One of my resolutions last year was to pick a family in my tree, go through everything I knew about them, source everything if it wasn’t already, and make a research plan of what I needed to do next. I also planned to do one family at a time to keep myself focused. I have tried to keep it up but I am so scattered with my thinking it didn’t last. With the 52 ancestors challenge being somewhat like what I had been trying to accomplish it was perfect for me. One of the people I had started researching was Patrick Fowler. My grandmother had previously worked on him but he was a man who grabbed my attention because of some photos. I don’t have many photographs of ancestors on three of my grandparents’ branches that I have seen. My grandmother has quite a few from her family though so I am lucky in that case. I love looking at old photos! Trying to imagine what their lives were like at the time it was taken and why. One of those pictures I keep going back to as I learn more and more about the man’s life is the one of Patrick Fowler.
|Patrick Fowler, in possession of Florence Bronner Mackin. Used with permission.|
It’s hard to see due to the stache but I think he is almost smirking. Most photos I have are taken with serious faces and make me think they are being forced to pose for it. But Patrick looked to be enjoying himself. Almost. It was a picture that always grabbed my attention. Maybe because he looks so satisfied and content.
Patrick was born about May of 1835 in the area of Luggacurren in Queens county, Ireland to Edward Fowler and Elizabeth/Eliza McEvoy. He came to the U.S. about 1859 and married another Irish immigrant, Catherine Casey, from Clonmel. They had 3 children that I know of: Mary, my ancestor; Thomas, never married; and Edward who died from a bug bite when he was a child. He had a pretty normal life for a man of that time and was fairly easy to document. And then I found an advertisement that made me wonder about what Patrick knew.
While searching the Irish Immigrants Advertisement database at NEHGS for some other ancestors I got scattered again and started entering every Irish surname I had in my tree. Fowler being more of English origin than Irish and a possibility of Patrick’s father being born in England I wasn’t expecting to see an entry for a Patrick Fowler. It was posted by a James Fowler of Dracut, Massachusetts looking for his brother Patrick. A native of Ballyadams parish in Queens County. The same general area my Patrick came from. He came to the U.S. 14 years ago, since it was posted in 1873 it makes emigration 1859. Patrick was supposed to have gone to Ohio? Everything else seemed to match except for the fact my Patrick rarely, if ever, left Long Island, NY after he came to the States. Ohio? Something must have kept him from going beyond New York. Maybe he got the bug so many others do when seeing the city. He fell in love. Either the city or Catherine made him stay and I’m glad he did. I immediately called my grandmother who knew a lot about the family. She said she never heard of family living anywhere in the U.S. and was just as shocked as I was. But I still had no proof that this was even our Patrick. I soon found it.
A search of Massachusetts vital records led me to the death of the James Fowler, son of Edward Fowler and Eliza McEvoy, in Boston in 1895. This was definitely my Patrick’s brother. I quickly located his marriage and records relating to his children, his naturalization record, and the 1880 census (the only census he was ever in). Viewing the census I received my next shock. Living with James was his mother, Eliza! What? She apparently came to the U.S. and lived with her son James until her death in 1883.
Did Patrick know his mother and brother were living in the Boston area? I wonder if he ever saw the advertisement in the newspaper looking for him. Did anyone read it and ask themselves if it was the Patrick Fowler they knew? It breaks my heart to know that Patrick may never have seen his family again.