Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fowler Family of Caldwell County

Some time ago I came across an intriguing document in a file marked "Miscellaneous Bonds" in the Caldwell County Clerk’s Office at the courthouse in Princeton. It states: "Know all men by these presents that I have this day taken Gincy Fowler daughter of J W Fowler decd and bind myself to Provide for Educate and use her in all respects as tho she was my Lawful child This I agree to do provided she marries with my approbation. Witness my hand this Feb 25th A D 1852." [signed] R.B. Snelling. James C. Weller, clerk of the Caldwell County Court, certified that this bond from R.B. Snelling to H. Tandy was produced in his office and acknowledged by Snelling to be his act and deed.

As this bond is a little unusual, what could have happpened to generate it? A little checking provided the answers.

The 1850 Caldwell County census, page 742, shows Gincy Fowler, age 6 and born in Kentucky, living with Henry Tandy and family. No J.W. Fowler appears on the 1850 census so he must have died prior to that year. In my book, Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1833 - 1853, there is a marriage for Rodger B. Snelling and Miss Elvira Fowler on 20 April 1843. Giving consent for the bride was her father, J.W. Fowler. Bingo! This tells us two things: R.B. Snelling had married Elvira Fowler, daughter of J.W. Fowler and therefore a sister to young Gincy Fowler. Also, J.W. Fowler was still living in 1843. Now we know he died between 1843 and 1850.

A search in earlier marriages shows that Joseph W. Fowler married Gincy Gray 8 September 1825 in Caldwell County and the will of Godfrey Fowler (Book A, p. 282, written 22 Dec 1816) identifies Joseph as his son.

Years ago, at the annual seminar of the Kentucky Genealogical Society in Frankfort, I bought a beat-up, falling-apart book from a used book vendor. The book is Annals of the Fowler Family and it was written by Mrs. James Joyce Arthur of Austin, Texas in 1901. There is no index, but a table of contents shows chapters on various branches of the family, including that of Godfrey Fowler Jr, who moved to Caldwell County about 1806. It was this book that provided the answers to my questions.

Because the author provided so much information obtained directly from the people involved, I want to include some of it here. Mrs. Arthur states that Joseph Wright Fowler and his twin brother, John Hopkins Fowler, who went to Texas, were the eldest sons of Godfrey Fowler Jr. and wife Clara Wright. Joseph W. and John H. were born 23 Dec 1796, possibly in Smith County, TN. Joseph W. married Ginsey Gray, who was born 26 April 1804 and died 25 March 1844. Joseph W. also died in 1844. They had nine children, including Elvira, who with her husband, Mr. Snelling, moved to Platte County, MO, returned to Kentucky and then went to California.

Gincey, the youngest child of Joseph W. Fowler, was born 7 March 1844 in Princeton, making her less than a month old when her mother died and only slightly older when her father died. Gincey married in Yreka, CA to William S.R. Taylor. She appears on the 1880 San Francisco Census in District 12. She was still living in 1899, when she wrote the author of Annals of the Fowler Family and stated that with her sister and brother-in-law, she moved from Kentucky for California. "We left St. Joseph, Mo. with ox teams, crossed the continent, and arrived in Yreka, Cal. in November 1852." So, that document or bond I found in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office must have been generated because Gincey was shortly to leave for California with her sister's family.

Another member of this family was Judge Wiley P. Fowler, who was born in Smith County, TN in 1799 and died in Paducah, KY in 1880. He is buried in Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County. Many of you will recognize the name of Wiley P. Fowler, a well-respected judge in Livingston County.

Miss Mattie Fowler of Paducah, KY stated in 1899 that she had been told her Uncle Joe (Joseph Wright Fowler) was a man of considerable wealth; that he owned the finest imported cattle of that day in Kentucky and imported silkworms at great expense just for the pleasure of seeing them spin.

Caldwell County has produced many prominent families and this Fowler family must be included among them.

Copyright on text and photographs
by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog


Deb said...

Good story. Thanks. Nancy Tandy was married to John Gray, a brother of Jinsey Gray. Parents of John and Jinsey (and several other children) were William Gray and wife Lydia (Gray?); The will of William Gray (1841) is in your book: "Caldwell Co KY Will Book B", and it mentions his son-in-law Joseph Fowler. William Gray was the son of Garrett and Susanna Gray. I'm descended from James brother of Jinsey AND from John P, brother of Jinsey (on my mother's AND my father's sides of the family). I'm also directly descended from Mordecai Fowler and we've been trying to figure Godfrey's Fowler connection for quite some time into our Fowler group too. Anytime you scratch a person from Caldwell, you're spilling DNA from most families in the area!!!!

Brenda Joyce Jerome said...

Thanks for the additional info, Deb. I appreciate it.

mgrubbs said...

Good article. I found that book a year or so ago and it really had alot of detail about my ancestors, including documentation directly from my GGG Grandma.

mgrubbs said...

Good article. I found this book a year or so ago and it really gave some great detail on my ancestors, including documentation directly from my GGG Grandma, which I found pretty amazing!

Mr. Fowler said...

the full text of The Annuals of the Fowler Family can be found at in several formats. The text version is searchable through your browser's find feature.