California Genealogy and History Archives
fact of having been reared in Ohio and the additional opportunities
afforded by subsequent travel through almost every portion of the United
States give to Mr. Lowry a comprehensive knowledge of our country. As a
result of his study and observation he still adheres to the opinion
formed many years ago that California stands without a rival in its
resources, its climate and its material possibilities. Employment with
railroad companies took him throughout the west when he was still a
young man and enabled him to gain a broad information as to every
section of the region west of the Rocky Mountains, but no place visited
by him has offered inducements sufficient to weaken his faith in or
lessen his affection for the commonwealth of his choice.
at Zanesville, Ohio, July 20, 1838, Felton Lowry was the son of John and
Elizabeth (France) Lowry of Pennsylvania, who removed to and operated a
farm in Vinton county, Ohio, and he still has living in the Buckeye
state one brother and three sisters. Not content to remain there but
allured to the west by reports concern- ing its opportunities, in the
spring of 1860 he bade farewell to home and relatives and traveled via
the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco and came on to Sacramento. It was
not his fortune to possess any capital nor to have enjoyed a good
education, but he was a young man of tireless energy and force of will.
To such, employment comes as an open sesame to their ability. He first
tried his luck at mining at Indian Diggings, Eldorado county. Later he
helped build, a bridge at Live Oak, of which he was the toll-keeper.
Subsequently be went to Reese River, Nev., where he engaged in
carpentering, and while there he helped in the erection of the Reese
River court house.
the progress of the Civil War Mr. Lowry enlisted in Company K, Eighth
Regiment of California Volunteers, and at the time of the riots served
in San Francisco, being mustered out at the close of the war. He then
returned to Sacramento and resumed work on the Central Pacific Railroad.
Beginning at the bottom he soon became foreman and finally became
assistant superintendent of grading. For six years he remained with the
same company. Meanwhile he helped to build the line to Salt Lake and
reached and completed the end of his contract during May of 1869. In the
latter part of the same year he entered the employ of the Southern
Pacific Railroad Company, and served as superintendent of construction
through the San Joaquin valley, remaining on that division until the
completion of the road to its Los Angeles terminus.
task of grading roads in other parts of California brought Mr. Lowry
profitable employment for a number of years. At one time he was
dispatched to grade the road toward Imperial Junction and the Colorado
river. When he had three hundred men in camp as helpers the war
department wired Major Dunn not to al- low men to tamper with the bridge
at Fort Yuma or to lay rails. Notification was sent to Mr. Lowry, but at
one o'clock in the morn- ing he had all of his three hundred men up and
ready to assist him. A flat car loaded with rails was forced on the
bridge and the rails were then thrown off. Twenty soldiers threatened to
shoot them, but Mr. Lowry claimed that a man was under the car and it
was absolutely necessary to throw off the rails in order to save his
life. Under these representations the work was allowed to be continued.
In a short time the rails were laid and there the matter ended so far as
Mr. Lowry was concerned, the officials of the road later taking up the
question with the government employes.
having built more than three hundred and fifty miles of road for the
Southern Pacific Company Mr. Lowry left its employ and turned his
attention to other enterprises. For four years he acted as traveling
representative for the Atlantic Dynamite Company of New York City and
during that period he traveled extensively in every part of the country.
At one time he owned four thousand acres of range land in Kern county
and maintained thereon a herd of some fifteen thousand sheep, but years
ago the flock was sold and the land disposed of. During 1892, associated
with Turton & Knox, he had the contract for the building of the
levee from the Pioneer mill to Twelfth street in Sacramento. After
completing this, with the same men he built part of the Central Canal in
Colusa county. The company also built forty miles of railroad between
Merced and Oakdale, fifty miles of road between Bakersfield and Asphalt,
and one hundred and fifty miles on the west side of San Joaquin valley,
from Newman south, and twenty-five miles between Burbank and Chatsworth
Park, all for the Southern Pacific Rail- road. As superintendent for the
Pacific Improvement Company he laid out and superintended the building
of a seventeen-mile drive at Monterey, and alone he contracted for and
built many sections of road for the Southern Pacific Railroad, besides
which he has built many levees along the Sacramento river. Eventually
Mr. Lowry retired from contracting and in the twilight of his active
existence he enjoys the comforts rendered possible by years of
intelligent exertion. He is now the oldest railroad contractor in the
At Adah, Ohio, Mr. Lowry was married March 27, 1890, to Miss Ida Sisson, who was born in Port Smith, Ark., but was reared in McArthur, Ohio. She was the daughter of George and Sarah (Sylvester) Sisson, the latter the youngest daughter of a Revolutionary soldier, a member of the Daughters of the Revolution, and a resident of Adah, Ohio. Four children were born of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Lowry, Eva, Fondalite, Agnes and Georgia, all of whom reside with their father at No. 1610 K street, Sacramento. Politically Mr. Lowry is a Republican and is a member of Sumner Post, G. A. R. In 1912 he was a candidate at the primary election for supervisor of the third district, but failed of election by fifty-three votes. The family are communicants of the Christian Church and earnest supporters of religious and philanthropic measures.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011