Joseph M. Fowler, who passed away on his ranch near Lodi, on June 5, 1896, was one of the best known and most influential as he was one of the most prosperous of the San Joaquin county early settlers. His life represented a long and steadily cumulative success, not only in material circumstances but in his activity as a public-spirited citizen and in his home and entire circle of intimate friends. He is also deserving of mention in this history as having been a forty-niner, coming to California in the year of the first great influx of settlers, and his career of usefulness in the state extended over period of nearly half a century, all but the first few years of which were spent in San Joaquin county.

Mr. Fowler was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, July 25, 1825, being a son of Royal and Harriet (Smith) Fowler, both natives of New England and members of English families long settled in the northeastern colonies. He was reared in his native town, where he received his education in the academy of the town, and when a young men he learned the trade of machinist. He was always known as a well posted man as to the general affairs of the world and kept himself in touch with many interests outside of his own sphere of action. In 1849, being then a young man of twenty-four years, he started across the country for California, coming by way of old Mexico, and for several years after his arrival he was engaged in gold mining. In 1856, nearly half a century ago, he settled on the ranch in San Joaquin county which is still occupied by his widow, this fine estate being situated about five miles southwest of Lodi. His brother William Fowler had previously located on this place, and the two were partners in their ranching enterprise for several years, until in the sixties William Sold out his interest to his brother and then moved to Merced county, this state, and later to southern California, where he died a short time since.

Mr. Fowler continued to make his home in San Joaquin county until his demise, for a period of forty years, and his ranching and other enterprises were conducted with a degree of success which long ago placed him among the influential and financially able men of his locality. He served as trustee of the Lafayette school district. He was a Republican in politics, and in former years was affiliated with the Knights of Pythias at Lodi, and a member of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers. Religiously he was a Presbyterian. The Fowler ranch on which Mrs. Fowler resides and which she owns comprises six hundred and twenty acres, and she likewise owns a ranch of fourteen hundred acres in Merced county.

In 1857 Mr. Fowler returned to his native state of Massachusetts, and on September 24th of that year was united in marriage with Miss Eliza S. Bromley, who was born in Chester, Massachusetts, June 22, 1838, a daughter of Reuben L. and Mary A. (Leffingwell) Bromley, who were both born in Connecticut. In 1858 Mr. and Mrs. Fowler returned to Caoifornia, coming around by the isthmus, and at once took up their permanent home in San Joaquin county. Of their children six survive, as follows: Royal R., of Merced county; Joseph W., of San Joaquin county; Ellen L., wife of T. A. Jordan, of New Hope, California; Carrie M., wife of Elmer E. Thompson, of San Joaquin county; Addie F., wife of Dervin K. Woods, of San Joaquin county; and Ernest W., married December 28, 1904 to Miss Grace W. Herndon, a daughter of Zacariah and Ellen Herndon, who resides with his mother at home. Mrs. Fowler is a member of the ladies' auxiliary of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers, and is a member of the Ladies' Relief Corps at Lodi.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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