John Fowler

James Lee Fowler
William L Fowler
John F Fowler
Thomas Fowler
Mary M Fowler
Christopher C  Fowler
Welcome U Fowler
Edmund Isaac Fowler
Lucy Ann Fowler
Samuel Fowler



 John Fowler                                            1776 - 1867

      Born:    Kentucky



Lucinda Ussery                                        1785 - 1853

      Born:    North Caroline

      Died:    May 28, 1861     Scotland, McDonough, Illinois   

      Lucinda Ussery was a twin.

Land grant 221 dated Feb. 4, 1825 was issued to Philip Mulkey on the south side of the Cumberland River between the farms of Sylvanus Fowler and John Tinsley. Notes to Chapter 11: #12 Smith and Butler, Green County Land Entries, p. 65. Welcome Ussery's land joined James Butler's property. James Butler's line joined Thomas Welch..."on line creek."  Mary Ussery's father was Welcome Ussery of North Carolina.  She also had a nephew named Welcome Ussery, and possibly a brother by that name.  Mary Ussery's twin sister, Lucy, married John Fowler.  Welcome Ussery who entered 150 acres of land near Line Creek, November 12, 1798, appears as an early member of Brimstone.  Mary Ussery who married Sylvanus Fowler lived on the south side of Cumberland River in the Tinsley Bottoms opposite the mouth of Brimstone Creek.  John Tinsley married Alice Mulkey, a daughter of Philip Mulkey, the pastor of Brimstone Church.  John and Alice owned land on the south side of Cumberland River.  They are buried in the High Cedars Cemetery in the Tinsley Bottoms along with a son of Philip Mulkey.


      Land Deed 1851


           The Fowlers and Ussery Family may have attended this church


                  1850                 1860


Biography of John Fowler

John Fowler was four years old when his father James died. His mother

(? Bloomer) remarried a man named Laird. John lived with his mother, step-father and step-brother Joseph, in a fort along the Cumberland River in Kentucky.

His mother died when he was eight years of age and he stayed with his step-father until he was fifteen.

When the Fort was being attacked by Indians, John, being the boy who had no mother to prevent him from going, was chosen to be tied to a horse and sent out of the Fort past the Indians to bring word to the men who were out in the fields tending the crops. A fast horse was kept at the Fort for this purpose. The women in the Fort would hold up dried pumpkins on sticks and pretend they were real guns. By dressing in men's clothing, they fooled the

Indians into thinking there were men inside the Fort.

In about 1795, John came into Kentucky with his first cousin Sylvanus Fowler, who had received land for Revolutionary service of his father John of Ulster

Co., NY. This John had married his first cousin Glorianna Fowler. Sylvanus married Mary Ussery and John married her twin sister Lucy. Both were daughters of Welcome Ussery and Lucy Gross. The weddings took place about 1801 at the Brimstone Baptist Church in Monroe Co., KY near the present day town of Hendersonville.

John and his family lived along the Cumberland River, probably near Celina, Tennessee, Jackson County, now Clay County. John's occupation was mining saltpeter. This was used in the manufacture of gun powder. The first three sons were born in Tennessee: James, William and John, Jr. In 1813 his fourth son Thomas was born in Kentucky. His cousin Sylvanus and his family lived at a place called Tinsley Bottoms.

About 1820 John moved his family to Hendricks Co., Indiana because his

Wife Lucy was tired of owning slaves and wished to leave the south. The slaves were sold and their family of six children moved to Danville, where John purchased land for farming.

 In his book, son Samuel tells how the family decided to leave Indiana and move on to Illinois. He cited the reason as the land not being suited for good farming, heavy timber and the considerable number of frogs located on their land. The day they left many of their neighbors accompanied them part way, until they reached a place where the road started away from the settlement.

John made his living by farming and by buying land that he developed for other settlers to purchase. Through experience as a pioneer to a new territory, he was knowledgeable in how to select the best home sites in a territory that was being opened to settlers in Iowa and Illinois. He made considerable money purchasing undeveloped land and building a home on it to sell to other pioneers.

By 1833 he was located in Illinois where the Potawatomi Indians were living.

They had not yet been moved to Council Bluffs. John bought land at Big Springs, a suburb of Chicago. After surviving the bitter cold and snow, he sold the land and returned to his wife and children.

 The Fowlers were a close knit family and lived and traveled together as a group. At one time John left his family in Indiana and moved to Iowa, settling on the Des Moines River. He returned to Indiana to bring his family to Iowa, but having heard about the Platte Purchase, changed his mind and relocated them to Missouri instead. They were always seeking new land and adventure. As the sons reached manhood and married, they also moved around to new areas. The families always lived close and moved as large groups by wagon train from Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, back to Indiana, Missouri and finally on to California. At one time there had been eighty-seven Fowlers living close to one another.

In the 1840's, they bought land that was very valuable in Buchanan County,

Missouri. This was during the time when the Mormans were settled in Missouri. A group of Mormans, calling themselves Danites, were causing trouble.

One of these Danites had been seen entering a cabin and cutting the weaving from a loom that the lady of the house had been creating. John's son Welcome escorted the Danite out of the county.

 People mistakenly thought the Fowler boys were Mormans. Once, when the boys were building a fence on their property, some of the people threatened the boys. No longer wanting to be a part of the community, the Fowlers sold their land and moved to Atchison County, Missouri. They settled along Rock

Creek in a small town called Rock Port. Son Christopher started the first blacksmith shop and son John built the first mill.

 In 1849, Gold Rush fever reached the Fowler boys. Brothers Samuel, Welcome and Thomas cross overland to Grass Valley, California where they were successful miners. Life was not easy due to the cold conditions in which they worked and lived. Upon arrival they bought goods in Sacramento and brought them back to Grass Valley by Wagon to where they had erected a building.

Here they sold goods to other miners. In 1850 son Thomas ran a store in Coloma, south of Placerville. Grass Valley is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where there is considerable rain and some snow. They hired a guide to show them the way to Mexico where they had planned to buy mules to sell to the miners on their way to California. Instead, when they had traveled part way, they paid off their guide and decided to return to Missouri. Samuel, Welcome and Thomas went to Acapulco, where they boarded an old American Man-of-War called John Petty. They took this boat down the coast, then walked across the Isthmus of Panama, where they boarded a small boat called the Great Northerner, and headed for New Orleans. By the time the ship reached port, the boiler had run dry. The sailors had to hoist the sails, but due to calm winds, they were without food for several days. Samuel's hat had blown overboard and he was without shoes as they were worn out from walking across the Isthmus of Panama. Most of his clothes had been tossed overboard because they were full of vermin.

Upon arrival in New Orleans, the eager shopkeepers attempted to get the brothers to enter their shops to purchase new belongings. After a much needed meal, a shave, haircut, etc., they did purchase new clothes and the eager shop keepers, who had hounded them when they first stepped on land, did not recognize them as being the same bedraggled gold miners from California. They traveled up the Mississippi River and bought a wagon in St. Louis. After returning to their families in Rock Port, the "Fowler Nation", as they were called by others, came to California. They built their wagons for the trip west in the style of the prairie schooners, the same type the Mormons used. Son William brought his family across the plains in 1852 and settled in the Sacramento Valley. The last farm work that John, Sr. did was at Rock Port. At age 72 he helped sow the seed for a crop. Samuel described his father, when young, as being 6 feet 3 inches, weighing 225 pounds and very well muscled and heavy boned. When John was 80 years old he weighed 275 pounds. At age 79, John Sr.,traveled with his family across the plains. Descendants say he even walked part of the way. He was suffering from malaria and because he was not expected to live through the journey, his coffin had been brought along in case he did not survive the trip. Lucinda (Lucy Ussery), John's wife, had been a doctor for 40 years. Her method of doctoring was bating, anointing with oil, laying on of hands, and in extreme cases, sweating. In all those years she lost but one patient. Lucy died in Missouri about 1853. The family started their journey to California on April 25, 1854 and arrived in Butte County, California August 1, 1854.

 Along the way they were followed by 400-500 Pawnee Indians. A small band of

Indians came and asked for meat. The Fowlers provided them with the meat from one of their cattle. They camped at Chimney Rock where many pioneers had carved their names. When they reached the desert known as Big Sandy, before reaching Bear River, the wagons were oiled, using tar. Two men would lift up the wheel, another would set a piece of lumber under the axle, and another man would take out the lynch pin and hold it. When it was greased he would again insert the axletree through the hole that held the wheel on the axle.

 When they entered the desert, one of Major Thompson's wheels ran off. Something frightened the cattle and they immediately stampeded. Some of the wagons ran off in all directions and turned over. Samuel was driving one of the teams and ran ahead and caught one of the steers by horn and nose, thinking he could stop him. But the oxen behind ran into the cattle. Samuel was injured by a piece of greasewood shrub that pierced his hand. Brother Welcome was able to jump out of the back of the wagon and bring the team to a halt.

 As the wagons neared the Platte River, the cattle smelled the water and again stampeded. Some members on this trip died of cholera because they drank poisoned water. Others drowned while attempting to bring their oxen and wagons across the Green River. The Fowlers brought a boat on a wagon to use for moving some of their belongings across the rivers.

The wagon train took the Truckee Route that went down the Humboldt River to the sink of the Humboldt. They camped at the same place along the Humboldt where in 1846 the Donner Party wagon train had been marooned by heavy snow. Many members had starved to death and just a few survived the ordeal. They then crossed the desert where they reached a place called Hot Springs. They stopped and allowed the cattle to drink cool water. It is here where Samuel found the machinery and goods, including bacon stacked two or three feet height which had been tossed away by previous pioneers.

        Melinda Jane, wife of Welcome, gave birth to her second daughter, Maria Jane on July 4, 1854. Maria was born in a covered wagon in Utah Territory. Welcome had brought a drove of cattle and after arriving in California, spent the winter herding them in Woodland, south of Sacramento. This is where the settlers fattened their cattle before selling some of them to the miners and other pioneers.

        John Sr., and his sons John, Benjamin, Samuel, Edmund, Welcome and families lived at Rockville, in Solano County after they first arrived. Son William had already settled at Putah Creek, north of Vallejo. They bought land where they raised wheat and other crops.

        About 1864 John Sr. moved to Lake County, near Kelseyville, where he lived with his son John. In 1864 son John sold land to Welcome and moved to

Virginia City, Nevada. Here he served as a doctor to the miners, although he had no formal training at a medical school. He had learned medicine from the Indians who taught him the use of herbs.

         In 1867, Welcome, Samuel, Edmund and John, Jr. and families moved to Snelling, a small farming town in Merced County. Snelling was the first county seat for Merced. John Sr. died November 26, 1867 near Lower Lake and is buried there. The San Francisco newspaper shows this date. Samuel recorded his death as December 1867.

        Samuel was nearly eighty years old when he wrote his stories about his life and that of his father. He was born April 1826 in Danville, Indiana and died in 1915 in Santa Cruz, CA. He was a farmer and served as a California State Senator.


Reminiscences of Early Pioneer Days in America from 1776 to 1863 Authored by

Samuel Fowler

Contribution of storyline by Nancy J. Williams, a descendant of John and Lucy


            Samuel Fowler Stories       Click here to read his stories