Reuben Roof was born ca. 1799 in Lexington County, South Carolina. His parents were Godfrey Roof (1770–1825) and Barbara Monts (1780–1812). My Lexington Reuben Roof married Jemimah Catherine Areheart (1800–1875) and they had the following children:

  • Harriett Dratha Ruff (1824–1888)
  • Simeon Godfrey Jacob Ruff (1827–1922)
  • son Ruff (b. 1830)
  • Martha Elizabeth Ruff (1833–1902)
  • Rhoda A C Ruff (1838–1904)
  • Jemima Catherine Ruff (1843–1868)
Simeon Godfrey Jacob Roof

My Lexington Reuben Roof stayed in the county of his birth –Lexington — until his death. He was a shingle-maker (a real Roofer) in a family of carpenters. His nineteenth century presence is easy to follow as he was counted in census records 1830 to 1880.

Mississippi Reuben Roof was born in Newberry County, South Carolina on March 18, 1805 and he died in Noxubee County, Mississippi on April 19, 1874. His parents were John Ruff (1765–1819) and Frances Haynie (1767–1843). He was an attorney and Probate Judge. He moved to Macon, Noxubee County, Mississippi before 1845 and married Rebecca Longstreet (1824–1881). They had no children.

He was recorded in three census records in Mississippi (1850 to 1870), proving the existence of two separate Reuben Roofs, who may have been third cousins after all.

WILLIAM M. FOWLER (1812-1872) Son of Womack Fowler

Womack Fowler and his wife Susannah Moseley, had fourteen children if one takes as truth the entries made in the Womack Fowler Family Bible. Seven sons and seven daughters were born between the years 1809 to 1836. Two sons and three daughters did not survive childhood, and if not for the entries in the family bible, their brief existence on earth would not have been known to us. They, no doubt, lie in eternal rest in the Womack Fowler family graveyard near Jonesville.

Nine children — five sons and four daughters — did survive and thanks to extensive paper research and DNA testing, much is known about them and their descendants.

  • Martha Patsy Fowler (1809–1872)
  • Tempa Fowler (1810–1862)
  • William M. Fowler (1812–1872)
  • Henry Fowler (1814–1816)
  • Marinda Lucinda “Cinda” “Missinda” Fowler (1816–1879)
  • Melinda Fowler (1818–1819)
  • Susannah Fowler (1821–1866)
  • Rhoda Fowler (1823–1825)
  • Rufus Marion Fowler (1825–1864)
  • Maryan Catherine Fowler (1827– before 1830)
  • Felix Parham Fowler (1829–186x)
  • James Hervey Fowler (1832–1863)
  • Josephus Fincher Fowler (1833–1842)
  • Womack Matthew Fowler (1836–1862)

Womack Fowler sent all five of his sons to fight in the War Between the States. Only one returned home. That son was William M. Fowler.

William M. Fowler was born in Union County, South Carolina on December 17, 1812. He was the third child and first son born to twenty-eight year old Womack and twenty year old Susannah Moseley Fowler. I have never seen in any document what the middle initial “M” stands for, but I suspect that it is Mark.

William M. Fowler’s date of birth was recorded in the family bible, he was mentioned in his father’s Last Will and Testament, he was counted in two census records, he penned his own Last Will and Testament leaving his worldly possessions to his widow Martha and his son Morgan Reaves, and his death was mentioned when his mother’s estate was settled after her death in 1878.

He may have fought in the Civil War alongside his brothers Rufus Marion and Wymac Matthew in the South Carolina 15th Infantry. There was a William Fowler in the battalion but I have no proof that it was William, son of Womack.

William M. Fowler married a woman named Martha, born ca. 1821. They had no children although in 1860, a young man named James Lenon lived with them; and in 1870, a young woman named Susan Fowler (and listed as idiotic) lived in the household. I have been unable to document either of the two.

1860 Union County SC Census
1870 Union County SC Census

William M. Fowler had an out-of-wedlock son in 1841 with Millie Reaves (b. 1827). Millie Reaves (Reevis/Reeves) may have been the daughter of Zachariah Reaves or Asa Reaves. More research is needed.

The son’s name was Morgan Reaves (1841-1928).

Morgan Reaves

Morgan Reaves and his mother Millie are conspicuously absent in census records until 1870, but so is William M. Fowler until 1860. Millie Reaves married William Pierce before 1870, and they were recorded together with her son Morgan Reaves, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Adeline.

I found a copy of William M. Fowler’s Last Will and Testament in the SC State Archives in Columbia, SC. In my great haste, I cut off the page just before the date that the will was signed. I will go back for this information. It was mentioned in the estate settlement of the will that his mother (Susannah Moseley Fowler), a sister (Marinda Lucinda Fowler Long) and a son (Morgan Reaves) survived him. HIs son Morgan Reaves was mentioned several times, and there was a dispute between him and the widow Martha Fowler. It was also mentioned that William M. Fowler died in Columbia SC. What was he doing so far away from home?

In the meantime:

Like his father, Morgan Reaves served in the Infantry during the Civil War. He was in the SC 13th Regiment Infantry, having enlisted on September 3, 1861. He was discharged March 17, 1865. He and his wife Elizabeth Thomas had five children before her death in 1912. Morgan Reaves died February 8, 1928 and was buried in the Glendale Cemetery.

Millie Reaves Pierce possibly died March 13, 1939 in Glendale, Spartanburg County, SC, although I have not been able to find documentation for her beyond the 1880 census. There is a Millie Piece buried in the Glendale Cemetery; the dates indexed for her grave in the cemetery may be incorrect — something I intend to look into very soon.

I do not know when or where widow Martha Fowler died. She was living in 1878 when the estate of William’s mother Susannah Moseley Fowler was settled. I do not know if she remained a widow or if she remarried.

  • Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808)
    • Womack Fowler (1785-1849) married Susannah Moseley
      • William M. Fowler (1812-1872) and Millie Reaves (1827-1939)
        • Morgan Reaves (1841-1928) m. Elizabeth Thomas 1844–1912
          • Adelaide Bolivar Reaves 1870–1953
          • Mary Reaves 1873–1965
          • James Robert Reaves 1875–1942
          • Carrie Reaves 1877–
          • Walter Dickson Reaves 1883–1950