FOWLER cousins exchange an 1869 letter and a portrait photograph

An old 1869 photograph by a photographer “Artist” at Allen Bros. and a reply letter from a FOWLER cousin in Texas proves the parentage of William FOWLER to John FOWLER and Elizabeth TAYLOR, settlers from Gloucestershire, England to Yarmouth Township, Upper Canada (now Elgin Co., Ontario) in 1832.

By Nancy Tevebaugh

Gilmer, Texas
February 2023

Nancy Jane FOWLER Calvert was my paternal great grandmother and my namesake.  When I married in 1978, my father asked a cousin of his if she had some memorabilia from their grandmother (Nancy Jane) that I could have.  She gave me a dresser, handmade pillow, purse, and a couple of old letters.  This was one of the letters.  It was written by Nancy (“Nannie”) to her cousin, Sallie Fowler.  In the letter was a photograph of a young girl with “Allen Bro’s Artists, Over Carrie & Pollock’s Store, St. Thomas, Ontario” on the back. I knew the Fowler relatives were from New York/Canada, but I have been unable to make any family connections beyond Nancy’s father, William Henry Fowler. Coupled with research and the kind help of Bruce Johnson, the letter has made vital connections to my family’s history in Elgin County!


Thomas Fowler’s daughter Sallie Fowler, born 1849 at Yarmouth Twp., taken by Allen Bros. of St. Thomas


Allen Brothers Backside of 1869 Photo of Sallie Fowler
Allen Bros. Photographers St. Thomas, Ontario – Backside of 1869 Photo of Sallie Fowler


Transcription of Letter of Nancy Jane Fowler of Upshur Co. Texas to her Cousin Sallie Fowler of Yarmouth Twp., Elgin Co. Ontario – Grammer slightly corrected for readability – See image of letter below for exact spelling and grammar used.

While the reply letter for the letter with the photograph was sent from Texas to Canada it somehow found its way back to the sender’s descendant in Texas.

August 13, 1869
Dear Cousin  I seat myself to drop you a few lines to inform you that we are all well and hope these few lines may find you the same good blessing. I received your kind letter and photograph. I was glad to hear from you and to receive your picture. It is a nice picture and a pretty one. Father was glad to hear from you all and to hear that you was all well. I have no news of interest to write to you except that I and Sim (her brother Simeon Fowler) are going to start to school the 16 of this month. We are going to board out and I do not like that very much. Mr. Looney is the principal Teacher.  He will have about 250 Students.  I will send my picture in this letter.  It not a good one, the Artist was a new beginner. There is a good Artist coming to Gilmer next month and I send you another. Tom and Bol (brother Bolivar Green FOWLER) sends their love to James and George. Father and Mother sends their love to you all. Give my love to Ann, Emma, and William and tell them to write to us and send their pictures. You cannot conceive what pleasure it is to me to receive a picture from you all
I wrote a letter to Cousin Louisa Couse and have not received a Answer.  Write as soon as possible give my love to all the connections and receive a full portion yourself. So no more at present.
Though cruel fate divide us still
And we far from each other driven
Yet this glad thought our hearts
shall fill we will meet in heaven
Nannie Jane Fowler
To Sallie Fowler
Sallie is Sarah Thomson when married, born 10 June 1849
Nancy Jane Fowler Calvert, born Jan 25 1851


1869 Fowler Letter page 1
Page 1 of an 1869 Letter written by Nancy Jane Fowler of Texas to her Cousin Sallie Fowler in Canada


1869 letter from Nancy Jane Fowler in Texas to Cousin Sallie Fowler in Canada
Page 2 of an 1869 letter from Nancy Jane Fowler in Texas to Cousin Sallie Fowler in Canada


Genealogical Notes by BCJ

John and Elizabeth (Taylor) Fowler immigrated from Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England to Upper Canada in 1832 with their children, John (b. 1810), Sarah (b. 1813), Thomas (b. 1814), Ann (b. 1819), Jacob (b. 1820) Esther Mary (b. ca 1820), William (b. 1822) and Emma (b. 1825. John took up land northeast of St. Thomas (Concession 11, Lot 10?) and is given there in the 1842 census for Yarmouth, Elgin County.

With evidence from the 1869 letter from son William’s daughter, Nancy Jane Fowler in Upshur County Texas it is now known that William had left Elgin County sometime before 1848 when he married Margaret E. NICHOLS in Mississippi. He migrated to Upshur County Texas where he farmed before and after serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Nancy Jane was the eldest of William’s 6 children who lived to adulthood.

William’s brother Thomas FOWLER remained in Elgin County, married Eliza DOOLITTLE in 1844 and raised a family of six children including first daughter Esther Sarah “Sallie” FOWLER who sent the above photograph taken by Allen Bros. of St. Thomas in 1869

Elizabeth FOWLER died in 1856 and husband John died in 1859. Both are buried at the Salt Creek Cemetery in Elgin County.

(As of 8 Feb 2023 – Work in Progress – more notes to me added)