Friday, Mar. 11, 2004
Genealogy: Finding Your Folks
Nancy Leah Harper and John Fowler
By Judy Fowler Kilgore
There are only two graves with the name Fowler on them at Bethany (John and Nancy Fowler), and Im pleased to say they are mine. Well, not really directly mine, but members of my Fowler family.
John Fowler (1857-1937), son of Zephaniah Fowler and Lucy Ann Norris, married Nancy Leah Harper (1854-1934), daughter of Wyatt Appleton Harper and Louisa Gilmore. Wyatt Harper was the son of John Harper and Leah Maddox (of last weeks story). Zephaniah Fowler was the son of Nathan Fowler and Elizabeth Pepper of Gwinnett County. My connection to this family is Zephs brother, also named John Fowler, who was my GG grandfather.
Actually, the children of Zeph and Lucy are among several double cousins I have found, since Zeph and my GG grandfather were brothers, as I said, and Lucy Ann Norris and my GG grandmother, Sarah Ann Norris, were sisters. It was a case of two Fowler brothers marrying two Norris sisters.
And, yes, this is the same Norris family of Norris Candy Company fame.
I was as surprised as anyone when I discovered that my family history included folks in the Fayette-Campbell area in the 1800s. I was even more surprised when I discovered two of them were buried at historic Bethany.
John Fowler, son of Zeph and Lucy, moved to Fayette with his parents sometime before 1860. Zeph and Lucy were both raised in Gwinnett County and were married there 23 Oct. 1853. John Fowler was their first and only son, born 9 May 1857. John had an older sister, Nancy Caroline, and a younger sister, Hester Elizabeth, by 1860.
About the same time the Fowlers moved to Fayette from Gwinnett, Nancy Leah Harper and her parents moved to Fayette from Pike County, along with many of her fathers brothers and sisters, children of John Harper and Leah Maddox.
The Harpers and the Fowlers, along with the Norris family (John Jethro and Mary Johnson Norris, Lucys parents), lived in the Fife Community near Bethany church in north Fayette County. John Fowler and Nancy Harper grew up together almost from infancy into adulthood.
When the Civil War broke out, both Wyatt Harper (Nancys father) and Zeph Fowler (Johns father) enlisted and went off to fight the cause of the Confederacy.
Tragedy soon struck both families. Zeph came down with a fatal case of measles and died in Tennessee in 1863, while Wyatt was captured and died while imprisoned at Rock Island Barracks, Illinois in 1864. Wyatt is buried in grave number 1095 at Rock Island Barracks. Zeph is buried somewhere near Fairfield, Tenn.
Louisa Gilmore Harper and Lucy Ann Norris Fowler suddenly found themselves widows with young children to raise. Louisa had eight children (John R., James Wade, Edward, Nancy Leah, Susan, Wyatt Jr., Isaac and Charley) and Lucy had four (John, Nancy Caroline, and Hester Elizabeth, and a new baby, Joanna, born after Zeph left).
Lucy Norris Fowler remarried in 1867 to Green B. McFalls and had three more children, William, Chess and Mollie. They moved into Campbell, and later, Douglas County. But Louisa Gilmore Harper remained single and lived in the Bethany area until her death in 1899.
John Fowler and Nancy Harper, friends since childhood, were married in Fayette County on 11 Dec. 1884 and had four sons: George Wilson, b. 9 Sept. 1885; Zeph Wyatt b. 13 Dec. 1887; John G., b. 20 May 1892; and Charlie Wade, b. 18 July 1898. The family remained in Fayette until about 1900, and then moved first to the Fairburn area and later to the Union City area. John the elder at one time worked for the city police department. John the younger owned and operated a store. The building is still there on U.S., Hwy. 29, across the railroad tracks from the present Union City Police Department.
The boys grew to manhood and all married, but only two had children.
George Fowler, the oldest, married Ethel May Butler, daughter of John R. and Mattie Butler, and eventually moved to DeKalb County where they lived in 1930. They had three daughters, Dorothy, Grace and Martha.
Zeph Wyatt Fowler married Nannie Mae Orr and also moved to DeKalb County. They had four children: Sarah, Herman, Doris and Zeph Wyatt Jr.
John G. Fowler married Sudie Grant and remained in the Union City area, as mentioned earlier, and owned a store. They had no children, but I have heard wonderful stories about how John and Sudie opened their home to children in the neighborhood and John even would round up a group of boys for a Saturday morning fishing trip.
Charlie Wade Fowler married Maude Granby Nixon and lived in Fairburn, Atlanta, Carroll County and, eventually, moved to Columbus, where he died. Maude lived in Carrollton until her death. They are both buried in Salem cemetery between Carrollton and Bowdon. Unfortunately, they had no children.
John and Nancy Harper Fowler remained in the Union City-Fairburn area. Nancy died in 1934 and John died in 1937. They are both buried at Bethany.
And there you have one of my personal connections to Bethanys historic cemetery. Right proud of it I am, too.
But I need your stories of Bethany families, also. I encourage all of you to send your genealogies on those buried at Bethany so that we can honor these families on the churchs upcoming 150th anniversary.
I welcome all letters and e-mails about genealogy and info on south metro Atlanta families. Send them to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Any letters and/or e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.
Until next week, happy hunting!
Copyright 2004-Fayette Publishing, Inc.