SARAH PURCHASE FOWLER 1860-1933, daughter of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Clark

Rest, mother, rest in

Quiet sleep

While friends in sorrow

o’er thee weep

sarah purchase photo.jpg

Sarah Purchase Fowler Johns 1860-1933

When I first saw the name “Purchase” in the household of Ellis Fowler and his wife Sarah Clark Fowler, I thought the task of documenting her life would be an easy one. It was not a totally uncommon female name used in the 1800s, but it was an unusual name in the Union County Fowler families.

As I have stated before, Ellis Fowler b. 1770 has been the most difficult son of Henry Ellis Fowler to document. He left no will nor can I find any land transactions or deeds in the courthouse.

Until now, I had only been able to document three of his children: Ellis Fowler b. 1807; Nancy Fowler b. 1805, and Winnifred Fowler b. 1822.

Son Ellis Fowler b. 1807 and his wife Sarah Clark had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Augilar Fowler 1841–1924
  • Martha Fowler 1844–
  • Julia Fowler 1847–
  • Jesse Fowler 1849–
  • Nancy (Nannie) P Fowler 1854–1939
  • Thomas Fowler 1859–
  • Purchase Fowler 1860–1933
  • Lotty Fowler 1862–

Some Fowler researchers confuse Nancy P. Fowler and Purchase Fowler, thinking that they were the same daughter of Ellis and Sarah Fowler. Since both daughters were recorded on census records together, I am not sure how this confusion began. They are clearly two different children.

It was fairly easy to discover that Elizabeth Augilar Fowler had married Robert Henry Petty, and her sister Nancy P. Fowler had married John Worthy Eison. I have been able to trace both daughters and their descendants to present day.

The remaining children of Ellis Fowler and Sarah Clark seemed to have disappeared into thin air. I was more than a little surprised that I was unable to find daughters Purchase and Lotty given that these names were a little unusual.

Purchase Fowler was first recorded on a census record in 1860 as an unnamed female infant, 3 months old. Included in the household along with her parents Ellis and Sarah Fowler were sisters Elizabeth, Martha, Julia, Nancy, and a bother Thomas.

ellis fowler 1860

1860 Union County SC Census

In 1870, Purchase was still in the household with parents Ellis and Sarah Fowler, sisters Julia, Nancy, and Lotty .

ellis fowler 1870

1870 Union County SC Census

In 1880, Purchase was 20 years old, living with her parents Ellis and Sarah Fowler, sisters Nancy and Lottie. three Jefferies children who had to be the children of either Martha or Julia Fowler, and her aunt Nancy Fowler, sister of Ellis.

ellis fowler 1880

1880 Union County SC Census

I had found a census record from 1900 in Pacolet SC listing a single woman, aged 40 with 4 children: daughter Nellie, sons Steady, Grover, and Freddie. It was difficult to read the name of the woman, but the record got my attention because of the name Steady.

Godfrey Butler Fowler (1837-1906), son of Joseph Fowler, son of Godfrey Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler) had named his only son Nathan Steadman Fowler (1867-1924) after the captain of his army company in the Civil War, Captain James B. Steedman.

Since that time, other Fowler boys descended from Henry Ellis Fowler had been given the name Steadman:

  • Steadman Lee Fowler 1884-1971, son of Emma Fowler, daughter of Bryant Fowler, son of Stephen Fowler, son of Ephraim Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler.
  • James Steadman Fowler 1872-1952, son of Gassaway Fowler, son of Thomas Gillman Fowler, son of Godfrey Fowler, son of Henry Ellis Fowler.

Who was this Steady Fowler born in 1882? How did he relate to the Henry Ellis Fowlers, if at all? And who was this woman with the hard to read name?

purchase fowler 1900.JPG

1900 Pacolet, Spartanburg County SC Census

A little research and a lot of luck led me to a census record in Spartanburg SC in 1910. There was a woman named Sarah, aged 50 (right age for my Purchase) living with sons Grover and Fred. This family headed by Sarah Fowler lived next door to Steddy Fowler, his wife Nancy, and their three children Beulah, Buford, and Cecil. They lived on Howard Street in Spartanburg.

I knew that I was on the right trail. I began to think that Sarah was perhaps Purchase……..Sarah Purchase Fowler…….maybe.

purchase 1910 1

purchase 1910 2

1910 Spartanburg County Census

I also noted that, in 1910, there was a John A. Johns, widower, living 6 households away, on Howard Street, with two of his daughters, and two granddaughters.

john johns 1910

1910 Spartanburg County Census

I could not find Purchase Fowler, or Sarah Fowler in 1920 census records. I did find Sarah Johns in the household of Steady Fowler, his wife Nannie Fowler, and their children Beulah, Buford, Cecil, L.C, Ruth Gladys, and Warren. Was it possible that Sarah Purchase Fowler had married her widower neighbor John Johns??Although Sarah Johns was listed as the mother-in-law, I decided to take a closer look at the Johns family.

sarah johns 1920

1920 Spartanburg County SC Census

John Andrew Johns (1848-1926) was the son of Joseph Johns and Elizabeth Haney. He was born in Union County, SC, as was Purchase. It is possible that they knew each other long before they had both moved to Spartanburg, SC.

john jones photo

John Andrew Johns

John Johns married Laura Cain (last name not yet documented) circa 1870, and they were the parents of many children, mostly daughters. Laura died in 1905 and was buried at Beulah Cemetery near Neal Shoals in Union County, SC.

laura johns photo

Laura Johns, wife of John Andrew Johns

Sarah Purchase Fowler was living with her son Steady Fowler on Arch Street in Spartanburg in 1920, and she was recorded as being a widow even though John Johns was still alive and well living with his daughter Leona on nearby Howard Street.

It appears that the short lived marriage did not work out. John A, Johns died in 1926, and was laid to rest beside his first wife Laura at Beulah Cemetery in Union County.

Sarah Purchase Fowler moved to Charlotte, NC with her son Fred Fowler and his family. Through city directory records, I have been able to locate and visit the street they lived on in Charlotte. The houses were very small, and mostly built in the 1920s. Many of these houses remain, but the addresses on record for Fred Fowler and Sarah Fowler no longer exist. The homes they occupied have been torn down and replaced with a large industrial complex.

I found a death certificate for Sarah P. Fowler. She died August 28, 1933. F.M. Fowler was the informant (her son, Fred Mark Fowler).

purchase death certificate

Sarah P. Fowler

Now that I had a date of death, I began looking for a grave site. The information of the death certificate indicated that she was buried in Pacolet, SC.

I searched for Sarah Purchase Fowler, Sarah Fowler, Purchase Fowler, Sarah P. Fowler, Sarah Purchase Johns, Sarah Fowler Johns, Purchase Fowler Johns…..you get the idea. No luck.

I then looked in my records for the grave of her sister, Elizabeth A. Fowler Petty. Pacolet Methodist Church. A quick internet search led me to Sarah P. Fowler JONES. Right dates of birth and death……wrong last name. Close, but wrong. It was her grave.

Two hours of driving, I arrived at the cemetery. I located the grave of Sarah Purchase Fowler Johns. Johns was spelled “Johns” and not “Jones”. Right dates of birth and death……right last name too. Her grave was next to some of the children of her sister Elizabeth Fowler Petty.

That is a brief outline of Sarah Purchase Fowler’s life. Born in Union County, SC to Ellis and Sarah Clark Fowler; moved to nearby Pacolet and raised four children; married a widowed neighbor and hopefully had a few years filled with happiness; moved to Charlotte, NC with her son; died in Charlotte; and laid to rest in Pacolet, SC near some of her immediate family.

Now let us take a look at her four children and their descendants. We know from census records that Sarah Purchase Fowler had one daughter and three sons:

  1. Nellie Fowler b. 1880
  2. Steadman William Fowler 1882-1930
  3. John Grover Fowler 1890-1952
  4. Fred Mark Fowler 1895-1956

Nellie Fowler:

I have not yet been able to find much information regarding Nellie Fowler. I did locate her in a Spartanburg City Directory living with her brother Steady Fowler in 1905. She was unmarried at that time.

Steadman William Fowler:

Last year, I visited Oakwood Cemetery in Spartanburg. I was looking, of course, for Fowler graves and planned to take photographs of all that I could find. One headstone caught my eye, that of Stedia W. Fowler (1882-1930) and his wife Nannie Fowler (1883-1944). The name Stedia was so close to Steadman, I figured that he had to have been one of my Fowlers. I took a photos of the headstone and filed this newly found information in my mind.

steady fowler grave

Steadman William Fowler and Nannie Phillips Fowler

steady fowler death cert

Steadman William Fowler

It all came together when I discovered the new lead to Sarah Purchase Fowler. She had given birth to son Steady around the same time as the departed soul lying in that grave at Oakwood was born. I was able to finally link Sarah’s son Steady to the automobile/train accident in 1930 that led to Stedia Fowler’s untimely death.

More research shed light on Steady’s family. He was married to Nannie Phillips, daughter of George Marion Phillips 1843-1920 and Annie Fowler 1848-1936. Annie Fowler was the daughter of Daniel Fowler and Cansandra Cook.

Daniel Fowler was the son of Israel Fowler II and wife Polly.

Israel Fowler II was the son of Israel Fowler I and wife Fannie.

Israel Fowler I was the son of John Fowler b. 1720 and Phoebe.

The Israel Fowler line moved into Union County, SC around the same time as the Henry Ellis Fowler line…..late 1700s. DNA testing has proven that these two Fowler lines did not share a common male ancestor, hence two totally different Fowler families. However, the two Fowler lines did live near each other, witnessed documents for each other, and married into each other’s families.

Stedia W. Fowler is a direct descendant of Henry Ellis Fowler. Nannie Phillips is a direct descendant of Israel Fowler. The offspring of Stedia W. Fowler and Nannie Phillips were the perfect storm of the two Fowler lines combining!!

The family from whom Cansandra Cook descends is a family that I have spent much time researching. I descend from this line through my paternal Fowler grandfather and my paternal Mabry grandmother. This Cook family intermarried in so many ways with the Fowler families.

Cansandra Cook’s first known ancestors were John Cook 1707-before 1772 and his wife Sarah Fulton 1715-1783. John and Sarah immigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania. After John’s death, Sarah and her children move to Union County, SC and settled on the Pacolet River near Grindal Shoals.

This intermarriage connects me to the offspring of Stedia Fowler and Nannie Phillips through three ways: once from Ellis Fowler, and twice from the Cooks.

Steady Fowler and his wife Nannie had the following children:

  • Beulah Fowler 1903–
  • Burie S. Fowler 1906-1908
  • Buford Paul Fowler 1906–1975 m. Ruby Satterfield
  • Cecil Fowler 1909–
  • L.C. /Thomas Fowler 1911
  • Ruth Fowler 1913–1995
  • Gladys Fowler 1916–
  • Warren Fowler 1918–

John Grover Fowler:

John Grover Fowler married Pearl Thomas, daughter of A.J. Thomas and Nancey Jane Cox. They had no children. John Grover Fowler and wife Pearl lived in Spartanburg and Darlington, South Carolina, and eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. He worked as a chain gang prison guard, and worked in textiles.

John Grover Fowler’s life took a little turn after the death of his wife Pearl in 1948. It was mentioned in The Gaffney Ledger from Gaffney, South Carolina on March 14, 1944 … Miss Margaret Clippard and Grover Fowler of Charlotte spent Sunday with the former’s sister, Mrs. L. E. Gantt, and Mr. Gantt, at their home in Gaffney...

Margaret Clippard 1909-1975 was the daughter of Scott and Josie Fronniem Clippard. The sister that she and John Grover Fowler visited was Lila Mae Clippard 1907-1980 married to Lester Eugene Gantt 1905-1975.

An interesting fact is that Lester Eugene and Lila Mae Clippard Gantt were buried at Corinth Baptist Church in Gaffney, SC where many of the Israel Fowler descendants were buried.

John Grover Fowler evidently married Margaret Clippard as she was listed as his wife on his death certificate. John Grover Fowler was buried beside his first wife Pearl Thomas at Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte.

After John Grover’s death, Margaret married Charles Fisher.

john grover death cert

John Grover Fowler

john grover fowler

John Grover Fowler

Fred Mark Fowler:

Fred Mark Fowler married Bessie Norris and they had six daughters and one son:

  • Louise Cornelia Fowler 1921–1981 m. Furman F. Tomberlin 1922-2009
  • Sarah M Fowler 1923–2012
  • Marie Fowler 1925– m. James Muriel McCormick 1926-2000
  • Fred Mark Fowler Jr. 1929– m. Marie Georgette Legrand
  • Betty Jean Fowler 1930–2006 m. Robert Evans Goodwin
  • Phyllis Ann Fowler 1933– m. William Edward Crump, Jr.
  • Sylvia Grovene Fowler m. Larry Joel Graham

More to come…………..

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