Monday, November 8, 2010

Madness Monday - Joseph Fowlie

Joseph Fowlie was the uncle of Frank Brown Fowlie. Their common ancestors are George Fowlie and Margaret Cantley. Today I discovered his obituary from the Rockwell City Advocate on 25 March 1909, on an internet message board.

Joseph Fowlie was born in 1829 in Aberdeen, Scotland to Margaret (Cantley) and George Fowlie. He had at least nine siblings and many of them came to the US via Canada, then to Illinois and finally settling in Benton County and Calhoun County, Iowa. According to his obituary, Joseph was judged insane about 1890 near age 61. He was committed to a mental institution and in 1900 he was a patient at Iowa Hospital for the Insane at Independence in Buchanan County, Iowa, according to the US Census. I've ridden past the hospital on US20 many times over the years and have been intrigued by it, now it seems I have a sad family connection to the facility. It will certainly change the way I look at it next time I drive past.


A newer mental hospital facility opened in 1902 at Cherokee, Iowa and he was moved from Independence where he died in late March 1909. Since I haven't had much luck finding where he was buried, I suspect he was buried in the mental hospital's cemetery. In researching that cemetery, I found that it was not a very well kept place until the early 2000s. The graves are marked only with small stones and a number. I imagine his last 20 years were not very pleasant given the history of mental health care in the late 1800s.

It looks like he lived with Frank Brown Fowlie's father's family in Benton County, Iowa in 1880, they moved to Calhoun County a few years later. There is a marriage record in Rockwell City, on 27 Sep 1888 for Joseph Fowlie and Elsie Cathrine Ross (born in Denmark, no apparent relation to the Illinois Ross's or Clara Ross), but Elsie was much younger. She was born in 1868 and he was born in 1829, so it seems like something is unusual there. Josephine was born in October 1889 and something happened shortly after that that caused Joseph to need to be institutionalized in a mental hospital.

In the 1900 census, I found a Catharine Ross in 1900, age 32, listed divorced and living with her mother and two daughters, one was Josephine Foley and another with the last name of Bennett, born in 1893. So something pretty complicated must have happened around 1890.

The obituary noted that he was survived by a daughter, Josephine Fowlie of the Rockwell City area. According to the notes given to me, Josephine was married a month after Joseph died.

Cemetery link: Beacon Hollow Cemetery

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