James Fowler

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John Fowler, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1776. He lived for several years in Westmoreland county, and married there, in 1802, Miss Margaret Carson. His wife died the following year, leaving one child, and Mr. Fowler soon afterward removed to Butler county, where he followed, as he had in Westmoreland, the occupations of millwright and carpenter. In 1807 he married his second wife, Frances Turner. The fruits of this union were six children, of whom three are living: James, Sarah and Margaret C. 

James Fowler was born in 1817, and reared upon a farm in Parker township, Butler county. His chief employment was that incidental to farm life, but he was engaged for several years in cabinetmaking and carpentry, in both of which trades he attained considerable skill. His advantages for obtaining an education were quite limited, as he could only attend the common country schools of the neighborhood, which were far inferior to those of the present day. Nevertheless, he obtained through other channels a fair fund of information while he was still a young man. 

On February 22, 1844, he was united in marriage with Miss Ann L. Leonard, and in 1851 he came to Armstrong county, purchasing and settling upon 29 acres of rough, unimproved land, in what is now Hovey township. This he cleared and brought into good condition, handling some of the timber upon it, and much more besides, in a sawmill which he put up in 1852, and which he operated for six years. In 1859 he went across the Allegheny and leased a hotel in Foxburg, which he carried on for seven years. 

In the meantime it had been found that the lands in the northwestern part of Armstrong county were valuable oil territory, and he sold his hotel lease and began leasing his land in small parcels to the operators who thronged into the country. Soon some test wells were put down and petroleum found in abundance. He received from one-sixth to one-fourth of the oil produced upon his land as royalty, and it was only a comparatively short time before he had $40,000 in the bank as a result. 

Not long afterward he and the Messrs. Fox, of Foxburg, established the ferry at that place, which proved a profitable investment. The amount of travel, however, became so great that an iron bridge was thrown across the river to accommodate it, and in this he invested about $20,000. He retained his interest in this until quite recently, when it was sold to the railroad company. 

Mr. Fowler has at this time, in addition to the place where he resides, a good farm of about 128 acres in Kittanning township, a farm in Plum Creek township, and a valuable property in Manorville. He ranks among the most enterprising citizens of the county, is a man of large usefulness to the people among whom he lives, and his friendly and kindly disposition have made him generally esteemed. Both Mr. Fowler and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

They have been the parents of six children, four of whom are living: Marion L., Charlotte A., James T. and Nelson M. Charlotte A. married Philip Foust, and resides at St. Petersburg, Clarion county. James T. married Hannah E. Roof, and resides with his parents. Nelson M. married Jennie R. Reed, and lives near Manorville, in which village he carries on a drug store. 

Source: Page(s) 577, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
March 2000 by Lisa Strobel for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Lisa Strobel for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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