William Franklin Rowell


William Franklin Rowell

New Hampshire, USA
Death 13 May 1912 (aged 73)
San Jose, Santa Clara County, California, USA
Burial Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA
Memorial ID 41503023 View Source
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Prominent among those New Englanders who have upheld the best of "Down East" traditions and at the same time have contributed greatly to elevating that standard which has given a definite and higher significance to the name of Californian, was W. F. Rowell, of special interest as having been a member of a sturdy old family, the great majority if not all of which have in some way distinguished themselves. He was a brother of Dr. Chester Rowell, George B. Rowell, and Albert Abbott Rowell, all of them renowned pioneers and commonwealth builders like himself.

William Franklin Rowell was born in Woodsville. N. H.. the son of Jonathan and Cynthia Abbott Rowell. who moved west in 1849 with their eight sons, and settled at Stouts Grove, near Bloomington, Ill. There, under truly wild and unsettled conditions, his father died the next year, and then he lived and worked on an Illinois farm, doing bis bit toward the support of the mother, until the outbreak of the Civil War.

The Rowells have in all generations been distinguished for their Americanism, and in short order not less than five of the boys, including our subject, had enlisted in defense of the Union. W. F. Rowell put his name to the paper that bound him for military duty on June 14. 1861, and became a member of Company D of the Eighth Missouri Infantry. The fact is that he was originally in an Illinois contingent, but the quota for Illinois being full, he joined the Missouri regiment, which was largely made up of Illinois boys. He served through the war with commendable fidelity and more than one exhibition of marked bravery; was veteranized: and on Independence Day. 1864. was duly mustered out as a corporal.

Having laid aside arms for the more peaceful implements and agencies of rebuilding a nation. Mr. Rowell spent some years in the Middle West. In 1883 he followed the trail of his brother. Dr. Chester Rowell, who had come to the Pacific Coast in 1866. and of Albert Abbott, who migrated in 1873. and found himself in California just before the great realty boom.

He looked over the ground carefully and decided to cast his lot with Fresno, and in a short time he had entered the field of viticulture in which he became a leading spirit and a most successful producer. He was active in the first cooperative raisin associations, and had a cooperative packing-house at Easton. where his vineyard was located and where he made his headquarters. Developing his ranch properties with foresight and judgment, he developed himself and steadily came more and more before the public, and hence it was natural that he should be tendered the honor of representing the Sixty-second District in the Assembly of the State Legislature.

It happened that representative from the Sixty-third District at that time was N. L. F. Bauchman, who had served in the Confederate Army, and it is indicative of the superior character of each gentleman that, when they found, by comparing records, that they had fought opposite each other in a number of battles, they became intimate friends, and so remained, for years helpful in their fraternal exchanges.

When Mr. Rowell retired, he removed to San Jose, and there, on April 13, 1912, he died, ten days before his brother. Dr. Chester Rowell, passed away. His esteemed widow continues to make her home at San Jose, the recipient of every honor and courtesy that is naturally due to the companion and helpmate of one to whom California owes so much.

Of their eight children, six are living: Gertrude F., head of the Psychology Department of San Jose State Normal; Milo L. and H. D., connected with Hobbs-Parsons Company, Fresno; Edna Ellen, Mrs. W. C. Claybaugh of Jefferson District; Ola, Mrs. C. H. Reynolds of San Jose; Isabel. Mrs. S. B. Smith of Los Gatos; Jennie and Jonathan, who died in their youth.

Mr. Rowell, as might be expected from one of his old Yankee traditions, became not only a strong Republican but one prominent and guiding in the councils of the party; and his influence was felt not merely throughout the state, but in the legislative halls of the national capitol. He never allowed party politics, however, to interfere with his energetic cooperation in local affairs; and his good works in civic reform will help to keep alive that altruistic spirit needed more and more as society becomes complex and self-centered.

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