Sunday, July 8, 2012

Proving a connection to Luther

Most of this post has been previously published in the BIGWILL News, Vol. 19 No. 2, Mar/Apr 2012 issue. It has been adapted to conform to my blog style. I am the newsletter editor and on occasion will write stories when needed. BIGWILL is acronym for British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois. (

Looking at the early stages of my research 

A death record received in a Christmas card prompted me to learn more about my g-g-grandfather – a man I knew nothing about. I had heard his surname so many times while growing up, yet connecting with Luther Fowler, my mother’s great grandfather, is something of a challenge and proving to be an interesting adventure. I have much work ahead of me. 

Luther’s birth, baptism record, and marriage record are yet to be gotten. Even though I have gathered some information in various places, I’m currently concentrating on Chicago, Ill., and Allegan, Mich., sources. I think I’m doing the easy stuff first and then will deal with New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts repositories later, but I'm finding myself picking up bits and pieces of the Fowler family through genealogy as well as history books.

If I can get the proof of connection to Luther, then I will be able to apply for the DAR because Luther's father is Abel Jr. a Revolutionary War veteran. I found two membership applications for Abel Jr. to connect with.

I wish there was someone still alive to ask questions of. I’m relying on memories from stories told to me for hints. As I go, some of the old family stories are being dispelled as well as proven.

It has been written by many: Henry Fowler III, b. about 1632 in Rutland, England, came to America about 1653. He was in Roxbury when he married Rebecca Newell around 1665. Henry died in Mamaroneck, New York, in late 1687. All this is according to several research compilations and family history books. 

Since I have just begun researching and haven’t verified that information, I can’t assume it is correct, but can, and do, use it as a guide. The words “not verified” are written many times in my family tree program.

From several contacts, and from many books, my unproved Fowler direct lineage looks something like this: 1. Henry > 2. John > 3. Isaac > 4. Simeon > 5. Abel, Sr. > 6. Abel, Jr. > 7. Luther > 8. Susan > 9. Edwin Luther [Buschick] > 10. Edna [my mother].

Several family history accounts shows Luther was born about 1815 in Onondaga County, New York. He was the last of six known children of Abel Jr. & Lydia (Fuller) Fowler. Abel Jr. was a Revolutionary War soldier from Rhode Island who received a land grant in New York State.

From DAR applications to family trees, all show Luther listed with his siblings, but no further information about him. I can’t find any family compilations on my direct line to guide me. I haven’t found anyone else researching my Fowler line from Luther to present.

I know Luther was born in New York State from the death record and the Censuses also showed it. My mother said her grandmother, Susan (Fowler) Buschick, was born in Elmira, New York. That was a clue. came up with my Luther; I could trace the family from 1850 (N.Y.) to 1880 (Ill.). I do have earlier censuses, but only the head of household is listed with marks showing the number of persons in the household. I can only guess which one is Luther. Knowing who his father is helps locate the right Fowler family.

1850 - Sweden, Monroe Co., New York
Luther, 35, Pattern Maker, b. Do [New York]
Lydia, 30, b. Mass
Susan A., 9, b. N. York
Sarah A., 5, b. Do [N. York]

1860 - Allegan, Allegan Co., Michigan
Luther, 45, Pattern Maker, b. New York
Lydia, 40, Tailoress, b. Massachusetts
Susan A., 19, Dress Maker b. New York
Sarah A., 15, b. Do [New York]

1870 - Allegan, Allegan Co., Michigan
Luther, 55, Pattern Maker, b. New York
Lydia, 50, Keeping House, b. Massachusetts
Sarah, 25, Sells Sewing Machines, b. New York
Franklin, 9, b. Michigan
Matilda J., 6, b. Michigan
Cornell, Thos. J., 80, b. Massachusetts

1880 - Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois / Warren Ave.
Luther, 65, Cabinet Maker, b. New York, Father b. N. York Mother b. New York
Hannah, 50, wife, Keeps House, b. New York, Father b. Conn. Mother b. Conn
Matilda, 16, daughter, At Home, b. Michigan, Father b. N. York Mother b. New York
[plus six boarders, none related]

From written accounts and Susan’s death record, her father was Luther and her mother was Lydia Cornell. I would guess they were married about 1840 possibly in New York State. Susan was born March 1841 Elmira, NY.

On the 1850 census, Luther was a pattern maker and on a later census, a cabinet maker. In this case, a pattern maker has something to do with furniture making. Allegan was prominent in manufacturing furniture. I’m sure Luther had something to do with that business. A city directory would help and I put it on my ToDo list. 

I have found mention of an Abel Fowler (possibly Luther’s father) as a partner in a saw mill/lumber business in New York State about the time Luther would still have been single. This all seems to fit.

Luther, Lydia and their two daughters migrated from Sweden, Monroe Co., N. Y., to Allegan Co., Mich., sometime after the 1850 census. They were in Allegan City for at least 10 years. On the 1870 census, two more children are in the household: Franklin and Matilda J. both born in Michigan. Are they Luther and Lydia’s children or grandchildren? Sarah was there, but Susan wasn’t listed because sometime in 1864 she married a August F. Buschick and was in Chicago, Illinois. I don’t know how or where they met. 

Sometime between the 1870 census and 1880 census, Lydia died and Luther married a Hannah. I don’t know where or when he married Hannah. 

While in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City searching the Chicago City Directory, Chicago Census Report, Year 1871 film for information on the Buschicks, I found Luther listed at the same address as daughter Susan and her family (507 Hurlbut [now Cleveland Ave.], W[ard] 16, b. N.Y.).

Luther was listed alone. It would seem he was widowed, but the directory doesn’t specify. Was he there just visiting his daughter Susan or what?

He was back in Allegan in 1876 according to an account in History of Allegan and Barry Counties, Michigan book, as a “Lodge Deputy” in
the Allegan Lodge No. 938, I.O.G.T. (International Organization of Good Templars) a temperance society.

Searching in more films, this time for deeds and land purchases, I found “Luther Fowler and Hannah Fowler his wife of Allegan, Allegan County, and State of Michigan” selling land to a Hannah J. Dans on 19 Aug 1876. I would think they are selling before moving to Chicago. Between 1876 and 1880, he was in Chicago with Hannah and his daughter Matilda. 

Chicago had a thriving furniture manufacturing business. Luther’s death report showed his occupation to be a Mill Wright. So I suspect Luther brought Matilda and Hannah to Chicago, found work in a furniture factory, and settled on the “westside” near Warren Blvd. and Wood St., where the Chicago Stadium is now. The 1880 census shows Luther, Hannah, Matilda and six boarders living in the building. 

Sarah probably came to Chicago earlier. In 1875 she was married to a prominent business man, possibly meeting him through her sister Susan, since both husbands were in the same business – boilermakers. Matilda eventually went back to Allegan and married  Charles Armstrong by 1896. I haven’t found any trace of Franklin – yet. There are a few leads, but nothing substantial.

A couple years ago, my quest started with this photocopy of Luther’s death record which was tucked into a Christmas card my niece sent to me. Many stories and memories flashed back to me. I never dreamed I’d be so involved in my mother’s family history.

My first peek at the death record was exciting in a way only a genealogist would feel.

Things I noticed at first glance:
  • Department of Health: City of Chicago... Luther Fowler. 
  • 6. Died on the 14 day of March 1898, at about 8 A.M.
  • 8. Place of Death: 266 Central Park Avenue. 
  • 9. Place of Burial: Forest Home 
  • Date: 16th March 1898 

This led to an online search of ProQuest Historical Newspapers for his death notice or obituary.

Bonus: From the death notice came the name of Sarah’s husband – Charles Kroeschell. It also mentioned for the “Allegan [Mich.] papers please copy.” Which verified Allegan, Mich., was a place to look for more information. I had heard there were folks up in that part of Michigan, but didn’t know who or if they were still there.

I was surprised Luther was buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park. That is close to where I live! That's where my husband's ancestors are buried. So when the weather broke in the spring, I went out there to get a picture of the gravesite and headstone. The office said there were no headstones for Section 15, Plot 19, but a small round cement cemetery marker set in the ground marked the gravesite. I found it and took a picture. If that is all I have, that’s all I have.

Another surprise for me when the office told me a Hannah Fowler was buried with him. At that time, I knew nothing of a Hannah. For some reason I wasn’t expecting a second wife. Nobody told me about a Hannah! Later, finding Luther on the 1880 Chicago census would list her as “wife.”  I did take a picture of the gravesite surroundings so I have a perspective of the location. 

I thought that part of Section 15 looked familiar! The day I found my g-g-grandfather gravesite (red A), I didn’t realize my husband’s g-g grandparents were buried about 35 feet away (red B). A bit later, I compared images of both sites which confirmed their proximity to each other. In addition, we recently had his ancestor’s two unused graves transferred to our name. Now he and I will be buried with his g-g-grandparents and close to mine! Haunting thought.

I know family stories always have a shred of truth. Proving them is another thing, especially when there is no one left to ask and I have to rely on my memories as clues! From family gatherings to just sitting down at the kitchen table talking to my mom, Fowler was a family name I had heard often over the years. What I know: mom is the daughter of Edwin Luther and Laura (Voigt) Buschick. Edwin Luther is the son of Susan (Fowler) and August F. Buschick. And just recently found out, Susan is the daughter of Luther and Lydia Fowler.

This is a good start for me on this family. My “To Do” list is growing in my quest to connect with Luther. All I need now is Luther's birth or baptism record.


  1. Hanna was married to Luther Fowler her I have no idea how many times he Married they had a child Matilda my great grand sister of susan A Fowler, He also married a Lydia Cornell mother of Susan Fowler. my 3rd great grandma

    1. Hannah was Luther's second wife. If Matilda (1864-1940) was theirs, then Franklin (abt 1861-) probably was also and that would explain the children's age difference on the 1870 census. So Lydia CORNELL died sometime after the 1860 census and before Franklin's birth. Unless she is mother of Franklin and died in child birth. Then she died before 1864.

      I have been looking for an explanation of this. Do you have a source for knowing Matilda was daughter of Hannah and Luther?

      Thanks for visiting my post. I was hoping to be able to be in contact with any descendent of my aunt Lydia Helstrom. Since my mom died, most contact with any of her sisters' families have come to a screeching halt. Would you kindly contact me directly by going to my profile and clicking on the email address?

      I would love to share information and fill in the blanks on your family. I vaguely remember my cousins because they were quite a bit older than I. Which of the twin son is your father?

  2. also August F buschick was named after Prince augustus Ferdinand of prussia

  3. maybe he was initially named Augustus Ferdinand Buschick

  4. Replies
    1. Father-in-law of ? Who are you referring to?