The Murder of MARY ANN HYATT (1822-1851)

How could you level your gun at the head which had often been pillowed in guilty affection on your bosom?” Judge John Belton O’Neal

She was born two hundred years ago, and died a young woman, yet the story — that of Mary Ann Hyatt — caught my attention and tugged at my heartstrings as I perused information in my research on the Union County, SC Fowler families. Thoughts of her short life lingered in my mind. Her murder and the arrest and trial of the man who loved her, then killed her, were published at the time of the terrible events that occurred so long ago. When I stumbled across a connection to my Fowlers, I knew I had to write about her life, and death, so that her name will be remembered once again.

Thomas Hyatt was born about 1785. There was a Hyatt family in nearby Chester County, SC but it is not known to me if Thomas was of this family or another. He was in Union County SC by 1810 when he was counted in the census with a wife and four children. He is easily found in the Union County census records of 1820, 1830, and 1840. He died in 1843 and was laid to rest at Bethlehem United Methodist Church Cemetery in Union County, SC.

Although census records indicate Thomas Hyatt and his wife (and possibly a second wife) had twelve or more children, his Last Will and Testament lists eight daughters and three sons:

  • Nancy Gallman
  • Milley Ward
  • Elizabeth Belew
  • Jesse Hyatt
  • Sarah Ann Jackson
  • James Hyatt
  • William Hyatt
  • Mary Ann Hyatt
  • Amanda Hyatt
  • Harriet Hyatt
  • Carolina Hyatt

If one is to believe what is printed in the newspapers, Mary Ann Hyatt was a beautiful young girl. Much to her misfortune, her beauty caught the eye of a young man in the neighborhood and set in motion a string of events that would lead to the deaths of both.

Wyatt H. Johnson (1791-bef. 1870) was the son of James Johnson (d. 1825). I do not yet know if this Johnson family was related to the William Herman Johnson (1760–1825) family whom intermarried often with my Fowler family, or if the Wyatt Johnson/James Johnson was a separate line. Regardless, Wyatt Johnson lived in the Pea Ridge/ Kelton area of Union County, and his son William did marry one of my Fowler relatives —

— I shall take a moment to muddy the waters a little. William Johnson (b. 1834) was a son of Wyatt Johnson. William married Frances Fowler (b. 1840). Frances was the daughter of Lemuel Holter Fowler (1808-1865) who was the son of John Fowler the Hatter (d. 1833).

William Johnson and Frances Fowler had a daughter named Ida Johnson (b. 1860). Ida married George Fowler (1847-1913), son of William Goode Fowler (1825-1899) and Salena Bevis (1824-1897).

As you can see, Wyatt Johnson’s son William Johnson was entangled in the Fowler family in two ways.

Wyatt Johnson and his wife Martha had six sons and two (or three) daughters. His son Phineas Johnson (b. circa 1822) will be discussed in great detail now as he was the ill-fated persuader who gazed upon Mary Ann Hyatt and fell in lust.

Mary Ann Hyatt and her family lived very near the Wyatt Johnson family in 1840; She and her two year old son Thomas lived near Phineas Johnson who was in the household with his father and family in 1850. Facts being facts, this gives us the knowledge that Mary Ann Hyatt and Phineas Johnson would have been well acquainted with each other. It was reported in newspapers that they both came from well respected families and attended the same church.

In 1848, Mary Ann Hyatt had given birth to her son Thomas Hyatt. The father was reputed to be Phineas Johnson. A second child had been born to the couple after November 15, 1850 — the day a census taker visited her log home — and before September 20, 1851 –her last day on earth.

Phineas Johnson had promised to marry Mary Ann Hyatt, but alas, he married another and left Mary Ann in ruin, dependent upon others for the meager scraps they gave her. Mary Ann Hyatt had no need to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress for the two children born out of wedlock were proof enough to show the world that she was the Hester Prynne of her time.

There is no doubt that her life was hard. Even when a home was headed by a loving husband and one was surrounded by caring family members. life in the 1800s was tough. When one considers that Mary Ann Hyatt was living without benefit of a man in the household — her father was long dead and the father of her children wanted no more to do with her –her life must have been more difficult than we can imagine in this age of modern conveniences: running water, inside toilets, electricity.

On the night of September 20, 1851, Mary Ann Hyatt was sitting in a chair in her cabin, a child on her lap and a child beside her on the floor. She was stringing beans, the last of the summer crop, the charity of a neighbor perhaps. Phineas Johnson entered her home and shot her dead. Did he put a bullet through her head because they argued or did he go there to commit murder? Then end result was the same: Mary Ann Hyatt sat in her chair as her blood dripped to the floor and her soul departed her body.

The next morning, Sam Smith — a slave owned by Robin Smith — passed by the cabin and heard children crying. When he peered into the home, he saw Mary Ann Hyatt dead in her chair, one child trying to wake her, the other child still on her lap. He alerted the neighbors, all of whom suspected Phineas Johnson as the man responsible for the murder.

Coroner Ed Gregory held an inquest and Phineas Johnson was arrested. As he was being taken to the jail by the Sheriff, they passed the Bethlehem Memorial Methodist Church Cemetery where a grave was being dug for the dead woman. Phineas Johnson became defiant and made disparaging remarks. This did little to improve his situation.

Phineas Johnson was found guilty of the murder of Mary Ann Hyatt. Never mind that all of the evidence was circumstantial; he would not have been the first innocent man to be found swinging at the wrong end of the gallows. None-the-less, his case was appealed and the man accused of murder was given a chance at reprieve.

Johnson, Phineas H. was arrested for the murder of his concubine and found guilty. The case went to a Court of Appeals and was dismissed by John Belton O Neall. An article immediately following the summary of the case of appeal dealt with the fact that the area where the crime was committed, PEA RIDGE, had a reputation as a place of corruption and home of harlots, Unionville Journal 1/2/1852, p2; PhineasJohnson was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Mrs. Mary Ann Hyatt, Unionville Journal 9/20/1851, p2; Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions – Judge O Neill presiding; the jury returned a verdict of guilty, Unionville Journal 10/18/1851, p2; his confession to what led to the murder of Mary Ann Hyatt given the night before his execution. A few minutes before 1 PM the prisoner walked to the scaffold and spoke a few words to those assembled. His voice was very weak and feeble and he could scarcely be heard after which the cord was placed around his neck and he died after a short struggle. Unionville Journal 2/20/1852, p2

Hyatt, Mary Ann Mrs. of Unionville was shot through the head with a rifle ball as she sat in her home surrounded by her children. The next day the neighbors found the children trying to awaken their mother. Phineas Johnson was suspected by the coroner and placed in jail. Unionville Journal 9/20/1851, p2

WILLIAM G. FOWLER (1825-1899) married to Salena Bevis

“He sleeps his last sleep; he has fought his last battle.  No sound can awake him to glory again.”          Heath, Lyman, “Grave of Bonaparte” (1843). Historic Sheet Music Collection.

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W.G. Fowler died 14 March 1899 of grippe.  He was a member of Foster’s Chapel Methodist Church, where he was buried.  Bill and his son (just a lad) fought from the beginning of the Civil War until General Lee surrendered at Appomatox.  His oldest son, George, was also with him at the surrender.  They both belonged to Colonel I.G. McKissick’s Company.  He had been staying at his two sons the last 2 weeks of his life (being unable to do any hard labor).  His wife has been dead for several years.  He was buried at Foster’s Chapel.   (from the March 31, 1899 issue of the Union Times)

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By the time you get to the end of this article, you are going to realize that I know very little about William Goode Fowler — because I frankly do not know who he was, whence he came, or from what Fowler family he descends.  I do, however,  know much about the Bevis family that he married into and I hope that one day this knowledge will lead to a better understanding of William G. Fowler.

The life of William Bevis was interwoven with the Henry Ellis Fowler family in many ways.  I have analyzed historical records and documents over and over in order to determine the Fowler line from which William G. Fowler descends.  My theory places him in the Henry Ellis Fowler family, and speculation on my part that he may have been a son of Mark Fowler, son of John Fowler the Elder and Fannie.  He may also have been part of the Ephraim Fowler branch of the family. 

It must be pointed out that William G. Fowler was NOT the son of Thomas G. Fowler and his wife Susannah Hames.  I have seen this mistake in many family trees on-line.  I’m not sure where this error began but the Thomas Gillman Fowler Family Bible does not have a William G. Fowler recorded in the births, marriages or deaths of the family.  Other records and documents also do not give evidence of this relationship.

William G. Fowler was born circa 1825, and he married Salina Bevis  circa 1844.  Salena Bevis was the daughter of  William Bevis, born in 1807 in Union County, SC and the son of Zachariah Bevis and Phebe Perkinson (1781-1875).

William Bevis was married three times: first to Hannah Gault (1808-1826) on March 8, 1824; he wed second wife Zillah Hames (1812-1876) at the home of her father John Hames on May 5, 1829; and his third wife was Letta Spencer whom he married on March 8, 1877, and divorced before June 1880.

Hannah Gault gave birth to two daughters during her brief marriage to William BevisSalena Bevis was the first daughter born on June 24, 1824.  Her sister, Rebecca Bevis, was born December 13, 1825 and died a little less than two months later on February 3, 1826.  Hannah Gault Bevis followed her youngest daughter to the grave fifteen days later on February 18.

Zillah Hames was the daughter of John Hames and Sarah Fowler, daughter of Ephraim Fowler and Nancy Moseley.  William Bevis and Zillah had many children as well as a long life together until her death in 1876.

William G. Fowler and Salena Bevis had two sons and two daughters.  The naming pattern (George, Vesta Ann, Isaac, and Dora) does not offer any clues to the origins of William G. Fowler.  It will take yDNA testing to positively identify William G. Fowler’s paternal line.

In 1850, William G. Fowler, wife Salena, son George, and daughter Vesta Ann lived adjacent to the William Bevis family.  In addition to William, wife Zillah Hames and all of their Bevis children, William’s mother Phebe Perkinson Bevis Gault, a free black man named John Johnson, and a shoemaker named Henry Tucker were included in the household.

It should be noted that William Bevis owned a tanning yard, and John Johnson listed “tanner” as his occupation.

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1850 Union County SC Census

William G. Fowler and Salena Bevis had added two more children to their family before 1860: son George was now 12, daughter Vesta Ann was 10, son Isaac was 8, and an infant daughter, Dora, was 8 months.

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1860 Union County Census

Isaac Going McKissick (b. 1825 in Union County SC) was the son of Joseph and Rhoda Palmer McKissick.  Isaac McKissick enlisted on January 12, 1861, and rose through the ranks from private to Captain of his own Company D, Cavalry Battalion, Holcombe Legion to Lieutenant Colonel of the Holcombe Legion cavalry battalion  Company C, 7th Regiment of SC Cavalry.   Although wounded in May 1864 and sent back to Unionville to recover, Isaac McKissick had returned to the war in time for the surrender with his regiment on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House.  Isaac McKissick married at the end of the war, raised a family and became involved in politics.  He died in 1896 and was buried at the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Union.

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Isaac Going McKissick

William G. Fowler and his oldest son George enlisted in the Holcombe Legion Cavalry Battalion under the leadership of Lt. Col. Isaac G. McKissick.  They were with him at the beginning of the war as well as when the last shot of the Civil War was fired.  They had managed to stay alive on the battlefield until the very end, and they were at the Appomattox Court House surrender.  William G. Fowler was not a young man when the war started and surely felt his years when it was over.  George Fowler was not much more than a child when the war began; no doubt, he had become a man by its conclusion.

In 1870, William G. Fowler and Salena Bevis, in their mid-forties, had twenty-three year old George, eighteen-year old Isaac, and ten-year old Dora in the household.  Vesta Ann Fowler was also in the home,  known in 1870 as Vesty Porter, aged twenty.  During the last decade, she had married Jedithan P. “Gid” Porter, and given birth to sons John Little Porter (1866-1914) and William Edward Porter (1868-1900).

Who was Jedithan Porter?  He was born in 1813, a son of Hezekiah Porter (1775-1830) and Sarah Clark (1790-1865).  He was first married to Margaret McKissick (1819-1861), a daughter of Joseph McKissick and Rhoda Palmer.  If you have been paying attention, then you know that Margaret McKissick was a sister to Lt. Col Isaac Going McKissick, Civil War commander of William G. Fowler and George Fowler.

So… William G. Fowler’s daughter Vesta Ann Fowler married  Jedithan Porter, widower of Margaret McKissick, brother of Isaac McKissick., commander of William G. Fowler.  

In 1870, Vesta Ann Fowler Porter and her two sons were in the household with her parents William G. Fowler and Salena, but her husband was missing.  Was she a widow?  No.  In 1870, Jedithan Porter lived alone in a household adjacent to his son by his first wife,  Hezekiah Sylvanus Porter and family.

I remembered seeing a newspaper article about an attack on Jedithan Porter, but I cannot locate it.  I was able to find a deposition that J. P. Porter gave on March 25, 1870 in the case of Wallace vs Simpson which describes in great detail the attack on Jedithan Porter.

If you are up on your South Carolina history, you will remember that York County native Alexander S. Wallace successfully contested the South Carolina 1868 election of William D. Simpson to the 41st U.S. Congress.

The political atmosphere in South Carolina was  both violent and volatile.  The northern Republicans were trying to exert control over the political system of the southern Democrats and the Rebels were having none of it.  They were still fighting for their way of life.  The Civil War did not end the way they expected and they turned to the KKK in order to gain back what they had lost.

In the words of Jedithan P. Porter:

“I was appointed manager at the Going’s precinct. On the day previous to the election on November 3, 1868, I went to Union courthouse for the Republican tickets for the precinct.   I got the tickets and was preparing to start home when a man came up and asked to see the tickets.  He refused to give them back and walked away with them.

“My brother-in-law who was a Democrat came to me and advised me to leave, saying that if I did not leave I would be killed.  I then went round to the rear of a lot where some Freeman brought my horse and I started home accompanied by my brother. 

“I had gone near four miles when a crowd of eight Democrats came up rapidly, cursing me for being a radical and jerked me off my horse.   The fall bruised my face and cut it severely.  They kicked and beat me while I was on the ground until my face and clothes were covered with blood.  I then mounted my horse and started on home.

“Some of the crowds still followed me.   About nine miles from town they made another attack on me and pulled me off my horse saying they were going to kill me for being a radical.   They then kicked and knocked me down and beat me until I became unconscious and they left me for dead.   The last I recollect was one man saying, ‘Get out of the way and let me kill him with a rail’;  someone replied, ‘No, he is dead already.’

”When I became conscious they all had gone and I do not know how long I lay there. A man came along the road and helped me to get on my horse and went home with me.  For twelve days I was not able to move without help, and my life was despaired of by my physician.

“These parties had no cause of offense with me whatever, except that I was a Republican. One of them was a brother-in-law.”

I believe that this disposition gives us a clue as to why Jed Porter and Vesta Ann lived apart: he was a Republican and she came from a family of Democrats.  George W. Fowler and Isaac Fowler were her brothers.   Which brother told Jed Porter to leave or risk certain death, and which brother beat him and left him for dead?

Vesta Ann and Jedithan Porter had another son, Landrum Vernon Porter, born in 1872.  Jedithan Porter died in 1874.

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1870 Union County SC Census

Union County was to come under heavy-handed penal recriminations for the participation in KKK activity.  It appears that even the elder William G. Fowler was arrested.  United States Federal Marshals picketed the towns of the county and made arrests for the lynching of prisoners who had been held in the Union County jail.

John M. Bevis was the son of William Bevis and Zillah Hames.  He was arrested in. November 1871 along with many of his Klan comrades and held in the local jail until the prisoners could be transported by train to Charleston, SC to stand trial.  The accused were held without warrant or bond and not even told why they had been rounded up for arrest.  The highly esteemed attorney,  Joseph F. Gist (son of Nathaniel Gist and nephew of the former Governor William Gist) had also been arrested along with many of the upstanding citizens of Union County.

Most of the accused did not serve time and were eventually released.  I find no evidence that William G. Fowler and his grandson John M. Bevis were found guilty of Klan activities, although Marion Fowler (son of Stephen Fowler) was sent to prison in Albany, New York.

With the 1874 death of Jedithan Porter, Vesta Ann Fowler Porter was truly a widow.  She was free to marry again; and so she did.  Vesta Ann Fowler Porter married her mother’s half-brother, John M. Bevis (1845- 1883), son of William Bevis and Zillah Hames John . Bevis was Vesta’s half-uncle.    

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John M. Bevis had been married before — to Eliza Disor Holcombe (b. 1842).  Eliza had given birth to two sons, Charles Bevis (1867-1900) and Joseph Crawford Bevis (1869-1958). Eliza died young, perhaps in childbirth.  Her two sons would be raised by Vesta Ann.

John M. Bevis and Vesta Ann had three children together: James E. Bevis (1876-1900), Anderson Bell Bevis (1878-1900), and Nora B. Bevis (1879-1904).

In 1880, Vesta Ann Fowler Porter Bevis and second husband (and half-uncle) John M. Bevis were living a Brady Bunch existence.  Although everyone in the household was assigned the surname of Bevis, three of the children were fathered by Jedithan Porter, five were fathered by John Bevis, two were the children of Eliza Holcombe, and six were the children of Vesta Ann Fowler.  

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  • John M. Bevis 34
  • Vesta Ann Fowler Porter Bevis 30
  • John Little Porter 14 (son of Jedithan Porter and Vesta Ann Fowler)
  • Charles Bevis 12 (son of John M. Bevis and Eliza Holcombe)
  • William Edward Porter 11 (son of Jedithan Porter and Vesta Ann Fowler)
  • Joseph Crawford Bevis 10 (son of John M. Bevis and Eliza Holcombe)
  • Landrum Vernon Porter 9 (son of Jedithan Porter and Vesta Ann Fowler)
  • James E. Bevis 5 (son of John M. Bevis and Vesta Ann Fowler)
  • Anderson Bell Bevis 3 (son of John M. Bevis and Vesta Ann Fowler)
  • Nora B. Bevis 8 months (daughter of John M. Bevis and Vesta Ann Fowler)

John Bevis died from consumption at his residence a a few miles from Union on August 30, 1883.  He was only 42 years old.  His obituary was published in the Weekly Union Times on September 7, 1883.  Vesta Ann Fowler Porter Bevis was a widow and free to marry again.

The following is complicated so I am repeating information previously stated in this article.  Vesta Ann Fowler was the granddaughter of William Bevis.  (Her mother was the daughter of William Bevis and his first wife Hannah Gault). Wiliam Bevis had married Zillah Hames after the death of his first wife, and Vesta Ann had married their son (her uncle) John Bevis.  After the death of his second wife Zillah, William Bevis married Lettie Gregory.  It was a third marriage for both William Bevis and Lettie Gregory.

Lettie Gregory (1821-1902) was the daughter of John Wesley Gregory (1780-1843).  She had married Joseph George Lyles (1792-1869) and they were the parents of Mary Lyles (1839), John Lyles (1841), Ben Lyles (1845), Nancy Lyles (1859), and William Lyles (1861).

After the death of Joseph George Lyles, Lettie married James Spencer.  The 1870 census listed James Spencer, Lettie, and his two children from a previous marriage, James and Martha Spencer.  Eight year old William Lyles was recorded as Bill Spencer in the census.

The William Bevis family bible has recorded March 8, 1877 as the date that he married the widow Lettie Spencer.  It was a short-lived marriage; in 1880, William Bevis lived with his daughter Eliza Bevis McNease and her family;  Lettie Spencer lived with her son William Lyles and her granddaughter Sally Edwards (daughter of Mary Lyles Edwards).

Vesta Ann Fowler Porter Bevis chose the much-younger-than-her William Lyles to be her next husband.  Never mind that he was the son of her grandfather’s third wife.  From the photograph that we have of Vesta Ann, she was a beautiful woman with light-colored eyes and evidently the men of her day thought so too.

She and William Lyles had a daughter, Bessie Olivia Lyles (1886-1929) who married Bowden Hodge (1882-1947).  

In legal documents, Vesta Ann was recorded as Vestian Bevis in November 1886, and Vestian Lyles in October 1889.  Her daughter Bessie was born in 1886, although I have also seen 1885.  The line is blurred on the actual date of marriage.  Since there were no marriage certificates in South Carolina until 1915, it is difficult to say for sure when she married.

Vesta Ann Fowler Porter Bevis Lyles was badly burned in December 1895 and soon after died from her injuries.  Her obituary from the Jan 17, 1896 issue of the Union Times:

Mrs. William Lyles got burnt just before Christmas so bad that she died last Tuesday AM (7 Jan) & was buried at Bethlehem last week (8 Jan)”

William Lyles wasted little time.  He married his step-daughter, Nora B. Bevis, daughter of Vesta Ann Fowler Porter Bevis Lyles and John Bevis

Will Lyles of Brown’s Creek and his step-daughter, Miss Bevis, were married last week.  Mr. Lyle’s wife, the mother of Miss Bevis, died since Christmas.   (From the March 13, 1896 issue of the Union times)

William Lyles and Nora Bevis had sons:

  • Benjamin Anderson Lyles 1897–1923
  • John William Lyles 1899–1967
  • Laberto Vestarius Lyles 1901–1997
  • Egbert A. Lyles 1902–1904

Nora B. Bevis Lyles died in 1904.  Her obituary from the Feb 24, 1904 issue of the Progress;

Mrs. William Lyles, after a continued illness, died at her home in South Union Saturday night (18 Feb) & her remains were interred at the City cemetery on Sunday. She was only about 25 years of age, was Miss Nora Beavers before her marriage, & had been living in Union for 5 years, where her husband is employed at the Excelsior Knitting Mills. He with 4 children survive.

William Lyles married a third time, to Mattie Nodine (1883-1964).  They had no children together but she raised the children that he had with Nora Bevis.   Willliam and Mattie Lyles are buried at Mount Vernon Church Cemetery in Union County SC.

You can see in the 1880 census clip below that William G. Fowler and Salena Bevis lived next door to son George Fowler and his family, and next door to Caroline Bevis (half sister of Salena) and her three children.

George Fowler, son of William G. Fowler, was a young man when he crossed paths with KKK leader William Faucett of Union County.  Faucett was well into his 60’s but he was a large man with a reputation of violent behavior and he ran with a rowdy crowd.  Faucett was a character with many facets to his life, the women with whom he fathered children, and there could be much written about him.  I have noticed that there were two William Faucetts in the area around the same time and many amateur researchers have confused the two.  I have researched this man fairly extensively as he was involved with one of my Fowlers, but I am not inclined to write an article about him unless one is requested.

In early 1872, a fight began between George Fowler and William Faucett inside a bar owned by Andrew McNease (father of James McNease married to Eliza Bevis, daughter of William Bevis).  The fight escalated as the larger of the two, Faucett, beat the smaller Fowler.  Eventually the men ended outside, and George Fowler pulled a knife out of his pocket and stabbed William Faucett six times.  George Fowler was arrested and awaited trial.  The charge was upgraded to murder when Faucett died a few days later.

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George W. Fowler had fought in the Civil War with his father, and had murdered a bully ten years later, and  had been pardoned within eight months.  He also married his cousin during the decade between 1870 and 1880 — Ida Johnson (b. 1860), a daughter of William Johnson (b. 1834) and Frances Fowler (b. 1840).

William Johnson was a son of Wyatt Johnson, and a grandson of the William and Lois Johnson clan whose descendants intermarried often with the Henry Ellis Fowler descendants.

Frances Fowler was the daughter of Lemuel H. Fowler (1808-1865) and Milly Mitchell, a descendant of the Rev. Elias Mitchell.  Lemuel H. Fowler was the son of John Fowler the Hatter (d. 1833).

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1880 Union County SC Census

George Fowler and Ida Johnson had five children:

  • Hessie Fowler 1879–1901
  • Urphie Bell Fowler 1884–1979
  • William Audry Fowler 1888–1979
  • George Leonard Fowler 1891–1933
  • Anthony Wade Fowler 1895–1950

Hessie Fowler married her cousin Robert Newton O’Shields (1881–1950).  Robert was the son of William Franklin O’Shields (1857-1935) and Jannie Dunnaway (1862-1911).  Jannie was the daughter of Abraham Dunnaway (1830-1864) and Mary Hames (1836-1908).  Mary was the daughter of Lydia Fowler (d. after 1850) and Charles HamesLydia was the daughter of Ephraim Fowler (1765-1822), son of Patriarch Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808).

As did many women of that era, Hessie Fowler died shortly after childbirth, leaving husband Robert O’Shields with a babe in arms.  I do not know if the child survived.  Hessie’s obituary was reported in the local newspapers:

Mrs. Robert O’Shields died at her home on factory hill last Sunday (21 April 1901).  The remains were interred at Foster’s Chapel Monday. (from the April 26, 1901 Union Times)

Mrs. Hessie O’Shields, daughter of George Fowler and wife of Robert O’Shields, died Sunday, 21 April 1901.  She leaves a little babe one week old, a husband, father, mother, sisters and brothers.  (from the April 24, 1901 issue of the Progress)

After the death of Hessie, Robert O’Shields married Mattie Sims (1886-1932), and they had three sons.  Mattie was related to the Charles Sims family which had many ties to the Henry Ellis Fowler family.  Sadly, Mattie was committed to the South Carolina State Hospital for the Insane in 1929, and died there in 1932.

Urphie Bell Fowler was the second daughter of George Fowler and Ida Johnson.  She married twice — first to Henry Harrison “Hal” Hicks (1883–1915); they had a son, Herman, and daughters Louise Imogene, Vera, and Evelyn.  After the death of Hal, Urphie Bell married Fred Samuel Miller (1901–1970).  Fred Samuel Miller Jr. (1928–2015) was born from this second union.

William Audrey Fowler (1888-1979) married Jennie May Waldrip (1892–1974) and the couple had two sons:  Elliott Earl Fowler Sr (1916–1999) and Donald Audry Fowler (1932–2009).

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Donald A. Fowler

Named after his father George, George Leonard Fowler married a distant cousin —Ella Lane Kelly (1894–1982).  Ella was the daughter of Abraham Silas Kelly (1859-1911) and Leila Fowler (1862-1947), a daughter of Gazzaway Fowler (1825-1887) and Elmira Smith (1839-1911).  Gazzaway Fowler was a son of Thomas Gillman Fowler (1798-1880), son of Godfrey Fowler (1773-1850), son of Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808).

George Leonard Fowler and Ella Lane Kelly had a son, George Harold Fowler 1917–1943.

Anthony Wade Fowler (1895–1950) was the last child born to George and Ida Johnson Fowler.  He was in the military, and did not have a family.  He died in Dade County Florida on May 18, 1950.

George, son of William G. Fowler and Salena Bevis died in 1913.  HIs obituary below:

George Fowler died at 6 o’clock PM, 16 June, 1913.  He leaves a wife and several children.  He was a native of Union county, having been born in 1847.  He was a soldier in the Confederate Army, and was buried at Foster’s chapel Wednesday.  He was a son of William G. Fowler.  (from the June 20, 1913 issue of the Union Times)


  • William G. Fowler (1825-1899) m. Salena Bevis (1824–1897)
    • George A. Fowler (1845–1926) m. Ida Johnson (1860- after 1930)
      • Hessie Fowler (1879-1901) m. Robert Newton O’Shields (1881–1950)
      • Urphie Bell Fowler (1884-1979) m. Henry Harrison “Hal” Hicks (1883–1915); m. Fred Samuel Miller (1901-1970)
        • Herman Hicks (1904–1904)
        • Louise Imogene Hicks (1905–1985) m. Obie F. Hill (1899–1975)
          • Evelyn Imogene Hill (1922–1983)
          • Frances Hill  (b. 1924)
        • Vera Hicks (1908–1985) m. Walter Jackson Surrett (1906–1964)
          • Walter Jackson Surrett Jr. (1926–1927)
        • Evelyn Hicks (1910–1915)
        • Fred Samuel Miller Jr. (1928–2015) 
      • William Audrie Fowler (b. 1888) m. Jennie May Waldrip (1892–1974)
        • Elliott Earl Fowler Sr (1916–1998) m. Gertrude Mary Ann Oshenska (1920–2009)
        • Donald Audry Fowler (1932–2009) m Janie Sue Stepp (1939–2012)
      • George Leonard Fowler (1891–1933) m. Ella Lane Kelly (1894–1982)
          • George Harold Fowler (1917–1943) m. Eva Lee Owens (1918–2008)
      • Anthony Wade Fowler (1895–1950)
    • Vesta Ann Fowler (b. 1849) m. Jedithan P. “Gid” Porter (1813–1874;) m. John M. Bevis (1845- 1883); m. William Lyles
      • John Little Porter (1866–aft 1930) m. Missouri Elizabeth Moore (1869–1937); married Dora Haneline Houtz
        • James Vernon Porter (1890–1966) m. Bessie Gertrude Ringstaff (1892–1928); m.Vera Otheda Spivey (1908-1998)
          • Frank Edward Porter (1908–1984)
          • Edna Carolyn Porter (1912–2009)
          • John Vernon Porter (1914–1972)
          • Fred Stanley Porter (1930–1955)
          • Glenn Porter (1935–1984)
      • William Edward “Eddie” Porter (1868–1900) m. Mary Della Knox (1868–1900)
        • Betty Lee “Bessie” Porter (1888–1970)
        • Jesse Thomas Porter (1894–1979)
        • Hester Mae “Hessie” Porter (Stevens) (1898–1974)
      • Landrum Vernon Porter (1872–1950) m. Ida Virginia Smith (1875–1967)
        • George L Porter (b. 1902)
        • Ada P Porter (b. 1904)
        • Vernon Smith Porter (1907–1973)
      • James E. Bevis (1876–1900)
      • Anderson Bell Bevis (1878–1900) m. Cynthia Brewington (1880–1904)
      • Nora B. Bevis (1879–1904) m. William Lyles (1862–1937)
        • Benjamin Anderson Lyles (1897–1923) m. Lena Boozer Simpson 1898–1936
          • Nora Beatrice Lyles (1920–1995)
        • John William Lyles (1899-1967) m. Josephine M Vaccaro 1901–1995
          • John W Lyles Jr (1932–1999)
          • Joan Marie Lyles (1935–2010)
          • son Lyles (b. 1938)
        • Laberto Vestarius Lyles (1901–1997) m. Mary Alice Jones 1902–1992
          • Thomas Laberto Lyles 1940–2005
        • Egbert A. Lyles (1904–1905)
      • Bessie Olivia Lyles 1886–1929 m. Bowden Hodge 1882–1947
        • Rosalee Hodge 1905–1987
        • Dorothy Hodge 1919–2013
        • Betsy Hodge 1929–2015
    • Isaac Fowler (1852– after 1880)
    • Dora Gilliam Fowler (1859–1885) m. John Robert Gault (1852–1928)
      • Ora Anna Gault (1880–1943) m. William Logan Gibbs (1868–1949)
        • Willie Eugene Gibbs (1905–1967)
      • Walter Gillam Gault (1881–1966) m. Sallie Leona Willard (1882–1961)
        • Conway Jackson Gault (1904–1978)
        • Evelyn Gault (1908–1991)
        • Paul Cleon Gault (1912–1975)
        • Ruby Lucille Gault (1916–2006)
      • Conway Jackson Gault Sr (1883–1960) m. Mary Dovie Buff (1888–1982)
        • Annie Louise Gault (1907–2000)
        • Boyce Haywood Gault Sr (1909–1984)
        • Conway Jackson Gault Jr. (1911–1995)
        • Mary Elizabeth Gault (1915–2016)
        • Virginia Helen Gault (1917–1975)
        • Wilma Nelline Gault 1(920–1991)
        • Robert Eugene Gault (1924–2001)
        • Wilburn Vaughn Gault (1927–1987)

HENRY ELLIS FOWLER: Clues to His Appearance

  “Lieutenant Fowler was a Virginian of excellent family.  He was a man of powerful stature.”

“I can recall the appearance of Mr. Ellis Fowler (son of the lieutenant), a tall, fair man, with a deep and most powerful voice.”

Miss Sarah Adeline Sims, daughter of Joseph Starke Sims


“We Fowlers have thin, fine, light hair.”

Godfrey Butler Fowler


We do not have an image of Henry Ellis Fowler, nor do we have images of his sons or daughters.  It is possible to get an understanding of what he may have looked like through the descriptions of Miss S.A. Sims and Godfrey B. Fowler.  We also have photographic evidence of a few of his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Henry Ellis Fowler had seven sons, and two or three daughters.  He had upwards of fifty grandchildren, and more than one hundred and seventy five great grandchildren, perhaps– probably– more than two hundred.

That there is any photographic evidence of any of these descendants is no less than remarkable considering the era and the random chance of old photographs surviving somewhat intact for many years.

Henry Ellis Fowler was a “man of powerful stature” and his son Ellis Fowler was a “tall, fair man”.  His great grandson Henry Richard Fowler was “an extraordinary specimen of manhood and he was of a splendid physical development”  who weighed over two hundred pounds.

Melissa Fowler and Rufus Marion Fowler, the grandchildren of Henry Ellis Fowler, had dark hair, and Rufus had blue eyes.  Both Melissa and Rufus were also grandchildren of the James Moseley line which could account for the dark hair.

The photograph of  grandson Thomas Gillman Fowler indicates a dark haired man with a proud stature.  Please note that it is very possible that the man in this image may be an earlier photograph of Charles Ellis Fowler or one of his brothers.

Five of the great grandchildren of Henry Ellis Fowler appear to have been both dark haired and dark complexioned: Henry Richard Fowler, Sarah Purchase Fowler, Charles Ellis Fowler, Godfrey Butler Fowler, and Felix C. Haile.

The remaining great grandchildren in the photographic evidence below have either gray hair (due to old age) or brown hair.

So was Henry Ellis Fowler a man of blue eyed, light colored hair, or was he dark haired and dark eyed?  It’s hard to say for certain.  Perhaps DNA analysis would help answer this question.  It is certain that he and at least some of his grandsons and great grandsons gave the appearance of height and strength.

  • Henry Ellis Fowler 1746-1808 m. Catherine Puckett
    • Ephraim Fowler 1765-1822 m. Nancy Moseley
      • Lydia Fowler 1785-after 1850 m. Charles Hames
        • CINTHIA JEANETTE HAMES 1817-1901 m. James S. Durham
        • Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 23.32.35 PM.png
      • Ellis Fowler m. Sarah Mabry
        • HENRY RICHARD FOWLER 1825-1885 m. Nancy Ann Elizabeth Farr
        • IMG_4604
    • Ellis Fowler 1770-after 1850 m. Mary 1880-after 1850
      • Ellis Fowler 1810-after 1880 m. Sarah Clark
        • ELIZABETH AUGILAR FOWLER 1841–1924 m. Robert Henry Petty
        • elizabeth-augilar-fowler.jpg
        • NANCY P (NANNIE) FOWLER 1854–1939 m. John Worthy Eison
        • nannie p
        • SARAH PURCHASE FOWLER1860–1933
        • purchase-fowler-photo.png
    • Godfrey Fowler 1773-1850 m. Nannie Kelly
      • THOMAS GILLMAN FOWLER 1798-1880 m. Susannah Hames
      • Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 12.21.28 PM.png
        • CHARLES ELLIS FOWLER 1828-1900 m. Mary Margaret White
        • Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 23.57.11 PM.png
        • SUSANNAH ADELINE FOWLER 1843-1901 m. D.P Boulware; A. C. White
        • Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 23.59.17 PM.png
      • Joseph Fowler 1800-1852 m. Clarissa Foster
        • GODFREY BUTLER FOWLER 1837-1906 m. Louisa Jane Mitchell
        • Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 00.04.47 AM.png
      • Milligan Fowler 1802-1871 relationship with Frances Haile
        • FELIX C. HAILE  1829-1884
        • felix haile
    • Mark Fowler 1780-1849 m. Elizabeth Moseley
      • MELISSA FOWLER 1823-1889 m. Isaac Creighton Horne
      • Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 23.45.39 PM.png
      • Catherine Fowler 1805-before 1882
        • THOMAS W. FOWELR 1834- 1861
        • image-51
    • Womack Fowler 1785-1848 m. Susannah Moseley
      • RUFUS MARION FOWLER 1825-1864 m. Dorothy Moseley
      • rufus fowler
      • James Hervey Fowler 1832-1862 m. Mary Cansada James
        • HARRISON DAVID FOWLER 1860-1927 m, Nancy James
        • Harrison David Fowler
    • John Fowler d. 1833
      • Desina Fowler 1802- 1840 m. James Walton McWhirter
        • DESINA JANE MCWHIRTER 1840-1913 m. Asa Franklin Miller
        • Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 23.54.17 PM.png



HENRY RICHARD FOWLER (1825-1885) son of Ellis Fowler & Sarah Mabry

Henry Richard Fowler was born in Union County, South Carolina in 1825.  He was the son of Ellis Fowler (1805-before 1840) and Sarah Mabry (1815-after 1850).

Henry Richard Fowler

Named after Henry Ellis Fowler, his grandfather, Ellis Fowler was the last son born to Ephraim and Nancy Moseley Fowler.  He was born circa 1805 in Union County, SC and died before 1840.

Ellis and his sister Betty were still living in his father’s household in 1822 when Ephraim’s will was probated.  How do I know this?  From Ephraim’s will of 1822:

Ellis and Betty remain with their mother.png
“Ellis and Betty remain with their mother”


Sometime after 1822 and before 1825, Ellis married Sarah “Sallie” Mabry.  Sarah Mabry was no doubt descended from James Maybury (d. 1805) or his brother Jesse Maybury, both who moved to Union County, SC in the mid to late 1700s and sons of James Mabry (1727-1781).  The earliest known ancestor for this Mabry family is Francis Maybury, born 1650 in England and died 1714  in Virginia.

The Mabry genetics may account for the dark features of Henry Richard Fowler who did not have the blue eyes and fair colored hair of most other Henry Ellis Fowler descendants.

Children of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Mabry

  • Henry Richard Fowler b. 1825
  • Julia Fowler b. 1828
  • B. Elbert Fowler b. 1830
  • Mary Jane Fowler b. 1833

An analysis of census records indicates that Ellis, his wife Sarah, two young sons, and a young daughter lived in the home of his widowed mother Nancy Fowler in 1830.

  • Nancy Fowler: female 50-59
  • Ellis Fowler: male 20-29
  • Sarah Mabry Fowler: female 20-29
  • Henry Richard Fowler: male <5
  • Julia Fowler: female <5
  • B. Elbert Fowler: m<5

(daughter MARY JANE FOWLER was born after 1830)

Ellis and Sarah had four children prior to his untimely death before 1840.  Was his  death caused by an accident or illness?  Was he laid to rest in the graveyard on the old Fowler place?  His early demise meant that he would never be head of household in any census records.  Instead, his widow, Sarah Mabry Fowler was counted in 1840.

sarah mabry 1840.png
1840 Union County SC Census
  • Sarah Fowler: age 30-39
  • Julia Fowler: age 10-14
  • Mary Jane Fowler: age 5-9

Were twelve year old Henry Richard and seven year old Elbert sent to live with relatives?

sarah mabry 1850.png
1850 Union County SC Census

In the 1850 census, Sarah Fowler was living with her eldest son, Henry Richard Fowler.

  • Sarah Fowler: age 42
  • Henry Fowler: age 24

Sarah Mabry Fowler is absent from records after the 1850 census.  I do not know if she married again or died before the 1860 census was taken.

Henry Richard Fowler was a young man but obviously adept at buying and selling land as the following documents support:

In July 1849, Julia Fowler Sprouse, B. Elbert Fowler, and Mary Jane Fowler sold their interest of their grandfather Ephraim Fowler’s estate to their brother Henry Richard Fowler.  They each received ten dollars for their share.  Three months later, in October 1849, Henry Richard Fowler sold his interest in the estate to William Bevis for fifty dollars.  The sale included two slaves, Mahala and Dorcas Elenoir.

In 1850, Henry Richard Fowler and Tillman Millwood (son of Ephraim Fowler’s daughter Milly Fowler Millwood) sold 260 acres of land for $508.25 to Coleman Hames (son of Ephraim Fowler’s daughter Lydia Fowler Hames).

In 1851, Henry Richard Fowler and Tillman Millwood sold 260 acres of land for $925 to Edwin M. Gregory.  

Henry Richard Fowler served in and survived the Civil War.  He enlisted in Company E, South Carolina 7th Infantry Battalion.


Screen Shot 2019-07-13 at 11.33.37 AM.png
Nancy Ann Elizabeth Farr

Henry Richard Fowler married Nancy Ann Elizabeth Farr (1840-1923), daughter of Waitus Farr (1799-1864) and Nancy Gallman (1800-1888).   This marriage probably took place in 1860.

Nancy Fowler gave birth to ten children during her marriage to Henry Richard Fowler.




  • John Henry Fowler 1861-1914
  • William Gist Fowler 1863-1923
  • David Nicholas Fowler 1866-1950
  • Sarah Catherine Fowler 1867-1950
  • James Thomas Fowler 1871-1954
  • Louise Fowler 1873-1953
  • Lucy Caroline Fowler 1876-1963
  • Richard Franklin Fowler 18780-1961
  • Nannie Mahala Fowler 1881-1973
  • Mary Ellen Darling Fowler 1885-1984


Screen Shot 2019-07-13 at 11.55.43 AM.png
Standing left to right: Louise, Sallie, Richard, and Al Hames the caretaker; Seated left to right: Nannie Mahala, Mary Darling, Nancy Farr Fowler, grandson Robert, and Aunt Margaret, the last of the Fowler slaves.

Screen Shot 2019-07-13 at 10.18.08 PM.png


Butler Brooks Going

Butler Brooks Going (1856-1931) was the son of William George Washington Going and Nancy Minverva Dupree.  He was married three times — to Tompie (last name unknown), Sarah Ethel Farr, and Beatrice Wilburn.

On December 25, 1885, a small group of men were gathered in Farr’s store-house owned by the son of David James “D.J.”  Farr.  The store was located on the plantation owned by D.J .Farr in Pea Ridge.  Henry Richard Fowler was there along with Mr. Farr, F.M. Adams. and James Haney.  Other men may have been present.

There were relationships by marriage between the principle players: Henry Richard Fowler was the brother-in-law of D.J. Farr, and Butler Brooks Going had been married to D.J. Farr’s niece.

Butler Brooks Going arrived at the store, and harsh words were spoken by Going and Fowler.  There had been a long history of bad blood between the two men that included a land deal gone wrong and threats of killing the other.

Henry Richard Fowler was a large man, and even at the advanced age of sixty, he had a toughness about him that intimidated men many years his junior.

The end result of the heated exchange between the two men — Butler Brooks Going pulled out a pistol and shot Henry Richard Fowler in his left shoulder.  Fowler exclaimed, “Dave, I am shot!”  and collapsed.

Butler Brooks Going shot and killed Henry Richard Fowler on Christmas Day.

At the coroner’s inquest later that day in the Henry Richard Fowler home, Dr. M.W. Culp examined the body and determined that the gunshot wound was the cause of death.

The testimony of the trial was reported in the Union Times on March 12, 1886.  It must have been a very long day in that courtroom as the list of the men testifying was long indeed:

Dr. M.W. Culp, D.J. Farr, F.M. Adams, John Arrowwood, Asa Hutson, T.W, Giles, F.R. Cudd, E.F. Vaughn, Dr. Robert Little, W.L. Askew, L.L. Sprouse, A.A. Gault, Robert Gregory, Jasper Acock, J.G. Long, J.E. Meng, Richard Askew, James Haney, Shelton Adis, Charles H. Kidd, Neil Palmer, G.W. Going, W.E. Ray, S.S, Cudd, James, Adams, John L. Young, Major B.H. Rice, Thomas J. Harris, Robert Lawson, Thomas N. Kelly, Newell Smith, A.G. Bently, William Gallman, William Koon, and the defendant Butler Brooks Going.

Not only was half of the Pea Ridge community on the stand that day, many of them were related through blood or marriage… or both.

Anyone who knew Butler Brooks Going knew that he was no angel.  He had fought with his brother, had another man arrested, treated his children badly, and made many threats around the community against the life of Henry Richard Fowler.

The problem was the reputation of Henry Richard Fowler.  Almost every man who testified that day seemed to be reading from the same script:

  • If Fowler hated a man, he would hate him with all his will”
    • “Fowler was not a peaceable man”
      • “Fowler had a vindictive spirit”
        • “Fowler was an overbearing man”
          • “Fowler was quarrelsome”
            • “Fowler pulled out Wiley Wood’s eye”
              • “Fowler was known as the Bully of Pea Ridge”

Even when his friends took the stand, it was the same: “Fowler was a peaceable man unless he was drinking, then …”

It did not help that Henry Richard Fowler had also gone around telling everyone that he, the BULLY OF PEA RIDGE, planned to kill Butler Brooks Going.

The jury began considering the evidence at 8 p.m. and returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY at half past eleven.  Butler Brooks Going was a free man and Henry Richard Fowler lay in his grave with no justice.  Nancy Ann Elizabeth Farr Fowler had children to raise alone, the youngest only eight months old when her father was murdered.

Henry Richard Fowler was buried at Foster’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Pea Ridge.

  • Henry Ellis Fowler 1746-1808 m. Catherine Puckett
    • Ephraim Fowler 1765-1822 m. Nancy Moseley
      • Ellis Fowler 1805-before 1840 m. Sarah (Sallie) Mabry 1808–after 1850
        • Henry Richard Fowler 1825–1885 m. Nancy Ann Elizabeth Farr 1840–1923
          • John Henry Fowler 1861–1914 m.  Eunice Lawson 1869–1919
            • Henry Richard Fowler 1889–1917
            • Robert K Fowler 1891–1917
            • Mamie Fowler 1893–1951 m. William Oscar Horne 1892–1966
              • Robert Horne 1918–
              • Gladys Horne 1921–
              • James Cecil Horne 1921–1953 m. Alta Jones
              • William Fowler “Billy” Horne 1923–2005
              • Peggy Horne 1927–2003
              • Sarah Ann Horne 1930–
            • Carrie Fowler 1895–1975 m. James F Faulkner 1891–
              • James Fowler Faulkner 1924–2000
              • Hugh Grier Faulkner 1927–1993
              • Rachel Faulkner 1929–
              • John Wilson Faulkner 1932–1989
            • Vera Fowler 1897–1977
            • William Fred Fowler 1900–1968
            • Mary Fowler 1903–1995
            • John Wilson Fowler 1906–1975
            • James Glenn Fowler 1909–1968
          • William Gist Fowler 1863–1923
          • David Nicholas Fowler 1866–1950
          • Sarah Catherine Fowler 1867–1950
          • James Thomas Fowler 1871–1954
          • Louise Fowler 1873–1953
          • Lucy Caroline Fowler 1876–1963
          • Richard Franklin Fowler 1878–1961 m. Mamie Aycock 1886–1972
            • Richard States Rights Fowler 1910–1962
            • Norris Rogers “Buddy” Fowler 1912–1997
            • Harold C Fowler 1914–1988 m.  Carolyn Eugenia Brown 1917–2006
              • Julian Harold Fowler 1944–2006
            • Rowland Franklin Fowler 1915–1917
            • Thesis Fowler 1916–1989
            • Julian Campbell Fowler 1918–1937
          • Nannie Mahala Fowler 1881–1973
          • Mary Ellen Darling Fowler 1885–1974



STEPHEN FOWLER (1798-1866) son of Ephraim

On April 12, 1861, the first shot of the American Civil War was fired just before sunrise at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.  Eight days later, Professor Thaddeus Lowe left Cincinnati Ohio in his hot air balloon, The Enterprise, bound for Washington, D.C.   After traveling nine hours and eight hundred miles, he landed “slightly” off course in the Kelton farmlands of Union County, South Carolina.

The Enterprise

There has been much written about Professor Lowe’s balloon landing on April 20, 1861.  The locals erected a historical marker, and more than one hundred and fifty years after the landing, an occasional newspaper article recalling the event makes its way into print.

There was no photographer present to preserve Professor Lowe’s arrival.  Instead, we are fortunate to have a visual “snapshot”—his observations of the locals: the gun toting men who met him in the field with mostly reddish long hair and beards…their rotund stomachs covered with blue jean clothing and their heads with slouch hats.

While many of the men cowered behind bushes, two brave women, Theresa Hames and Susie Palmer, took hold of the rope that Professor Lowe dropped to the earth, and pulled him out of the sky.  Once he had convinced the frightened spectators who had witnessed the balloon’s descent that he was neither a Yankee spy nor the devil, he and his hot air balloon were loaded upon a large, lumbering wagon pulled by six mules and driven by Stephen Fowler to Unionville.

Stephen Fowler was the third son born to Ephraim Fowler and Nancy Moseley. His year of birth fell around 1798 to 1800, and his place of birth was Union County, South Carolina.  He was married twice–his first wife being Sarah, and his second, Letticia.

One of the rope-pulling women, Susie Palmer, was a daughter of Stephen Fowler and his first wife SarahMary Susan Fowler was born c. 1834, married Jackson Palmer, and died June 30, 1918.  She was buried in the Haney graveyard in Kelton, not so very far from the site of the balloon landing.

Theresa Hames, the other rope-pulling woman, was the daughter of Stephen’s sister, Lydia Fowler Hames and Charles Hames.   Theresa Hames was recorded in the 1860 Union County census living at Mount Joy……the present site of the Balloon Landing historical marker.

In my search for records of Stephen Fowler, his mention in the Balloon Landing saga is an extraordinary glimpse into a day in his life.  It is most fortunate for us that he and the two brave female members of his family were involved with the events on April 20, 1861, and even more so that their names were recorded for posterity.

There is another document that I am extremely grateful to have found–the estate settlement petition made by his second wife, Letticia.  This document gives us the first names of his two wives, and the names of his sons and daughters.


    Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 6.30.05 PM

”The petition of Letticia Fowler, widow of STEPHEN FOWLER, late of the District and State aforesaid, dec’d, would respectfully show unto your court that STEPHEN Fowler, late of the District and State aforesaid, deceased as before mentioned, departed this life intestate on or about the 13th day of June 1866, leaving heirs surviving, his heirs at law, the following persons, viz, your Petitioner his widow, MARION FOWLER and LOUISA FOWLER, children of your Petitioner, MOORMAN FOWLER, HENRY FOWLER, SHELTON FOWLER, CANSADY WRIGHT, SUSAN PALMER, and BRIANT FOWLER, children of SARAH FOWLER, dec’d former wife of intestate;”

From the above document, we learn that Stephen Fowler was married first to Sarah, and they had sons Moorman, Henry, Shelton, and Bryant; and daughters (Mary) Susan (married to Jackson Palmer), and Cansady (married to Henry Wright).

Stephen’s second wife was Letticia who petitioned the court to settle the estate after his death in 1866.  Stephen and Letticia had son Marion, and daughter Louisa.

Census records seem to indicate that Stephen and Sarah may have had more children not mentioned in the estate settlement.  There is circumstantial evidence that there may have been a daughter (or daughter-in-law) named Caroline and a son (or son-in-law) named Jack Fowler.

What else do we know about Stephen Fowler?

  • In 1832, he mortgaged 100 acres located on Fannins Creek to William Gault for a $26 debt.  This property adjoined land owned by William Gault, James Millwood, Mark Wood, William Fowler, and other land owned by himself.
  • Previous to October 1, 1849, he sold his one-eighth share of his father’s estate to James Farr.

Stephen Fowler died June 13, 1866; his possessions were appraised in September, and put up for auction on November 30, 1866.  His widow Letticia purchased most of the estate, buying 30 pounds of cotton, 12 bushels of corn, 1 bed and furniture, 1 cupboard, a spinning wheel, a slab and a box, a table and 3 chairs, 2 jars and some nails, a lot of irons, and a plow, a vase, 3 earthen plates, 3 hogs, and a mule.

Son Morman Fowler purchased 2 iron wedges, fodder, and a mule.  Son Marion Fowler bought a lot of irons, some hoops, farming tools, and “truck” wheels.

Dr. Robert Little walked away with some old irons, 3 hogs, and a wagon that sold for $30.25……perhaps the very wagon that Stephen Fowler used to transport Professor Lowe’s hot air balloon to Unionville in 1861!

The land that Stephen Fowler owned was 85 acres, more or less, bounded by land owned by David Gallman, the estate of A.F. Haney, and Thomas Whitesides.  Widow Letticia Fowler purchased the land at auction on November 4, 1867 for $110.

William Bevis was the executor of the estate.  He was a neighbor but also had other connections to the Fowler family.  William Bevis married three times, the second wife being Zilla Hames, daughter of Ephraim Fowler’s daughter Sarah Fowler Hames.  His daughter Selena Bevis married William G. Fowler, and his son John M. Bevis married his niece Vesta Fowler (daughter of Selena Bevis and William G. Fowler).

William Bevis had been deeply involved with the final settlement of Ephraim Fowler’s estate during the years 1846 to 1899.   His ties to the Fowler family were many and complicated.


stephen fowler 1830
1830 Union County SC Census

The Union County census of 1830 is the first in which Stephen Fowler was listed as head of household.  It was a rather large household and may have included his wife Sarah’s mother and two or more of Sarah’s brothers.  Below is fact combined with a little speculation of the persons living in the household:

  1. Stephen Fowler:   male 30-39
  2. Sarah Fowler:    female 20-29
  3. Henry Fowler:    male 10-15
  4. Shelton Fowler:    male 10-15
  5. Cansady Fowler:    female 5-10
  6. Bryant Fowler:    male 5-10
  7. male 5-10
  8. Morman Fowler:    male <5
  9. male <5
  10. female <5
  11. Sarah’s mother:   female 50-59
  12. Sarah’s brother:   male 20-29
  13. Sarah’s brother:   male 15-20



stephen fowler 1840
1840 Union County SC Census

There were fewer persons living in the Stephen Fowler household of 1840.  His wife in 1840 could have been either Sarah or Letticia.  At one time, I believed that Sarah was the female listed as age 30-39.  At this present time, I speculate that Sarah had died before 1840, Stephen had married Letticia, and their daughter Louisa was the female >5 recorded in the census of 1840.

  1. Stephen Fowler:   male 40-49
  2. Letticia Fowler:   female 30-39
  3. Bryant Fowler:   male 15-20
  4. male 15-20
  5. Morman Fowler:   male 10-15
  6. Caroline ? Fowler:   female 5-10
  7. Susan Fowler:   female 5-10
  8. Louisa ? Fowler:   female <5



stephen fowler 1850
1850 Union County SC Census

The 1850 census defines the Stephen Fowler household with the names of all persons living within.  I only question the presence of Caroline.  Was she a daughter, or a daughter-in law?  Caroline and Jack Fowler were the future parents of Clementine Fowler, born in 1870.  If Caroline was a daughter, why was she not mentioned in the Stephen Fowler estate settlement of 1866?  And why was Jack missing in census records in 1850?

  1. Stephen Fowler: 50
  2. Letticia Fowler: 29
  3. Caroline Fowler: 17
  4. Susan Fowler: 15
  5. Louisa Fowler: 10
  6. Marion Fowler: 3



steven 1860.png
1860 Union County SC Census

Stephen Fowler and his family were recorded in the 1860 census.  The upcoming decade would bring many changes to the family.  The Civil War began the next year, Stephen would meet his death six years later, leaving Letticia a widow, and son Marion would become involved in the KKK post war, and would eventually serve prison time in upstate New York for his Klan activities.

  1. Stephen Fowler: 62
  2. Letticia Fowler: 47
  3. Louisa Fowler: 19
  4. Marion Fowler: 15



letticia 1870
1870 Union County SC Census

Stephen Fowler died in 1866, and his widow Lettica was head of household in 1870.  Son Marion Fowler had married and was head of his own household.  Daughter Louisa Fowler still lived with her mother.  There were three young girls in the home—Mary, Etta, and Clementine Clementine was the daughter of Jack and Caroline Fowler.  Were Mary and Etta also the children of this couple, or the daughters of Louisa?

  1. Letticia Fowler: 61
  2. Louisa Fowler: 26
  3. Mary Fowler: 10
  4. Etta Fowler: 5
  5. Clementine Fowler: 8 months



bentley letticia
1880 Union County SC Census

The 1880 census raises more questions than it answers.  It perhaps gives us a hint of Letticia’s origins.  She was recorded as Tishie Fowler, age 71 and disabled with paralysis, in the household of William Bentley in 1880.  Was Letticia a “Bentley”before she married Stephen Fowler?  Eleven year old Clementine Fowler was also living in the household with the William Bentley family.   Was Clementine the (step) granddaughter of Letticia?  This conclusion depends on Caroline Fowler or Jack Fowler being a child of Stephen Fowler and Sarah.

Etta Fowler, age 14, was living in the Shelton Addis household next door.  Shelton Addis had married Eliza BentleyEliza’s sister Josephine Bentley was also living in the home.

Why were Letticia, Clementine, and Etta Fowler in these households?

All told, there were four households containing Bentley family members next to each other in 1880.  The first three contained extended family members, and the fourth consisted of a single female…..Lettie Bentley  (named after her aunt Letticia Fowler??)

Clementine Fowler was connected to the Stephen Fowler family.  The big question is how?  Was Caroline a daughter of Stephen, or was Jack a son?

It may be of some importance and must be mentioned that there was a Jackson Fowler in Cobb County, Georgia in 1870 with possible ties to the Ephraim Fowler family. As it often is in genealogy, the path is twisted and takes many turns, but please bear with me.  The conclusion is worth the journey.

Ephraim Fowler’s son, Ellis Fowler, had a daughter named Julia Fowler, born circa 1828.  Julia married William Sprouse and the couple moved from Union County, SC to Georgia in the years between 1850 to 1860.

Ephraim Fowler’s daughter Milly Fowler married James Millwood.  They had a son named Tillman Millwood born in 1827.  Tillman married a woman named Mary, and a daughter was born to them in 1858.  The daughter was named Rameth Millwood.

Three years later, on November 22, 1862, Tillman Millwood was killed while on picket post duty during the Civil War.

Fast forward to 1870.  Cobb County, Georgia.  Julia Fowler Sprouse and her family are living in this county adjacent to Jackson Fowler, wife Mary, daughter Emily, and Rameth Millwood, daughter of the deceased Tillman Millwood.

Bottom line: Ephraim Fowler’s great-granddaughter Rameth Millwood was living in the household of Jackson Fowler in 1870 next to Ephraim Fowler’s granddaughter Julia Fowler Sprouse.

So…..who was this Jackson Fowler and how was he connected to the Ephraim Fowler family?  Was he the “Jack” Fowler, father of Clementine Fowler?  Was he a son of Ephraim’s son Stephen?  Was he a Fowler cousin who married Stephen’s daughter Caroline?

And MaryTillman Millwood was married to Mary.  So was Jackson Fowler.  Was this the same Mary?  There is an age discrepancy in census records so I am not sure about this.  It is possible but more research is needed.

From the book, Philippi and Its People – 1888-1988 – The First Hundred Years by Anne Lawson Patrick:

clem fowler
L. Clementine Fowler


“Clementine Cudd, a daughter of Jack and Caroline Fowler, was born in Union County, SC on December 11, 1870. Orphaned as a small child, she was raised by Bill and Nancy Ann Bentley of the Adamsburg section of Union County. Mrs. Bentley taught her many skills, for which Mrs. Cudd became well-known: knitting, quilting, weaving, spinning, and tatting.

Clementine married Lemuel C. Cudd (1860-1917), who was called “Chud.” Making their home first below Kelton and later in Union, the Cudds raised ten children: Mary Susan; Mae Bell; Ben Tillman; Pearler; Rodney; Winifred Winthrop; Alice Elizabeth; Aileen Lucille; Pauline; and Madora. Mrs. Cudd died on May 26, 1947, and was buried in Rosemont Cemetery in Union.”

The Descendants of Stephen Fowler

Steven Fowler 1800-1866 m. Sarah d. before 1840; m. Letticia

  • Henry Fowler 1816–1880 m. Lucinda Wright 1821–
    • Sarah Ann Fowler 1840–1919 m. George Alexander Goforth 1832–1876
      • Sarah Jane Goforth 1859–1864
      • Nancy Georgianna “Nannie” Goforth 1861–1938 m Joseph Edward Johnson Foster 1865–1933
        • Sallie Ann Foster 1882–1960
        • Lilly Elizabeth Foster 1885–
        • George Washington Foster 1888–1964 m. Hettie Belle Garner 1891–1961
          • Jessy Foster 1909–
        • Margaret Jane Foster 1890–1963
        • Mildred Lucendie Foster 1892–1954
        • Mamie Eva Foster 1895–1993
        • Willie Blanche Foster 1898–1984
        • Mary Musgrave Foster 1900–
        • Harry Goodin Foster 1903–
        • John Boyce Foster 1905–1959
      • J. Wesley Goforth 1862–1864
      • Alexander Goforth 1865–1865
      • Susan Edwina Mills Goforth 1866–1947
      • Elizabeth Malicy “Lizzie” Goforth 1867–1962
      • Angeline Goforth 1875–1907
      • Mary Helen Goforth
    • John Fowler 1843–
    • Newton Fowler 1846–
    • Wesley Fowler 1859–
    • Mary J. Fowler 1864–
    • James Edward Fowler 1866–1950 m. Sallie Owensby 1875–1958
      • Charles Henry Fowler 1898–1966
      • Lula Fowler 1900–1995
      • Joel Glenn Fowler 1902–1918
      • Mary Lee Fowler 1910–1994
      • Gladys Fowler 1915–1971
  •  Shelton Fowler 1818–1880
  • Cansady Fowler 1824–1870 m. Henry Wright 1820–
    • Amanda Jane Wright 1846–
    • Augusta Canzada Wright 1847–1919
    • Gadbery (G.B.) Wright 1850–1918
    • Joseph Wright 1852–
    • Gassaway Wright 1855–
    • Wade Wright 1859–
  • Bryant Fowler 1824–1906 m.  Elizabeth Wright 1824–1914
    • Gillman Fowler 1852–1924 m. Julia Ann Wood 1859–1913; m. Carrie Guyton 1877-1968
      • John Wesley Fowler 1873–1943 m. Hester Bridges 1889–1951
        • Dewey Fowler 1905–
        • Broadus S. Fowler 1909–1972
        • Ruth Fowler 1914–
        • Paul Kenneth Switzer Fowler 1920–2005
        • Vera Fowler 1922–
        • Daniel Fowler 1924–
        • Clara B Fowler 1928–
        • Nellie Fowler 1929–
        • Charles Fowler 1930–
      • Mary Elizabeth Fowler 1876–1958
      • Nancy A. Fowler 1880–
      • William Thompson Fowler 1882–1962
      • Katie Fowler 1884–
      • Asalee Olivia Fowler 1888– m. Joe Bascomb Rineheart 1882–1959
        • Letha Rhienheart 1914–2012
        • Carl H. Rhinehart 1916–1985
      • Lara Fowler 1895–
      • Benjamin Fowler 1897–1954
      • Sallie Fowler 1909–
      • Samuel Fowler 1910–
      • Noah Fowler 1911–1975
      • Estell Fowler 1914–
      • Cole L Fowler 1917–1949
    • Isaac Fowler 1859–1924 m. Mary Emaline “Molly” Blackwood 1863–1932
      • Hettie Rodoxxa Fowler 1877–
      • Stewart Isaac Fowler 1887–1968 m. Lindy Horn 1885–1962
        • Johnnie Mallory Fowler 1906–1989 m. Dewitt C. Cudd 1898–1977
          • Virginia Evelyn Cudd 1927– m. Francis Monroe Froelich
          • Samuel Jackson Cudd 1928– m. Delores Irene Watts
        • Sammie Fowler 1909–
      • Lillie Fowler 1888–1960 m. Thomas Blackwell
        • John Earl Blackwell 1910–
        • Charlie Blackwell 1913–
        • Paul Blackwell 1916-
        • Mimie L Blackwell 1919–
      • Maganola Balm “Maggie” Fowler 1890–
      • Mamie Fowler 1894–
      • Nannie Rogenia Fowler 1894–1976 m. James Benjamin Harris 1890–1948
        • Jessie Mae Harris 1912–1985
        • Robert Harris 1917–1997
        • Carrie Harris 1920–1966
        • Berdie Harris 1922–
        • Francis Benjamin Harris 1924–2008
        • Auther Harris 1927–
        • Margaret Katherine Harris 1930–2004
        • Juanita “Cricket” Harris 1933–2013
      • Willie Fowler 1897–
      • Carrie Fowler 1902–1962 m. Thomas J. Jett Sr 1901–1971
      • Edward Fowler 1904–
    • Emma Fowler 1860–1927 m. H Clem Mabry 1859–1921; m. Goodman Wilkins 1859-1916
      • John Bryant Fowler 1882–1947 m. Ina Jane Street 1878–
        • Zennie Fowler 1903–1985
        • Lulu Fowler 1907–
        • Virgil Fowler 1910–
        • George Fowler 1915–
        • Onie Fowler
      • Steadman Lee “Steady” Fowler 1884–1971 m. Lydia Mae Kinsey 1896–1960
        • Clyde Fowler 1908–1983
        • Thomas Bryant Fowler 1914–2001
        • Albert Dewey Fowler 1917–1997
        • Stead Lee “S.L.” Fowler Jr. 1924–2009
        • Roy Fowler
        • Ruth Fowler
      •  Eva A Wilkins 1888–1970 m. William Edward Osteen 1878–1943
        • Grady Lee Osteen 1909–
        • Ray Osteen 1912–
        • Sina E Osteen 1915–
        • Marion Osteen 1918–
        • Pierce Osteen 1918–
        • Virginia Osteen 1922–
        • Solomon Osteen 1928–
        • Herman Osteen 1930–
        • Harold Osteen 1930-
      • Bessie G Wilkins 1890–
      • Albert Horace Wilkins 1896–1947
    • Harriet Fowler 1861– m. James Monroe Mize 1859–1926
      • Logan Mize 1881–1921
      • Ola Mize1884–
    • Joseph Fowler 1865–1930
  • Morman Fowler 1829-after 1870
    • Thomas Fowler 1853-1937 m. Sarah Sallie Moore 1869–1960
      • Fowler 1889–1900
      • Clyde Thomas Fowler 1896–1989 m. Clara Austin 1902–1985
        • Curtis Ross Fowler 1921–2004 m. Dorothy Marie “Dot” Vaughan 1928–2015
        • Marie Fowler 1925–1994 m. Carl William Gregory Sr  1922–2010
      • Jessie M Fowler 1897–1986 m. Wallace Thomas Alexander 1897–1958
        • Albert Alexander 1919–
        • Melvin Alexander 1919–1981
        • Francis Alexander 1922–2007
        • Madeline Alexander 1925–1991
        • Thomas Alexander 1931–
        • Rosanell Alexander 1936–
        • Carrol Alexander 1940–
      • Rose Mae Fowler 1908–
  • Caroline Fowler 1833– m. Jack Fowler
    • L. Clementine Fowler 1870-1947  m. Lemuel Cyrus Cudd
  • Mary Susan Fowler 1836–1918 m. Jackson P Palmer 1836–1907
    • Edward Palmer 1856–
    • Elizabeth “Lizzie” Palmer 1857–1931
    • Robert P. Palmer 1859–1926
    • Isaac P “Ike” Palmer 1860–1933
    • Joseph “Joe” Palmer 1866–1937
  • Louisa Fowler 1840–
    • Mary Fowler 1860-
    • Etta Fowler 1865-
  • Marion Fowler 1847–1900 m. Frances Horne 1845–1928
    • Hattie Fowler 1870–1923
    • Annie L Fowler 1872–
    • William Fowler 1879–1934 m. Leona James 1877–
      • William F Fowler Jr. 1903–1973 m. Annie G. 1902–1988
      • Fred Fowler 1925–
      • Marie Fowler 1904–1983 m. Rexford Blalock 1905–1977
      • Fred (Boots) Fowler 1907–1986 m. Margaret Bishop 1911–1986Jennie Lee Fowler 1934–
      • Ruby Belle Fowler 1912–1979 m. Fred Carline Mahaffey 1907–
    • Lola Fowler 1882–1966 m.  Fernando Fowler 1870–1931
      • Jesse Peter Fowler 1898–1973 m. Estelle Johnson 1901–1955
        • Walter Lee “Pete” Fowler 1919–1988
      • Lillie Mae Fowler 1904–1991 m. James Walter Brown 1898–1986
        • Beulah Mae Brown 1920–1996
        • Dorothy Elizabeth Brown 1927–1992
        • Charles Walter Brown 1935–2002
      • Clarence Fowler 1909–1963 m. Daisy Belle Cannon 1906–1983
        • Helen Marie Fowler 1927–2006
        • Ted Fowler 1930–2000
        • Clyde Julian Fowler 1932–2002
        • Bobby Dean Fowler 1940–1994
      • Franklin Fowler 1910–1966 m. Ida May Johnson 1911–
        • Margaret Louise Fowler 1928–1991
        • William Fowler 1934–
      • Ruby Fowler 1913–1984
      • Jack Fowler 1915–
      • George Fowler 1916–1997 m. Lillie Bell Revels; m. Margaret 1917-2005
        • Evelyn Fowler 1931–2006
        • Carroll Fowler
        • Johnny Fowler
      • Nellie Fowler 1918–2001 m. Cecil E Willis; m. James Garfield Allen 1920-1994
        • James Edward Willis 1935–1994
      • Ruth Fowler 1920–2015 m. Jim Dean Gilbert
      • John Arthur Fowler  1922–2007 m. Virginia Ruth Burch 1923–2012
    • Addie Fowler 1885–
    • Lela Fowler 1887–

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FOWLER (1844-before 1908) Married to Sarah Nix

Benjamin Fowler was born in 1862 in Cherokee County Georgia.  He was the son of B. Elbert Fowler and Malinda Susannah Newbury.  He was a direct descendant of Henry Ellis Fowler of Union County South Carolina.

Through the use of the wonderful research tool of yDNA testing, the Henry Ellis Fowler family of Union County South Carolina has been proven to be of the yDNA Haplogroup I-Lineage IV.

  • Henry Ellis Fowler 1846-1808
    • Ephraim Fowler 1765-1822 
      • Ellis Fowler 1805-before 1840 
        • B. Elbert Fowler 1830-1882 
          • Benjamin Fowler b. 1862

B. ELBERT FOWLER (1830-1882) Son of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Mabry

This article is not about him.

The Benjamin Franklin Fowler whom this article is about has been somewhat of a research mystery.  Until now.

I shall go back a generation or two for a better understanding of this family…..

Jacob Lewis (1772-1857) was born in Guilford, North Carolina and moved with his parents to the Pendleton District in South Carolina.  After the death of his father, he and his family moved to Pickens County South Carolina.  He married Ailsie Leonard (1771-1857) and together they raised a large family.

Jacob and his wife Ailsie had a son born in 1797, Abner Lewis, who married Mary Breazeale Gibson (1804-1877), daughter of Absalom Gibson (1774-1856) and Fanny Alexander (1774-1841).  The Gibson and Alexander lines have been well researched.

Abner Lewis was born in Randolph County North Carolina, lived in Pickens County, South  Carolina in 1830 and 1840, before moving to Sonoraville, Gordon County, Georgia prior to 1850.  He died in Gordon County in 1889.

Abner Lewis and Mary Breazeale Gibson had a daughter named Francis Lewis born 1823.  Francis was born in Pickens County, South Carolina, and married William B. Barton there in 1841.  Their marriage announcement was printed in the Pendleton Messenger.

It must be said here that the Barton family of Pickens County, South Carolina and their related lines from North Carolina have been very well researched, and this research has been backed up with an extraordinary amount of yDNA testing.  The yDNA Haplogroup for this Barton family is R1b.

William Barton and his wife Francis Lewis had a son named Benjamin Franklin Barton, born 1844/1845.  

I’ve not yet delved deeply into finding the parents of William Barton, nor do I know what happened to him after his marriage to Francis Lewis.  I do know that Francis Lewis (age 27) and her son Benjamin Barton (age 5) were living in the household with her parents, Abner and Mary Lewis, and her siblings in 1850 in the 12th Division of Gordon County, Georgia.  I do not know where William Barton was in 1850; he was missing and I presume dead.

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1850 Gordon County Georgia Census

Francis Lewis Barton married Jeremiah “Jere” Dempsey before 1860.  It was not the first marriage for either; Jeremiah Dempsey had been married to Julia A. McCall and their family included two sons and four daughters.

In 1860, Francis was recorded in the Calhoun County, Alabama census with her husband Jeremiah Dempsey, three children from his previous marriage, her son Benjamin Franklin Barton now known as Franklin Dempsey, and the three children she had with Jeremiah DempseyCharles DempseyJessie Dempsey and Mary Camilia Dempsey.

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1860 Calhoun County Alabama Census

Recorded as Ben F. Barton in the 1870, census, Benjamin Franklin Barton lived in the household with his mother, Francis Lewis Barton Dempsey, his stepfather Jeremiah Dempsey, and his three half siblings.  James Lewis, the younger brother of Francis, also lived in the home in Gordon County, Georgia.

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1870 Gordon County Georgia Census

Benjamin F. Barton lived in the household of his stepfather Jeremiah Dempsey and his mother Francis in Sonoraville, Gordon County, Georgia in 1880.

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1880 Gordon County Georgia Census

Jeremiah Dempsey died October 13, 1881 and was laid to rest at the Bethlehem Baptist Church cemetery in Sonoraville, Georgia.

Abner Lewis and his wife Mary Breazeale Gibson, parents of Francis, were also buried at Bethlehem.  Their son Joab Lewis (1825-1910) and his wife Phalba L. Barton (1829-1900) were buried there as well.

The paper trail abruptly ends for Benjamin F. Barton and his mother Francis Lewis Barton Dempsey after 1880. Perhaps Francis Lewis Barton Dempsey was buried beside her husband Jeremiah with no headstone.  But what happened to Benjamin Barton?

I must divert for a moment to Joab Lewis, brother of Francis.  His wife Phalba L. Barton was the daughter of Bailey Anderson Barton (1795-1847) who was the son of Benjamin Franklin Barton (1760-1818) and wife Dorcas Anderson (1773-1849).  These were Pickens County, South Carolina Bartons and William B. Barton, first husband of Francis, was no doubt  very closely connected.

Exit Benjamin Franklin Barton.  There are simply no records to be found of him after the 1880 census.  It is possible that he died in the decades between 1880 to 1900 and that he lies in an unmarked grave in the Bethlehem cemetery.  But I don’t think so!  What has been written up to now is documented fact.

The following sentence is speculation based on circumstantial evidence and the solid foundation of yDNA testing:

Benjamin Franklin Barton changed his name to Benjamin Franklin Fowler after the 1880 census was taken and before his marriage in 1881.

Enter Benjamin Franklin Fowler.   B.F. Fowler and Sarah Nix were married on December 4, 1881 in Cherokee County, Georgia.  Gordon County, Georgia and Cherokee County, Georgia form a “four corners” with Pickens and Barton counties; to be clear, these counties are very close to each other.

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Sarah Matilda Nix (1861-1946) was the daughter of Charles Nix (1776–1865) and Christiana Peterson (b. 1830).  Charles Nix was formerly of South Carolina but lived in Cherokee County, Georgia before 1840.  Charles Nix was much older than his wife Christiana; she was his second wife.  The May-December couple had three children together; Sarah Matilda was the youngest.

The marriage certificate of B.F. Fowler and Sarah Nix is below:

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Upon closer examination, it appears that the name “Fowler” has been altered, perhaps a name was erased and written again.  Why?  Was the name first written as “Barton” then rewritten as “Fowler”?

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 14.04.32 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 12.45.30 PM.png
Sarah M. Nix


I am currently in the process of searching for reasons that Benjamin Franklin Barton may have changed his name to Benjamin Franklin Fowler.  I can certainly think of many reasons, but I need to know if and why he did this.

It is known that Benjamin Franklin Fowler and Sarah Nix moved their family from Georgia to Tennessee between the years 1893 to 1900.

In 1900, Ben F. Fowler lived in Civil District 10, Loudon County, Tennessee with his wife Sarah and their six children.  They had been married for 19 years, and Sarah had given birth nine times during the marriage.  Three of these children did not survive until 1900 and their names are unknown to me.

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1900 Loudon County TN Census

Benjamin Franklin Fowler died after the 1900 census was taken and before Sarah Fowler was listed in the 1908 Knoxville, Tennessee city directory as the widow of Frank Fowler.  In the 1910 census, Sarah was listed as a widow  in the household of her daughter Martha Christine Fowler Hickman and her son-in-law, James Hickman.  It was a most extended family, illustrated and explained below.

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1910 Knox County TN Census

Apparently, both James Hickman and Martha Christine Fowler had been married before as the census indicates this was a second marriage for them.  Ethel M. Fowler and William Fowler were listed as stepchildren to James Hickman.   Martha Christine was their mother.  Who was their father?  Sarah Nix Fowler lived in the home, and Ray Hickman, brother to James was in the household too.  Charles Fowler and Carrie Fowler, the youngest children of Sarah Nix Fowler, were also in the household.

Carrie Fowler had married William Dewey Smith before 1920, and Sarah Nix Fowler had moved in with them prior to the 1920 census.

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1920 Knox County TN Census


Sarah Nix Fowler remained in the household in 1930 with her daughter Carrie Fowler Smith and her son-in-law Dewey Smith, although the household had moved from Knoxville, Tennessee to Simpsonville, South Carolina.

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1930 Greenville County SC Census


Carrie Fowler Smith and Dewey Smith’s family had grown considerably, and the elderly Sarah Nix Fowler continued to live with them in 1940.

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1940 Greenville County SC Census

The following documents offer proof of the family of Benjamin Franklin Fowler and Sarah Nix Fowler.  Note that he was almost always referred to as “Franklin” Fowler.  Sarah Nix Fowler died in 1846 in Simpsonville, SC.  The first document is her Certificate of Death; the remaining ones are Certificates of Death for two of her children, Martha Christine Fowler Hickman and Charles A. Fowler, and a Delayed Certificate of Birth for her son Oscar Franklin Fowler.


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In the 1850 Cherokee County, Georgia Census, there are Nix, Barton, and  Fowler families who came from South Carolina.  I’ve not had time to analyze them, but I know in my heart that they are interconnected in many ways…

…an example:

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 11.23.24 AM.png

I have briefly analyzed the census taken in 1880, the year before B. F. Fowler married Sarah Nix.  Of course, I am looking for a logical explanation as to why a man would require a new surname.  I thought perhaps proximity to a Fowler family would offer a clue……

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 11.10.21 AM.png
1880 Cherokee County Georgia Census


The BLUE arrow is the family of Augustus Fowler (1846-1926).  Augustus was the son of William Benjamin Fowler (1824-1909).  Descendants of this Fowler line have yDNA tested and the Haplogroup does not match the Barton line or the Henry Ellis Fowler line.  Was there a connection between this Fowler family and the Barton or Nix families or only coincidence that the Fowler and Nix families were neighbors?

The ORANGE arrow points to the household of Lucy Nix, widow of John L. Nix (b. 1800), probable son of Charles Nix and his first wife Sarah.   John L. Nix would be an older half-brother to Sarah Nix (as Sarah was the daughter of Charles Nix and his second wife Christiana Peterson).  Complicated and confusing?  Absolutely.

The RED arrow indicates the family of Christiana Peterson Nix, widow of Charles Nix.  The household includes her three children, Sarah M. Nix being the youngest at eighteen.

There is no proof in the above three paragraphs that Benjamin Franklin Barton changed his name to Benjamin Franklin Fowler prior to his marriage to Sarah Nix in 1881; nor is there any logical reason that I can find, although I have to admit that I have not yet spent the time necessary to dig deeply.

We do have circumstantial evidence: Benjamin Franklin Barton is well documented from his birth in 1844 up until the 1880 census.  He disappears — and Benjamin Franklin Fowler appears a year later and is documented until around the time of his death in the very early 1900s.  Is that enough?  Absolutely not.

Circumstantial evidence relies on inference, and sometimes that’s all we get.  But fortunately for the researchers out there interested in this Fowler family line — we have more — we have yDNA and DNA is truth.

A direct Fowler male from this line has yDNA tested and the yDNA Haplogroup is R1b- Lineage II.  This lineage is referred to as the Fowler-Barton Lineage.

Yes, Benjamin Franklin Fowler is a direct descendant of the Barton family.  It seems very likely that he was born Benjamin Franklin Barton, and for reasons unknown to me at this moment, changed his surname to Fowler.

Benjamin Frankin Fowler is the Founder of a new line of Fowlers.  He was a true Patriarch!


William B. Barton m.  Francis Lewis 1823–1880

  • Benjamin Franklin Barton/Fowler 1844-before 1908 m. Sarah Matilda Nix 1861-1946
    • Martha Christine Fowler 1881–1947 m. James T. Hickman 1882-1923
      • Ethel M. Fowler 1901-
      • William T. Fowler 1905-
      • Paul Hickman 1910-
      • Elmer Hickman 1912-
      • Deila Mae Hickman 1914-1959
      • Helen Pauline Hickman 1916-2000
      • Mary Ruth Hickman 1920-199
    • John Wesley Fowler 1882–1954 m. Josephine Williams 1887-
      • Clyde Fowler 1907-
      • Floyd Fowler 1910–
      • Zola M Fowler 1913–
      • Elizabeth Fowler 1917–
      • Ray Fowler 1919–
      • Ruth Fowler 1920–
      • Robert Fowler 1923–
      • Harold Eugene Fowler 1925–
    • Lou C Fowler 1888– m. Oscar C. Cheek 1892–1959
      • Frank Benson Cheek 1916–1966
      • Judson Freeman Cheek 1918–1993
      • Ben Nettie Cheek 1924–1924
    • Arthur Francis Fowler 1889–1972 m. Addie Sue Murphy 1898-1973
    • Oscar Franklin Fowler 1889–1971 m. Etta Bane 1896–1969
      • James Arthur Ray Fowler 1912–2001
      • Edna Mae Fowler 1915–1931
      • William Franklin Fowler 1917–1917
      • Furman Lewis Fowler 1918–1990
      • Earl Truman Fowler 1920–1975
      • Mary Francis Fowler 1932–1987
    • Charles A Fowler 1895–1953 m. Rachel M. Young 1890-1975
      • Robert Wesley Fowler 1914-2008
      • Loyd Franklin Fowler 1920-1985
      • Joe Fowler 1924-2005
    • Carrie Malissa Fowler 1900–1987 m. William Dewey Smith 1897–1963
      • Homer Smith 1918–
      • Ethel Christine Smith 1920–1940
      • William D Smith 1923–1993
      • Charles L. Smith 1927–1995
      • Mildred Smith 1929–2012
      • Lilliam Lorena Smith 1932–1954
      • Daughter  Smith 1938–
      • Bobbie F. Smith 1938–2015
      • Alvin Dennis Smith 1941–2017





The GILLMAN FOWLERS of Union County, South Carolina

The title of this article —The GILLMAN FOWLERS of Union County, South Carolina — is a little misleading.  While predominately written about the Union County Gillman Fowlers, it is not exclusively about them.

There are two Gilmer Fowlers, one Gilmore Fowler, and two Gillman Whites.  And not all of the Gillman and variations thereof lived in Union County.  They did have one thing in common: they were all descendants of the Union County Fowler family from whom I descend; they were all related, father and sons, cousins, uncles and nephews.

The first known “Gillman” Fowler — at least known to me — was Thomas Gillman Fowler (1798-1880), a son of Godfrey Fowler and the grandson of Henry Ellis Fowler.

I am not the first to wonder: where did the name Gillman originate in my Fowler family and what significance did the name carry to be used over and over again throughout the generations?

My great grandfather was named Thomas Gillman Fowler.  He is number five on the list below.  He was called, simply, Gil Fowler.

The list below does not contain all of the Gillman Fowlers, I am sure.  Gillman, Gilmer, Gilmore and perhaps other slightly different spellings were probably given to many more Fowler men than I suspect.  I’ve decided to start with the “ones I know” and expand the list as I discover more.

The ultimate goal would be finding out why the name became important to my family.


  1. THOMAS GILLMAN FOWLER (1798-1880)  Son of Godfrey Fowler and Nannie Kelly; married Susannah Hames
  2. GILLMAN H. FOWLER (1822-1861)  Son of Thomas Gillman Fowler and Susannah Hames
  3. GILLMAN FOWLER (1852-1924) Son of Bryant Fowler and Elizabeth Wright; married Julia Ann Wood and Carrie Guyton
  4. ISAAC GILMER FOWLER (1852-1938) Son of Thomas Fowler and Sarah Elender Hames; married Rebecca Trotter and Susan Katherine Wilson
  5. THOMAS GILLMAN FOWLER (1858-1944)   Son of Thomas Fowler and Mary Fowler; married Lura Mabry
  6. GILLMAN L. FOWLER (1862-1937)   Son of Thomas G. Fowler and Martha Owens; married Ida Petty
  7. GILLMAN FOWLER (1863-after 1930)   Son of William Fowler and Charity Fowler
  8. HUGH GILMORE FOWLER (1885-1964)   Son of Isaac Fowler and Susan Katherine Wilson; married Sunie Hood
  9. THOMAS GILLMAN FOWLER (1919-1996)   Son of John Henry Fowler and Delia Dempsey; married Martha Moss and Callie Ruth Brown
  10. THOMAS GILMER FOWLER (1922-2017)



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more to come in the next few days


B. ELBERT FOWLER (1830-1882) Son of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Mabry

On Sunday, October 8, 1882, the old Hawkins iron bridge spanning the Little River in Cherokee County, Georgia collapsed from the weight of more than one hundred and fifty persons gathered to watch a baptism in the waters below.

Elbert Fowler was among the twenty five or so who were critically injured.  He was “badly mashed with a severe gash on the forehead; ribs broken…..will probably die.”

Did he die?  Was this “our” Elbert Fowler?  The time and place certainly fit.

B. Elbert Fowler was born circa 1830 in Union County, South Carolina, son of Ellis Fowler (1805-before 1840) and Sarah “Sallie” Mabry (1808-after 1850).  Ellis was the son of Ephraim Fowler and Nancy Moseley; and Ephraim Fowler was the son of Henry Ellis Fowler (1846-1808).

ELLIS FOWLER 1805-before 1840, son of Ephraim

Ellis and Sarah Mabry Fowler had four children before his early death:

  • Henry Richard Fowler 1825-1885
  • Julia Fowler 1828-1880
  • B. Elbert Fowler 1830- 1882
  • Mary Jane Fowler 1833- after 1850

Malinda Susannah Newbury (Newberry) was the daughter of Henry Newbury (1800- after 1880) and Malinda Millie Roberts (b. 1809).  The Henry Newbury family may have been living in Spartanburg County in 1830, and were in the Pinckneyville area of Union County by 1870.

B. Elbert Fowler — was “B” for Benjamin?  The name was passed on down the generations — married Malinda Susannah Newbury circa 1850/1851.  They had eight children during their marriage, four daughters, then four sons:

  • Mary Fowler 1852– before 1900
  • Texanna Jane Fowler 1856–1923
  • Susan Northa Fowler 1858– before 1900
  • Harriett Fowler 1861– before 1900
  • John Marion Fowler 1861–1909
  • Benjamin Fowler 1862–
  • Henry R Fowler 1870–1933
  • Calvin Fowler 1873– before 1900

B. Elbert Fowler and his three siblings (Henry Richard Fowler, Julia Fowler Sprouse, and Mary Jane Fowler) inherited their deceased father Ellis Fowler’s 1/8 share of the estate of Ephraim Fowler, father of Ellis.

Henry Richard Fowler bought the shares of his siblings in 1849, and shortly thereafter sold the shares to William Bevis.  This transactions took place in Union County, SC perhaps before the B. Elbert Fowler family moved to Cherokee County Georgia.  William Sprouse signed the document for his wife Julia.

The document proves beyond all doubt that these four persons were the children of Ellis Fowler, son of Ephraim Fowler.  For a detailed article regarding the estate settlement of Ephraim Fowler, I add this link: The Final Estate Settlement of EPHRAIM FOWLER: Darkas, Mahala, Dorcas, and Charlotte





Elbert and his wife Susannah moved from Union County, South Carolina to Cherokee County, Georgia before the births of their children, who were all recorded as born in Georgia on the 1860 census.

The B. Elbert Fowler family lived beside another Fowler household in 1860, that of Rebecca Fowler and her children.  I am alone — and way out on a limb — when I state that this Rebecca Fowler was the widow of Mark Fowler, son of Big Mark Fowler (son of Henry Ellis Fowler) of Union County, SC and his wife Elizabeth Moseley.

Everyone else on the planet thinks that this Mark Fowler married to Rebecca in Cherokee Georgia was the son of Moses Fowler and Rebecca Carlton.  I’ve seen no documentation to support that theory.  Admittedly, I have no documentation either, but I do know that some of Big Mark Fowler and Elizabeth Mosely’s grandchildren were born in Georgia, and Rebecca Fowler was living next door to Elbert Fowler, a documented descendant of Henry Ellis Fowler.  Until I find definite proof, I will continue to keep Mark Fowler married to Rebecca in my family tree as a son of Big Mark Fowler, and a grandson of Henry Ellis Fowler.  I do not mind being alone in my speculation.

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1860 Cherokee County GA Census

  • Elbert Fowler 27
  • Susan Fowler 25
  • Mary Fowler 8
  • Texana Fowler 6
  • Susan Fowler  2                                                  
  • Rebecca Fowler  50
  • Toliver 22
  • Leland? 16
  • Martha 12
  • George 10
  • Mary 7

In 1870, Elbert Fowler and three of his children — Mary, Harriet, and Benjamin — are conspicuously missing from census records.

Susan Fowler and three children — Texanna, (Susan) Northa, and John Marion — were counted in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Where was Elbert Fowler and why was the family split in half in 1870?

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1870 Cherokee County, GA Census


Elbert Fowler was back with his family by 1880.  Two more sons had been born in the preceding decade — Henry R. Fowler circa 1870/1871, and Calvin circa 1873.

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1880 Cherokee County GA Census

Two years later, October 8, 1882, the Hawkins bridge collapsed, tossing an Elbert Fowler of Cherokee County, Georgia and dozens of other men, women, and children into the Little River below.  In 1888, Melinda Susannah Newbury Fowler married Benjamin Franklin Haskall in Harelson County, Georgia. Circumstantial evidence indicates that it was our B. Elbert Fowler who was thrown from the bridge.  I can find no other Elbert Fowler in Cherokee County Georgia in 1882.  (Elbert Leland Fowler, son of Mark Fowler and Rebecca died in 1873).    Susan Fowler was surely a widow when she married Mr. Haskall in 1888.

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Marriage License of B.F. Haskall and Mrs. M. S. Fowler

Malinda Susannah Newbury Fowler Haskall was a widow by 1900.  She lived with her son Henry R. Fowler and his wife Georgia in Calhoun County Alabama.  The census records indicate that she had given birth to eight children, and only four still were living.

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1900 Calhoun County Alabama Census

Malinda Susan Newbury Fowler Haskall died in Chattanooga Tennessee in April 1905, and was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee.

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Tennessee Death Records 1905


Now it is time to take a look at the eight children of B. Elbert Fowler and Malinda Susannah Newbury.

MARY FOWLER was born in 1852.  The only census record in which she was recorded was the 1860 census of Cherokee County, Georgia.  It is possible that she lived with her father Elbert Fowler in 1870 –the year he was missing from census records.  It is also possible that she had married and had a different surname in 1870, or that she had died before 1870.  Even though I am unsure of her fate, it is likely that Mary Fowler had died before 1900.  More research is needed and will be done.

TEXANNA JANE FOWLER was born in 1854.  Or 1855 or 1856.  Fortunately, there are several census records documenting her existence.  She married twice, to Joseph H. Jones and Charles C. Hoffman.  She had three children: Lillian Jones born 1877, Charlie Hoffman born 1893,  and one child whose name has not come across my research radar.

Texanna is found in 1860 and 1870 in the household of her parents (1860) and of her mother (1870).  She married Joseph H. Jones on November 14, 1872 and was recorded with him in 1880 along with daughter Lillian Jones in Cobb County, Georgia.

The year 1900 finds her in the household with husband Charles Hoffman (b. 1865).  Mr. Hoffman immigrated from Denmark in 1880.  Their seven year old son Charlie is also in the household.  Texanna had been married to Charles Hoffman since 1882 and had given birth three times with three children still living.  It is apparent that she had two children with Joseph Jones, and the last child with Charles Hoffman.

In 1910, Texanna Fowler Jones Hoffman lived in Atlanta, Fulton County Georgia.

Texanna lived in the John H. Sprouse household in Atlanta in 1920.  John Henry Sprouse was the son of McSwain “Doc” Sprouse, son of William Sprouse and Julia Fowler, sister of B. Elbert Fowler. Julia Fowler Sprouse was Texanna’s aunt; Texanna and John H. Sprouse were first cousins once removed.

Texanna Fowler Jones Hoffman died in Chambers County Alabama in May 1923.  She is buried in Langdale, Alabama.

SUSAN NORTHA FOWLER was born circa 1858.  She was living with Elbert and Susan Fowler in 1860, and with Susan Fowler in 1870.  I do not know if she married but she probably died before 1900.  I can find nothing else about her life.

HARRIET FOWLER was born in 1861.  She must have been off somewhere with her father as she was not in the 1870 census record with her mother Susan Fowler.  Harriet was recorded in 1880 with Elbert and Susan Fowler and she was listed as a daughter, age 19.  Was she the twin sister of John Marion Fowler?  I have not found any further records and unsure if she married.  I believe that she died before 1900.

JOHN MARION FOWLER was born in 1861.  He was in the household with his mother Susan Fowler in 1870, and in the household with both parents in 1880.  He married Nora Louise Strozier in 1886.  They had twelve children.  John Marion Fowler was recorded in the 1900 census in Wilkinson County Georgia.  He died in 1909.

BENJAMIN FOWLER was born circa 1862.  He was one of the children missing in the 1870 census records and must have been with his father that year.  He was recorded in 1880 living in the household with both Elbert and Susan Fowler.

HENRY R. FOWLER is recorded in documentation as having been born on October 16, 1869.  He was not recorded with his mother Susan Fowler in the 1870 census and I have a difficult time believing that he was one of the children missing with Elbert Fowler that year.  I do believe that his date of birth may have been in 1870 or even 1871.

Henry R Fowler married Georgia Harris circa 1889.  They did not have children which is probably fortunate: they moved around a lot.

Henry was recorded in 1880 in Cherokee County Georgia with his parents.  He was in Alabama in 1900 with wife Georgia and his mother Malinda Susan.  He must have lived briefly in Chattanooga Tennessee for that is where his mother died in 1905.

Henry and Georgia, still childless, lived in Los Angeles California in 1910.  By 1920, they were back in Georgia…… Atlanta to be precise.  In 1930, they lived in Houston Texas.

Henry R. Fowler must have been a jack-of-all trades as well as having a dose of wander lust.  He died in Harris County Texas on February 3, 1933.

CALVIN FOWLER was the last child born to Elbert and Susan Fowler.  He was born circa 1873.  He was recorded in the 1880 census with his parents.  That is all I know.

  • Henry Ellis Fowler 1746-1808 m. Catherine Puckett
    • Ephraim Fowler 1765-1822 m. Nancy Moseley
      • Ellis Fowler 1805-before 1840 m. Sarah Mary
        • B. Elbert Fowler 1830-1882 m. Malinda Susannah Newbury 1833-1905
          • Mary Fowler 1852–
          • Texanna Jane Fowler 1856–1923 m. Joseph H. Jones; m. Charles Hoffman
            • Lillian Jones
            • unknown Jones
            • Charlie Hoffman
          • Susan Northa Fowler 1858–
          • Harriett Fowler 1861–
          • John Marion Fowler 1861–1909
          • Benjamin Fowler 1862–
          • Henry R Fowler 1870–1933
          • Calvin Fowler 1873- 


I leave for last, the newspaper articles from the Atlanta Constitution reporting the tragic collapse of the Hawkins bridge in 1882.  Elbert Fowler is mentioned in both articles.  Perhaps someday I will find the documentation to determine if this man was one and the same as B. Elbert Fowler, son of Ellis, son of Ephraim.

elbert bridge 1.jpg
The Atlanta Constitution October 10, 1882

elbert bridge 2.jpg
The Atlanta constitution October 11, 1882

Murder: The Mize Brothers and Their FOWLER Wives

Murder.  Is the propensity for taking the life of another embedded in the DNA of a man’s genetic code?  One could argue that environment or circumstance or just plain bad luck be reason enough to place a man in the position of making a split second decision to pull a trigger and end a life.

What follows is a tale of the two Mize brothers who chose the path leading to the murders of two men, and the story of the two Fowler women who married the Mize men.

Solomon Mize was born circa 1821 in Union County, South Carolina.  He married Nancy Dodd (b. 1832) and their first child, Mary Ann Mize, was born in 1848.  Four sons were to follow — Thomas Mize in 1850, John Mize in 1853, Elliot Mize in 1857, and James Monroe Mize in 1859.

Mary Ann Mize married Benson Petty; Thomas Mize married Mary Carolina Vandiver; and Elliot Mize died a young boy.  Their stories, their lives….. while filled with joyful events and  human suffering…… lend little to the telling of the lives of their brothers John and James Monroe Mize.

Brothers John Mize and James Monroe Mize had more in common than shared parents.  They both married Fowler women; they each pulled a trigger and were arrested for killing a man.

And as murder often goes, the two victims were related to their killers by marriage: John Mize ended the life of his wife’s cousin, and James Monroe Mize took the life of the man married to his daughter.

Enter Desdamona Fowler, the daughter of James Fowler and Caroline Hodge, both descended from the same Fowler family, endowing their daughter a double dose of Fowler DNA as well as a beautiful name.

James Fowler (1832–1862) was the son of William Fowler and Rhoda Moseley.  This particular William Fowler was most likely the son of John Fowler “the Elder” (d. 1818) and his wife Fannie.  Forthcoming DNA testing will confirm this, or not.

Caroline Hodge (1830-1912) was the daughter of John Jackson Hodge (1802-1882) and  Martha Patsy Fowler (1809-1872).  Womack Fowler (1785-1949) was the father of Martha Patsy Fowler, and of course, Henry Ellis Fowler (1746-1808) was the father of WomackMartha Patsy Fowler’s mother was Susannah Moseley (1792-1878).  DNA testing has already proven these relationships.

In 1860, six year old Desdamona Fowler lived in the household with her parents and two younger brothers.  Her paternal grandmother Rhoda Fowler lived in the household next door.

james Fowler Caroline Hodge
1860 Union County SC Census


Desdamona’s father, James Fowler, died before the 1870 census.  She still lived in the household with her mother and siblings.

caroline hodge 1870
1870 Union County SC Census

John Mize, age six, and his brother James Monroe Mize, age 4 months, lived in the household with parents Solomon Mize and Nancy Dodd in 1860.  Mary Ann, Thomas, and Eliot Mize were the other children of Soloman and Nancy.

john mize 1860
1860 Union County SC Census


The Solomon Mize household remained the same size in 1870.

john mise 1870
1870 Union County SC Census


Shortly after the 1870 census was taken — and shortly could mean  weeks or months or even a year or two — Desdamona Fowler, daughter of James, married John Mize, son of Solomon.  Their first child was born circa 1872.  Three more children followed in rapid succession.  Then, trouble struck — John Mize killed a man.


john mise shot john lipsey
The Intelligencer
Anderson, South Carolina
Thu, Nov 06, 1879 · Page 2

Who was this man, John Lipsey?

John Lipsey was born in 1841 in Union County, SC.  He was the son of Ricketson Lipsey (b. 1806) and Frances Fowler (b. 1815).  He was married to Mary Burgess (1843-1915) and the father of John (b. 1864), Anna (b. 1868), Sallie (b. 1872), Silas (b. 1873), and Bobby (b. 1875).  John Lipsey was also Desdamona Fowler’s second cousin.

John Lipsey’s mother Frances Fowler (b. 1815) was the daughter of Mark Fowler (1785-1862), son of John Fowler (d. 1818) and Fannie.

Desdamona Fowler’s father James Fowler was the son of William Fowler (17. -1800), son of John Fowler (d. 1818) and Fannie.

The spiderwebbed story of cousins and sons-in-law and murder gets way more complicated than this; but not to worry, there will be the familiar chart at the end of the article to help explain the twists and turns of this tale.

John Mize went to jail for the killing of John Lipsey.  Both the 1880 census and the  1880 schedule for Inhabitants in Prison bear this out.

In 1880, the Solomon Mize household included Solomon, wife Nancy, daughter-in-law Desda (Fowler), and the four children of Desda and her “missing” husband John Mize: Charles, Martha, John, and  baby Thomas.

Desdamona Fowler 1880
1880 Union County SC Census


John Mize was not in the 1880 census record with his wife and children, but he was found in the schedule below.  In the Union County Jail.  For murder.

john mize prison


John Mize was recorded in 1880 as one of three prisoners in the county jail.

Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 10.18.49 PM.png

Desdamona was not the only woman who had moved back into a household with parents;  Mary Burgess Lipsey, now a widow, and her four fatherless children moved into her parents’ household, headed by her father Silas Burgess.


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1880 Union County SC Census


Poor dead John Lipsey was not forgotten.  He was listed in a schedule in 1880 as well:

Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 10.01.41 PM
U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules

It’s difficult to read, but it states that 35 year old John Lipsey died in October 1879 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Good news for John Mize came in 1880.  He was found not guilty of the murder of John Lipsey.  The two articles below are somewhat conflicting in the reasons John Mize was set free.


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Union Times
Union, South Carolina
Fri, Jun 25, 1880 · Page 2


Did the jury return a verdict of not guilty or did they fail to agree upon a verdict?  Either way, John Mize was a free man.

Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 10.13.39 PM.png
The Intelligencer
Anderson, South Carolina
Thu, Mar 18, 1880 · Page 2


What happened to John Mize after his return home from the county jail?  He and Desdamona had four more children: Monroe Mimms Mize (b. 1883), Albert Horace Mize (b. 1885), Virginia James Mize (b. 1885), and Mattie Mize (b. 1887).

It must be mentioned that Monroe Mimms Mize and Mattie Mize were absent in the 1900 census within the John Mize household.  Mattie Mize was named Mattie Smith on her marriage certificate.  I am not totally sure that these two children were, in fact, the biological children of John Mize and Desdamona Fowler.  Death certificates and other documents lend support that they were children of the couple, but I do suspect they may have been informally adopted from another family, even another Mize family.  Please note that this is mere speculation but I find that things do not add up.  More research is forthcoming.

Desdamona died or left the household, for John Mize married Margaret Anna Putnam (b. 1875) in 1891.  John and his new wife had four children: Annie (b. 1896), Christopher Columbus (b. 1898), Bessie (b. 1906), and Ruby Estelle (b. 1909).

The John Mize family were in Cooks, Fulton County Georgia in 1900, but later returned to South Carolina, living in Greenville in 1910; and old John Mize, dying there in 1912.

This article is titled Murder: The Mize Brothers and Their Fowler Wives for good reason.  I shall now take you down another path to murder with the younger Mize brother, James Monroe Mize.

Enter Harriet Fowler, daughter of Bryant Fowler and Elizabeth Wright.  Bryant was the son of Stephen Fowler and his first wife, Sarah.  Stephen was the son of Ephraim Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

Harriet Fowler was a cousin to Desdamona Fowler two ways: through Henry Ellis Fowler, and John Fowler (d. 1818).   Harriet was also a cousin to John Lispey.

Harriet Fowler married James Monroe Mize, brother of John Mize and son of Solomon.  “Monroe” (as we shall now call him) and Harriet had two children: Logan Mize (b. 1881) and Viola Mize (b. 1884).

Logan Mize married Hattie Strain, daughter of John Strain, in 1902.  Logan’s sister Viola Mae married John Gore, exact date unknown.  John Gore and Viola were the parents of two living children, Jannie May (b. 1906), and John (b, 1908).  Two other children had not survived.

Monroe Mize was a fiddler of local renown.  His son-in-law John Gore played the banjo. Trouble was in the air when both men were invited to provide music for a dance to be held at the home place of William “Bill” Reynolds.  The night would end with one man dead, and the other in jail.  This tragic event took place December 12, 1908.

It is not mentioned in any of the press articles written about that dreadful night of how many patrons attended to watch Bill Reynolds dance.  It is known that Logan Mize was there and John Fowler,  son of Harriet Fowler Mize’s sister Emma Fowler Wilkins, was there playing a banjo, and very much involved in the events.   John proved to be a credible witness at the trial.

It is known that Monroe Mize, Logan Mize, and John Gore stopped by John Fowler’s house to have supper before the dance.  It has been reported that all but Monroe indulged in drink.  Afterwards, the four men made their way to the home of Bill Reynolds where they continued their drinking.

They eventually made their way into a pasture where they built a fire, danced, cursed and quarreled, and — no doubt — drank.  Things got out of hand as Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning.  John Gore produced a knife and proceeded to chase old dancing Bill Reynolds out of the pasture.  John Gore and Logan Mize got into a scuffle.  The party broke up, Monroe and Logan Mize going to the home of Bill Reynolds; John Gore and John Fowler going to the nearby home of John Fowler.

As John Fowler and John Gore were preparing for bed, they heard Monroe and Logan Mize outside in the yard.  The air must have been filled with rage for Logan Mize and John Fowler soon got into a fight.  The four men were in the house, out in the yard, in the house, out in the yard.  John Fowler’s wife, barefoot and in her night clothes, went into the yard, then back into the house.  Guns were flashed about, harsh words spoken.  It was chaos all around.

By the time the dust settled, Monroe Mize had fired three shots.  John Gore lay facedown –dead — on the ground.  John Fowler examined the body while the father and son Mize men departed the scene.  They went to the home of Emma Fowler Wilkins, a sister of Monroe’s wife Harriet.

There was much written in the newspapers of the time.  Both Monroe and Logan Mize were arrested.   The trial was held in 1910.  Logan Mize received thirty days on the county chaingang for carrying concealed weapons.  Monroe Mize was sentenced two years in the penitentiary for manslaughter.

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Gaffney, South Carolina
Tue, Dec 15, 1908 · Page 4

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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, Jul 16, 1909 · Page 5

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Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, Apr 07, 1911 · Page 1

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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Tue, Apr 18, 1911 · Page 2


Monroe Mize was — without a doubt — a popular man in his community.  I found many articles written about him ranging from stories about cock fighting to petitions trying to free him from the penitentiary.  Add a banjo and a very colorful character comes to mind.

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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, Jan 19, 1912 · Page 2


Viola Mize Gore married Mr. Cook in 1910 and began another family.

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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
Fri, May 03, 1912 · Page 4

James Monroe Mize died in 1926 of heart and renal failure combined with flu.

Logan Mize was married and working as a blacksmith in 1921 in Charleston, South Carolina.  It was reported that he had been making fun of the appearance of one James Slappey who took offense and shot Logan Mize in his legs.  The gunshot shattered the bones and his legs were amputated. The shock was too great.  

Logan Mize lived by the gun, and died by the gun.


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TEXANNA FOWLER b. 1860, Victim of the Pacolet River Flood of 1903

“Four angels now on high
They are hand in hand together
Four are linked now to bind us to them
Four fingers beckon us to come”

June 6, 1903.  The most catastrophic flood in recorded South Carolina history roared down the Pacolet River, destroying homes and mills, –the raging waters dragging dozens of men, women, and children downstream to their deaths.

Texanna Fowler was born in Union County, South Carolina in 1860.  Her father was William Earle Fowler, son of Mark Fowler, son of John Fowler the Elder and Fannie.

Texanna’s mother was Martha O’Neal, daughter of Nancy and her husband Barney O’Neal, immigrant from Ireland and, if one can believe what has been written about old Barney O’Neal, quite a character.

Martha O’Neal Fowler was dead by July 2, 1860 — the day census-taker T.J.Harris visited the household to count the family members within.  One month old and motherless, Texanna Fowler was surrounded by family — father William Earle Fowler, grandmother Nancy O’Neal, brother Belton Fowler, sisters Mary and Nancy Fowler, and aunt Elizabeth O’Neal.

Her grandfather Mark Fowler lived next door with his second wife, Mary Ann O’Neal (also a daughter of  Barney O’Neal), and their children.

texanna 1860.png
1860 Union County SC Census
  • Nancy O’Neal 80 (widow of Barney O’Neal; mother of Elizabeth, Mary & Martha)
  • Earl Fowler 26 (son of Mark Fowler & Nancy)
  • Elizabeth (O’Neal) 24 (daughter of Barney O’Neal & Nancy)
  • Belton Fowler 6 (son of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • Nancy Fowler 4 (daughter of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • MaryAn Fowler 3 (daughter of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • Texanna Fowler 1 month (daughter of William Earl Fowler & Martha O’Neal)
  • Mark Fowler 73 (son of John Fowler the Elder & Fannie)
  • Mary Ann O’Neal Fowler 34 (daughter of Barney O’Neal & Nancy)
  • Christian Fowler 16 (daughter of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Harriet Fowler 13 (daughter of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Andy Fowler 9 (son of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Noah Fowler 5 (daughter of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)
  • Thomas Fowler 3 (son of Mark Fowler & Mary Ann O’Neal)

The years in-between 1860 to 1870 brought many changes to these families.  Mark Fowler died, leaving Mary Ann O’Neal a widow who lived with her son Noah Fowler in 1870.  Mary Ann O’Neal Fowler and Noah lived next door to her daughter Harriet Fowler who had married James Powell, and their two young children.

William Earl Fowler had married Taylor Ann Harris and had begun a new family with her.  They had moved from the Kelton area to Gowdeysville north of the Pacolet River and what was later to become part of Cherokee County, SC.

Elizabeth O’Neal and Texanna Fowler are found in 1870 census records with Jack Willard, and a three year old Calvin WillardElizabeth and Texanna were recorded as Lizzie Willard and Texanna Willard.     

Elizabeth Fowler and Texanna Fowler were counted as mother and daughter in 1880 with an elderly John Willard and twelve year old Calvin Fowler.  Most likely, Elizabeth was raising Texanna as her own daughter after the death of Martha O’Neal Fowler, and Elizabeth had given birth to son Calvin, fathered by John Willard Calvin was always recorded in legal documents as Calvin H. Willard after the 1880 census.

Bradley Sevier Johnson (1866-1919) was the son of Noble Perry Johnson (1826-1883) and Malinda E. Israel (1840–1895).  Noble Perry Johnson was the son of Hugh Johnson (1793-1876) and Sarah Lane Bradley (1793-1868).

Noble Perry Johnson was born in Henderson County, North Carolina and lived most of his life there.  He was included in the 1880 census in that county.  Noble Perry Johnson moved from North Carolina to Spartanburg County, South Carolina after 1880,and he died there in 1883.  He is buried in the Liberty United Methodist Church cemetery along with many other Johnsons.

The paths of Texanna Fowler and Bradley Sevier Johnson crossed sometime between 1880 and 1890, for they married circa 1890 and began their family:

  • Oliver Johnson 1892–1903
  • Roscoe Johnson 1894–1903
  • Beulah Johnson 1895–1896
  • Maggie Johnson 1896–1903
  • Chester Johnson 1899–1900
  • Hugh Johnson 1901–1903

Their last child, Hugh, was likely named after Bradley Johnson’s father, Hugh Johnson.

BS Johnson 1900.png

Bradley Sevier Johnson was a merchant in 1900 who owned his home free and clear.

1900 general merchandise.png

While researching the Pacolet River Flood of 1903, I stumbled upon a partial list of victims from Clifton who had perished in the flood.  The list included Mrs. S.B Johnson and four children.  Was this Texanna Fowler Johnson, wife of Bradley Sevier Johnson?

I discovered another list of victims from The History of Pacolet, Volume II, by Willie Fleming:

1903 victims.png

Mrs. B.S. Johnson (Texanna Fowler) had four living children prior to the 1903 flood, and two of her sons were named Oliver and Roscoe Johnson.

I also read  that “Ben Johnson, a merchant of the settlement of Santuck, just below the No. 2 mill, drifted nine miles with his wife and two children, down to the raging Pacolet River on the roof of his house, only to see his family disappear of the Pacolet Mills dam in a swirling eddy.”

ben johnson.png

 from the article The Great Freshet of 1903 written by William M. Branham and published in the Sandlapper magazine Feb 1980.

Was this Bradley Sevier Johnson misidentified as Ben Johnson?

The following from 1904 Spartanburg Almanac, compiled by J.A. Gamewell and D.D.
Wallace, W.F. Barnes, Spartanburg 1904, pp. 7-15:

At Clifton No. 2 a large number of houses were built upon a beautiful plane on the right bank from ten to fifteen feet above the water and seventy-five yards in width. 400 yards lower down on the opposite side was another level plane that encircled by a sharp curve of the stream, where lay the section of the town known as Santuc. From these two flat places 60 houses were swept, and here occurred the great bulk of the fatalities. The drowned reaching the number of fifty. Here occurred some of the most pathetic scenes and some of the most thrilling escapes. Here, too, lived B. S. Johnson, who escaped from the raging flood after having been borne for several miles upon its bosom, but whose wife and five children were drowned. It was his little boy who floated on a piece of timber eight miles to Pacolet and disappeared in the waves fifteen feet high plunging over the dam and Shoals. 

There is no official or accurate death count from the great disaster of 1903, more than a few persons were reported dead even though they were alive and well, and many bodies were buried, mutilated and unidentified, many weeks later on the banks of the river where they had drifted miles and miles downstream.

I took all of this into account in determining the family of B.S. Johnson/S.B. Johnson/Ben Johnson and the four or five children swept to their early deaths along with their mother.  I also had the good luck to have found written records from family members who knew that Texanna Fowler had married Mr. Johnson, and that she and her children had died in the flood of 1903.

B. S. Johnson was Bradley Sevier Johnson.  Did he float down river with his family, or did he watch from the banks as they washed over the dam? It was reported that he watched as his family was tossed over the Clifton Dam to their deaths.

His wife was Texanna Fowler and the four children who drowned with her were  11 year old Oliver, 9 year old Roscoe, seven year old Maggie, and 2 year old Hugh.  The only body recovered was that of the youngest.  Hugh Johnson’s body was found ten miles downstream, washed ashore near Pacolet.

The two children who had died before the flood, one year old Beulah in 1896, and one year old Chester in 1900, had died far too young, but had escaped the horrendous death that their siblings would face in the rushing, muddy waters of 1903.

Beulah and Chester Johnson were buried at Liberty United Methodist Church near Spartanburg, SC in proximity of their grandfather Noble Perry Johnson.  From the inscriptions on their headstones, it is evident that they were very loved.


 Dau. of B.S. and Texanna Johnson

Born Aug 26, 1895

Died Feb 3, 1896

Little bud of love

To bloom with God above


beulah johnson



Son of B.S. & T. Johnson

May 19, 1899

May 23, 1900

Our darling hath gone before

To greet us on the blissful shore

chester johnson

There is only one headstone that honors the memory of Texanna Fowler Johnson and her four children who perished in the flood of 1903.  That headstone marks the grave of two year old Hugh Johnson in the Clifton Cemetery near Spartanburg.  The names of his siblings whose bodies were never found, as well as his mother, are inscribed on the stone.



Son of B.S. and Texanna Johnson,

Drowned in the great Pacolet flood,

June 6, 1903,

Together with his mother, Oliver, Roscoe and Maggie

None of the bodies except his were ever found, age 2 years.

Four angels now on high

They are hand in hand together

Four are linked now to bind us to them

Four fingers beckon us to come


1903 hugh.png


With the exception of Bradley Sevier Johnson, an entire family was wiped off the face of the earth in one horrendous day.  Mr. Johnson lost his wife and all four of his children.  One cannot imagine the sorrow he endured.   I wondered what became of this broken man………

Bradley Sevier Johnson married Ida Burma Dodd (1883-1985) circa 1905.  Ida was the daughter of Thomas Lewis Dodd (1855-1903) and Ida Susan Compton (1862-1943).

When I saw that Ida Burma Dodd’s father died in 1903, I had to pause a moment — did he also perish in the flood?  He did not.  Thomas Lewis Dodd died after suffering a long illness in Oconee County, South Carolina.

Bradley Sevier Johnson and his second wife, Ida Burna Dodd, had four daughters and one son:

  • Nita Bell Johnson 1906-2000
  • Isla Melinda Johnson 1908-2005
  • Irene Johnson 1908-
  • Sara Johnson 1914-2003
  • Bernard Samuel Johnson 1916-2009

Bradley Sevier Johnson died on May 29, 1919.  

There is little that I can add to what already has been written about the devastating Pacolet River Flood of 1903.  I am adding links below to several websites that well describe what happened that day and the weeks afterwards.