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 John Wesley Fowler

John Wesley Fowler

Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA
Death 21 Mar 1949 (aged 89)
Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA
Burial Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA
Memorial ID 100024381 · View Source
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Emporia Gazette, Monday, March 21, 1949; p. 2

John W. Fowler, Who Died Today, Was Lyon County’s Oldest Native Citizen

Lyon county’s oldest native born citizen and continuous resident died today. He was John Fowler, 89, whose birth December 24, 1859 in a dirt-floored, clap-board roofed log cabin, about 2 ½ miles southeast of Emporia even preceded the naming of Lyon county. Mr. Fowler’s birthplace was then designated as Breckenridge county in territorial Kansas.John W. Fowler, the patriarch of the Fowler community southeast of Emporia, sustained severe burns February 28 when he poured kerosene on a sluggish coal stove fire at his farm home about 4 ½ miles southeast of Emporia, where he had lived 55 years. Mr. Fowler died at 5:30 o’clock this morning in the Newman Memorial County hospital.An active farmer for three-fourths of a century, Mr. Fowler had witnessed the development and history of his community. Emporia was a toddling 2-year-old when he was born. During his life time he saw buffalo ad antelope at play, protected cattle and farm property from Indian raids, and remembered soldiers marching away to four wars. Mr. Fowler was 10 years old when the first funnel-smoke stacked train, arrived at Emporia amid great rejoicing on December 23, 1869, and he watched the building of the tracks of the southern branch of the Union Pacific, the Katy’s original line, to Hartford and on to Parsons.Mr. Fowler’s parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Fowler, were among the earliest settlers in the Cottonwood river valley. He is survived by many descendants including seven sons, one daughter, 26 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. A son, Harvey Fowler, and a daughter, Mrs. Minnie Gunkel, preceded him in death. Also surviving is a sister, Mrs. Sarah Hunt, 87, of 208 South Commercial.

Started Farming at 16

Mr. Fowler attended the short term pioneer schools until he was 16 years old, then he started farming for himself. In 1883 he and Miss Anna Dora Faulkner, a daughter of a preacher, were married. Mrs. Fowler died in 1914 and in 1917, Mr. Fowler married Sylvia Davis, a widow, who also survives him.Mr. and Mrs. Fowler joined the First Christian church in Emporia in 1931. The Rev. Claude Large, then pastor of the church reported Mr. Fowler was the oldest man he ever baptized.Several anecdotes on John Wesley Fowler were related in a biography written nine years ago as an Emproria High school theme by his grandson, Jackie Fowler, Rt. 2, Emporia. One of the stories told by Grandfather Fowler concerned an Indian scare in 1860’s while his father was away fighting Indians in western Kansas. He told of women and children in the Fowler community moving their livestock and household good to the wooded area when the Indian scare came. He related the families were nearly scared to death when they saw what they thought was a burning home, a victim of the Indians. An older boy in the group climbed a tree and discovered the flames were in a Cottonwood tree which had been set afire by lightening during a thunder shower.

Watermelon Patch Invaded

Another incident related by Jackie Fowler concerns his grandfather’s early Lyon county truck gardening. He wrote: “Granddad raised lots of watermelons. He said lots of people got in his watermelon patch some of them his old friends. In those days stealing was not what it is today. They stole more for fun than they do now. Even when Grandad had a patch of his own, he had sons who stole watermelons from someone else’s patch, because it was fun to get chased out.” The favorite story of Mr. Fowler, which he related to his grandchildren many times, concerned his first pair of pants, as he vividly recalled when he wore dresses as other pioneer boys did 80 years ago.Mr. Fowler’s story was that he put on his first pair of pants to make a visit with his mother to neighbors who lived in the opposite side of the Cottonwood river in the days before bridges were built and when crossing were made on foot-logs. He told that his pride with his first pair of pants was accompanied by the idea he could make the crossing without the hand of his mother, but that he fell in the water and was rescued by her. He was taken home, put back in his old dress and the trip was taken to the neighbors with all the pride taken out of him, Mr. Fowler related.Along with other pioneer youths, Mr. Fowler trapped and hunted in the wooded areas southeast of Emporia. Two sons, John “Jeff” Fowler and Andy “Mutt” Fowler, still are diligent coon hunters.Mr. Fowler also set a pattern making members of the Fowler family great eaters of pork, according to his grandson, Jackie Fowler. The elder Fowler butchered many hogs each winter, taught his sons his knack of hog scalding and made butchering a family gathering.

Worked for Santa Fe

While Mr. Fowler was an active farmer and gardener until a few years ago, he worked a short time in his young manhood as “caller” on early day Santa Fe freight trains. Relatives report his voice could be heard from one end to the other of a running freight train.One of Mr. Fowler’s native son contemporaries was the late Al Chamness, who died last year. Their birthdays in December were on a few days apart.
Emporia Gazette, Thursday, March 26, 1949; p. 2

The Fowler Funeral

Funeral services for John Wesley Fowler, who died Monday, were held at 3:30 o’clock Wednesday afternoon in the Roberts-Blue chapel. The Rev. LeRoy Hay, pastor of the First Christian church, conducted the services. Theodore C. Owen sang, accompanied by Mrs. Glenn A. Blue. The pallbearers were Jack, Clark, John, Andy, Henry and Dave Fowler, Jewell Thompson and Henry Levi. Burial was in the Fowler cemetery.

Family Members

Gravesite Details Bio & Obit provided by Anonymous (#48449771).




  • Created by: Mayflower Pilgrim 332
  • Added: 2 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100024381
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Wesley Fowler (24 Dec 1859–21 Mar 1949), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100024381, citing Fowler Cemetery, Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Mayflower Pilgrim 332 (contributor 47081711) .