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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


John H. Fowler

In the death of John H. Fowler, August 31, 1909, Santa Rosa lost an honored citizen and early settler, and one who, by his upright and blameless life, added much to the moral tone of the community in which he had made his home for so many years. He was born in Long Island, N. Y., September 14, 1839, the son or parents who had endowed him with a fine mentality. It is related that he began to attend school at the age of three years; at all events, he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and it goes without saying that every opportunity that came his way for the gratification of this desire was eagerly grasped and turned to good account. All through his life he was an inveterate student and reader, to the end that he was well informed on all subjects and a brilliant conversationalist to whom it was a delight to listen.

Among the quiet homes whose routine was broken in upon by the news of the finding of gold in California in 1849 was that of which John H. Fowler was member in Long Island, New York. That year, two of his brothers, Stephen and James E. Fowler, set out for the Eldorado by way of the Horn in the ship Brooklyn. Three years later, in 1852, they were joined by the rest of the family, the father and mother and their remaining children, three sons and one daughter (John H. Benjamin, Nathaniel and Sara A), making the voyage by way of the Horn also.

John H. Fowler settled in Valley Ford, Sonoma county, where with his brother, James E., he engaged in the mercantile business under the firm name of Fowler Brothers. As pioneer settlers in the town they erected the first building and conducted the first store, and also established the first lumber yard and erected the first church edifice. The mercantile business thus established was carried on by the brothers for many years, but it was finally sold to Captain Loper, after which John H. Fowler became interested in Crescent City, through the purchase of land and the maintenance of a dairy business in which his was very successful. From there he went to Guerneville, where in 1875 he purchased two hundred acres of land at a low figure, and after making his home upon it for ten years, sold it in 1885 for $15,000, making a large profit in so doing. He also had large interests in timber lands, owning thirteen hundred acres in Mendocino county which he purchased in 1886. After disposing of his ranch property he came to Santa Rosa and engaged in the real-estate business in partnership with T. J. Ludwig, an association that lasted as long as Mr. Fowler remained in business. Ten years before his death he had lived retired from business, having accumulated sufficient means in former years to make this deserved rest possible.

In 1864 Mr. Fowler had formed domestic ties by his marriage with Miss Sarah Ann Frisbie, a native of Vermont, who came to California by way of the Isthmus in 863 and has made this state her home ever since. Five children came to bless the home life of Mr. and Mrs. Fowler, as follows: Irene, the wife of C. W. Bradford, of Utah, California; Cornelia, the wife of A. S. Gibbens, of Mark West; Rebecca L.; Stephen C., who died in 1903; and Ruth, the wife of J. H. Moore of Chicago. Wherever circumstances placed him Mr. Fowler entered heartily into the activities of his community doing whatever lay in his power to upbuild and improve conditions. While a resident of Valley Ford, and Guerneville he served efficiently in the capacity of justice of the peace. He was a member of and active worker in the Presbyterian church, having been identified with the membership in Santa Rosa for many years.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011