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Which Fowler is which in Colfax's past?

HUNTING FOR HISTORY
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Here’s a conundrum for you. Fowler Street is located in Johann “Diamond” Siems’ subdivision around the street bearing his name (see Colfax Record, March 29, 2012). The area is just east of Canyon Way and Siems named it and one of its streets Grand View for its wonderful scene of the north fork canyon. It is also called Suburban Pines, but that is a different mystery. The challenge is: Which of the prominent persons in Placer County’s history named Fowler did Siems honor? There are several candidates. The first who comes to mind is Robert G. Fowler, the pilot. He made an ill-fated attempt to be the first to fly across the continental United States to receive the $50,000 Hearst Award (see Colfax Record “Birdman” March 24, 2011). However, there are other possibilities. Bell Fagg Fowler – matriarch – was born in Marysville in 1854 to fortune-seeking parents from England and Tennessee. She was schooled well enough that at age 17 she passed an exam and received a teaching certificate in 1871. After a couple of years of teaching experience, she entered San Jose State Normal and graduated in the class of 1875. She returned to her parents’ home in Placer County and continued her career. The old Fagg ranch, later called the Pioneer ranch, was comprised of 400 acres and was about 4.5 miles east of Lincoln. Bell Fagg eventually inherited the property and raised her family there. She married Frank Herbert Fowler of Massachusetts in 1884; she ended her teaching vocation in 1888. Four of her five sons went on to become well known in the fruit industry. Endowed with a retentive memory, Bell Fagg Fowler was also cherished for her stories of the pioneer history. For many years, she was the local correspondent for the Auburn Journal and the Lincoln News. Fowler’s oldest boy, Ralph, served as superintendent of the Placer County Fruit Association packing house. Her second son became a prominent nurseryman in Newcastle. Eugene F. Fowler – horticulturist – was well respected for his knowledge of the nursery business. Born on the Pioneer ranch in 1889, he graduated from Placer High in Auburn in 1907. He began his professional career as a bookkeeper and general helper for the Newcastle Fruit Company. The following year he entered the employ of the most widely known and successful nursery firms in California, the Silva-Bergtholdt Company of Newcastle. By 1917, he was a stockholder and director in the company and had his own investments in a ranch north of Sacramento. He was also the founder of Fowler’s Nursery in Newcastle. Bell Fowler’s third child, Lawrence, graduated from the University of California – most likely Davis – and went on to manage a lemon ranch in Santa Barbara. He served in World War I. Her forth son was for some reason rejected as a volunteer for the war; his career was in the nursery industry in Newcastle. Besides the loss of her husband in 1913, perhaps Bell Fowler’s greatest devastation was the loss of her youngest son. Born on the ranch on June 14, 1898, James Edwin Fowler attended Lincoln High where he was an avid participant in school activities and excelled in athletics. On May 8, 1917, at only 19 years of age, he enlisted in Company D, 4th United States Engineers for service in the First World War. He shipped out for France and while at the front at Mauriel-on-Dole, in a battle on the Vesle River, his detachment ran out of food. To get supplies required going through a section constantly shelled by the enemy. Fowler responded to the call for volunteers. He drove his team hitched to a two-wheel cart, riding one of the horses. He succeeded in making one trip, but on the return of the second attempt, a shell burst under his horses, killing them, and he was killed instantly by the concussion. Fowler was the first member of his company to die at the front, and the only boy from Lincoln to be killed in France. After the war, the body was disinterred and brought back home. He was buried with military honors in the Lincoln cemetery in what the Lincoln News Messenger called, “Deeply impressive, and one of the largest funerals ever held in Lincoln.” One other man, a J.E. Fowler, is mentioned in the county history. However, there is no indication he is related. This Fowler was born in Ohio in 1879 and came to Fruitvale in 1910. He was also an orchardist. He served on the board of trustees for Lincoln High and was active in the Farm Bureau of Gold Hill. Whether he had ties to Siems is unknown. Considering Diamond Siems’ orchard holdings and heavy ties to the industry, it would not be surprising for him to honor one, or all, of these regal personages of the business. On the other hand, he may have been honoring the fallen war hero. Then again, maybe he was just enamored with flying.