Sharon McConnel,
Gem County Coordinator

Life History of Bonnie May Alcorn

Written by her daughter, Avis Fowler Ingham

My mother, Bonnie May Alcorn, was born in Lewiston, Nebraska, Pawnee County, on the 7 Feb 1884. Her father was Cornelius Rice Alcorn, whose father was James Alcorn, whose father came from Ireland to California with his two brothers. (As the story was told to me, the brothers returned to Ireland, but my gr gr grandfather remained in the States, moving east.)  His name I have been unable to find as yet. Her mother was Louiza Kate Goodwin, whose father was John F. Goodwin, a West Virginia farmer. She had one brother, Chester Ray Alcorn. 

As to my motherís life history, I have very little knowledge, except when she was yet a small child, her parents moved to a farm near Armour, Nebraska in Pawnee County. Her grade school days were in Armour and she had one year of Academy in Pawnee City, after which she taught school a year.

On the 29th of June 1904 she was united in marriage to Fred Lee Fowler, a farmer in the Armour neighborhood.  To this union was born six children, Vera Meree, Avis Ethel, Genevieve May, a baby daughter who died minutes after birth, Georgia Lee and Cornelius McIntyre. In 1908, with the first two babies, they moved to Idaho where they homesteaded 160 acres in a small community, known as the Butte, near Emmett, then in Canyon County, now in Gem County. Her life was centered around her family and neighbors. She has walked plenty of miles to help care for the sick and the needy. In 1923 they moved from the Butte community to a 10 acre farm just 3 miles from Emmett.

In her early life she was a member of the Baptist Church. After she was married she went to the Methodist Church with her husband, and then about 1916 they became interested in the Bible Students (now known as the Jehovah Witnesses.

She traveled very little, but did make one trip to Nevada shortly after her first grandson was born. She always chose to remain at home if there was a trip of any distance in the planning. I found out later it was not because she didnít like to travel, but because she had a horror of an accident and her family being left orphans and at the mercy of relatives.

She died on the 20 Oct 1936 at the family home near Emmett after a long illness, with all her family gathered around her.

Life Story of Fred Lee Fowler

Written by his daughter, Avis Fowler Ingham

My father, Fred Fowler, was born in Galesburg, Knox, Illinois on 18 Feb 1880.  His father was Parson McIntyre Fowler, who was born 4 Jun 1853, also in Galesburg. His father was William Fowler, born in 1809 in Kentucky. His father, Jacob Fowler, was born in 1768 in Maryland. His mother was Mary Delesca McDowell, also born in Galesburg on 6 Aug 1860. Her father was Benjamin Franklin McDowell, whose father was Andrew McDowell. He was the eldest of seven children, the others being, Ora Ethel, Icel Blanche, Raymond Frank, Marvel Ann, Max Donald and James Vernon. There is 25 years between my father and his brother, Jim.

While my father was yet a baby, his parents moved from IL and NE, traveling by wagon in company of Grandpaís brother, William. They settled first in Richardson County, then Pawnee County. His father was a farmer for the most part, but because of ill health, couldnít do too much.  At age 8, my father stayed out of school in the spring months to help prepare and seed the ground, help run the disk, harrow, seeder, most anything that it takes to run a farm. Then when he was in the 4th grade he was taken out of school entirely to help on the farm. In his early 20ís he began farming on his own, batching with a cousin, Frank McKinley.

On the 29 Jun 1904 he was united in marriage to Bonnie May Alcorn. In the spring of 1908, by great grandfather, Ben McDowell, who had migrated to the west, died leaving a quarter interests in his home in Idaho to my grandmother. My grandparents not being able to make the trip, my father went to check on what there was. The results were that Grandpa and Grandma bought out the other heirs, and my father bought 160 acres with a one room shack on it, and homesteaded an adjoining 160 acres, the two families moving west about the same time.

They loaded their belongings of both families in the same freight car, but in those days the owner must have been responsible for its getting through, for some reason my father went with it. I suppose to see to it that it wasnít sided, got on the wrong train or something. Anyway he left two weeks before Mother and we girls did, and yet she arrived in Idaho one week before he did. She stayed with an uncle of my fatherís, Henry McDowell and family until Dad arrived.

The property was located in the mountains, rather hills, although they had an altitude of around 3700 ft. There was no timber, just sage and buck brush in a community known as the Big Butte, sometimes called Squaw Butte. It got that name, not from the Indian battles that had been fought there, but rather from the fact that the highest peak when seen from a certain point is a perfect profile. About 8 miles from Emmett in the year 1923 they moved to a ten acre tract just 3 miles from Emmett.

I think in his later years he got his most enjoyment out of his radio. We had one of the very first in that vicinity, and every other year he would take a trip in the fall, usually about ten days. During the course of several years he visited in the homes of all his brothers and sisters and as they were pretty well scattered, he got to see a lot of different country. As a rule we girls got to go with him.

He died following surgery, in the Nampa, ID hospital on 25 Jan 1937 and is buried in the Emmett Cemetery beside his wife and little daughter.

Life Story of Parson McIntyre Fowler

Written by his granddaughter, Avis Fowler Ingham

My grandfather, Parson McIntyre Fowler, was born on the 4 Jun 1853 in Galesburg, Knox, IL. His father was William Fowler (purportedly a Methodist minister). He was born in Kentucky. His grand father was Jacob Fowler, who was born in Maryland. His mother was Delana Richardson, born in NY.

He was the youngest of 5 brothers, William, Henry, Jacob and Thomas, and at least one sister, Lucetta. The girl or girls seemed to have lived very short lives, so have been unable to get any date on them, except the one name. One source of information had it that there were two, but no name for the second one. Parson was younger than his brother, Henry, and as his mother died when he was but 12 yr old, he made his home with Henry and family until the time of his marriage to Mary Delsca McDowll, on the 25 Oct 1878 in Galesburg. Thos this union was born 4 sons and 3 daughters, the first, Fred Lee (my father) being born in Galesburg in 1880.

Then in about 1882, they, with some other relatives moved to Nebraska, going by covered wagon although perhaps the country wasnít as wild as it had been. Never the less, there were still those renegades and others who wanted to pick up anything easy that they could find, making them have to be on their toes at all times. Like the night after my grandfather had sold a colt which heíd been leading, getting 75 dollars for it, he was disturbed by one of the horses, and on investigating, found two men sneaking up to their wagon. He had his gun in the wagon, but the powder and shot were under the wagon, so he lit the lantern and sat with his gun in his hand the rest of the night.  The men not knowing that it wasnít loaded finally left about day light. He broke camp then and proceeded on to join the rest of the wagons from which they had become separated when they took time out to sell the colt.

They settled in Richardson County, Nebraska, where their oldest daughter, Ora Ethel, was born. From there they went to Pawnee County, where the rest of the family was born. Grandfather always wore a mustache. When he was only a young man, he was hit on the upper lip with the hook of a crane while helping load lumber, leaving an ugly scar. His children used to beg him to shave it off, just so they could see what he looked like without it, but he never would.

For the most part grandfather was a farmer, not because he liked it best, but rather because it was what his father and brothers expected of him.  He was a devout Democrat and loved politics. After losing his farm, with only one old cow left to start over again, he took a lease on a farm near Armour, NE for 3 years, after which time he gave up farming entirely, and turned to his politics for a period. He was assistant assessor in Pawnee County and was promised the position of deputy warden at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln, NE, but election and change of party took over, his dream went out too. He then started a livery stable in Armour. He soon built up a good business. There was no hotel in Armour and only one train through a day. He would drive the salesman who had come in on the train to a neighboring town where they could get accommodations for the night. Along with his livery stable, he took over the managership of the elevator. In fact it was while he was at the elevator that he got hurt. The injury brought on, or at least aggravated a diabetic condition.

In the fall of 1908 grandmother inherited a ¼ interest in a ranch in Idaho. They made the move to Idaho hoping the change would also bring on a better health condition, only the 3 youngest of the family came with them when they moved west, but within the year, the family circle was complete again. My father with his family and his brother, Raymond, made the move in Nov 1908, the two older girls, Ora and Blanche, joined them after the completion of their school year. Grandfather wasnít destined to enjoy his new home for long, for he died 29 May 1910 of Rocky Mountain Fever and is buried in the Modern Woodmen section of the Emmett Cemetery. After his death grandmother traded the ranch for a house in Emmett.


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